Signs Planned for Columbia Association Charging Stations

New signs expected in the near future.

Good news in the effort to maintain access to charging stations in Columbia, Maryland. Jeremy Scharfenberg, the Energy Manager at Columbia Association says that based on the recent action by Howard County Council, the Columbia Association is currently working to implement new signage at all five EV charging sites that they operate.

The design of the new signs is said to have been completed and to be consistent with the signs currently posted at charging sites run by Howard County. They expect to have the signs implemented in the near future. This is a welcome development! Thanks Jeremy.


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Whole Foods Market Columbia Spots Reserved

Plug-In Only Symbols Painted at New Whole Foods Columbia Charging Stations

After being open for several weeks, the Columbia, Maryland Whole Foods Market has marked the parking spaces in front of their two charging stations with a green and white square designating the four spaces for plug-in vehicles only. There have been reports of regular gas cars parking in those spots which was to be expected before when there was no indication that the spots were reserved. Before the spaces were painted, I actually observed a number of shoppers begin to park there and upon recognizing the charging station, back out and park elsewhere. I’ve even had someone go back to move their car so that I could charge.

WFMc4From what I understand, the delay in getting the spots marked was due to rules in this particular location that had to be satisfied. Perhaps there were Columbia Association covenant approvals that needed to be obtained, I’m not sure.

Example of regulatory sign necessary for parking enforcement.

One thing I’m glad to see is that the painted squares are visible even before turning into the spots. Right now there are no signs at the front of the spaces but I have talked with the store manager and explained the new Howard County law and the requirement for official regulatory signs in order for the parking ordinance to be enforceable.

Some electric vehicle drivers that I’ve spoken with didn’t realize that both the Montgomery County law and the soon to be effective Howard County ordinance require a certain kind of sign that conforms to specific standards generally outlined in the Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Just because there is a charging station, even if it has a sign saying it is a charging station, doesn’t necessarily mean that non-plug-in vehicles can be ticketed for parking there under the new county laws. It will be interesting to see if the green painted symbols alone are effective at discouraging gasoline-only vehicles from parking in front of the charging stations. If you see any that do, let us know via Twitter.


“Towing Enforced” Charging Station Signs at Mosaic District

Seven Charging Stations at Mosaic District in Falls Church, Virginia

I drove my EV to the Mosaic District in Falls Church, VA earlier this week and saw that the signs at the charging stations are a little bit different from last time I visited. The words “towing enforced” were added to the bottom of the simple black and white signs that designate, “electric car parking only while charging.”

MOMs Ford Fusion Energi
A Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid charging at MOM’s Market in Mosaic District, Falls Church, VA.

When I was there about six months ago, I spoke with one of the security guards who told me that they were proactive about keeping non-electric cars out of the spots reserved for charging. If an ICE car is observed in a charging spot, he said they put a warning notice on the car and will tow it if it is not moved in a half-hour.
When the Mosaic District first opened several years ago, the charging stations had no signs at all and were frequently ICEd. I called the General Manager and talked with him about the need for signs. He said that he wanted few signs in the garage to fit with the minimal design aesthetic. He told me he was counting on common courtesy to keep people from parking at the charging stations. I argued that many people won’t even know what the charging stations are without a sign designating them. He agreed to monitor the situation and post signs if they saw it becoming a problem. Of course, it was a problem and the signs went up. Now, with the added warning about towing, the signs will get even more respect.