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Morning Poll: Running Parking Meters After Dark?

by ARLnow.com November 3, 2010 at 7:59 am 2,543 61 Comments

Greater Greater Washington’s Michael Perkins has an interesting thesis. He says that instead of shutting down at 6:00 p.m., parking meters in Arlington should run after dark in neighborhoods like Clarendon, Crystal City and Rosslyn.

Perkins says such a move would free up more street parking in Arlington’s business districts at night. It would also encourage more people to take transit, he says.

Changing the hours would require the county board to change the code.

What do you think?

  • Thes

    Right now, most of those spaces get used up with restaurant employees or residential guests who stay in the same “free” space all night long. If they were metered, those long-term drivers would move elsewhere and leave more street parking available for Arlington residents who depend on their cars to get to a restaurant.

    • NorthAdams

      Thes is absolutely right, the cars will all go park in Lyon Village and in front of the over priced townhomes (sic) of Clarendon.
      THen Arlington will also have to pay ($$$$$$) to redo all the residential permit parking signs so that they correspond to the parking meters times (like they do now).

      • Janel

        Actually, they don’t correspond now. Most of the permit areas are 8am – 5pm, which leaves an hour (5-6pm) where you can park in the residential zone and avoid the meter.

  • G. Clifford Prout

    DC regrets this move and is working to reverse it now. Don’t be DC.

  • BAM

    Yes – We need the revenue to pay for the $200MM trolley system.

    • Burger


  • TAllen

    There are few things more annoying than having to remember to visit the parking meter, or worse yet, move the car, while you are out trying to have a good night on the town. All extending meter hours would do is to push parking into the neighborhoods surrounding the popular restaurants, nightspots, etc. DC is already rethinking its decision.

    • South Arlington

      Parking is already pushed into the surrounding neighborhoods by people who couldn’t find a metered spot and are unwilling to pay $2.00 to park in a garage. Extending meter hours would at least open up parking spots for the retail and restaurants in that strip. I’d consider making the meters 3 hour maximums though.

      • NorthAdams

        Most of the meters in Arlington business districts are 2-hours. Great for daytime turnover. But I am not able to finish a romantic meal in two hours. What a buzz kill to have to feed the meters.
        Oh, I guess we could install all new meters too. Easy money$$$$

      • Eh?

        I actually live about two blocks from Clarendon. Parking hasn’t really pushed into the neighborhood yet. Yes, there is some, but surprisingly little considering how many people venture out into Clarendon on the weekends.

        • NorthAdams

          aren’t several blocks of Lyon Village under 24 hour permit parking. Don’t live there, so just going by the signage, which I assume is put it due to problems.

  • PurpleFlipFlops

    What about the cost? Meter maids aren’t free you know…

    • Thes

      Parking meters are actually big revenue generators. Many communities who have instituted meters in their downtown districts pledge the money to go back into improvements to the districts (e.g. improved signs, maps, street furniture, tourist services, marketing, etc.).

      • PurpleFlipFlops

        But we just borrowed a ton of money for new signs. Why do we need even more money for this stuff?

  • Clarendude

    It really depends on what type of trip you are making and what type of parking demand we are trying to satisfy. The free after 6 parking is good for those that want to park and stay all night – either going into DC or at a local bar – assuming you can get there right at 6 or just before. Keeping the meters until 7 or 8 would help those that are stopping for a short trip like the bank (TD Bank is open til 8 for example), a haircut, or to pick up something specific like a jacket, shoes or a toy. On street spaces are very convienent for the in and out trips and are not that plentiful so I think they should consider more of a market-based approach. I doubt it would do any more to push parking into “the neighborhoods” because it would actually make it easier to find a space. If the spaces are not being occupied after 6 due to the charge, then the charge would be reduced or removed (basic market principle).

  • Whatever…. but parking needs to be part of the solution. It is silly to have a great business corridor that you cant get to. The old Yogi Berra line about, “no body goes there any more, its too crowded.” I wonder how much more business these great restaurants and stores would have, if we had an intelligent parking plan. Clarendon has been a big step in the right direction with parking lots. But Ballston? Forgetaboutit. If I want to stop for five minutes to get a slice of pizza or a sandwich, its not happening and I have to go somewhere else.

    • JW

      Ballston has a GIANT parking garage that costs $1 to park in. What more do you want?

      • Donna

        I think the point here is that Ballston Mall basically sucks.

        • JW

          Well, you don’t actually have to GO to the mall. But the attached garage is pretty convenient if you want to go almost anywhere in Ballston.

          • TGEoA

            Are you high? That garage isnt even worth a dollar. It takes forever to park and even longer ringer out.

      • JamesE

        Instead people camp out on N. Stuart hoping to grab a spot while they also nearly block me from pulling into my garage.

        • ZipcarMember

          And then the Stuart St. parkers continually occupy Zipcar reserved spot. It really tickled my soul the last time I had a non-zipcar vehicle towed. Thank you for the quick response ACPD and Al’s Towing.

          • Eslater

            One shouldn’t park in the Zipcar spaces, but neither should Arlington give road space to Zipcar for nothing. Zipcar is a for profit company, when they go public people are going to be making a lot of money on it. They need to pay to warehouse their assets, not expect Arlington County to subsidize this storage for them.

          • ZipcarMember

            In response to “Eslater”, there are 2 persepectives to look at it by. If Zipcar pays a royalty or rent fee for those parking spaces, then they’re rightfully entitled to it. On the other hand, Zipcar is providing a benefit to the communities it serves by reducing the need for people to own cars and have them occupy street spaces.

          • Westover

            Street parking is not supposed to be allowed to be bought, sold or rented, the legal/theoretical purpose for parking meters is to enforce regulations not for revenue. With this in mind, it is tough to understand how street parking rented to ZipCar can be legal.

  • PurpleFlipFlops

    What businesses complain about lack of parking at night?

    I love how GGW always comes up with these ideas to change our behavior but never backs it up with solid evidence on why it should be changed.

  • Zoning Victim

    How is keeping the meters running after dark supposed to “free up parking?” Has anyone been to downtown DC at night lately to see all of the “freed-up” parking spaces?

  • i live here, not ggw

    I totally agree with PurpleFlipFlops. The authors in many articles do not live in the community, tend to disagree with what people who live in the community desire and rarley present any data to back up claims. The web site appears to advocate “change” vs “do the right thing”. I don’t get it.

    In any event if one wanted to actually impliment a parking change the route would be to charge market rates for parking, sort of like Metro.

    • I’m the author of the GGW article, and I have lived in Arlington for years. The article was based on numerous observations in various Arlington locations that on-street parking is not readily available after the meters stop running (i.e., you have to drive around for a while to find a space).

      I spoke with Arlington’s parking manager who confirmed that they know of many areas where metered parking regularly exceeds occupancy targets. Obtaining actual data is relatively hard, because there aren’t occupancy sensors like in some other cities or parts of DC. Parking meter payment data that I obtained from Arlington for a block in Clarendon indicates that the meters fill up and reach maximum capacity in the hour or so before they stop charging for the night (and then the data stops because it’s based on when people pay and for how long, so you don’t get any data for after 6 pm).

      My intent was to extend the hours only as necessary when the blocks are completely full, not apply a blanket hours increase like DC did. DC’s parking meter changes this past year were poorly designed and did not reflect actual parking occupancy, they were applied everywhere regardless of conditions.

      No, I don’t expect everyone to take the bus or bike share. I think it would be better if you could drive to downtown areas and actually find a space, rather than go there and then drive in circles trying to find someone that’s walking to their car, or give up in frustration and go home. The goal is making parking spaces available, which is why the parking meter was invented.

      • i live here along with ggw as well

        Your comment supports my observations about the article and GGW perfectly:
        “The article was based on numerous observations in various Arlington locations…”

        Most things that are taken seriously as a policy or business decision are made on the basis of supportable data and conclusions drawn from data. Decisions based on feelings and not statisically relevant data are widely accepted as “garbage”, no matter how “interesting” or “dreamy” people find them.

        • MB

          So, on one hand, we have a commenter who has signed his name, discussed the data he’s working with, and explained his motivations. On the other, we have an anonymous coward who makes up quotes to attack the previous commenter.

          Yep, I know who to take seriously here.


          For those who are so broken up that the public won’t subsidize their lazy inability to get out of their cars more than a block from their destinations? Go to Tyson’s Corner. There are acres and acres of parking for you. Clarendon isn’t hurting for business in the least.

          • charliembtessshirleynorthadamspurpleflipflopzoningvictimwestover

            Today. Clarendon has hurt very bad in the past. it is a tricky balance.
            Despite what neighbors think, Clarendon does not survive on Clarendon. I bet even MB has lunched somewhere else.

          • i live here along with ggw as well

            Your response is even more comical than trying to make the leap from a study of San Francisco, CA parking to Arlington, VA…

            You agree with the author because I’ve used because, like everyone on the site, a nom du plume (including yourself….note: look up “throwing stones in glass houses”)? Let’s just be glad he wasn’t writing about kicking new born kittens, as I would have come out strongly against that as well…and based on your reasoning we know where you would be…

        • The recommendation I gave was that Arlington should collect data and present it to the public to support extending hours.

          I’m not expecting Arlington to make their decisions based on my data alone, I’m just saying that my observations support the conclusion that Arlington should collect some data of their own and then act on it.

          I’m trying to develop an inexpensive camera (based on a garden time-lapse camera*) that can be installed to collect better data, and Arlington is interested in working with me to have it put up somewhere.

          *If anyone knows a good way to significantly decrease the focal length of a lens by adding something to the front of it, I’m all ears. I’ve tried those door viewers and they crop the image too much for it to be of any good. Right now the camera has about a 50mm equivalent lens, and I’d like it to be about 20mm so I can get a good picture of a whole street, not just two or three cars.

  • Computer Parking

    What is there to do in Rosslyn after 6:00 anyway?

    • RosslynZombie

      get mugged.

  • Westover

    Courthouse/Clarendon needs some full sized public garages like Montgomery County has built in Bethesda. The current garages are pathetically small and outragously priced if you don’t hit the right store for validation.

    • PurpleFlipFlops

      GGW would say take the 1A from Wilson Blvd to Ballston, then change to another bus. Or ride your bike. Or hitch-hike, I don’t know !

  • a’town

    tea parties are for little girls with imaginary friends

  • NJmetsfan

    Simple solution: just take metro. I take the metro from Ballston to Clarendon. This way my friends and I I don’t have to drive and find a place to park.

    • PurpleFlipFlops

      Why not take the 38B?

    • PurpleFlipFlops

      Or walk? It’s only a mile.

    • NJmetsfan

      It’s too far to walk.

      • JamesE

        It is 3/4 of a mile, I walk it all the time.

      • RestonRunner86

        Too far to walk? I’m sorry to hear you are physically-challenged. I wish you well in overcoming that disability someday. I’ve walked from Downtown DC to West Falls Church before (roughly 11 miles). I’ve walked 25 miles round-trip between my hotel and Downtown Memphis, TN. People in Arlington wouldn’t even walk from Rosslyn to DC during the rallies on Saturday; they could have walked to the National Mall much more quickly than waiting for clogged train after clogged train to pass. What do so many Arlingtonians have against walking?

        • GrandArch

          Actually I have injuries that make it painful to walk any good distance. They’re not so bad that I need a handicapped spot, however. Hence the wish for close parking when I’ve got to drop off a check at the bank. And of course it’s the extremely local folks who don’t care for this policy – they want to park for free all night. In Ballston we have 30 minute parking spots – why not have a few in effect in Clarendon until later in the evening? It permits those businesses where clients go in and out to see more clients instead of the area effectively being boxed up by local residents wanting to dump their cars for the night.

      • Matt K

        I also take the metro 2 stops. RestonRunner86, Some of us don’t care to exercise much and I like how I can walk to the metro from my apartment. Plus in the summer it’s too hot to do anything outside and now it’s too cold.

      • G-Man

        I agree that a lot of people in Arlington should walk more often. What’s the point of paying a lot for an apartment if you just take metro everywhere? Vienna has apartments near the metro, which is cheaper than Arlington, so that would work better for people that like to take the metro 2 stops. NJmetsfan, if all of your friends take the metro 2 stops to Clarendon, it takes longer and costs a lot more than if you guys paid for parking in a garage. Walking to the metro probably only saves a few blocks of walking anyway.

    • G

      This is a simple solution, but only if you live near a metro. Lots of people in Arlington do not live near one.

  • Kate

    I would frequent the businesses less if I had to pay for parking after 6 pm. My friends and I often meet up after work for happy hour and we would frequent places in other areas or with parking lots. If I have to go home park and then take metro or walk to the area that is another 30 minutes to an hour. And with all the additional businesses going into the area the garages are already often very full.

    I think it is a really bad idea that instead of fostering public transportation, which would be more expensive than even some of the garages in Clarendon, would make people less conducive to come to those businesses, especially people who are stopping in on the way home from work and would annoy people living in the area. We should be aiding our small businesses in every way possible, not hindering them in this sort of economy. I know that the DC meter situation is a nightmare and causes me to frequent downtown less for happy hours and dinners.

    • PurpleFlipFlops

      I agree. If I have to pay for drinks *and* parking during happy hour there is no way I’m going to bars with meters. I’ll take my drink and driving somewhere else.

      • MADD

        I’ll take my drink and driving somewhere else.

        I hope I’m not on the road at the same time.

        • PurpleFlipFlops

          My post was sarcasm in response to Kate’s ridiculous comments.

          • Clarendude

            I thought her post was sarcasm 🙂

    • Thes

      Kate the question is not whether customers should be charged for something they now use for free. The question is whether they should be charged a fee to be able to use something they CANNOT now use because it is full. When you come to Arlington today to spend money on food and drinks, how often do you now park in an available metered space for which you are not charged at night? I wonder if you come very often. The most common complaint I hear about Arlington is it’s tough to find a parking space on the street after dark, because they’re all taken up with restaurant employees.

      • charliembtessshirleynorthadamspurpleflipflopzoningvictimwestover

        everytime i put gas in my car i pay a gas tax that goes to the commonwealth of virginia to build and maintain roads. so i have paid for that parking. and since when does arlington get to collect money from a meter on a state road, like 10th Street in front of my favorite Jay’s Saloon?
        gas taxes pay for our roads. we should be able to store our cars there until blue in the face.

      • NorthAdams

        Thes, do regular normal people actually say that the parking is taken up by employees or just that the parking isn’t available?

      • NorthAdams

        Thes, do regular normal people actually say that the parking is taken up by employees or just that the parking isn’t available? Last time I checked restaurant employee cars are not specially designated.

  • Eslater

    I think that the meters should run 24/7, but be free after 6pm for Arlington residents. If the citizens of the county “own” that space, why give it away for free?

    $1 or $2 to pay to put your car on the street, or in a garage, isn’t that much. And it reinforces the message that mostly what you’re doing with your car is storing it, not using it.

  • Bender

    Even less of a reason for me to go to Clarendon — where I used to go frequently before all the construction.

    With every passing day, this is a less and less friendly place to live.

    “Smart Growth” strikes again!

  • Snowmageddon

    I can’t wait until the snow falls again and people shovel out a space in front of their house and leave a kiddie pool or folding chair in it to “reserve” their spot!


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