Takoma Park Hires ‘Carborist’ to Protect City’s Endangered Urban Asphalt Canopy

TAKOMA PARK, MD – Fearing the loss of convenient parking spaces due to proposed development throughout the city, councilmembers voted 5-2 to hire an Urban Parking Manager, or “Carborist,” to create and enforce a new Urban Parking Ordinance meant to protect the slowly shrinking urban asphalt canopy that has come to define Takoma Park.

“Ample parking is the reason Takoma Park is recognized as the most environmentally-conscious city in the country,” said Stefano Adams while idling in his parked car. “I hope we can preserve and protect what little of our precious heat islands we have left.”

Similar to Takoma Park’s tree ordinance, the new Urban Parking Ordinance regulates roads, driveways, and parking lots in the city. It grants the Carborist authority to fine property owners who eliminate parking spaces without approval. For a first time offense, fines can be as little as $1,000. For multiple offenses, the penalties range as high as public execution by being run over in a crosswalk.

Motorists living within a 10 minute walk of the Metro station were thrilled by the announcement. “Parking is crucial, not only for people like me but for all the disabled people who rely on accessibility features,” said longtime resident Carmen Ford, who led the fight against adding sidewalks on her street because they were inconsistent with the aesthetic character of the neighborhood.

The new ordinance also states that if the Carborist approves the removal of a healthy, usable parking space, it must be replaced with a minimum of 12 new parking spaces. Should the property be too small to fit the required replacement spaces, owners can pay into the new Strategic Parking Reserve Fund, which will be used to build more surface parking lots in other areas of the city or to knock down a bunch of trees to build a public garage.

In addition to regulating any change to the existing parking inventory, the Urban Parking Ordinance also imposes requirements on new construction. Before obtaining building permits, homeowners and developers must first apply for a Parking Impact Assessment. Within three business days, the City Carborist will make a site visit to determine if a more extensive Parking Protection Plan will be required. Protection measures include, but are not limited to, highly reflective paint, a top coat of fresh asphalt, a four-foot-high chain link fence, and a “TPSS Co-Op Parking Only” sign.

“I know some owners will meet me with hostility, but I just want to remind people that I’m here to help protect our most cherished surface parking lots,” said the new Urban Parking Space Manager, Fred Martin. “Our sustainable, environmentally-friendly city relies on the automobile and if we lose our convenient parking, we will have no other option but to take drastic measures, like walking, riding a bike, or – god forbid – taking the bus.”