Some drivers improvise, parking atop car-sized plots of dirt where protected trees once stood, or by positioning themselves hodge-podge along traffic islands, sometimes impeding two-way traffic.
Last week some employees were alarmed to find parking tickets affixed to their dashboard windows when they parallel parked along the side of a grassy island separating the tri-service parking lot from the Old Post Chapel lot.
“I’ve parked there for 11 years and never got a ticket,” one disgruntled employee fumed upon receiving the pink notice.
According to Lt. Ronald Foster, chief of the Traffic Investigation section of the JBM-HH Directorate of Emergency Services, the only legal parking spaces on base are ones that are outlined in white paint. Parallel parking along curbs is illegal unless there are designated parking spaces, even if there is no sign explicitly stating so.
“A legal parking space is any 9 x 18 area that’s marked, like in a parking lot,” Foster stipulated. “Anything other than that is not considered a parking space.” He added that DES eventually plans to paint areas along curbs where parking is prohibited.
“The plan is to paint the curb so everyone can distinguish where you can and cannot park, similar to when you go off post where curbs are painted either yellow or red [showing] where you can’t park,” Foster said. “That way everyone understands what’s going on, because that would be the national standard – red for fire [lane], yellow for no parking.”
Foster said the protocol for parking enforcement is outlined in JBM-HH policy 190-15, which can be found at www.army.mil/jbmhh.
“We try to make it as clear as possible. We’ve never had any complaints from anyone saying they had a hard time interpreting what we put on paper,” he said. “We always stay within regulatory guidelines.”
DES statistics show there are 5,656 parking spaces on JBM-HH, with 3,257 on Fort Myer, 1,899 on Fort McNair and approximately 500 on Henderson Hall.
Studies have shown, Foster said, that nobody wants to park more than a thousand feet from their workplace. He said the parking squeeze is most acute on the Army portions of the base, with Henderson Hall parking having opened up considerably after the Navy Annex closed.
Foster said the places on base that have the most trouble with parking are the area around Andrew Rader Health Clinic, where patients continually vie for spaces, and along Sheridan Avenue in front of Bldgs. 250, 249 and 248.
Foster said some previously reserved parking spaces (adjacent the back wall of the cemetery in the tri-service lot) that had previously been restricted to residents and buses have reopened to the community at large, although not all spaces have been painted yet. “We’ve got to go back and re-stripe all that,” he said.
Foster also emphasized that the Old Post Chapel parking lot is reserved for people attending funerals on base and shouldn’t serve as an overflow lot for the tri-service facility.
“Parking over there is very, very important,” he said. “You don’t want folks who are paying their respects to be further upset. They’re already upset [and grieving]. You don’t want them to be any worse off than they already are.”