(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) The co-creator of the popular car violation tracking app “How’s My Driving?” is eyeing an expansion across the Potomac.
Mark Sussman is the data scientist behind the app, along with his partner and co-creator Daniel Schep, a software engineer. Sussman told ARLnow today that he’s considering expanding the service from D.C. to Arlington because of the demand he’s seen over the past few months.
“It’s almost been an aggressive demand from some Arlington folks,” he said, laughing. “We obviously have folks who live in Arlington and work in D.C. and have been wanting to use it.”
— How's My Driving (@hmdappio) June 6, 2019
Sussman and Schep built a Twitter bot last July that lets Twitter users tweet problems like vehicles parked in bike lanes or blocking sidewalks. If a user tweets a moving or parking violation at the bot with the vehicle’s license plate number, the bot fetches data from the D.C. DMV on how many outstanding citations or violations the driver has racked up on that vehicle.
The developers later announced they’d be beta-testing a smartphone app version of the service. Since then Sussman says about 1,200 people have volunteered to test it. The app automatically tweets the citation information that results from people’s reports to D.C. parking enforcement authorities in an effort to encourage enforcement.
Several Arlingtonians have joined the beta-testing group, despite the fact that “How’s My Driving?” isn’t yet connected to any Arlington database that could show the number of violations.
This summer, Sussman said he and Schep are planning to start talking to authorities in Arlington about whether the app can help with traffic enforcement in the county, and whether they can integrate it with the current record-keeping systems for citations. Parking citations are publicly available with license plate numbers in Arlington. But unlike D.C., Arlington app users need a citation number in order to look up moving violations, such as speeding.
The record amount for the most outstanding fines accrued by a single vehicle in D.C. flagged by the bot so far is $36,594. The majority of the fines for the Virginia-registered vehicle were from speeding violations.
“If that information was provided to officers on the front end instead of having them have to look it up, then they’d be much more likely to do the right thing,” said Sussman. “While it may seem like a benign to some [to report] standing in a bike lane, it’s a proxy for more dangerous behavior.”
🚨 @HeadwaysMatter set a new high score with VA:VSN2190: $36594.00 in unpaid tickets! 🚨
— How's My Driving DC 🚨🤖 (@HowsMyDrivingDC) June 4, 2019
So far, users have reported 74 parking and moving violations in Arlington, with the majority clustered in Clarendon and around Reagan National Airport.
The locations made sense to Sussman. “A third of these violations are for bike lane violations,” he said. “These are notoriously abused bike lanes.”
Due to a dedicated community of pedestrians and cyclists who report violations spotted around town, the bot has exploded in popularity since starting last year. “Currently, we’ve had a little over 7,000 submissions that represent over $2 million in the District of Columbia,” Sussman said, of the total fines reported.
In the future, Sussman said he and Schep are considering doing away with the Twitter bot altogether to avoid gaining a reputation as “vigilante social media shamers” and focus more on integration with government systems, to help with their main goal of improving enforcement.
Twitter users would, of course, still be able to tweet about what they find out from the app on their own.
“We just don’t want it to be the main vehicle that people use for enforcement,” he said.
Image via Marc Sussman/Twitter
Some experimental parking changes throughout the Four Mile Run valley are going into effect over the next few weeks, as county officials weigh the best strategies for improving conditions in the area for pedestrians and drivers alike.
The county started rolling out the changes Saturday (Feb. 23) and plans to have all of them in place by the second week of March. Officials previously held meetings about the contemplated changes in Nauck this fall, and the County Board approved the general approach toward parking in the area as part of the Four Mile Run Valley Area Plan it passed in November.
The following roads are set to see parking changes over the next few weeks:
- S. Four Mile Run Drive between Walter Reed Drive and Shirlington Road
- S. Four Mile Run Drive (service road) west of Shirlington Road
- S. Oxford Street south of S. Four Mile Run Drive
- S. Oakland Street south of S. Four Mile Run Drive
- S. Nelson Street south of S. Four Mile Run Drive
- 27th Street S. between Shirlington Road to S. Nelson Street
Parking has been contested along parts of S. Four Mile Run Drive in particular, with neighbors frequently complaining about the bevy of commercial vehicles along the stretch of road. The debate over parking in the area was a particular flashpoint during the deliberations over the area plan, with some Nauck leaders arguing that their concerns went ignored by county officials.
Notably, the county will ban commercial vehicles from parking on either side of the “minor” service road section of S. Four Mile Run Drive, the section of the road that intersects with S. Oxford Street and is home to a variety of cul-de-sacs lined with duplexes and other small homes. Parking there will otherwise be unrestricted or available for up to 24 hours.
Along the main, “major” stretch of S. Four Mile Run Drive, the northern side of the road will be off-limits for overnight parking, from 1o p.m. to 7 a.m., between the road’s intersection with Shirlington Road and S. Oakland Street. Currently, parking is restricted there only between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays.
On the rest of the northern side of Four Mile Run Drive through the road’s intersection with S. Walter Reed Drive, parking will be available around the clock. It’s also currently restricted from 7-9 p.m. currently.
On the southern side of Four Mile Run Drive, people will be allowed to park for up to 10 hours at a time, outside of the block between S. Nelson and S. Oakland streets, which will be two-hour parking. Much of that side of the road is currently unrestricted or limited to two hours of parking.
The county is also changing up the rules on the south side of 27th Street S., which will now have a 10-hour limit. Much of the curb space in front of the area’s WETA facility is currently unrestricted.
Other changes will also impact some of the side streets running off Four Mile Run, where new two-hour parking limits are planned.
County police say they plan to strictly enforce these new restrictions to improve conditions in the neighborhood, though some residents are skeptical that the department’s staffing challenges will allow officers to make much of an impact in policing the area’s parking.
County officials also expect to eventually add new sections of sidewalk and a new pedestrian crossing island and curb extensions along S. Four Mile Run Drive. They could even move ahead with more dramatic changes going forward, like the addition of more angled spaces leading up to Jennie Dean Park or the conversion of S. Four Mile Run Drive into a two-lane road with a dedicated middle turning lane.
But first, the county plans to spend the next year or studying the impact of these new parking changes. The evaluation of that work will move in tandem with the planned changes at Jennie Dean Park, approved as part of the Board’s planning work for the area last spring.
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) The Arlington County Board has done away with parking restrictions on a handful of streets in two South Arlington neighborhoods, putting to rest a contentious dispute that has dragged on for years between Forest Glen and Arlington Mill residents.
The Board voted unanimously Saturday (Jan. 26) to end zoned parking on eight streets in the area. As part of the county’s “Residential Parking Program,” the county previously barred anyone without a permit from parking on the roads from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day.
The following streets, once part of the county’s “Zone 24” and stretching into sections of both Forest Glen and Arlington Mill, are now open for parking around the clock:
- 6th Place S.
- 7th Street S.
- 7th Road S.
- S. Florida Street
- S. Greenbrier Street
- S. Harrison Street (north of 7th Street S.)
- S. Illinois Street
- S. Jefferson Street
Arlington officials first zoned the streets off in 2016, largely due to Forest Glen residents arguing that too many drivers from outside the area were occupying the neighborhood’s limited parking spots. But residents of Arlington Mill said they started to feel the squeeze instead once that change was made, as it cut off street parking near the many apartment complexes in the neighborhood.
“Street parking in Arlington Mill became so scarce that it was rare to find a parking spot anywhere after 7 p.m.,” Austin McNair, an Arlington Mill resident who fought for the change, told ARLnow via email. “Anyone not working a traditional 9 to 5 job was now faced with the extra task of finding parking more than a mile away from their home. I can promise that this is the story for many families.”
Ordinarily, the county likely wouldn’t have waded into such a dispute — the Board put a two-year moratorium on any parking zone changes as it reviews the efficacy of the entire program, a process that isn’t set to wrap up until sometime early next year.
Yet the Board subsequently determined that county staff didn’t follow their usual process for setting up the zoned parking in the area, convincing officials that the parking restrictions both weren’t working well and that they were likely set up improperly in the first place.
“This was not a decision that we take lightly or came to easily… but the status quo is not acceptable,” said Board member Erik Gutshall. “What this is all about, for me, is the efficient allocation of a public resource, which is on-street parking. I’m sorry that this is the least objectionable of lots of other bad options.”
Board members stressed that they’d urged staff to work out some sort of compromise position between the two neighborhoods over the past few months, perhaps by putting restrictions on one side of each street but freeing up the other side. But they could never quite find an acceptable solution to all sides, or manage to find one that county lawyers thought would hold up in court — the county’s parking restrictions were challenged all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1977, and officials have since been careful to limit the parking zones to the narrow intent of keeping commuters out of residential areas.
“While the neighborhood has grown in density, it has never been and is still not a destination for commercial customers or commuters who would be parking their cars to access public transportation,” McNair said.
The dispute has also turned a bit ugly in recent weeks. A community meeting the Board convened to discuss the matter drew plenty of raised voices, with some in Forest Glen arguing that the parking restrictions were necessary to prevent speeding, littering and other criminal activity in the neighborhood. Others in Arlington Mill, particularly some advocates for Latino residents, claimed those concerns were based in some deep-seated racial stereotypes.
That divide was evident at the Board’s gathering as well. Danny Cendejas, an activist on variety of local issues, told the Board that the current parking restriction “has discriminated against our neighbors,” while Forest Glen residents argued that reversing the restriction would harm their quality of life.
“I had to place trash cans in the middle of the street to slow down people who were racing to find parking while my three young children were riding their bicycles,” Brent Newton, a six-year resident of the neighborhood, told the Board. “When we were granted the [Residential Parking Program designation], our neighborhood became quiet, clean and tranquil. With utmost certainty, it will return to what it was before the RPP: speeding cars, trash and noise.”
While Board members sympathized with those concerns, they didn’t believe changing the parking restriction would make a difference on those fronts. Board member Libby Garvey suggested that they may be “related,” but she would rather see police step up enforcement in the area to address those worries.
Gutshall pointed out that his own neighborhood, near Clarendon, has parking restrictions in place, but still deals with its own share of littering issues as people flock to the area to reach nearby bars and restaurants. For him, and the rest of the Board, the parking staff’s missteps in evaluating the neighborhood for earning zone restrictions were more important to address.
Stephen Crim, the manager of the county’s parking program, told the Board that his staff discovered that they didn’t check license plates on the affected streets against records maintained by the county’s Commissioner of the Revenue, which tracks tax payments on property like vehicles. That means that staff didn’t necessarily have a full picture of how many people from outside the county were actually parking in the neighborhoods.
(Updated Friday at 12:45 p.m.) New legislation working its way through the General Assembly could soon let Arlington, and other large Northern Virginia localities, start hiring private contractors to ticket parked cars for minor violations like expired license plates — but the lawmakers backing the bill say they introduced it for a slightly different purpose.
Currently, only county police can hand out such violations. But identical bills just introduced down in Richmond by state Sen. Dick Black (R-13th District) and Del. Karrie Delaney (D-67th District) could allow private parking enforcement staffers in large counties like Arlington to hand out those tickets too — if the localities opt in for the change.
At least, that’s how Arlington County Attorney Steve MacIsaac reads the bill, according to a county spokeswoman. Specifically, he believes that the legislation “would allow Arlington to enforce expired plates and other such violations on parked vehicles, and to hire non-law-enforcement uniformed personnel to carry out such enforcement.”
“It would be up to the County Board, should this bill become state law, to decide whether it wants to take advantage of this broadening of the county’s authority,” Board spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.
But the bill’s backers say they introduced the legislation for to make a difference far outside of Arlington. Black and Delaney both represent portions of Loudoun County, where they’re targeting the change.
The legislation specifies that any locality with more than 40,000 residents has the power to hire contracted workers to enforce parking violations, rather than relying on police officers for that purpose. Current law only gives cities with more than 40,000 people that authority, leaving Loudoun and other large counties a bit stuck.
“This bars counties from contracting out enforcement services, forcing members of their already overworked police offices and other uniformed personnel to use their working hours checking parking hours and enforcing parking meters,” Delaney said during a House of Delegates subcommittee meeting last Thursday (Jan. 10).
As Loudoun prepares to welcome its first Metro stations in the coming years, with the Silver Line gradually expanding out to Dulles International Airport, county officials want to hire some extra help to enforce parking around the new stations. Jeffrey Gore, a lobbyist hired to represent Loudoun in the legislature this year, assured the Senate’s transportation committee yesterday (Wednesday) that plenty of other cities have made such a change, without incident.
“It’s not traffic violations, it’s just parking ordinances,” Gore told lawmakers. “Richmond does this, Virginia Beach does this. But Loudoun can’t do this, Fairfax can’t do this.”
But one outspoken political observer in Northern Virginia, political strategist Ben Tribbett, is blasting the bills as a “huge revenue grab” and compares them to another program in Fairfax County meant to step up the enforcement of car registration fee evasion.
Huge revenue grab by the county and another way to target the working poor- which Fairfax is currently going after with the TARGET program. Can't believe this is sponsored by a "Democrat".https://t.co/SZvndVTbtQ
— Ben Tribbett (@notlarrysabato) January 10, 2019
An aide for Delaney did not respond to a request for an interview to discuss her bill, or Tribbett’s criticisms. However, county police spokeswoman Ashley Savage stresses that it wouldn’t have such an impact in Arlington, where police can already enforce such violations on parked cars.
Regardless of those claims, both bills are steadily advancing.
Black’s bill passed the Senate’s transportation committee on an 8-3 vote, and could soon head for a floor vote. Meanwhile, a House transportation subcommittee unanimously voted to advance Delaney’s bill, sending it to the full committee for review.
(Updated at 8:15 p.m.) Arlington officials are gearing up to erase parking restrictions on several streets in the Forest Glen neighborhood, angering some residents there but meeting the demands of others in nearby Arlington Mill.
The County Board is set to consider a resolution later this month ending zoned parking restrictions along the following the roads, per county spokeswoman Katie O’Brien:
- 6th Place S.
- 7th Street S.
- 7th Road S.
- S. Florida Street
- S. Greenbrier Street
- S. Harrison Street (north of 7th Street S.)
- S. Illinois Street
- S. Jefferson Street
All of those streets are currently covered under “Zone 24” of the county’s residential permit parking program, barring unauthorized cars from parking there between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. each day.
The Board has generally avoided any changes to the program recently, after declaring a moratorium on applications for new parking restrictions while members weigh potential reforms to the county’s entire zoned parking system. Board members and some community leaders have started to doubt that the current program, originally designed to keep commuters out of D.C.-adjacent neighborhoods, is working as intended.
But the Board could soon make these changes in Forest Glen all the same, given the loud complaints from people in Arlington Mill.
According to a letter sent to Forest Glen residents from the Board, and provided to ARLnow, people in the neighborhood have “experienced great difficult with curbside parking” since the parking restrictions went into effect a few years ago. County staff have worked for months to find an “interim solution” to the dispute, without success, pushing the Board to take this step.
It doesn’t help matters either that staff believe the parking restrictions “depart from the program’s original intent and place an undue burden” on surrounding streets, the letter reads. The Board has since concluded that “the determination for the restrictions deviated from standard staff practices, including data collection and verification,” spurring the need for the change.
“The County Board is unwilling to allow restrictions to the public right of way continue considering the fundamental discrepancies in establishing the eligibility of the above streets for the RPP program,” Board members wrote.
But one Forest Glen resident, who requested anonymity for this article, claimed that neighbors had “myriad reasons” for requesting the parking restrictions in the area. Those ranged from concerns over “out of county parkers, unregistered and abandoned vehicles” to “crime” and “blocked driveways,” all of which, this person believes, meet the standards of the county’s parking rules.
The Forest Glen resident further argues that the Board would be taking an “unprecedented and historic” step by removing the parking restriction, which will “put all other RPP areas in Arlington at risk of being removed.”
“The removal of Forest Glen’s zone parking represents an unprecedented intervention by the County Board into administrative decisions of county government,” they wrote in an email. “Additionally, every RPP area now faces the increased likelihood of removal.”
O’Brien stressed in an email, however, that the Board’s proposed resolution “only applies to these streets in zone 24 and will not impact any other neighborhoods or zones.”
The Board is set to consider the matter at its Jan. 26 meeting, and plans to hold a community meeting on the subject tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. in the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street).
Meanwhile, the county is hoping to wrap up its review of the parking program sometime by the end of the year, or in early 2020, according to county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Photo via Google Maps
As plans advance for the redevelopment of the American Legion post in Virginia Square, neighbors are raising a familiar question for developers in Arlington’s densest areas: what about parking?
The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing hopes to eventually buy the 1.3-acre property at 3445 Washington Blvd and transform the current home of American Legion Post 139 into a building with 160 affordable apartments. The nonprofit would set aside space on the ground floor of the development for a new Legion post, and it even plans to reserve half of its homes for veterans.
APAH has been working to make the project a reality since the American Legion agreed to these plans back in 2016, and the proposal is very nearly ready to earn some key county approvals — the county’s Site Plan Review Committee will scrutinize the project at a meeting for the third time tonight (Monday), and the group could soon advance the proposal to the Planning Commission.
But it seems the nonprofit has yet to allay the concerns of nervous Ballston and Virginia Square neighbors worried that the new development will bring more cars parking on their streets.
“We are concerned that given the number of 2- and 3-bedroom apartments planned, the expectation that families will live in them, and the fact that our neighborhood does not have access to walkable elementary or middle schools, it’s not feasible to assume residents without a car or that even one car per unit will be sufficient,” Cara Troup, the treasurer of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, wrote in a Dec. 7 email to county staff.
APAH plans to build a one-story underground garage with 96 parking spaces in total, and the developer does acknowledge that it’s providing less parking than the county’s zoning standards demand.
However, the nonprofit believes that the development’s proximity to public transit options should mean that most residents won’t rely on cars. A transportation study of the site commissioned by APAH points out that the property may not quite be along a Metro corridor, but does sit “directly across” from the busy Fairfax Drive and its nearby Virginia Square Metro station.
APAH also sought to reassure the SPRC that it generally restricts residents to one car per household and will offer them reduced rates on bikeshare memberships, according to notes from the committee’s Dec. 10 meeting.
The nonprofit plans to set aside 20 spaces to serve visitors and staff for the American Legion post specifically, so it doesn’t expect that the group’s new headquarters (set to include new space for a variety of support services for veterans) will put a strain on parking on the area. But neighbors remain convinced that there just isn’t enough room for the people who will live in the new building, perhaps prompting more cars to push for space in the neighborhoods behind the development on 13th and 14th Street N.
Many of the streets in area are already subject to parking restrictions under the county’s permit program. But zoned parking in the county only bars unauthorized cars from neighborhoods from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays — the program was originally designed as a way to bar commuters from D.C.-adjacent areas.
That’s prompted Troup to push for new parking restrictions running from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, in order to ensure that APAH’s new residents don’t simply drive their cars to work and then park them on nearby streets at night. She even envisions that change coming as a condition of the county approving the development.
County officials are currently eyeing changes to the residential parking program as part of a two-year study of its efficacy, likely making any such change an uphill battle. But, until that work wraps up later this year, neighbors are adamant that they want to see more parking required for developments like APAH’s new building.
“Arlington’s zoned parking regulations need to be updated to reflect these present day conditions to include restricted parking into the evenings and on weekends,” Lyon Village Citizens’ Association President John Carten wrote in a letter to county planners. “It may be the case that lifestyles and transportation options today are such that the parking ratios for certain projects do not need to be what they were in the past. However, until county parking policies are updated to increase restricted parking hours beyond the outdated business hours approach, Lyon Village and similarly situated neighborhoods are being put in a very difficult position when [asked] to support projects with parking ratios lower than historical norms.”
Arlington officials have, at long last, approved a new planning document to guide the Four Mile Run Valley’s future, one of the last remaining steps for the county to take in the years-long debate over the area’s development.
The County Board unanimously signed off on new “area plan” for the Nauck valley on Saturday (Nov. 17), sketching out the county’s strategies for fostering the preservation and growth of industrial and arts-focused businesses in the area.
The plan also lays out a series of potential road and parking changes in the area, which have prompted some community consternation even as the planning process wraps up. Some Nauck leaders have previously expressed grave concerns that county officials aren’t listening to their suggestions for the area’s development, and that includes fears about the road changes on the way for S. Four Mile Run Drive.
“An important element is missing: trust,” Nauck Civic Association President Portia Clark told the Board. “The county needs to work with us to repair the loss of trust… We were here before the planning process began, and we’ll be here long after.”
But Board members expressed broad satisfaction with the plan, despite those anxieties, arguing that the roughly three-year-long planning process delivered an outcome that will benefit the community for years to come.
“We’re going to all look back on this process, as occasionally challenging as it was, and see that this will be a true jewel for not only South Arlington, but the county as a whole,” said Board member John Vihstadt, the Board’s liaison to a working group convened to assemble the plan.
The Board previously adopted a broad “policy framework” guiding all manner of future changes to the area this spring. The working group and county staff then relied on that document to develop a parks master plan for the area, primarily focused on the overhaul of Jennie Dean Park, and then assembled the final area plan.
Among the document’s proposed changes are road alterations designed to make S. Four Mile Drive and some of its side streets more friendly for both cyclists and pedestrians, and free up more parking along the road. Changes will include new sections of sidewalk, a new pedestrian crossing island and curb extensions, as well as more robust parking restrictions and enforcement to encourage more turnover.
But those alterations will only be temporary, as the county examines whether they actually work. Officials could even initiate more dramatic changes going forward, like the addition of more angled spaces leading up to Jennie Dean Park and even the conversion of S. Four Mile Run Drive into a two-lane road with a dedicated middle turning lane.
“There are still some concerns on the road changes… but the community has accepted the ‘test first, build later’ strategy,” said Charles Monfort, chair of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group.
Yet Monfort’s leadership of the group attracted a public rebuke from one of his fellow vice chairs in a Washington Post opinion piece, as Robin Stombler argued that the public engagement process on all manner of issues was flawed — Monfort insisted Saturday that “anyone’s who wanted to speak has had many opportunities to do so.”
But Stombler and other Nauck residents charged that the parking changes are simply the latest example of the community’s concerns being cast aside. Clark pointed out staffing challenges in the Arlington police department means officers have less time to dedicate to traffic enforcement, making any pledge to step up the policing of parking violations on S. Four Mile Run Drive a hollow one.
“It makes no sense to test parking restrictions that will not be enforced and will actually increase parking turnover problems,” said Anne Inman, one of the Nauck Civic Association’s representatives on the working group.
Vihstadt also expressed some trepidation that the county is “really engaging in real time” on these issues, worrying that officials might “prioritize beauty and aesthetics over operational, on-the-ground needs for businesses and people who inhabit and do commerce in the valley.”
But county planner Richard Tucker reassured concerned neighbors, however, that the county is “going to move forward with understanding we’ll come back on this and make changes” after a year or so, if the parking plans aren’t working as intended.
“We test a little bit, we see what we learn and then maybe we expand that to other areas,” said Board member Erik Gutshall.
Beyond the parking changes, Tucker added that there are still few elements left to the planning work for the valley. In January, the county will kick off discussions on potentially adding an arts district to the area (a controversial point in its own right) and then convene a broader discussion on land use and zoning a few months later.
By and large, though, Board members hope the area plan’s adoption signals a major step forward for the county in charting out the valley’s future.
“When I walk down to Four Mile Run 25 years from now, the built environment will not look fundamentally different,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol. “And that speaks to this effort and what we all value about this area.”
(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) As the county hurdles past the halfway mark of a two-year review of its residential parking practices, Arlington planners want to hear from you about the issue.
County officials are convening a pair of public forums on its residential parking permit program review in November. One is set for Nov. 14 at Key Elementary School (2300 Key Blvd) from 7-8:30 p.m., the other for Nov. 29 at (735 18th Street S.) from 6-7:30 p.m. Another is scheduled for Dec. 8 at the Drew Community Center (3500 23rd Street S.) from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
The goal of the events is for the county to collect feedback on “what works and does not work” with Arlington’s current methods for setting up residential parking zones and handing out the necessary permits, according to the county’s website.
The county created the program back in 1973 in a bid to keep commuters out of residential areas, particularly in neighborhoods business districts, employment centers and Metro stations. Residents were once able to petition the county to have their street zoned off, pending an analysis by county staff.
But the County Board voted last summer to put a moratorium on any changes to the county’s 24 parking zones, in order to commission this study of the program’s effectiveness. The review has been greeted with apprehension from some civic leaders, however, who worry the county is itching to cut back on residential parking restrictions.
So far, county planners say they’ve collected more than 1,600 online survey responses to take the community’s temperature on the program, and they envision the forums this month as a chance to gather feedback in person.
The county is hoping to wrap up the program review by sometime in “mid-2019.”
Photo via Arlington County
Keep an eye on the meter if you’re parking on the street in Arlington today — some changes to county meters just took effect.
You’ll now need to feed the meter from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, a two-hour extension of the old meter timeframe.
Prices are also jumping up a bit. Rates at meters set aside for short-term parking, or any parking less than four hours, is going up a quarter to $1.75 per hour. Any parking for more than four hours will now run you $1.50 per hour, up from $1.25.
Parking ticket fines will also rise a bit, jumping from $35 to $40 per offense.
The County Board signed off on these changes as part of its budget for fiscal year 2019, which meant they officially took effect yesterday (July 1), even though meters don’t run on Sundays.
In all, the county hopes to raise an additional $4 million each year through these changes, in order to help offset some of the financial pressure Arlington is feeling at the moment. County staff also envision these tweaks bringing the county a bit more in line with the higher parking prices of neighboring jurisdictions, as well as increasing parking turnover in high-demand corridors.
This change marks the first increase in Arlington’s parking meter fees since 2015.
Should Arlington open up more of its on-street parking to shoppers, commuters and other visitors, or continue to use a permit system to protect neighborhood parking spots?
That’s the sort of question county officials are asking as they collect feedback on how Arlington’s residential permit parking system is working. County staff are about halfway through a two-year review of Arlington’s residential parking practices, and they’ve opened up an online survey on the subject through July 16.
The zoned parking program is intended to ensure that residents can park near their houses in neighborhoods near business districts, employment centers and Metro stations. Residents were previously able to petition the county to have their street zoned, pending an analysis by county staff.
The County Board is planning to hold a work session on residential parking in the coming months and establish a working group to study the matter, after voting last August to put a moratorium on any additions or changes to the county’s 24 zones where parking permits are required.
The moratorium sparked complaints from some residents. There were 16 active petitions at the time from people looking to add new permit parking zones or change existing ones.
Among those worried about changes to the program is Penrose Neighborhood Association co-president Pete Durgan, who thinks the survey is tilted toward the goal of scaling back parking restrictions.
“Can you imagine what would happen to the single family areas near Ballston, Clarendon and Columbia Pike?” she asked, in an email to ARLnow.com.
County staff last reviewed Arlington’s parking program back in 2003, and the Board has since wrestled with the question of how to balance the concerns of residents looking to keep cars off their crowded streets with the frustrations of people hoping to find a place to park near the county’s burgeoning business districts.
The Board has also increasingly encouraged developers to move away from building off-street parking options in Metro corridors, in favor of adding new bike or car-sharing options, a policy change some worry will push residents to park on the street instead.
The survey asks respondents to rank the importance of the availability of on-street parking versus other factors, like the availability of public transit and open public space. The county also wants to hear what people think about how easy it should be for commuters or other visitors to park in their neighborhoods, and to evaluate whether “parking on public streets is a shared resource that should be open to all.”
The county first started its residential permit program in 1973 to keep commuters to Crystal City and D.C. out of residential areas. A series of court challenges to the program ultimately advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the justices unanimously upheld the program’s legality in a 1977 decision.
County staff are hoping to wrap up this latest review of the program by the summer of 2019, when they could once again start considering petitions for changes to permit zones.
Arlington County Police will begin issuing tickets as it enforces its new drop-off and pick-up zones in Clarendon tonight (Thursday).
ACPD made the announcement via Twitter this morning. It follows several weeks of public outreach about the new rules, which are intended to stop double parking, blocking of crosswalks and bike lanes, and other bad driver behavior.
Beginning TONIGHT in Clarendon, ACPD will begin enforcing the designated passenger drop-off and pick-up zones. Motorists should be on the lookout for 'No Parking Except 5 Minute Passenger Pick Up and Drop Off Zones' signs.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) June 21, 2018
The enforcement comes as an event has taken over Clarendon’s Metro plaza.
Make Music Day kicked off at 11 a.m. and is planned to run through through 9 p.m. tonight. Performers include Americana group Know1Else, who will take the stage at 5:30 p.m., and 9:30 Club veterans Skyline Hotel, slotted for 8 p.m.
Make Music Day began in France in the early 1980s and takes place annually on the summer solstice. The event is now celebrated in 800 cities across 120 countries, said Carol Leonhart, co-director of Make Music Day D.C. and co-founder of Global Jam 4 Peace.
Melanie Pincus contributed photos and reporting