(Published March 31, 2015) About a year ago, I contacted my representative on the Howard County Council, Jen Terrasa, and asked her to introduce legislation to prohibit non-plug-in vehicles from parking at electric vehicle charging stations like Montgomery County Bill 32-13 which had recently passed.
Councilwoman Terrasa introduced CB36-2014 in June, 2014. Many of my fellow electric vehicle drivers expressed support for the bill and some even appeared before the Council in person to testify. The bill passed on July 25, 2014 and the Howard County Code was then amended.
The Howard County Police initially responded to complaints of gasoline vehicles blocking EV charging stations, particularly at the Columbia Association Athletic Club parking lot, and wrote citations noting a parking restriction violation of Section 21.207c3.
In recent weeks, the police have refused to write tickets at the Athletic Club telling the EV drivers who were blocked from charging that they can’t enforce it because it is on private property. I initially spoke with Sergeant Baker of the Howard County Police who looked at the law and agreed that it was enforceable on private property if there was a sign. He indicated that he would send out an email to all Howard County Police officers about the clarifications to the parking restrictions at EV charging stations.
Something changed between then and now and I learned from a police officer that they have been told NOT to enforce ICEd charging stations on private property. I called Sgt. Maskola of the Howard County Police. He confirmed that officers have been instructed that they can only enforce the charging station parking restrictions on County property and not on private property. He said there was an opinion issued by the Howard County Office of Law to support this position.
Then I spoke with Cynthia Peltzman at the Office of Law and she said that enforcement on private property would be through the “trespass-tow” law applicable to private property owners in Title 17, Subtitle 6 of the County Code. I’m not an attorney, but it seems logical that private property owners already had the ability to restrict parking, including at charging stations if they wish, under the existing trespass-tow law.
It was my understanding that Howard County Code Sec. 21.207c3 let private property owners decide, by posting a sign or not, if they wanted police enforcement of parking restrictions at charging stations on their property.
“…a person may not stop, stand, or park a vehicle in a space that is posted for the exclusive use of plug in vehicles:
(i) Under subsection (b) of this section for County property; or
(ii) By the property owner for private property.”
I have asked for clarification on the intent of the law created by CB36-2014 and what needs to be done to have it enforced on private property.