The perception that the Chevy Chase shopping area has limited available parking was dispelled Monday with the release of a study conducted by the city's parking authority in March.
The study grew out of two complaints linked to the city's recent installation of four computerized meters in the area. Business owners had complained that their customers didn't want to have to walk back and forth to the new meters, and some had questioned how much parking was even available.
The study identified more than 750 on-street spaces and in parking lots and garages, "and that doesn't count them all," said Gary Means, executive director of LexPark, the Lexington & Fayette County Parking Authority.
Between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., the average occupancy of off-street parking spaces was between 55 and 58 percent. On-street parking occupancy was as low as 38 percent and as high as 57 percent.
Means discussed the results Monday night at a meeting that drew about a dozen business owners and neighbors.
"My take is there is parking available in Chevy Chase," said Howard Rackmil, owner of Worlds Apart. But some customers don't want to walk a block from their car to their shopping destination, he said. "People want the convenience of parking in front of the shop where they're going," he said.
Bill Farmer, owner of Farmer's Jewelry, and Leigh Ann Parker-Greathouse of Chevy Barber Shop both said it was inconvenient for their customers to walk half a block to a computerized meter and back to their cars to put the receipts on their dashboards.
The city has kept the traditional individual coin meters and used the new meters, which offer several methods of payment including debit and credit cards. The parking authority will collect data on meter use through April and then decide whether to leave the computerized meters or take them out, Means said.
Wanda Jaquith, president of the Ashland Park Neighborhood Association, said she was "pleasantly surprised" at the amount of parking. Her concern is that overflow parking ends up on neighborhood streets.
Means said some of that neighborhood pressure might be eliminated by identifying additional parking for 160 employees who work at the 27 businesses in Chevy Chase.
The study found that 63 percent of employees have reserved parking spaces, and the remainder are generally split between parking in public parking lots and on the streets.
"National City has identified four spaces where employees of the Chevy Chase area can park for free," Means said. The management company for Rite Aid and Shoppers Village Liquor has 25 spaces that potentially could be employee spaces.