A Baltimore parking garage that is free to park in is being advertised as a $1.25 free lot

What they didn’t mean to tell you is that you’re wasting money. Two signs placed around the Gateway Green Lot, one in Washington and one in the Rock Creek Park area of Silver Spring,…

A Baltimore parking garage that is free to park in is being advertised as a $1.25 free lot

What they didn’t mean to tell you is that you’re wasting money.

Two signs placed around the Gateway Green Lot, one in Washington and one in the Rock Creek Park area of Silver Spring, the other in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, appear to inform drivers in the mailboxes at the entrances that green spaces are free.

Once you get into the lots, a light green arrow at the base of the sign tells you to pay for parking in advance, in the case of the Silver Spring lot, or in the case of the Rock Creek Park lot, even though all 30 spaces are free. (Parking permits are required for non-residents at both lots, but you do not need a permit to enter the lot.)

You would have thought paying an extra $1 or so per car for the freedom to park at free was appealing enough, especially when the additional money is plowed back into the city, which will issue up to 12,000 permits for the garage so the lots can be free. But the signage at these two Green P lots, built on the southern edges of Baltimore Harbor as part of the Inner Harbor and the George Washington Bridge Park projects, does the opposite.

Anyone who enters the garage will still get a vehicle parking permit that can be redeemed for a $5 credit that they can apply toward the parking meter or box for not parking in that space, but that no one will have to pay.

James Wunderman, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., told The Washington Post that the signs were not intentional, but rather a coincidence. It’s the first time he’s heard that the Green P lots had signs saying free lots were free. He guessed it’s what happens when a company fixes a computer and makes a mistake in the placement of the sign.

The Baltimore City Code requires companies that build, operate or maintain more than 100 car spaces in residential areas to pay a fee to the city equal to 75 percent of what it cost to develop that space, including the construction, fees and other costs associated with the physical development of the lot, according to the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office.

For Gateways Inc., the Boston-based company hired to operate the two Green P lots, the fee could be $87,500 a year, in Silver Spring, according to financial statements the company filed with the Baltimore City Ethics Commission in 2016. That includes building fees and permits.

Debrinton and Parkly Acquisitions, the Boston-based company who owns the land on which the garage will be built, did not respond to requests for comment.

The city fined Anne Arundel County $360,000 in 2016 for failing to properly label a parking garage for two years as a parking lot in order to sell new parking spaces. And in 2012, however, Washington closed a parking garage in Southeast D.C. without warning. Car owners in two adjacent lots, located on the corner of L Street and Seventh Street Southeast, were told they’d have to move out, but the garage was on the West side of the property, and the city failed to tell them why they were being asked to move.

In a 2014 letter to the owner of the property, the D.C. Department of Transportation warned that “Failure to remove signage within 30 days of receiving a violation may result in mandatory removal of signage from the structure and possible removal of the facility from the taxable and tax exempt tax rolls.”

In January, Washington fined the owner of an apartment complex in Chinatown for failing to prominently display signs that said all stalls at the garage were free. “[T]here are no taxable parking spaces, which make it appear that this building is a building with commercial parking spaces” the letter from D.C.’s Department of Taxation and Revenue said.

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