Prince George's County neighborhoods could set up their own parking zones, protecting valuable street parking space exclusively for their residents.

A series of three bills sponsored by Councilman Will Campos, D-Hyattsville, would raise fines for parking violations and give violators less time to move their unauthorized vehicles before they're towed. The bills are designed to discourage illegal parking in residential areas of the county,

Campos said.

Some Prince George's municipalities already have their own permit zones, and the Department of Public Works and Transportation restricts some parking near FedEx Field and Metro stations, but the county has no residential permit program. Permit zones are prominent in Arlington County, Montgomery County and the District.

Cracking down on illegal parkers
Parking violationOld fineNew fine
Unregistered vehicle$50$60
Fake handicapped permit$200$250
Expired parking meter$15$25

The permits give residents the benefit of a guaranteed parking space, something residents in Prince George's neighborhoods such as Lewisdale and Chillum lack, Washington said.

"Our main focus is to provide a system that's more community-oriented for our residents," he said. "Right now the current system doesn't work because of the overflow parking and other issues."

Campos' office receives frequent complaints from residents who can't find street parking in front of their homes because spaces are occupied by unregistered cars and commercial vehicles. In some neighborhoods, overcrowded homes and apartment complexes have caused parking headaches on surrounding streets, and commercial vehicles often skirt existing laws preventing them from parking on front of people's homes, Campos said.

Civic groups such as the Lewisdale Citizens Association, led by President LaVerne Williams, say the rules need a change and must be enforced to keep the streets clear for the residents who actually live there.

"There's nothing worse than to have one of those trucks firing up and waking you up at five o'clock in the morning," she said. "It's making our neighborhood look bad. Who wants those trucks parked all over their street?"

In Campos' district, zones may be primarily used in older, more established neighborhoods, but the petition requirements are designed to ensure each parking zone is tailored to the neighborhood's desires.

A petition to create a residential permit zone would require signatures from 60 percent of a neighborhood's residents. A public hearing would be held before the zone is established.

Parking restrictions would vary depending on the neighborhood.