Loosened restrictions could cause parking challenges with ‘streeteries’ continuing

As more and more cities and counties in the D.C. region begin to lift most, if not all, COVID-19 restrictions, people are starting to go out more and even return to work in person.

This also means traffic is almost back to pre-pandemic levels and looking for parking on streets could be a challenge since most spots are still blocked off for outdoor dining.

That includes street closures on M Street in Georgetown where traffic has picked up significantly compared to the same time last year.

READ MORE: Montgomery County approves $1.25M to winterize streeteries

"Georgetown has always been like the spot where you just kind of avoid and I think even the streeteries and lack of parking make it more difficult," said Marcus Pare of Arlington.

"People should not be taking up parking spots out here who are strictly out here for just the restaurants," said Judicael Koanang who was shopping in Georgetown.

About 20 minutes from M Street, parts of Beach Drive which isn’t surrounded by businesses but Rock Creek Park instead have been closed off to cars right along the Maryland border to allow for car free recreation. Fox 5 noted how dozens of people on community list serves posted that they want the road back open to traffic to make for easier commutes.  

READ MORE: Bethesda ‘Streetery’ draws weekend crowd as Montgomery County waits to announce phase  2 reopening

But city officials said they’ve received feedback on the other end, especially from cyclists who want for it to stay closed to cars. The council doesn’t have the authority or jurisdiction to keep it closed since its a federal road, so it will be a request sent to the National Park Service.  

Over in Old Town Alexandria, busier streets with limited parking spots like King Street remain closed off. The City has received suggestions from businesses and residents to keep a few blocks of King closed off but they are also looking at the long term impact on parking.

In Montgomery County, specifically in Bethesda, Rockville, Downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park many major streets remain closed off for streeteateries, which limits parking spots there as well.

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"That was not an issue earlier in the pandemic and a lot of the garages were empty," said Tom Hucker, Montgomery County Council President.

"There is access space to be used in the garages that people may have forgotten is there because I think a lot of people will be interested in keeping the streeteateries where they are."

According Katl Moritz, Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Alexandria

the streeteateries program will stay in place until the end of this year.

D.C officials say they will extend the program but didn’t provide a specific date.

Hucker said that county has yet to talk with individual locations about how officials want to proceed.