A new budget proposal by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation would extend fees charged for weekday parking in downtown Silver Spring until 10 p.m. 

In a letter to his fellow councilmembers on the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee, which considered the administration’s recommendation on April 27, Councilmember Tom Hucker fought back against the proposal.

For one thing, extending the parking fee hours can only hurt downtown merchants at a time when bricks-and-mortar retailers are already suffering, due to the growth of online commerce.

“The County government should be supporting our vulnerable local retailers and should not give any of our residents an additional incentive to stay home and shop online,” Hucker wrote.

Hucker also pointed to county efforts to support “fragile, new small businesses” through initiatives such as microlending.

“Why would we undermine this goal by creating a new disincentive to retail shopping?” he wrote.

Lastly, charging for nighttime parking in downtown Silver Spring could sabotage the reform efforts of the county’s new liquor control chief, Bob Dorfman, to rejuvenate Montgomery’s bars and restaurants, according to Hucker.

Film buffs, bar patrons, concertgoers and foodies enjoying downtown Silver Spring’s burgeoning nightlife scene still have free evening parking for now, after the T&E Committee voted 3-0 to back Councilmember Hucker’s suggestion.

Read Councilmember Hucker’s full letter to the T&E Committee here.