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Forest Glen Residents Fight for Permit Parking

by Ethan Rothstein | March 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm | 2,547 views | No Comments

Cars parked along 7th Street S. in Forest GlenForest Glen, an 84-home civic association between Glencarlyn and Columbia Heights West, is preparing to submit a request to the county to establish a permit parking zone in their neighborhood.

The neighborhood, one of the smallest in the county, spans from Glencarlyn Park to 7th Road S. and Tyriol Hill Park. The Forest Glen Civic Association has grown increasingly concerned over non-residents — specifically, residents of apartment buildings in neighboring communities — taking up available street parking they feel should be reserved for only neighborhood residents.

“Residents even drive a car from the apartment complex, park it on our street, and get into a different car already parked on our street,” Shawn Brown, a Forest Glen resident, wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “That’s pretty crazy and really unacceptable.”

Forest Glen residents say street parking is nearly impossible to find late at night, with the streets filled not only with cars, but commercial vans and trucks. The civic association has prepared a draft appeal for the county to institute permit parking, citing the source of the problem as “the overcrowded apartments, condominiums, and duplexes that are located to the south of our neighborhood (between 7th Road S. and Columbia Pike and between Carlin Springs Road and Dinwiddie Street).”

However, any parking zone created by the civic association’s request under the current parking ordinance would also include residents of neighboring Columbia Heights West, which includes those apartment buildings. That’s something the civic association wants to avoid.

County Parking Manager Sarah Stott says she considers Forest Glen and Columbia Heights West “basically one community.” The county is currently conducting a study to determine whether, instead of restricting parking, more street parking can be created along the streets.

“Maybe there’s one space here, one space there [to add],” Stott said, adding that the “signs team” is studying if signs can be moved to create spaces. “We’ve got some wide streets there, we could put in angled parking and see if that could work. That could gain you a lot more spaces than parallel parking. We’re having engineers see if there’s a way to do that.”

Cars parked along S. Greenbrier Street in Forest GlenStott expects the study to be complete by the end of the month or in early April; she’s retiring March 21 and her replacement, Mike Connor, has also been following the issue closely.

If the study yields results the civic association finds unsatisfactory, it may submit its draft appeal, which suggests creating its own special parking ordinance for Forest Glen. If it does, Stott says she’s not exactly sure what would come next.

“I don’t know what that process would be,” she told ARLnow.com. “We haven’t had that before where a civic association, or anybody has appealed to the county to write its own ordinance.”

The appeal also references the special parking zones that have been established in the much-larger neighborhoods of Douglas Park and Columbia Forest, which restrict nighttime street parking. Even if the draft were to become an official ordinance, Forest Glen residents may not be too pleased with the results. Connor said he doesn’t see a need to increase parking for Forest Glen homeowners.

“The design folks are going to look at that entire community, but the intent isn’t to create the capacity in Forest Glen, which is a single-family neighborhood” he said. “Ideally the county is going to be able to create capacity in the higher-density neighborhoods.”

The full text of the civic association’s appeal is after the jump.

Update at 9:20 a.m. – Forest Glen Civic Association President Ron Ross said the neighborhood’s “ideas for a possible appeal have not been finalized” and said the appeal sent to ARLnow.com does not reflect the civic association’s official stance. He added, “There is a considerable amount of parking in Forest Glen by non-residents, decreasing the parking space for Forest Glen homeowners. The additional vehicles have also brought peripheral problems, such as trash left on the neighborhood streets and lawns, noise during nighttime hours, as well as blocking driveways of homeowners.”

(more…)

Board Approves New Office Parking Policy

by Ethan Rothstein | December 16, 2013 at 9:50 am | 1,145 views | No Comments

Parking garage in RosslynNew office buildings will be allowed to offer fewer parking spaces after the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a revised parking policy over the weekend.

The county will have the same minimum standard for parking spaces as before, but developers will now be allowed to make contributions to county transportation funds in exchange for being allowed to build fewer spaces than the minimum. Among the funds to benefit from the contributions are the county’s Transportation Demand Management fund and funding for transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

“This policy will help ensure that our commercial buildings work for everyone —  the developers, the people who travel to and from them to work, shop, dine or do business, and the surrounding neighborhoods,” Board Chairman Walter Tejada said.  ”It provides a framework that will allow developers to build less parking in commercial areas without increasing traffic on our streets.”

Office parking minimums vary by location in the county, from 1 space per 630 square feet of floor area to 1 space per 1,000 square feet.

The policy will only be implemented along Arlington’s two Metro corridors. Developers will either have to pay $242, $417 or $1,333 per year for each space reduced, depending on how many spaces below the minimum standard the developer is requesting. The actual dollar amounts will change with inflation.

The policy applies to buildings for 30 years after construction, after which it will be re-evaluated to adjust for changing traffic and transit patterns.

The Board also directed the County Manager to initiate a study for the parking requirements for residential building.

Snow Delays Some County Services, Parking Still Enforced

by Katie Pyzyk | December 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm | 523 views | No Comments

Snow Falling in BuckinghamUpdate at 4:00 p.m. — The Department of Environmental Services says all of its trucks are back out this afternoon to spread salt and make sure snow and ice are melting on residential streets. A small team will remain on standby overnight to address any possible areas that may re-freeze.

Earlier — All of the weather advisories for Arlington County have been cancelled and the snow has stopped falling, but the storm’s effects still linger around the county.

There are 250 customers without power according to Dominion’s outage map. Some of those are residual from Sunday’s ice storm, which knocked out power to about 1,700 Arlington customers.

VDOT reports having more than 1,900 trucks clearing state roads throughout Northern Virginia. Arlington County sent out crews on its streets beginning at 4:00 a.m. to treat primary and secondary roads. Traffic cameras show most major roads are clear and traffic is largely moving smoothly throughout the county as of 2:00 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution through tomorrow because temperatures will drop and slush on the roads could freeze.

The Arlington County government remained open but the following services have been affected:

  • Trash/Recycling/Brush collection crews are performing collection services. If they are unable to get to certain streets because of the street conditions, they will go back and complete collection tomorrow.
  • Vacuum leaf collection has been canceled for today. Collection will resume in zone three tomorrow.
  • Bag leaf collection crews are out collecting leaves today. If crews are unable to get to certain streets because of the conditions, they will also go back and complete the collections tomorrow.
  • Mulch deliveries for today have been rescheduled for tomorrow. Customers have been notified.

ART buses had been operating on a limited schedule earlier today and they returned to normal by late morning.

According to the Arlington County Police Department, Public Service Aides still will enforce parking regulations. Parking enforcement is in place every day the county government is open for business. However, Public Service Aides only will be used for parking enforcement duties today when they are not busy assisting police with necessary functions related to winter weather.

Although officers and emergency responders are out in full force to assist with emergencies, residents are asked to remain off the roads for safety reasons.

“Residents are encouraged to stay off the roads today and minimize their traveling if possible,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If they need to go out then they are encouraged to use public transportation in an attempt to minimize accidents, road congestion and so that county staff and road crews can perform their jobs as safely as possible.”

Arlington Public Schools closed today and so far no decision has been made about Wednesday. From APS:

“APS will continue to monitor the road conditions in collaboration with Arlington County and our regional partners throughout the remainder of the day, tonight and early tomorrow morning. If APS opens on time on Wed, Dec. 11, we will go forward with the previously-announced school calendar, including the scheduled countywide elementary early release. If schools have a two-hour delayed opening tomorrow, the elementary early release will be cancelled and school will end at the normal dismissal time, in accordance with our normal procedures.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | December 3, 2013 at 10:35 am | 1,065 views | No Comments

Sunset from the 14th Street Bridge (Flickr photo by Eschweik)

Projected Subsidy Soars for Aquatics Center — The planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center could require more than $4 million per year in subsidies from the county government, according to new projections. That’s up from projections as low at $1 million per year. “Certainly there are other priorities that arguably should come before building a luxury pools facility,” said local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki. Construction contracts for the aquatics center are expected to be awarded early next year. [Sun Gazette]

County May Allow Less Office Parking, For a Fee — Arlington County is considering a system that would allow office developers to build less than the currently-required amount of parking, in exchange for a per-parking-space fee. The fee would then be used for public improvements in the area around the building, or for Transportation Demand Management Services for the building’s tenants. [Greater Greater Washington]

Memorial Bridge Could Have Looked Like Tower Bridge — The Arlington Memorial Bridge was originally proposed as a memorial to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, complete with a series of “medieval”-looking towers and turrets. [Ghosts of DC]

Arlington Carpenter’s Intricately-Carved Birds — Arlington carpenter Jeff Jacobs, 59, carves intricate wooden hummingbirds out of a single block of wood. He sells the birds at Eastern Market and the Clarendon farmers market. [Washington Post]

Flickr photo by Eschweik

County to Get Pay by Phone Parking Meters

by Katie Pyzyk | November 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm | 893 views | No Comments

Parking metersComing on the heels of Alexandria’s announcement that it will implement a pay by phone option at parking meters, officials say Arlington County will be doing the same next year.

The county’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) hopes to have the system up and running by the fall of 2014. Right now DES is waiting for the police department to update its parking enforcement system before moving forward.

DES Parking Manager Sarah Stott explained that the handheld devices currently used by parking enforcement officers are not connected to a wireless system. ACPD needs to purchase new wireless handheld devices that are connected to “the cloud” where all the pay by phone information is stored. Once the system is in place, officers can type in a license plate and a message will pop up if the meter user paid by cell phone. Some systems also allow officers to type in a location and instantly which cars on that block paid by cell phone.

The county has received a number of inquiries about the possibility of installing the system, which Stott says is far more convenient than fishing for quarters or waiting for the current parking kiosks to print a time slip.

“We do get calls asking if we’re going to be getting pay by cell,” Stott said. “I think it will be positive, people will be very happy to get it.”

The county will proceed with finding a system vendor once the police department purchases new handheld units, which may happen by spring or summer of 2014. The three D.C. area jurisdictions with pay by phone capabilities all use different vendors — the District uses Parkmobile, Montgomery County uses MobileNow! and Alexandria will use Pango. Stott said Arlington will examine those vendors and others when determining which the county will choose.

Because no vendor has been chosen, the county is not sure exactly how the system will function. Typically, users with smart phones are able to add time to meters with a credit card via an app or by logging on to a website. Customers who do not have a smart phone should be able to add time by calling a phone number listed on the meter.

An iPark device (photo via Arlington County)The county will still keep traditional parking meters and the kiosks that dispense paper tickets. Despite trouble with a vendor going out of business earlier this year, the iPark system also will remain in place. County Treasurer Frank O’Leary said Arlington was able to purchase the recharge codes for the existing iPark devices so customers can continue to use them. County workers are in the process of finding alternative devices for those who may wish to purchase one in the future. O’Leary likes the idea of providing the public with a number of options for parking payments.

“The more options you give people, the more likely they are to take advantage of the situation,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned there’s no single solution, there are multiple solutions. Give people alternatives and make this as painless as possible.”

O’Leary does not anticipate any issues with the county’s parking meter revenue when the new pay by phone system goes live. In fact, he indicated there’s a chance revenue could increase if more people use the county’s parking spots when they discover the ease of pay by phone.

“I think people will migrate to this rapidly because I don’t think many people like the pay and park, where you have to walk back to your car to put a piece of paper on your dashboard,” said O’Leary. “I don’t think this is going to pose any major headaches.”

It’s unclear exactly how long it will take to implement the pay by phone parking system throughout Arlington; that will be determined once a vendor is chosen. The vendor will work with the county to put up signs explaining the system, and that is often done in phases.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | October 24, 2013 at 8:30 am | 1,208 views | No Comments

Mailbox at sunset (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Treasurer Makes Deal for iPark Refills — Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary has struck deals to allow the county to refill iPark devices, while adding more devices to the cache that can be used to replace non-functioning units. The county paid $10,000 to the bankrupt manufacturer of the devices for the codes necessary to add value without additional authorization or payment to the company. The move comes about a month and a half after the company’s bankruptcy suddenly prevented the county from refilling the devices. [Sun Gazette]

Man Gets 10 Year Sentence for Custis Trail Robbery — A 23-year-old D.C. resident has received a 10 year sentence for a robbery on the Custis Trail that left a jogger with a head injury and lingering cognitive effects. The attacker and his 17-year-old brother, who’s expected to receive a 1.5 to 3 year sentence, were both arrested as they fled toward the Ballston Metro Station. The victim, a 55-year-old personal trainer, says he still suffers from headaches, nightmares and memory loss. [Washington Post]

Remembering Allison’s Tea House — From the 1920s to the 1950s, Allison’s Tea House, at 1301 S. Arlington Ridge Road, was “a coveted neighborhood restaurant… that had been visited by dignitaries including Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt.” The restaurant’s iconic stone well house was preserved after the restaurant and its grounds were redeveloped into an apartment building in the 1960s. It still stands, and is used as storage for the apartment’s swimming pool. [Preservation Arlington]

ACPD Participating in Drug Take-Back Day — The Arlington County Police Department is participating in National Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday. From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at fire stations No. 1, 8 and 9, officers will collect expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. “The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked,” police say in a press release. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

Morning Notes

by Katie Pyzyk | October 17, 2013 at 9:15 am | 1,221 views | No Comments

Portal to Rosslyn Gateway Park

County Seeks Federal Funds for Transportation Projects — County officials are expected to apply for three grants for non-vehicular transportation projects. The $1 million in grant money would cover a bicycle and pedestrian connection between Four Mile Run Trail and Potomac Yard, improvements at Ashlawn Elementary School, and street and sidewalk improvements along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. [Sun Gazette]

Man Hospitalized After Fall at Airport — A man has been hospitalized after falling from a roadway at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday. He apparently climbed over the protective barrier near the ticketing level roadway and fell to the arrivals roadway below. [Washington Post]

Study: Arlington Could Cut Back on Parking Spaces – Researchers with the Arlington County Commuter Services’ Mobility Lab conducted a study of residents in 16 high rise towers to monitor their commuting habits. One of the significant findings is that residents are often choosing to walk, bike or use public transportation instead of driving, even if they own cars. A land use expert says the findings suggest that Arlington has more parking spaces than it needs, and can cut back on parking requirements for new developments. [WAMU]

No Anchor Tenant Yet for Ballston Development — All the pieces are in place for constructing a new development at 4040 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, except that there still isn’t an anchor tenant for the building. Developer Shooshan is waiting to sign such a tenant before commencing construction. The final building in the Liberty Center complex will have 20 floors and more than 426,000 square feet of space. [GlobeSt]

Board to Examine Permit for New School

by Katie Pyzyk | September 17, 2013 at 11:30 am | 619 views | No Comments

Rendering of new school on Williamsburg campusAt its meeting on Saturday (September 21), the County Board is scheduled to examine a use permit for a new 96,800 square foot elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus.

Plans for the new school have been in the works for some time, and the Arlington School Board unanimously approved a conceptual design in February. Although a number of concerns from the community have arisen during the planning process, county staff recommends Board approval for the use permit.

One issue that previously prompted a meeting is the traffic impact a new school would have on the surrounding area. A study indicates traffic impacts only occur during a 15 to 20 minute “peak” period during school arrival and departure times. It is therefore suggested that the two schools stagger their start/end times to reduce this traffic impact, with Williamsburg having an earlier start time than the new school. Staff believes the new school’s parking lot has been adequately designed to prevent long lines of waiting cars from spilling into the neighboring streets during drop off and pick up times.

Throughout the planning process, the Rock Spring Civic Association had joined other members of the community in expressing concern over the plan to use the neighborhood’s street parking near the schools. However, county staff still recommends reducing the number of on-site spaces for the entire campus from 258 to 209 due to the availability of on-street parking. This goes along with the County Board’s approval of changes to the Zoning Ordinance in February to allow schools and recreational facilities to reduce the number of on-site parking spaces.

Another issue has been the proposal to re-construct the athletic fields on the campus, with two of them becoming synthetic turf fields with lighting. The idea prompted community members to create dueling petitions earlier this year. County staff recommends moving forward with the installation of the fields, but not with the lighting. Staff members recommend a County Board review of the use permit one year after the fields open (approximately September 2016) to see whether lighting is necessary.

iPark Devices No Longer Accepting Refills

by Ethan Rothstein | September 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm | 2,035 views | No Comments

An iPark device (photo via Arlington County)Drivers who use the iPark devices to pay for parking in Arlington will no longer be able to refill them.

The manufacturer, ePark Systems, declared bankruptcy Tuesday, Arlington Chief Deputy Treasurer Carla de la Pava said, notifying the county of the impending bankruptcy at about 1:00 that morning. Funds that are still on the devices can still be used, but refills cannot be processed.

The county first stopped selling the iParks in January 2011 when ePark Systems stopped manufacturing them due to financial troubles, but started selling the devices again nine months later when the company had “recapitalized,” Treasurer Frank O’Leary said at the time.

About a year ago, de la Pava said, the county once again ceased the sale of the small, white devices that hang from rearview mirrors. There are approximately 1,200 devices that have been refilled in the past year, de la Pava said. O’Leary told ARLnow.com that about 4,000 devices are currently “in circulation.” When the office is able to compile a list of current users, it will begin notifying customers of the service’s termination.

O’Leary said the county is in talks with a company, OTI America, about using their in-vehicle personal parking meter technology. OTI’s device would be similar to the iPark, but would be capable of having funds refilled online, whereas the iPark could only be refilled at the Treasurer’s Office.

“It’s only a matter of weeks, not months,” before a deal with OTI could be in place, O’Leary said. He added that the county had been talking to OTI before the ePark bankruptcy.

“We hadn’t anticipated that they’d collapse this quickly,” he explained.

Until a new system is in place, iPark devices that run out of funds will no longer be usable, and those used to pressing a button or two will need to use change or credit cards at the parking meter.

Photo via Arlington County

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | September 5, 2013 at 8:30 am | 827 views | No Comments

View of N. Nash Street in Rosslyn

Board Approves Paid Parking at Arlington Mill Center — The Arlington County Board has approved a plan to have drivers pay for parking longer than 4 hours at the new Arlington Mill Community Center. The plan, approved by a vote of 3-2 in a special Board session, is intended to discourage commuters from using the center’s parking garage. Chris Zimmerman and Board Chair Walter Tejada voted against the plan, arguing that parking should be free at all times. [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Seeks Better Bike Map — Arlington County is asking for public input into its effort to design a better bike map of the county. Bike Arlington has created a short survey for local cyclists. The survey will remain open until Sept. 17. [Greater Greater Washington]

Old Bike Shop Profiled — The Old Bike Shop, which opened in January at 2647 N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park, was recently profiled as part of an Arlington Independent Media student video project. “I sell what I think is good,” said owner Larry Behery, of his bike “recyclery.” [YouTube]

Former Funeral Home Site Now a Parking Lot

by Katie Pyzyk | April 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 1,195 views | No Comments

Parking lot at 3901 N. Fairfax Drive  Rendering of Virginia Square development at 3901 Fairfax Dr.

Arlington Funeral Home at 3901 N. Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square was demolished last June in anticipation of the construction of a new mixed use development. For now, the site instead serves as a temporary surface parking lot.

The County Board approved the development’s site plan at its meeting on January 21, 2012. The idea is to build a 10-story building with three levels of underground parking. The development would contain office space, ground floor retail and a black box theater.

Per the site plan, the developer may use the land as a surface parking lot for a period of three years, which would end in January 2015. After that, the developer does have the option to ask the county for an extension on the site plan if a building permit has not yet been applied for and approved. That would keep the parking lot there for an amount of time agreed upon in the extension.

The site sat empty for months, but in the past couple of weeks workers from Mercedes-Benz of Arlington (585 N. Glebe Road) have been spotted dropping off dozens of vehicles in the 85 space Virginia Square parking lot. An employee at the dealership confirmed that the business is leasing parking space from the developer.

Parking lot at 3901 N. Fairfax DriveThis location is reportedly one of several lots Mercedes-Benz of Arlington uses for such purposes. Apparently, strong sales have prompted an increase in the volume of cars the dealership keeps on hand, and it doesn’t have enough space to keep all the vehicles on its own lot. The employee said leasing parking space is not an ideal situation in the long-term and Mercedes continues to be on the lookout for spaces suitable for permanent expansion.

As part of the agreement for a parking lot, the developer is required to abide by a number of conditions laid out in the approved site plan. For example, the property must be kept in good condition, hedges must be installed as screening from headlights and no new driveways may be added.

So far there’s no definite word on how long the parking lot will remain before construction begins on the new development. County staff confirms, however, that the developer has applied for two permits — one for shoring and sheeting, and one for building.

Board to Consider Food Truck Parking Change

by Katie Pyzyk | April 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 416 views | No Comments

Seoul Food truck serves up Korean cuisineArlington’s food trucks may have an easier time adhering to the law if the County Board adopts changes to an ordinance this weekend. The parking issues that have been plaguing food truck vendors and resulted in legal battles in recent months will come up at Saturday’s board meeting.

Proposed ordinance changes include extending the amount of time food trucks can park in one space from one hour to two hours. Currently, food trucks must move after one hour, but the ordinance wording is vague and doesn’t specify how far the vehicle must move, causing problems with enforcement. That’s another issue board members will examine on Saturday.

Food truck vendors have argued that the 60 minute rule hurts business because they were often forced to move in the middle of a lunch rush, or else face a citation. County staff appears to agree, based on the following excerpt from the staff report:

This time limitation is challenging for vendors and customers when typical lunch hours are between 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. A vendor is not able to adequately serve customers and patrons are unable to purchase lunch if their hours don’t correspond. Further, the overwhelming majority (approximately 90 percent) of parking meters within the Metro Station Areas are for at least two (2) hours.

Under the proposed ordinance amendments, the two hour limit would only cover time when vendors are actively selling to customers, not food prep time or clean up time. After a vendor’s time expires, sales would be required to stop and the vehicle would need to be moved to another marked parking space. If the parking area does not have metered spaces, the vehicle would need to be moved at least 25 feet.

Last month, a representative for the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington told ARLnow.com that the organization supports the county’s proposed ordinance changes.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 20, 2013 at 9:05 am | 1,052 views | 38 Comments

View across the Key Bridge into D.C.

It’s the First Day of Spring — At 7:02 this morning, astronomical winter ended and spring officially began. Spring also means longer days. Currently, we’re gaining about two and a half minutes of daylight per day. [Capital Weather Gang]

EFC Has Fullest Metro Parking Lot — East Falls Church has the fullest parking lot in the Metro system, with a 120 percent usage rate. Demand for the lot is only expected to increase when the Silver Line opens. [Washington Examiner]

Playground Coming to Long Bridge Park — The Arlington County Board yesterday approved $186,000 in funding for a new playground at Long Bridge Park, near Crystal City. [Sun Gazette]

La Tagliatella to Open in Shirlington — La Tagliatella, which is starting to wrap up work on its new restaurant in Clarendon, will be opening a second Arlington restaurant in the former Extra Virgin space in Shirlington. La Tagliatella is a global, European-based Italian restaurant chain. The Arlington restaurants will be the company’s third and fourth locations in the U.S. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Board Approves Neighborhood Projects — As expected, the County Board yesterday approved $2.5 million in funding for five Neighborhood Conservation projects. The funds will come from bonds approved by Arlington voters. [Arlington County]

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 19, 2013 at 9:15 am | 1,313 views | 11 Comments

Car drives through standing water in Pentagon City

Water Change Underway — The annual, temporary switch from chloramine to chlorine as the tap water disinfectant is beginning, as part of a flush of the water system. During this time, Arlington residents may notice a change in the taste and smell of their drinking water. The water system’s “spring cleaning” is scheduled to run through April 29. [Arlington County]

Ballston Garage to Get $3.5 Million in Repairs — The Arlington County Board on Saturday awarded a contract of up to $3.5 million for structural repairs to the eighth level of the Ballston Public Parking Garage. The eighth level of the garage was added in 2006, but the concrete was found to be deficient for long-term use — prompting claims that resulted in the county settling with the original contractor for an undisclosed sum. Kettler Capitals Iceplex, which is located on the top level of the garage, will remain open during the construction, which is expected to take 5-6 months. [Sun Gazette]

Spring Yard Waste Collection Begins Updated at 12:20 p.m. — Arlington’s annual spring yard waste collection began Monday. During the collection, which runs through April 26, residents can get paper bags full of yard waste picked up the next business day after their regular trash collection day. [Arlington County]

Pentagon Row Ice Rink Closes — Yesterday (Monday) was the last day of the season for ice skating at Pentagon Row. The Pentagon Row ice rink is now being dismantled. Skating is expected to resume in November. [Pentagon Row]

Board to Consider Extending Parking Limit for Food Trucks

by ARLnow.com | March 11, 2013 at 11:00 am | 26 Comments

Seoul Food truck serves up Korean cuisine(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) Food trucks in Arlington would be allowed to remain in one spot for up to two hours, under an ordinance change set for County Board consideration this Saturday.

Under the current ordinance, known as Chapter 30, food trucks are only allowed to remain parked for up to one hour. After that, they must move — but the current ordinance is vague and doesn’t specifically say how far they must move. Also, the ordinance contains contradictory language that can be interpreted as suggesting there is no time limit.

Food truck owners argue that the 60 minute limit hurts their business, as it can force them to shut down and move in the midst of the breakfast or lunch rush, even when customers are lined up. Since the trucks frequent busy Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City, that often means spending valuable sales time searching for a new parking space.

Food truck owners, fed up with getting ticketed for loitering when they refused to move, recently started mounting legal challenges against the ordinance, attacking the vague language. Last month they succeeded in getting prosecutors to drop loitering charges against one truck that was ticketed after police said it didn’t move “far enough.”

At the time, county officials acknowledged that the ordinance caused challenges for food vendors.

“We realize that the 60-minute time limit is challenging for vendors and for customers, and we are working to change it,” Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com.

True to that promise, county staff is now proposing that the food truck parking limit be raised to “the lesser of two (2) hours or the lawful time limit prescribed for the respective parking meter zone.” After that, the a food truck must only move to another marked parking space or 25 feet in the absence of marked spaces.

The County Board is set to vote to advertise a hearing on the proposed ordinance change on Saturday. After the hearing, to be held on April 20, the Board would then vote on whether to actually change the ordinance.

The one hour street vending limit was set in 2008, after the County Board voted to raise the limit from 5 minutes. From the county staff report:

Since those changes in 2008, there has been continued growth in vendors — mobile food trucks, carts and tables have increased in populated areas of Arlington. Social media has assisted with marketing for vendors, and customers have flocked to them. Today, Arlington has approximately 100 licensed mobile food vendors. The increased popularity of the mobile food vendors has raised questions about the regulations, including the amount of time permitted for vending, appropriate locations for vending, and the overall enforcement of Chapter 30.

Chapter 30’s current language has made it difficult for vendors, does not accommodate customers appropriately, and creates an enforcement challenge. Enforcement is time consuming and the ordinance does not provide clear-cut specificity. Additionally, a thorough reading of the ordinance highlighted an issue in which the construct of the language in Section 30-9 allows for a departure from the original intent of a time limitation for vending to a permissive allowance of vending anywhere, with no time limitation, so long as the vending occurs between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

“This interim amendment addresses several inconsistencies and is just one element of the comprehensive updates that will benefit all of Arlington’s businesses and customers,” said Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell. “As we move forward in the process, we’ll be having conversations with all stakeholders for input.”

An association of local food truck owners say they’re happy with the county’s proposal.

“The Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington is extremely pleased that Arlington is continuing its efforts to make the County a place where small businesses like ours can grow,” said Doug Povich, owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck. ”Of all the jurisdictions in the area, Arlington seems to understand best how manage the various interests of all stakeholders in a way that benefits everyone. We look forward to continuing our work with the County as it is moves into the next stage of its regulatory process.”

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