On Feb. 25, Bolton Hill neighbor Robert Bunch was met with a $52 parking ticket on the windshield of his car. This came as a surprise, as he had a visitor’s permit displayed on his dashboard, a temporary fix since recently acquiring a new car from out-of-state.
“The enforcement officer recognized I had a permit,” said Bunch, “as the violation is for ‘improper display.[The ticket] is the same amount as if had I not had any permit,” said Bunch.
According to Baltimore Department of Transportation regulations, all visitor permits must be displayed not just on a car’s dashboard, but on the driver’s side of that dashboard, as requested by Parking Enforcement (an entity separate from the Parking Authority who issues parking permits citywide). This is because Parking Enforcement officers walk alongside cars in the street, rather than the sidewalk, and look for permits displayed on the driver’s side of the dashboard.
Living in Bolton Hill, Bunch, however, recognizes what he sees as a flaw in this regulation–and enforcement practice–when it comes to one-way streets that offer parking on both sides.
“How do they manage to patrol the one-way section of Mount Royal Avenue between McMechen and Lafayette?” Bunch asked. “Cars park on both sides of the one-way street so the officers must walk on the sidewalk side of the vehicle to inspect permits.”
Bunch, from Scotland, and his wife, Anne Marie, moved to the States in 2008 and bought their first home in Bolton Hill on West Lafayette in 2012.
A mechanical engineer, he now specializes in restoring historic properties–of which Bolton Hill has many–which he did to their West Lafayette property before selling it last year. He and Anne Marie, the interim chief of gastroenterology at Johns Hopkins, moved around the corner to the 1600 block of Park Avenue where they enjoy life–and park cars–in Bolton Hill.
While Bunch’s end goal of this fight is to overturn the regulation and accompanying $52 fine for displaying a parking permit not on the driver’s side of the dash, he also wants the civic and community engagement to go a bit further.
“I would like to have [Baltimore City District 11 Councilman] Eric Costello and [Marshall “Toby” Goodwin, DOT’s chief of safety division] come meet me on Mount Royal Avenue and take a walk down the one way street and highlight any vehicle where they are unable to see both sides of the dashboard,” said Bunch.
Both Costello and Goodwin have been in communication with Bunch. “I see it as a money grab from the city,” added Bunch. “Baltimore has enough issues that cause residents to leave the city.”
And to help remedy this, he hopes that once this fight is over, the back of all city parking permits will read “Place the permit on the dashboard,” with no reference to which side.
– Atticus Rice