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Neighborhood Wants County to Delay Parking Restrictions

by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm 1,576 68 Comments

The Lyon Park Citizens Association is asking the county board to defer plans to restrict parking on part of Edgewood Street “pending a review of current County parking policy.”

County staff notified residents that they intended to restrict parking to one side Edgewood Street between 1st Road and 2nd Road after finding that some fire trucks are too wide to fit down the narrow street with cars parked on both sides. As we reported after the Feb. 12 board meeting, members of the board seemed sympathetic to the association’s request that the restrictions to be put on hold until the county and neighbors could come to a mutually agreeable solution.

In a letter to County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman, LPCA President Natalie Roy makes it clear that the association views the parking question as an issue of county-wide importance. Roy says the group is worried about how the county plans to implement restrictions on other narrow streets.

“There are numerous streets similar to Edgewood in Arlington that are too narrow for a ladder truck – why single out Edgewood Street at this time?” she asks. “The parking policy should be reviewed immediately to arrive at a more objective, cohesive, defendable, and democratic approach to governing parking within the County.”

While acknowledging that Edgewood Street is indeed too narrow for a ladder truck to navigate, Roy suggested that the trucks may be less costly to change than the streets.

“To be clear, the LPCA is concerned about safety first,” Roy writes. “As opposed to re-engineering streets throughout the entire County, it might prove more cost-effective and less disruptive to explore acquisition of different emergency vehicle.”

See the full letter, after the jump.

Arlington County Board
Attn: Chairman Chris Zimmerman
2100 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201

Dear Chairman Zimmerman:

On behalf of the Lyon Park Citizens Association, I am requesting a deferral of parking restrictions now under consideration by the County for North Edgewood Street, between N. 1st Road and N. 2nd Road, pending a review of current County parking policy.

As I mentioned at the February 12th Board meeting, I am disappointed that we have not been able to arrive at a manageable solution. It is particularly frustrating since up until the lone trash collector complaint in this instance, there have been no issues with this street for decades with respect to trash collection, emergency services, or traffic/parking management.

Two Edgewood Street residents, Ron Salazar and Al Lazure, measured the two block stretch to better frame and articulate the problem. Their estimated conclusions, accounting for current on-street parking capacity, and taking into account a proposal prepared by residents in January and a counter-proposal suggested by the County on February 15th, reveal:

  • Usable feet for parking on Edgewood now is approx. 900′
  • At 20 ft/parking space, the current on-street capacity = approx 45 parking spots
  • Accounting for the County’s mandate to restrict parking to one side of the street, the proposal submitted by residents would result in 35 on street parking spots (22% reduction in parking). All residents would still be able to park in front of or across the street from their homes.
  • The County’s amended proposal would likely result in 25 spaces available (44% reduction in parking). The County alternative results in inadequate parking spaces for residents to park in reasonable proximity to their homes, or even on their street.

Notwithstanding the loss of parking, the residents of Edgewood Street are more concerned by the arbitrary nature of how this complaint from the trash collector blossomed into the current situation. In this particular case, the residents were amenable to a self-imposed solution to limit parking to one side of the street on trash collection days – the County instead chose to engage the fire marshal on this issue and re-characterize the nature of the problem as a safety issue. Additionally, the County’s currently suggested solution imposes a number of traffic-code requirements never before implemented on this section of Edgewood Street, further restricting parking on a street where many residents have no other recourse but to street park (many houses have no driveways).

To be clear, the LPCA is concerned about safety first. Emergency services need to get to where they need to go. However, in the case of Edgewood, we are perplexed that for decades there was no problem and then only after a trash collector complained, did the County request the fire department to investigate.

We also want to emphasize that this is an issue that has ramifications for the entire County. Our position is that it is bad policy to impose 2006 street width requirements on streets built long before 2006, on an apparently random, piecemeal basis. As codified now, only a complaint by a member of the public triggers County action – this is an entirely faulty and inadequate basis upon which to base a County-wide approach to implementing parking restrictions and affecting traffic codes. Our policy approach should instead be to uniformly apply and adhere to a set of unambiguous and rigorous rules equitably across the County – versus an arbitrary, ill-defined methodology subject to question in its application.

To that end, there are numerous streets similar to Edgewood in Arlington that are too narrow for a ladder truck – why single out Edgewood Street at this time? The County is also sending mixed messages by encouraging residents to park on both sides of streets to encourage traffic calming. In many cases, parking on both sides turns many streets into yield only, which means a ladder truck would have difficulty maneuvering. Edgewood is in fact one of those streets. The parking policy should be reviewed immediately to arrive at a more objective, cohesive, defendable, and democratic approach to governing parking within the County.

Alternative examples to what is proposed on Edgewood Street abound. As opposed to re-engineering streets throughout the entire County, it might prove more cost-effective and less disruptive to explore acquisition of different emergency vehicles, as other major municipalities have done across the Nation.

Another option might be to explore alternative parking solutions. North Lincoln/Monroe Street, just to the north of Science Focus School is an example: a street as narrow as Edgewood in many places, it primarily has signs which restrict parking during particular hours and some zoned parking permit signs. It is doubtful ladder trucks could get down that street either, however, the residents there still have on-street parking on both sides of the street. Another alternative would be the possibility of placing a “no commercial vehicles” sign at the top of N. Fillmore and 2nd Street – an idea that might obviate the need to restrict parking in front of 201 and 135 Edgewood, as reflected in the County’s current draft parking solution. Clearly, many options other than eliminating parking should be considered in this instance.

We believe County government, working with input from the community, can achieve a better solution. What we need is an enduring solution, transcending this issue on Edgewood Street, which makes sense for the future. We need a better policy for the way ahead.

We appreciate the County continuing conversations with our neighborhood on this issue. Thank you for considering our thoughts in this matter.

Sincerely,

Natalie Roy
President

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  • ArlGnaw

    She has a point that this rule is being applied arbitrarily and hastily. I think it’s a fair request.

    And let’s be honest: When was the last time you saw an honest-to-God fire in an upscale neighborhood of detached houses? People don’t smoke in bed anymore or use whale-oil lanterns. It seems like the only fires I see on the news are in squalid apartment complexes (or set intentionally by the fire department, with no warning to neighbors, as happened recently in S. Arlington).

    The fire trucks in Arlington seem to mostly be for medical calls–which is ridiculous. That’s what ambulances are for.

    • FedUp

      +10

    • NArl

      You and Ms. Roy are both Dumb. So I think you both should send your name and address to the fire department and say please don’t come to my house cause I’m dumb.
      The size of the fire truck is determined by the amount of equipment that the truck has to hold to meet National Firefighting Standards. I sure that even this county just doesn’t buy a fire truck cause its big.
      Why don’t we just go back to old days when a smal pump was pulled by horse that will fit.

    • Westover

      http://www.arlnow.com/2011/02/11/fire-breaks-out-in-basement-of-aurora-hills-home/
      Happaned three weeks ago. Luckly it was caught early and kept small.

      Smaller Fire Trucks are not going to be as capable as Larger Fire Trucks, do you really want firefighters coming to your house or business without the tools they need to save your life, property or to keep themselves as safe as possible in a very dangerous situation?

      • Thes

        If the Fire Department “needs” to have a truck so big that we can’t safely use our streets for any other purpose until the fire hits, then no. I’d rather invest in additional smoke detectors, sprinkler retrofits and/or higher insurance rates. Arlington put out house fires successfully for decades without needing 12-foot wide trucks.

        • Westover

          The last two decades the Trucks have been just about the same size. While other buildings have gotten bigger and cars that folks need to be rescued from have become stronger and more sophisticated. The equipment they carry is not optional. The folks that live on these narrow streets have been lucky so far. Smoke detectors do not stop fire spread and higher insurance does not save lives.

          • Thes

            That street has been there for a lot longer than 2-decades. I’m not sure exactly what “required” (who decides that, anyway?) equipment is on one of these mega-trucks, but I do wonder if every item must be brought on each and every vehicle to each and every call the fire department makes. Perhaps we should split the equipment onto multiple vehicles.

          • Westover

            I am sure that you can do a ride along and find out what the equipment is for. The Truck might go from one emergency to the next without the option to just bring what they need. Like the Boys Scouts, they need to “Be Prepared”

          • Really?

            Are you serious? I’m not into name calling, so I’ll refrain from typing what came to mind when I read your comment. Do you understand that these professionals are responding to an emergency? Thus, there is generally not a whole lot of time to assess the situation from a fire station, decide what equipment is needed (or will be needed), and then head out to the emergency. And what happens if the emergency escalates and they require additional equipment, that under your method would be on a different vehicle back at the station. I can’t believe I’m even justifying your comment with a Reply, but seriously, you’ve just given some validation to the oft perceived characteristics of city dwellers.

          • Thes

            Yes, as the other comments on this thread indicate, I am completely serious. I do not believe that the best way for an urban fire department to equip itself is to cram 100% of every piece of equipment invented by man onto one single gigantic truck and sent it and only it to every singly emergency “just in case” a crane, bomb-defusing device, trampoline, backhoe or squirt gun “might” be needed and then demand that our streets be widened and cleared of all cars 24 hours a day 365 days per year “just in case” that truck would be called to a fire, oil spill or panic attack victim. Other urban communities around the world have figured out how to avoid fire deaths without using this particular method. Arlington should too.

          • borf

            I can see your point, Really?, but if you were right, every emergency vehicle would be the same. Yet we have ladder trucks, pumpers, EMT vehicles, hazardous materials vehicles, bomb squads, etc. They’re already specialized. So don’t be so incredulous and snooty about it.

          • 4Arl

            Often you don’t need to bring firefighting equipment, like for a medical-only call/transport. Arlington could learn from Richmond’s Ambulance Authority, which manages a fleet of ALS-equipped ambulances covering the city at an annual subsidy of around $3.8 million. http://www.raaems.org/

        • Sean

          The trucks aren’t 12 feet wide. Ladder trucks need 12-13 feet of clearance to put the stabilizers down when raising the aerial ladder. The compartments, which carry the equipment the FD uses to do their job, requires 2-3 feet of clearance on each side of the vehicles to be accessed. The County looks to have streets at least 28 feet wide in order for parking to occur on both sides of the street and for vehicles of all shapes and sixes to use the street. For the folks on S Edgewood St who feel they do not need access to School Buses, Garbage Trucks, Delivery Trucks & Fire Trucks, take a deep cleansing breath & get over it. You are no better or worse than the rest of us. It is understandable that taking away parking on one side of the street, which has been up until now a useful benefit, will be painful at first. That block of S Edgewood St is too narrow for traffic & parking on both sides.

        • Arltwo

          I’d be surprised if their policies didn’t get cancelled if their insurance companies knew about the restricted access for emergency vehicles from too narrow streets. Arlington County residents should consider their insurance policies the next time the County wants to narrow your street (especially those that access cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets).

    • Glebe Roader

      Jackwagon.

    • Lacy Forest

      You send a pumper for a medical call because most FDs have more pumpers in more locations than life squads and you want to get a medic on scene as quickly as possible. The FF/Medics riding the pumpers can be going about stabilizing the patient while the life squad is in route. This is yet one more reason that fire apparatus is bigger — they carry an extensive suite of emergency medical equipment.

      • Westover

        Yup, BLS emergencies only get an Ambulance, but the ALS emergencies get the other apparatus to provide more manpower and get folks there faster.

  • Matt

    I say let them park on both sides and “off chance” (as some proclaim)of a serious fire or other incident requiring a “large” fire truck to get down the street, authorize the FD to just plow down the road and push any car out of their way. Those trucks come with a huge front bumper and massive engine for a reason! And if there’s never a fire, everyone’s car gets to stay in one piece. If not, man, its not your lucky day!

  • Thes

    Which is the greater daily risk to life and limb in this neighborhood: fire or speeding cars?

    • Westover

      Taking away parking from one side of the street is not going to speed up traffic that much. And there are many other ways to slow traffic down; speed humps, random enforcement, traffic circles; and there were be few places where kids will be hidden before they dart into the street.

      • Thes

        Studies have shown that widening a street by 7.5 feet (which is equal to one lane of parking) on average speeds up cars about 6 mph. In the range of driving speeds on roads like this (i.e. 20 to 40 mph) this is often the difference between life and death.

        • Westover

          Speeding traffic up from 20 to 26 is not going to make that big of a difference and there are other things that can be done. This is not a major cross county road, there are not going to be folks speeding through to get from one place to the next, just folks driving into or out of the neighborhood.

          • Thes

            Actually, the difference in that speed range for pedestrian fatalities is profound (scroll down to the graph for “vehicle speed”).

          • Marc

            But that is the impact speed. Impact speed is usually significantly less than typical travel speed, since most accidents occur after some breaking, or other evasive maneuvers. I think that all narrow streets should have one side parking only, and if the residents do not like this, then they can give up some property to widen the street.

          • mehoo

            Except for the fact that impact speed is still faster when driving speed is faster. Duh.

          • Westover

            Above 20 MPH impact, it really does not matter to the pedestrian, the damage is going to be bad in a Car vs a Body. But accident avoidance ability between 20 and 25 is minimal, and even between 20 and 30mph, but no one will be going 30 mph on that little bit of road even if the street was 50 feet wide.

          • Burger

            I’d guess the speeding would go from 30 to 36 not 20 to 26. You could argue that is a testament to more speeding enforcement in the neighborhoods but you’d have to basically start a car and go 20.

          • Westover

            Not on that street

        • John Fontain

          The traffic calming argument is ridiculous in the case of this street. It is two blocks long and dead ends on both sides of the two block stretch. No one is speeding through here and 99% of the traffic is people going to their own houses. This street is not used a pass through.

  • SeanO

    Natalie does have a good point. All streets in Arlington too narrow to fit School Buses, Garbage Trucks & Fire Trucks should have parking limited to one side only.

  • SeanO

    @ ArlGnaw, Are you really that much of a Jackhole or was that post just trolling? Seriously…

    • AllenB

      I’ve never heard the term “jackhole” before… but now that I have, nothing else will do in describing ArlGnaw.

  • C

    Can’t imagine how a few street signs restricting parking would cost more than replacing fire truck. I do think the county should be fair and restrict parking on other streets deemed too narrow.

  • Art Deco

    Coming from another city or town as I’m sure many of us have, I remember a situation where one neighbor was have a large Christmas party. A fire started at a neighbor’s house with the entire family asleep. Fire trucks and rescue equipment couldn’t get through because of cars parked illegally on both sides of the street. Parking or safety, what a difficult choice.

    • Thes

      Yes, because parking IS safety most days — slows down the moving cars on the street.

      • C

        Which can easily be controlled with speed humps while still allowing fire trucks to attend to emergencies.

        • Thes

          Nope. The emergency services people also oppose speed humps.

          • Westover

            Since when? In Arlington there are cuts provided for the Emergency Vehicles to straddle them with out knocking a patient out the back.

          • Thes

            Google the phrase “Fire Department opposes speed humps” for a long list.

          • Westover

            Nothing found about ACFD. Even if there was, access with speed humps is superior to no access without speed humps.

  • SoCo Resident

    No concern for the safety of the firefighters is voiced here by the selfish Lyon Parkers and Ms. Roy. A easily extinguished fire can become a deadly inferno in the time it takes to ease a fire truck between parked cars, as any experienced firefighter can tell you. Listen to experienced firefighters not Ms. Roy. It is an URGENT public safety matter that parking be limited, at least temporarily, to one side yielding 25 or more spaces. Delay is unacceptable. The size of fire trucks, construction of driveways, policy etc. can be debated once safety is acheived. Ms. Roy’s berating the the County for engaging the fire marshall and “re-characterizing this as a safety issue” makes her totally disqualified as a community leader. Let’s think of our firefighters’ safety first, before parking convenience!

    • Sunny617

      +1,000

    • John Fontain

      “makes her totally disqualified as a community leader”

      That’s nothing. What began as a small, affordable project to upgrade the Lyon Park community center’s bathrooms to handicapped-accessible has turned into a $700,000 renovation/boondoggle under her leadership.

    • Thes

      Firefighter safety is not an issue that has been raised here, even by the fire chief (who has so far only raised issues of being able to rescue residents in need of emergency services). Not only is Ms. Roy’s suggestion to use smaller fire trucks to accommodate smaller streets perfectly reasonable, it is being looked at (pdf) in many other communities around the country.

      • Westover

        Did you even read that? Even the narrowest Trucks mentioned need a 12 foot spread to operate with the average needing 16 feet. And the differenc between the widest and narrowist cab design is 2 inches. The smaller Fire Apparatus option to fit the narrow street, due to parking, is not really there.

        • Thes

          Are you saying Edgewood currently provides less than 12′ clear width? Did YOU read the article? From the article: “in low-rise areas where ladder trucks are unnecessary, a clear width of 12 feet (3.6 m) should suffice.”

          • Westover

            Guess what, Fire Trucks use their ladders on house fire too around here.

          • Thes

            I’m sure they would use one of these, too if taxpayers would fund it and clear the airspace for their exclusive use. Might even make us marginally “safer” from fire. But that doesn’t make it the right choice for Arlington.

          • Westover

            Actually that does little good at putting out a house fire. Now a helicopter for rooftop access, NOW you are talking!

          • Thes

            If we buy you guys a fire-helicopter, can we get our streets back for the pedestrians?

    • Arltwo

      +2,000

  • Skeptical

    Maybe the County needs to retain something like one old beat-up 1960′s engine that responds only to narrow streets. ;) Station 6 used to have one and, so far as I remember, it ran.

  • http://xcurmudgeon.blogspot.com/ Xcurmudgeon

    Maybe the folks the parking on the street should get smaller cars.

  • John Fontain

    Mrs. Roy’s contention that buying new fire trucks would be cheaper than putting up a few “no-parking” signs on one side of the street (or as she puts it, “re-engineering the street”) is absurd at best.

  • Too Easy

    Park with two wheels over the curb you
    numbskulls.

  • Josh

    If the road is too narrow, just draw painted parking lines down the the road and make people part up in the curb… that seems to work in other countries…

    • Too Easy

      It has to cost money in Arlington in order for it to be considered a solution.

  • Southside

    Edgewood in South Arlington b/w 2nd St S and 5th St S is just as bad… have they taken a look at that? In fact I think it might be even narrower then its Northside cousin.

  • jjbug

    An assumption that you own a parking place on a near street when you purchase or rent has to be questioned. Begin by inquiring with apartment and condominium dwellers in the Metro corridor. They have learned that finding spaces for 2nd cars is very costly, and many have given them up and rely on short-term rentals or public transit.

    The original complaint involved the trash hauler who couldn’t get to the trash. What’s the solution other than limiting street parking?

    Fire trucks – thank goodness – are called out for so much more than fire that we all might contemplate when our weight gain or failure to follow doctors’ orders or simply getting to end-of-life urge us to call for help NOW. Please don’t insist that leaving this street that has been measured and found wanting be until every other street so narrow is discovered. What is different about Edgewood St. is that the parking spots are consistently filled at night. The other streets are not, YET!

    Realtors must help us here and teach their customers that buying a driveway and/or a garage is a farsighted move! Lyon Park’s leadership can engage its coterie of active realtors to address this question as a group and lead the county in discovering the shortages of parking spaces!

  • Steve

    Hey, this is the USA. I’m ENTITLED to a parking spaces in front of my house for the biggest SUV I can buy, plus the cars my teenage kids use to drive to school so they can drive to lunch. And space to rake all the leaves from my yard so the county can vacuum them up. Plus I get a park with bushes to walk my dog so I don’t have to carry around those ridiculous bags filled with doggy doo. It’s in my contract. ;)

    • jjbug

      How you give yourself such love is hard for me to understand! I yield. Park and block my rescue! You first, please!

  • Lyon Park Resident

    Sorry to the Board and the community. Natalie Roy does not represent the neighborhood. She is very unbalanced and her letter clearly shows it. Rather than accept such nonsense, the Board should ask Ms. Roy for minutes for all citizens association meetings where this issue was discussed (and check the minutes for a quorum). No such minutes would support the letter.
    Natalie Roy thinks she is the citizens association so her ranting letter is just her own opinion and nothing more. This is an ongoing problem with her.
    Board, do not attempt to discuss with Natalie Roy because she does not have the intellectual bandwidth to comprehend the thoughts of others.
    LAST, only a few houses (2-3) currently lack driveways, so it is not a big issue for this very narrow little street.

    • jjbug

      Please – I need the math – 2 or 3 have no parking places. Why then is the over-parking so heavy? Are some of the owners renting to multiple persons, each with cars? How do you appreciate how the situation will develop in 4- 6 months? What is the thinking in your block if you are of that block?

      Also, please, I have met Natalie Roy enough to know she is trying to address problems that others identify, and mesh the collective complaints of so many of us. She has been careful to keep the questions open until the real quantified data identifies the problem. Your suggestion that she doesn’t represent the neighborhood suggests that you think what you think is the neighborhood. I am happy that Natalie has the ability to hear you and me and so many others and try to find a common theme for all of us. As you may have read, I do not agree with her request to have a change to this one block delayed, but I still respect her attempt to explore all the angles on this question (as others also do). Unless you have had to represent a chattering group of 700≠ homeowners, perhaps you don’t have the experience to characterize her ambitions! Raise a cheer for Natalie who has stood up and has been very fair on a very hard job.

      • Lyon Park neighbor

        Fair and listening to all sides? Good grief. Read the ranting letter from Natalie Roy. Those views are not balanced nor fair nor show any appreciation that there might be other views. You can rest assured that the ranting letter never was presented nor discussed at a citizens association meeting before being sent. It also was never distributed within the neighborhood — thanks ArlNow for publishing it. (Roy also falsely told the Board recently that the citizens association supported a change in speed limit along Pershing when in fact the citizens association NEVER voted on such a change. When challenged on the neighborhood listserv, Natalie went underground and operated in secret but continued to falsely tell the Board that the neighborhood supported the change.) If other neighborhood’s citizens association have equally dishonest leadership, the Board should stop listening to such “representation.”

        • AllenB

          If this is true then you should send your own letter to the board explaining it like you’ve laid out here.

  • Bender

    In many places, the property owner holds title up to the middle of the street, with the public holding an easement for the road. As such, YES, they do “own” the parking space.

    Even where title is not held to the middle of the street, having established a parking use over several decades, then it is the homeowner who can rightly claim a property interest in the parking spot in front of their house, especially where the County had given clear approval for that in the past, as is the case with many of the properties that were built in the 1930s to 1950s.

  • nonissue

    streets are for getting from point a to point b. parking on the street is not a right it is a bonus. lets see fire truck or parking. firetruck. the person who posted about insurance has a good point. if your insurance company finds out that fire tucks cannot access your streets you will lose your coverage.

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