Arlington, VA

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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