In 2014, Howard County Councilmember Jen Terassa sponsored Council Bill 36-2014 which was designed to prohibit ICEing of EV charging stations. The bill passed and a law went into effect a few months later. Soon after, there arose varying interpretations of the Police Department’s legal authority to enforce EV parking spaces on private property. (see: Police: No Authority to Ticket for ICEing on Private Property)
In response, a new bill was introduced by Councilmember Terrasa and co-sponsored by County Council Chairperson Calvin Ball. (see: Message to Maryland EV Advocates from Howard County Council Member Jen Terrasa)
Howard County CB7-2016 will add the following two sentences to the existing anti-ICEing law:
(1) THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY ENFORCE THIS SECTION ON PUBLIC PROPERTY OR PRIVATE PROPERTY.
(2) THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY IMPOUND A VEHICLE THAT IS PARKED IN VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION.
On March 7, 2016, the County Council voted in favor of CB7-2016. During the vote, Council Chairperson Ball thanked Councilmember Jen Terrasa for her leadership and partnership on this issue. Ball said, “I believe that renewable energy is important and I believe that we should continue moving toward a more sustainable future for our environment.”
Terassa said, “This is an important addition to the bill that we did before.”
EV drivers shouldn’t get too excited and think that the police can now just write tickets at any and all charging stations in Howard County. The law will require a sign that is at least 12 inches by 18 inches and must meet any applicable State or Federal standards for parking control signs. That means that in order to be enforceable, the sign must meet standards defined in the Federal or Maryland Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Very few charging stations in Howard County have these signs installed. The only place I’ve seen them are at Howard County government charging stations. Importantly, the signs at Columbia Association parking lots do not seem to conform to the standards.
It will be a challenge to convince private parking facility owners and managers to post regulatory signs that will allow the police to ticket. Perhaps some of the Maryland-based EV organizations that have memberships, money and influence can take the initiative to get signs that meet the required standards installed at frequently ICEd charging stations in Howard and Montgomery Counties. The Columbia Association Athletic Club would be a good place to begin. (see: Is Graffiti the Right Response to ICEing Problem?)