Shepherd's Table, a a local non-profit catering to the homeless, uses these dummy meters to raise money. A similar organization does the same thing in Bethesda. While these are certainly good causes, you wonder if the fake parking meter is the best solution when people are stupid enough to park next to one located on a sidewalk.
Nonetheless, I saw no fewer than six cars park illegally on Ellsworth Drive, both at the dummy meter and elsewhere, in a fifteen-minute span yesterday evening. I understand that the people who do this are probably running into a restaurant to grab some take-out, and I could actually see a use for additional on-street parking throughout downtown Silver Spring. (There are lots of times when parking in a garage is not convenient, and parked cars do provide a nice buffer for pedestrians on really busy streets.) But I don't have a lot of sympathy for people unwilling to find and use the metered, on-street spaces currently available elsewhere on Ellsworth and on surrounding streets.
Clearly this area of Ellsworth is for pedestrians, not cars. That's why the curbs are dropped and the brick pavers go across the entire street. It's a shame that some drivers are too lazy and too inconsiderate (and, in this case, too stupid) to take notice.
(For more about Rene Magritte and surrealism in East County, visit the White Oak Sears for his work "This is not a door.")