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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com March 4, 2011 at 8:43 am 1,699 76 Comments

Arlington to Install Parking Cameras? — Arlington is considering installing sensors or cameras that monitor parking space usage and using the data to hike parking rates to a more market-based price. One system the county is considering would use the same technology as the license plate readers used by police. [Greater Greater Washington]

Clarendon Metro Park To Get Overhaul — The Clarendon Metro plaza and the park adjacent to it will be getting some improvements over the next several months. The improvements will provide more room for the Wednesday farmers market and allow events to be held in the park. [TBD]

Senate Race: One Up, One Down — More developments in the quickly-developing race for state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple’s seat. Dave Foster, the last Republican to sit on the Arlington County School Board, is not denying that he may be run for the seat. Also, other Republicans are said to be interested in the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Mike Signer says he’s not planning on running for Whipple’s seat, after all. [Sun Gazette, Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

  • Overgrown Bush

    I’m going to have to start carrying a bb gun around…..

    • Overgrown Bush

      Or maybe a can of black spray paint.

      • Lou

        Carmex or anything like that works fine too.

  • Overgrown Bush
    • borf
      • Overgrown Bush

        Of course. The cops ran the test and want that word out there! A muddy license plate works just as well, btw.

        • borf
          • Overgrown Bush

            Thanks borf. There seems to be enough comments that bust the mythbusters, so my hope is still there. Typical methods are to obscure the plate (which isn’t really legal, but you can maybe get away with it depending on how you do it) and to make the plate illegible with glare on a flash. Having taken enough photographs, it would seem logical that the later method is indeed doable.

          • borf

            Whatever. Good luck on your efforts to evade traffic safety laws and payments for services.

          • Overgrown Bush

            Thank you.

  • Rick

    1) they cant just pull statistics on how many quarters were pumped into each meter, how many multi-space tickets sold etc? It seems like there’s data there they don’t want to touch, so we’ll buy a new machine and let it think for us. Lazy. Bad use of resources.

    2) It’s important we rip up a park before we repave clarendon and wilson. Or old dominion. Or military in front of cherrydale library. Or quincy by the ed center. Or Williamsburg blvd between old dominion and glebe…. I could go on but it would piss me off more and more

    • Overgrown Bush

      Rick,

      This technology is also going to (or maybe already is) be used with vending machines. For example, the price of soda in a machine may increase if the rate of purchases in the machine increases. Or, the price will vary with the outside temperature. The hotter it gets, the more they charge! I realize they may not use a camera, but varying rates for simple every day things is a way to maximize profits. I think it is silly when I may be parking at a meter in order to spend money at an Arlington business. If the parking rate gets too high, I might just spend the gas money and go to Alexandria or Falls Church instead.

      • jan

        Good point. I know Arlington residents who won’t shop at Pentagon City or Ballston because of the fees. I gladly pay the fee so metro riders don’t take up all the spaces.

        • borf

          Really? Parking at Ballston is so cheap. And it costs you either way.

          • Overgrown Bush

            It is now, but if the lot is 75% full (as deemed by cameras) the cost may triple.

          • borf

            You’re just pulling those numbers out of your (hat) though. There’s no specific proposal.

          • Overgrown Bush

            Yes, I am. They certainly won’t decrease though.

          • Rick

            There is a specific proposal to raise rates in ballston

          • borf

            I can’t find the specific proposal to raise rates in Ballston, please show me (link and/or page number), thanks.

        • R

          I don’t shop at Ballston because the stores suck…not because I have to pay for parking!

          • AllenB

            +1

          • Rick

            +1

      • Burger

        Isn’t a dollar in Arlington – market rate. most of downtown DC is 4 dollars – most of the time in quarters and DC is thinking about scaling it back exactly because there has been a drop off in customers going into DC. I guess Arlington wants to learn the same lesson.

      • Rick

        You’re proving my point. Thats a computer in the maching, taking the money and counting what is sold. Why are we going to install more machinery to count what our existing machinery does? The data is already there, it just has to be uncovered.

        • Rick

          *in the machine

      • Rick

        And do you want your government turning a profit? Are they a government or a parking company

        • borf

          Yes, the government needs to make a profit sometimes. It’s called a “surplus.” It helps pay down debt.

          • LyonSteve

            Or you could just vote no to debt. You really can. Only 20% of those who vote did this last election, but you can.

          • borf

            Sure. But sometimes debt is unavoidable, and sometimes its a good idea.

            The government is like any other enterprise. Sometimes it will bring in more money than it spends, sometimes less. It has to balance over the long run.

          • R

            If you had a balanced budget every year then wouldn’t you never have an issue…my personal belief is it should be required by law. And true, issuing debt is absolutely no problem as long as your debt service is still factored into your yearly budget and your overall outlays still don’t exceed your intakes, which is seemingly a problem in Government no matter who the party in charge is. Of course debt issuances are needed for large scale capital improvements. Much like I need a mortgage to buy a home since I don’t have all the money to pay cash, but if I can’t afford my monthly payments then I will ultimately be in financial difficulty, hence why I wouldn’t take on debt that I can’t afford. And if I can’t meet my obligations then I cut spending elsewhere or I will be bankrupt and default. That is why I vote no on most new debt issuances on the ballot.

          • borf

            Like I said, sometimes debt is unavoidable, and sometimes it is wise.

            It makes alot more sense for the government to borrow in bad times, and then pay it off in good times, especially when more people lean on the government in bad times.

            And it makes sense to go into debt for long-term projects like schools and roads.

            Just like with an individual.

            I think everything you said was quite reasonable, except the part about requiring a balanced budget each year. What’s so special about a year? It’s just an arbitrary time span. As long as the budget is sustainable over time, it’s okay to spend more than you take in sometimes.

          • othersideoftheriver

            Do you have a mortgage? Sometimes debt is necessary.

          • R

            Do you pay your mortgage? Of course debt is sometimes neccesary. Point is you shouldn’t incur more debt if your budget doesn’t allow for you to completely cover your existing debt service payments. If you pay out more than you have coming in and consistently borrow more money to fill the void or take on additional debt, then you’re not being fiscally responsible. Balance your budget or make cuts to do so…if the average citizen has to do it, why shouldn’t the gub’ment. Arlington or other jurisdictions might be able to issue more debt for whatever, but that doesn’t mean they should. If I’m in a negative budget situation with my mortgage, car payment, bills, etc, would it make sense to incur more debt to try and dig out of my whole? Besides the fact that a bank would laugh at me if I tried. Unless I increase my revenue by getting another higher paying job, I’m just going to be digging a deeper whole. My solution is I cut my costs. Thankfully I’m a wealthy North Arlington snob so I don’t have these budget contraints…lol.

          • steve

            If they didn’t feel the need to redistribute wealth, there wouldn’t be any debt in the first place. Raise the parking prices so they can get more section 8 tenants in to keep them in power.

          • borf

            😆 Yeah, no debt at all.

      • Tre

        The machines will also assess your overall wealth based on your race and brand of clothing and then hack up the prices accordingly.

    • borf

      Jeez, dude, not everything goes exactly according to your personal priorities.

      • Rick

        a) it absolutely does
        b) I’m not the only one complaining about bad pavement, you must not read the comments very often

        • borf

          1) if it did, you wouldn’t be complaining, would you?
          2) good for you. I’ve complained about it too.

    • LyonSteve

      They can, but then their consultants don’t have their wallets padded and the pol’s don’t get campaign donations.

  • LyonSteve

    The county wants to pave over the little bit of green space that exists in Clarendon?

    • The Dope of South Arlington

      Those environmental whackos on the Board want to…oh, wait.

  • Our article didn’t say the county was considering hiking fees, we said the technology would give them the information they’d need to do it. A staff member contacted me to make it clear that fee increases were not being considered at this time.

    Read the article, nowhere did we say Arlington would be raising fees.

    • Overgrown Bush

      Huh? You can say the article didn’t say fees would be raised, but you DEFINATELY elude to it!

      “This would be an important step toward understanding parking in Arlington well enough to implement ideas like running the meters later at night, and setting parking meter prices according to occupancy.

      Arlington found that Los Angeles and San Francisco are using installed occupancy sensors to improve parking meter enforcement and adjust parking prices according to demand respectively.”

      • borf

        It did “allude” to it, but it was just an informational memo about the fact that the options exist. There is no proposal on the table yet.

    • Clarendude

      In some cases the fees will go down, and/or the hours you have to pay will be shortened. In other cases the fees will go up and/or the hours extended. Based on the market – that is what market based means. In places and times you can easily find parking (the spaces are empty) – the rates will be lowered or stay the same. In places and times where you can now not find parking (the spaces are always full) the rates will be raised or hours extended.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      That’s pretty disingenuous, the county board and staff have as much as said that they plan to raise parking costs in the future – just watch the discussions about the Master Transportation Plan at the county board meetings.

  • John Fontain

    You gotta love the Clarendon “farmers’ market” – the only farmers’ market with hardly any farm produce. Instead, we’ve got people selling coffee, packaged nuts, pickles, “artisanal” bread, “gourmet” chocolate, olive oil, etc. In any other part of the country they would get a good chuckle out of what we call a farmers’ market.

    • Overgrown Bush

      I have a client in Prince William, and have been to the Manassas farmers market. If you want some decent produce, head out there one Saturday. I would guess they start up in April sometime. Real produce, no BS. Neat little Old Town area too.

      http://www.localharvest.org/manassas-farmers-market-M1115

  • borf

    This is just like HOT lanes. Anyone who supports those should probably support this too.

    • Rick

      I support the HOT lanes and hate the parking idea

      • borf

        Why?

        • Rick

          HOT lanes is a choice between the standard and an upgrade. If I am late for work I can choose (keyword – choose) to pay to go faster. I have no choice if the meters go up or down. Upgrading the standard for the sake of a profit (or surplus) doesn’t make sense to me. And if there is a budget defecit, a) it’s not people in clarendon’s fault, that is the economic engine of arlington and b) will this device pay for itself AND pay down any defecit it’s going to fund? Ever?

    • Lou

      Really? Should anyone who supports performance parking also support HOT lanes? They are just like each other, according to you.

      • borf

        I’m just throwing it out there.

        • Lou

          I really can’t see how they are just like each other.

          • borf

            The mechanism is the same. HOT lanes change the toll rate depending on how many cars are on the lane at a given time.

          • Lou

            Do you support both?

          • borf

            The mechanisms, yeah. But that’s not the only issue, I know.

            Just throwing it out there.

  • Idi Amin Dada

    Where is there a park adjacent to the Clarendon Metro plaza?

    • CW

      Uhh, the green thing with the trees running between wilson and clarendon boulevards.

      One little tidbit I like is that the park is technically closed at some point, like 10:30 PM, so if you were to walk from Eventide/Spider Kelly’s over to the new Bronx Pizza when it opens by way of the crosswalks on the boulevards and the grass area of the park, you could be arrested if they really enforced it.

    • borf

      Half the median is the plaza, the rest is the park.

    • Idi Amin Dada

      My bad. I was thinking Courthouse Metro. Ooops!

    • OX4

      It’s not a park. It’s an overgrown median strip. And the one bit of grass in the “park” is now apparently going to be paved over.

  • JimPB

    Adjusting parking rates to demand sounds good. Businesses, e.g., airlines, do this. But, two uestions:

    1 — Does ArlCo need cameras (and the expensive that the equipment and their use would involve) to determine parking demand/use? The amount of parking fees paid (vs. potential) per space/location would seem to provide a good measure of demand.

    2 — What would it cost to adjust parking rates for demand?

    If this increases parking income substantially, the additional revenue could pay for the expenses of adjusting parking rates. Otherwise, it’s just a nice idea that’s a drain on limited resources.

    Somehow I get feeling that someone in ArlCo government has too much free time and so is thinking up grand schemes.

    • Rick

      My point exactly. If there is technology in place to send new rates to the meters, you would think the meters could communicate when they’re being used, for how long, and how long they go expired…

  • JamesE

    If they did this the spaces on N.Stuart would be $500/hr

  • CW

    A couple comments.

    First, I like the idea of occupancy sensors for spots. I think it’s cool when they do it at places like BWI airport, and an iphone app to show open spaces would be logical, except it would be funny to see when 10 cars show up at a spot just as it fills.

    With regards to the plate readers, they make it sound like these would not be permanently installed, but would instead drive around like the google streetview van and just take pictures of where cars are parked? Does anyone have more technical detail as to how this would work? I don’t really see what data could be gleaned from the patterns of where specific cars are (my car, your car) as opposed to just knowing whether or not there is usually any car in a given spot at a given time.

    I feel like any system that has vastly fluctuating rates is going to backfire by introducing uncertainty into the system.

    “Oh, honey, let’s drive over to Ballston for dinner tonight.”

    “I don’t know, will the rate tonight be $2 an hour or $20 an hour.”

    “Good point.”

    *Panda pops out from behind, sitting on the sofa* “I didn’t feel like going out anyways.”

    • borf

      Well, it’s not much different from a situation where a resource is priced too cheaply, and therefore scarce. In that case, your play would go like this:

      “Oh, honey, let’s drive over to Ballston for dinner tonight.”

      “I don’t know, will there be any parking spaces open?”

      “Good point.”

      Of course, Ballston usually doesn’t have a capacity problem. But that just means prices will probably remain low.

  • frob

    “Oh, honey, let’s drive over to Ballston for dinner tonight.”

    “I don’t know, will there be any parking spaces open?”

    “Good point, let’s take the Metro.”

    • Rick

      yeah if you’re gonna roll the dice on any food in ballston being good you might as well roll the dice on nighttime metro service

    • CW

      Guess I was thinking more along the lines of those people who don’t live on the orange line, and thus who would care about parking. Personally, i can count on one hand the number of times i’ve driven to a restaurant around here.

      • LyonSteve

        That’s because you ride your bike and got a ticket for running a red light. Do you even own a car?

        • CW

          *Smiles*…why yes I do, and I am very happy with it. That’s actually part of why I don’t drive to many places where I have to street park.

          And, a clarification: I did NOT receive a ticket! I got the usual pseudo-intimidation followed by a license check and “have a nice day”. I think the cop realized that he kinda looked like a tool for pulling over a cyclist at rush hour in rosslyn when moving violations were being committed by the dozen all around him.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      Oh – that will take an extra hour,
      lets go to Tysons or Alexandria – Fine lets go

  • Arlington parking manager Sarah Stott has provided a comment on the original GGW article, which we have printed as part of the article.

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