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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com August 26, 2010 at 5:45 am 3,796 41 Comments

More on Bayou Bakery — On Tuesday we broke the news that David Guas finally picked out the perfect spot for his Bayou Bakery concept: the old Camille’s space in Courthouse. Now the venerable Tom Sietsema has scooped us and a half dozen other local reporters who had been waiting patiently for an interview about the Louisiana-inspired cafe. Guas tells Sietsema that the Bakery will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and will feature, among other things “muffalettas, layer cakes, root beer floats, blue plate specials,” and a beer selection.

The End of Free Parking in Clarendon? — Starting August 31, the Department of Human Services parking garage in Clarendon will no longer be free to the public between 6:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. With DHS moved out of the building, a private parking lot operator will be taking over. Even though garage parking rates in Clarendon are reasonable, the loss of free parking could result in even more cars coming into the Lyon Village neighborhood looking for street parking at night. More from TBD.

More Trader Joe’s Rumors — That persistent rumor that Trader Joe’s will be coming to Clarendon? We’re now hearing it too. And for everyone’s convenience, we’ve picked out the perfect spot for a new Trader Joe’s. Check out the unoccupied 10,319 square foot retail space in the Clarendon Center project (space #9). It could be a great location for a grocery store, don’t you think? But a higher-up with the developer denied that Trader Joe’s has any plans to move in.

Flickr pool photo by MichaelTRuhl

  • charlie

    the loss of the parking at 3033 wilson is the worst thing to happen to clarendon in decades. 400 cars now need to find somewhere to go.

    • AllenB

      I dunno. I think the Cheesecake Factory and its horrible looking building is the worst thing to happen to Clarendon.

      And the parking isn’t disappearing. It will likely cost $3 to park there at night. Hardly a disaster in the making.

      • Greg

        Tend to agree although other business owners think it was a good thing. Even other restaurants benefit from people coming to the Cheesecake Factory, realizing there is an hour wait, and heading somewhere else local.

        I still tell people, though, how ten years ago there was another building there spray painted with “Keep Clarendon Weird” that the developers knocked down and replaced with a Cheesecake Factory.

        • Katie

          Invariably, when people wander around aimlessly, then stop me to ask directions to someplace in Clarendon, it’s “where’s the Cheesecake Factory?!” Oddly, some find it difficult to locate.

      • Katie

        Indeed it is a loss. After 6 pm, the existing garage parking costs $2, but the tiny “compact car only” spots into which inconsiderate SUVs squeeze = mucho damage to my poor little Acura’s paint job.

      • charlie

        the cheescake factory design is the result of the community wanting something different in archiecture compared to Market Common Phase A. others may disagree but that is mainly because they won’t admit their part. the community also demanded a “green roof” and were happy to get a 100 sf green roof. look at the aerial photos in GOOGLE to see how absurd the Cheescake Factory green roof is — 100 sf. Yes, 10×10. But it made the community happy so who cares.

  • Sunny617

    Trader Joe’s in Clarendon = AWESOME
    Please be true. Please be true.

  • Thes

    According to the linked article, the DHS garage will remain open to everyone who goes there now, it just won’t be “free” (i.e. paid for by taxpayers).

    From the linked article:

    “There are currently 2,400 parking spots in five private garages around Clarendon, Arlington County parking manager Sara Stott says. The county has just placed 27 blue parking signs around the neighborhood to help people locate the entrances to these garages.

    The problem is, lots of people donโ€™t want to pay for parking, no matter how cheap it is. (One of the paid lots attached to the Market Common shopping center has a $2 flat rate after 6 p.m.; another nearby lot is a $3 flat rate during the same time.) Others are driving into the area from farther reaching suburbs, magical lands like, say, Reston Town Center, where everything has a parking lot and all spots are free.”

    I would suggest that someone who can pay $11 for their martini (or even $3 for the gallon of gas that got them to the parking lot in the first place) can probably afford pay $2 for their parking.

    • charlie

      The issue isn’t whether people “can” pay for parking. It is whether they “want” to pay. and if THES would understand basic market economics instead of academic postulations it would be clear that “can” and “want” are not the same things. I just hope the Clarendon market can absord the loss of these “free” parking spaces.

      • bam bam

        Not only do I not want to pay for parking, I also don’t want to pay for food. I guess I won’t be getting what I want.

      • Thes

        Someone earlier in the thread asserted this was a “loss” of 400 spaces and that those cars “need” to find “somewhere else to go.” That does not seem like a “want” that sounds like a “can”.

        Since we have established that the lot is not closing, but merely charging $2, we were left to wonder what that un-cited but nonetheless authoritative and categorical statement could have meant, other than just being another outright inflammatory error or deceptive statement by the commenter on this blog. Taking the charitable view that the commenter was not just trying to sow discord for the sake of sport, I posited that he may have been assuming that the $2 charge somehow rendered the parking garage *financially* out of reach of Clarendon nightlife visitors, and why that, also was likely incorrect.

        But, if we would like to turn to basic market economics, we can do that too. Basic market economics tells us that, in general, a subsidized good gets inefficiently overused. In this case, the government subsidy of parking costs among other things, probably sometimes encourages some people who might have the choice to carpool, walk, bike or take transit to Clarendon to drive alone instead. With the removal of the government subsidy, we can expect some people to make different, more efficient, travel choices. And, given the size of the charge, we can expect those choices to be made only at the margins, just like we can expect there are only a small number of people who decided to come to Clarendon in the first place based on whether or not they have a $2 parking charge in addition to their $11 martini.


        • charlie

          Well I guess the market will indicate if that parking works or not, regardless of your use of big words and endless links to justify your posts.

          • AllenB

            I HIGHLY doubt that the $2 or $3 that the garage will start charging will deter many people. If you’re coming to Arlington to shop or eat or drink, you already have some extra change in your pocket. If they don’t WANT to pay, I’m sure they’ll get over it. I’d bet any amount of money that there will be nary a blip in the sales at the local stores. And if the people start parking illegally in the neighborhoods, they’ll be ticketed promptly and won’t do it again.

            Sheesh… a bunch of people making a big something out of what is really a big nothing.

          • JR

            @AllenB – “a bunch of people making a big something out of what is really a big nothing.”… isn’t that what you do best? just saying.

          • AllenB

            Actually, JR, I stayed on the topic of the parking. You on the other hand, added nothing. Typical of you, but still….

          • charlie

            @AllenB. Is it nothing? Thes and his lapdog Zimmie want to control how you live. Look at the level of detail in his post. These people are making decisions every day on your behalf. Get involved. Care. Today it is parking. Tomorrow it is the post office. Most people don’t care and adjust.

          • AllenB

            Actually, Charlie, this is quite the opposite. This is the County NOT controlling how we live. When the County was the tenant in that building, they offered the parking for free, exactly like they do for Courthouse Plaza. Now that the County is no longer the tenant, they have no control over what the private landlord charges for parking there – the landlord can charge $2 or $20 to park there. It’s the landord’s call, not the county’s after August 31.

            Do you expect the county to somehow control the price of parking in a building in which they are no longer the tenant? That’s why I think this is a big nothing; The county has no control over what a private landlord charges for parking in their building. Are you advocating the county try to regulate parking charges on private property?

          • MB

            Charlie, seriously? You’re complaining that someone wants to control how you live because you’re losing publicly subsidized parking? Do you want the government to keep its hands off your Medicare, too?


            In unrelated news, I used to drive to Clarendon (even when there was still a Sears there). Now I walk or bike. About 10x more often than I drove. Better for me, better for Clarendon businesses, better for the people still in cars on Wilson.

          • charlie

            all very good greg and allenb.
            i’ll be curious to see where we are in a year on parking in this building AND if new tenants allow the space to continue to be used after hours.

          • JR

            Actually AllenB – you just criticized others… which is what you really love. you need to find a boyfriend and stop being so angry.

          • AllenB

            Frequently wrong but never in doubt, JR. If you bothered to read what is here, you would see that I criticized and disagreed with some views on a topic, not anyone personally as you are wont to do.

            Do you have anything to contribute to the discussion or are you now simply a puppy dog following me around?

          • JR

            @AllenB…. wow – ego much?

        • Greg

          The only thing worse than an Internet lawyer is an Internet economist.

          You could easily make the case that free parking is more efficient because it decreases transaction costs for those seeking parking and results in positive externalities for Clarendon (e.g., people are more likely to spend money there instead of, say, Reston, or simply stay home; people are less likely to clog neighborhoods looking for parking, etc).

          In the end, will the costs to Clarendon outweigh the costs associated with providing free parking? Who knows. No one on this site is going to figure that out. I’m sure, given how strongly the County previously promoted the free parking, they will keeps an eye on this.

          • Thes

            @Greg. I agree that lowering transaction costs is one good theoretical rationale for government intervention. For that reason, I wish we had single-payer national health care (like Canada) instead of having to support the entire health insurance industry and a good chunk of the tort lawyer industry within our medical bills. On the other hand, co-payments can help keep things from getting out of hand in terms of moderating inefficient behavior.

            TGEoA makes your point similarly, below.

            There are ways to address transaction costs in this situation, for example, by charging people as they enter, rather than as they leave, so they don’t have to wait in line at bar-closing time. Or, perhaps lot owner could could find a way to cooperate with VDOT to use the E-ZPass system to allow debited payments. But even if we bundle the hard cost of the $2 charge with the soft cost of time and convenience to hire an attendant and make everyone fish our their wallet, it still seems like not enough to make 400 cars to “need” to find someplace else to go, or even make them “want” to divert themselves to the 7-corners Applebees.

            But if transaction costs to drivers really are significant and the externalities of that fall on the Clarendon businesses, one sensible possibility is for the Clarendon restaurants themselves to agree to form themselves into a BID and pay for the parking with the money they get from their $11 martini bar revenues. Apparently, the County isn’t feeling it’s going to hurt their meals tax revenues enough to keep taking the hit.

            Anyway, it certainly doesn’t seem like it will wind up being the “worst thing to happen to Clarendon in decades.” I’d put the closure of Little Viet Garden or the Virginia Hardware store way ahead on that scale. Heck, I’d even put the post-9/11 closure of the Olmstead building parking garage ahead of it, as long as we’re on the subject. And if the rest of the comments here are any guide (and admittedly there is little reason assume that they are), most people seem to feel similarly. The free parking served its purpose at a time when Clarendon needed a boost. Now that pizza and cupcake vendors are fighting over every storefront, that need seems to have passed.

          • Greg

            BID? A free market solution to the issue? Maybe you aren’t a commie after all. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Let’s Be Free

            What’s fascinating about this thread is that people are arguing about the details of how parking should/could be provided, while implicitly acknowledging that providing good parking options is necessary for the economic vitality of the area. There’s a lesson in that — while Carfree Diet may be a cute slogan and a viable option for some it ain’t going to work economically as the driving strategy because people who live more than a few blocks away from the retail cores need to be drawn in to make the economics work. The reason why Columbia Pike redevelopment isn’t ultimately going to work is because parking is at best an afterthought — the planning of that corridor is driven by an anti-car animus.

          • South Arlington

            Let’s Be Free, I think the goal of the Columbia Pike redevelopment was to create density to support a more walkable area, supported by a major transit initiative like the streetcar to bring in people from surrounding areas. Living on 2nd Street, I frequently walk to Columbia Pike for shopping, the farmers market and dining, and believe the neighborhoods of Arlington Village, Arlington Heights, and Penrose are a strong base of walk-accessible neighborhoods to the redevelopment.

            I’m also fairly sure that they dugout several levels of underground parking for both Siena Park and for Penrose Square, and the Halstead has a very sizeable parking lot as well. I’m not clear on how parking is an afterthought just because the parking is being forced underground rather than in an unsightly above ground lot.

          • charlie

            LetItBeFREE: THANK YOU. My point, which wasn’t made well, is that LapDog Thes and Zimmie want to tell us how to live. The posts indicate all these great policy and plans. I just walked three blocks home from a party and i’m hot and sweaty. I wish I had driven. Other than those lucky enough to live in overpriced condos adjacent to the Metro, everyone else must drive to get places. ART doesn’t work at night. My specific point wasn’t about 3033 being open/closed or costing $2.00, it was about how Arlington is run by a bunch of people who think they know better than everyone and want to control how you live — eg not have a car, walke everywhere, share a bike, etc.
            Stay involved. Heads up everyone.

          • Thes

            Charlie, the comment you were so eager to make at the top of the page is flat out wrong, and has been completely demolished today, and not just by me. Please rest assured that your claim that there is a conspiracy to control your life is equally untrue and ridiculous. I really don’t care whether you choose to drive or be sweaty. Honestly.

            What I do care about is that the many other people who read the news be well and accurately informed. For example, readers of ArlNow should know that census data show that auto ownership is *inversely* correlated with income in Arlington. In other words, it is the poorest people who own the fewest cars, not the rich condo dwellers. That is partly why Arlington is progressive in being committed officially to transportation choice and high-quality access for all transportation modes, including auto, bus, train, taxi, bike and walking.

            Certainly, there are some in Arlington who believe that the carbon footprint of autos merits mandatory restrictions on auto use such as exist in Mexico City or Rome for pollution or the London commuter toll system. Less radically, some have advocated for maximum parking allowances for new buildings. However, that is decidedly not the view Arlington has taken in its adopted plans, and rightly so. Arlington includes some suburban single-family home neighborhoods that are not intended to be redeveloped. Auto is the most reasonable mode for most trips for many people in that housing type, and auto trips are officially accommodated with required parking, for example, at dog shampoo establishments. The “Car Free Diet” program, spearheaded by County Board chair Jay Fisette, is not a mandatory program forced on to citizens at gunpoint, but essentially a booklet of facts passed out to people who are interested. You don’t have to read the booklet if you don’t want to. Just like you don’t have to click the links below to find out for yourself if you don’t feel like learning. I can assure you, though, that it doesn’t take an Ivy League education to understand.


            http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/EnvironmentalServices/dot/planning/mplan/mtp/images/file59216.pdf (pdf)

          • Thes

            And another thing: I’m fallible. Auto ownership in Arlington is *positively correlated* (not inversely proportional as I just incorrectly stated) to income. In other words (and this part was right), the poorest people own the fewest cars, and the rich condo owner own more cars.

    • RestonRunner86

      “Magical lands like Reston Town Center.” LMAO! ๐Ÿ˜€ “Magical”, “awesome”, “totally super rad cool”, etc. are buzz words that people from Loudoun County (or LoCo, as it’s now called) use to describe Reston because they think they’re actually in “da big city.”

    • charlie

      what is with the 27 new PARKING signs that have been installed in Claredon?
      They are ugly, look like they were made in someone’s garage workbench and they do not conform to the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals:
      (I too can post links to validate my opinions). But won’t say as much first. But I’m not a lawyer so I don’t get paid per word.

  • LP

    Trader Joes in Arlington? Please be true!

  • Let’s Be Free

    Reality is that $2 to $4 isn’t much to park when I consider how much we spend whenever we go to Clarendon. However, knowing that parking is no longer free on the rare occasion we go out we’ll go down to Shirlington or over Potomac Yards now instead.

    Maybe it’s just that I’m nostalgic for the days when Lazy Sundae was still in Clarendon, the Cheesecake Factory was an abandoned gas station hosting impromptu chi chi flea markets, when Gold’s Gym occupied an ancient, leaky and decaying former Grand Union food store across the street, and I could park free until bar time in the old Sears lot (where Market Commons is now located). Whitlow’s, IOTA, Faccia Luna and Hard Times are still there, but most everything else has changed. In those earlier days it was easy to be optimistic about the future. Now is seems like everything down the road will be a rough haul.

    Time marches on.

    • TGEoA

      The price of parking is indeed cheap, however cheap it is the impression is not as good as FREE.

      Free parking also has a convienance factor — no waiting for the attendant or a line of cars exiting. That’s the problem with even free parking via validation.

  • Joe

    So where are all these cars going to go if you don’t have free parking? That’s right, LYON VILLAGE.

    So let’s review. The County first puts in a Human Services building right on the Village’s border. After a long struggle, an alternate location is found for these people to go, but the hit on property values can never be recovered.

    Yet where the County gives back, it takes away. It injects an ENORMOUS complex of AFFORDABLE housing on top of a church, right next to the Village. Again, hammering property values as real residents of Lyon Village worry about their children getting jumped day after day in the wake of the people living in these affordable units.

    And now, the withdrawal of free parking, so that everyone will park in the neighborhood. Again, depressing property values.

    It’s time for Arlington to cancel out the drive to rebuild the planetarium. Slash the Affordable Housing Fund. Get rid of the subsidy to fixed-income residents staying in their tiny Cape Cods and Colonials long past market dictates. Take that money, and start doing the right thing. Pay reparations to the residents of Lyon Village, who have suffered real economic loss, year after year, from County decisions. Direct an extra share of the reparations for the modern-day Patrick Henrys and Thomas Paines of Lyon Village, those good people who have launched lawsuit after lawsuit in a Sisyphean struggle to stop “mixed-income” housing from infesting this local jewel.

    I weep for Arlington, people. As Mercedes after BMW after Lexus drives past to live in McLean or Great Falls, I truly weep at what might have been.

    • Sunny617

      I sincerely hope this is a joke. If not, please take your weeping self and move to McLean. We don’t want your crappy attitude in Arlington.

  • AllenB

    Another big LOL for me, thanks. And if this isn’t satire, then that makes it all the funnier.

  • Chris

    Love to see that Trader Joe’s or something else take over the eye-sore parking lot off Wash Blvd across from the ABC store.

    • Sunny617

      The parking lot was supposed to become condos (because we don’t have enough condos at that intersection!). I’m guessing the project stalled with the economy? I kind of miss the CVS that used to be there.

  • MC

    Not sure the spot you highlight is “perfect” for a Trader Joe’s without addressing parking. Whole Foods has limited parking, and it creates congestion both outside and inside. Trader Joe’s in the West End of DC has goofy parking and seems to attract shoppers who are prepared only to buy what they can carry, meaning insanely long check out lines.

    I think a better alternative would be somewhere in Ballston. TJ’s was once rumored to be looking at Glebe and Pershing, but the County wanted Latino businesses there instead.


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