Bethesda, Potomac Residents Open Yards for Parking During Tournament
During the AT&T National golf tournament, residents living near Congressional sell spots on their front yards for parking.
Driving along River Road near Congressional Country Club this week, you’ll probably find yourself stuck in a little more traffic than usual as cars pack the road trying to find parking for the AT&T National golf tournament.
The country club doesn’t offer parking, so tournament goers have a few choices.
They can park in offsite lots (up to 18 miles away) and pay between $10 and $20 to park and get shuttled to the event.
The tournament also offers a VIP pass to park near the course for up to $150.
Or, as many opt to do, they can park on people’s front lawns -- for a price, of course.
Eleven homes in the nearby vicinity have permits issued by the county that allow them to use their yards as a parking lot, according to David Niblock, a senior permitting services specialist for Montgomery County.
“It’s their right to do it, and it’s written in to the zoning ordinance,” Niblock said.
He explained that permits cost $297 and applications must be submitted 10 days prior to the event. In addition, residents have to present a detailed plan and allow 8 feet of space for each car.
Neal Gillen has lived at 9000 River Road in Bethesda for the past 41 years and says he’s the reason permits are necessary.
“A few years ago, parking was out of control. You couldn’t get out of your driveway,” he said. So Gillen brought the issue up with the county and fought to put the permit system in place.
Congestion is an issue during these events, Niblock said, adding that there is a safety concern that gridlock may block emergency vehicle access.
Gillen says he decided to get one himself for the first time in 2011 when the U.S. Open came to Congressional.
On Wednesday, he was charging $15 to park on his vast front yard, which can fit between 120 and 130 cars. He says he probably won’t push his price higher than $20 this year, though he says many of his neighbors will ask for much more as the week progresses.
“Last year one of our neighbors tried to ask for $100 on the last day, but the highest we went was $60,” he said.
Just around the corner at 8905 Bradley Boulevard, George Garcia was renting spots on his front lawn for $10. Unlike most Bethesda residents, Garcia doesn’t rent out his yard for his own profit.
“We raise the money for charity and donate everything,” he said.
Garcia plans to keep his price around $10. His yard can fit between 70 and 80 cars, and during the U.S. Open last year, he says he was able to make somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000.
All the proceeds are also tax exempt, ABC7 reports.
Both Gillen and Garcia’s homes are located about a mile and a half from the public access entrance to the course, and Garcia says that it’s hard to get parking any closer.