I got an unpleasant surprise when I stopped by the charging stations at the Columbia Association Athletic Club yesterday. When I looked down while plugging in my car, I saw red spray painted lettering on the concrete and asphalt that spelled out “ELECTRIC CAR ONLY” in crude graffiti-like style. I became angry when I saw this. The spray paint had the look of vandalism except that the message appeared to reflect the frustrations of EV drivers that are often being “ICE’d” at that location.
The natural assumption is that an EV driver took matters into their own hands and spray painted the parking spots in an attempt to keep out vehicles that don’t plug in. That makes the EV community look bad in my view. No matter how frustrating the ICEing problem is, that is not the way to handle it. I hope it turns out that there is some other explanation for the red paint, but the perception is likely to prevail that an EV driver is responsible with all the negative implications that go along with that perception.
I’m not saying that ICEing is not a problem there either. In fact, I think it is a big problem and I’ve been asking the Columbia Association for more effective signage ever since they installed the charging stations there. When the Columbia Association responded that the lack of enforceable legislation was a reason they would not place signs to reserve the spots for EVs only, I lobbied the Howard County Council for a law. After a lot of work from many people, Howard County now has that law. But the legislation requires a sign that meets certain standards in order to be effective and enforceable.
There is a question if the current signs used by the Columbia Association meets that standard. They certainly do not seem to be effective because gas cars are still parking in the spots. I have brought this to their attention and have asked officials from Howard County Government to help them determine the proper sign to use. All we can do is wait for the proper regulatory signs to be installed by the Columbia Association. That is their job, we must let them do it.