Last week the following call for comments was sent to several civic groups through out the Silver Spring area.
“Lease of a Portion of Public Parking Garage 9 in the Silver Spring Parking Lot District
Montgomery County proposes to lease a substantial portion of certain property known as Public Parking Garage 9, located at 8040 Kennett Street in Silver Spring, Maryland, consisting of approximately 300 parking spaces, to Discovery Communications Incorporated, for a period of approximately 13 years. The leased area will be used by Discovery Communications for secure employee parking, and may not be subleased or used for any other purpose without the expressed written approval of the County. Comments on this proposal are to be provided to Chief of the Division of Parking Management, Department of Transportation, 100 Edison Park Drive, 4th Floor, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. Comments must be postmarked no later than April 1, 2012. 00004812 1t 3/08/12″
This call for comments did not have much information to comment on, so I sent a letter to Rick Siebert, the acting Chief of the Division of Parking Management asking 8 specific questions to ascertain the nature of this proposed agreement between the county and Discovery Communications Incorporated.
The following is the introductory text of Rick Siebert’s responses to my questions. Mr. Siebert has been very timely in responding to these questions and we should thank him for that.
Sorry for the delay.
Thank you for your inquiry and providing me the time to review the issue with my Department. I know that our lease with Discovery will be of interest to many of your association members and I suggest the best course of action may be for me to come and answer your members concerns on a face to face basis. If you can organize such a meeting, I will be happy to come down to Silver Spring at your convenience. In the meantime I have provided some short answers to your questions below.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I plan to talk with the board of the neighborhood association today and identify a time in the next few weeks to have Mr. Siebert and other interested parties come to discuss this lease.
What follows are my questions to Rick Siebert and his responses.
- In the 7 years that I have lived in south Silver Spring, I’ve heard you or Steve Nash say on multiple occasions that you could not make spaces available for the exclusive use of any individual or group. This was the reason why the ‘DCI only’ signs were changed to ‘DCI or PCS parking permitted signs’. Has a regulation changed or is this agreement structured in such a way that those regs are not a factor?
RICK SIEBERT: This is not a parking space rental agreement. Instead this is a lease of a part of the building.
- If this type of agreement is available to DCI, theoretically, could the SSSNA apply for a similar 13 year lease for a set exclusive portion of the parking garage? How could something like that work?
RICK SIEBERT: At its heart, this lease is based on the need to retain Discovery as a major employer and strategic economic asset of the County.
- The call for comments indicates that a substantial portion of the garage would be leased. Do you know what that substantial part would include?
RICK SIEBERT: Much of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors of the 5 level garage.
From Brian (NB): 300 of the 592 spots (453 PCS spots) will be leased to Discovery as per this agreement.
- Would PCS permit holders be given concurrent access to this zone – or would (as the call suggests) this be truly exclusive?
RICK SIEBERT: The area leased will be for the exclusive use of Discovery.
- How would DCI maintain this exclusive area? Would they be installing any type of gate?
RICK SIEBERT: They will be installing a security gate and they are responsible for all routine maintenance of the leased area.
- Would the exclusive period be 24 hours – 7 days per week or would it be 5 days a week 7 am to 7 pm?
RICK SIEBERT: Their lease is on a 24 hour, 7 day a week basis.
- How much will DCI be paying for the exclusive access described in the call?
RICK SIEBERT: They will be paying $240,000 annually in advance.
- I understand that the call for comments is open until April 1, but when would you anticipate a contract being executed if this agreement moves forward.
RICK SIEBERT: The County does plan to execute a lease agreement with Discovery.
BRIEF COMMENTARY: I will tell you that I’m very concerned about this development. This agreement provides Discovery with everything that we, as residents, have asked for with regards to this garage including:
- An affordable place to park (on a per spot basis Discovery will be paying $66 per month for the life of a 13 year lease).
- SECURE parking – despite the presence of a 24 hour MCPD police officer (paid for by Discovery) break-ins still occur.
- A solution to the problem of no parking on Saturday night and Sunday due to high church traffic (These users pay no property tax OR parking fees due to their time of use).
- A solution to the inconvenience of needing to obtain a parking permit between the hours of 7:30 and 4:00 Monday – Friday.
I feel that it is incumbent on the county to make implementation of this lease fair for all of the most impacted constituencies – namely the residents of South Silver Spring. If the county executes this lease without making reasonable accommodation for residential parking, it will truly be picking winners and losers– business interest will have won and the residents of South Silver Spring will have lost.
Steve Nash (former chief of the Division of Parking Management), when writing in opposition to the idea of a Residential Parking Permit used as a reason for his opposition a desire not to choose winners and losers.
I hope the county will honor Mr. Nash’s desire and create some parity in this plan before it is executed.