Margaret Harrison recalled that shortly after a county ordinance banning commuter parking during the day in her East Bethesda neighborhood took effect last December, she and her neighbors noticed that about 75 per cent of the area's traffic had disppeared.
"Our neighborhood became a real neighborhood again, said Harrison, president of the East Bethesda Citizens' Association, as she told of problems commuters had caused by parking in the 25-square-block area just east of Bethesda's shopping district.
Now, however, the commuters, and the problems they cause, have returned, Harrison said.
Six weeks ago Montgomery County Circuit Judge Ralph G. Shure ruled that the county ordinance limiting parking there during the day was unconstitutional because it discriminated against a certain class of motorists.
Judge Shure made the ruling in dismissing a parking ticket Bethesda businessman William Thompson purposely had sought by parking in the area. Thompson owns a restaurant in the shopping district and said his business was being hurt by the county ordinance.
The county council is appealing Judge Shure's decision, but in the meantime a minor controversy has developed over whether the parking ordinance should and can be enforced.
The county council says that the ordinance can still be enfored because Judge Shure's ruling applied only to one case and wasn't precedent-setting.
However, the county attorney and the police department maintain that the ordinance can't be enforced until the appeals court decides the validity of Judge Shure's decision They say other commuters who receive parking tickets could also claim they were being discriminated against.
Because several Montgomery County residential neighborhoods have such ordinances, county civic groups are expected to join Arlington County in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a similar case in that jurisdiction in order to resolve an issue that's been argued in cities across the country.