Arlington, VA

The County Board approved a test of surge-price parking in Arlington on Tuesday, after discussing the potential impacts on people with lower incomes.

The $5.4 million project is funded by VDOT, and the funds are expected to cover everything from developing to installing the needed parking software and hardware. Drivers will find this new type of parking on the streets in the Rosslyn-Ballston and Crystal City-Pentagon City corridors.

The program, also known as “performance parking,” was pulled from the Saturday meeting over concerns about how this would impact people with lower incomes, parking planner Stephen Crim said during the Tuesday recessed meeting.

“I don’t have all the answers to all those concerns,” Crim said. “The grant we are asking you to approve would pay for us to do the design and planning work that allows us to consider how people with low incomes, or racial minorities, need to be considered, and map out any mitigations that are necessary.”

The Board’s first equity consideration should be who has cars, Crim said. The program will mostly affect those who own one or more cars — namely, Arlingtonians with relatively higher incomes and households headed by white people, he said.

Rather than charging everybody the same price, this program could give drivers more chances to save money if they need to, by parking on less-popular streets at lower rates than currently offered, he said.

“Rates may go up on some blocks, but it may go down or stay the same on other blocks,” he said.

The higher prices on busier streets encourage turnover, which would also benefit this same group, he said.

“Those who are disadvantaged often lack money, but they also have time pressures that privileged individuals do not have,” Crim said. “We see performance parking as an opportunity to give benefit to time-pressed drivers of all backgrounds.”

After Crim spoke, County Board members told him they were comfortable moving forward.

“I’m so glad we’re doing a pilot,” Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “It is a complicated tool that can be used for good or ill, and we want to use it for good.”

The issue drew one public speaker concerned about equity. Alexandra Guendert said the new prices will be unpredictable, making it hard for people to budget trips.

“To think that $5.4 million to essentially create a system to get the rich better access to parking is disheartening,” she said.  

The prices will not be as prone to hourly fluctuation as prices for Uber and Lyft, Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt, who supports the pilot, said during the public hearing.

“People are able to know before they go what that parking may cost, depending on where they find it,” he said.

With the County Board’s blessing, the next step will be to engage the public and start developing a system that detects how full parking spaces are, Crim said. After the system is installed, it will start collecting data to fill out a database, which will be used to analyze occupancy and ultimately determine future prices.

Eventually, the County will be able to publish real-time information on spot availability.

Work on the new system along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Crystal City-Pentagon City corridor is expected to start kick off during the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30.

A successful pilot could motivate other municipalities to follow suit, VDOT told the County in 2018. If people ultimately do not like it, the County could turn off the pricing function of the system but still collect data, which would be valuable for drivers and the Board, noted Crim.

“Parking is important to many people, but we frequently don’t have as much data about parking as we do about other matters, such as traffic volume, speed, transit ridership, so on,” he said.

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Arlington County is expected to pilot a program that prices parking by demand along Metro corridors.

The proposed $5.4 million program, funded by VDOT, is slated to be considered by the County Board this weekend.

Staff recommend that the accepts the state funding and approve the pilot that would alter parking prices based on the day, time and number of people competing for a spot. It would also give drivers real-time information on spot availability and price.

The grant has been approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and staff included the project in the 2021 fiscal year capital improvements plan, a county staff report says. The County will not have to match state funds.

“The Commonwealth’s recognition of the innovative nature of the project… serves not only as a recognition of the relative level of risk, when compared with a traditional highway or transit project, but also of the project’s promise and potential transferability to other locations in the Commonwealth,” said the county staff report.

In other words, the state is willing to take a chance on the system in Arlington, and should it succeed other communties follow Arlington’s lead.

Demand-based parking, which county staff call “performance parking,” is being piloted in a few cities across the country, including D.C.

The District Department of Transportation said this program, which was tested over the course of four years in Penn Quarter/Chinatown, “was largely successful.” It provided real-time information on spot availability and was able to lower or raise prices, which encouraged turnover and, as a result, increased the number of available spots.

Proponents say surge price parking reduces the number of cars on the road and lightens congestion caused by people circling blocks looking for spaces. At the time, critics said that D.C.’s surge-price parking would hurt low-income people looking to visit popular destinations.

The County Board last reviewed the idea for this system two years ago, when the board gave staff the green light to apply for “SMART SCALE” funding — to the tune of $6.1 million — to pilot the project.

If Arlington was chosen, those funds would not have been available until July 1, 2024. But the reason staff included the project in this year’s capital improvement plan is because the state gave the county a new offer.

“In the fall of 2018, during the application evaluation process for SMART SCALE, the Commonwealth, through one of the Deputy Secretaries of Transportation, approached Arlington County and asked if it would accept funding from [VDOT’s Innovation and Technology Transportation Fund] instead of SMART SCALE,” the county staff report says. “ITTF was designed specifically for cutting-edge projects like Performance Parking that advance the state of the practice in transportation.”

Work on the new system along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Crystal City-Pentagon City corridor is expected to start kick off during the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30.

“A total of $700,000 is anticipated to be used for FY 2021,” the staff report says. “The balance of funding will be used in FY 2022 and FY 2023… These funds will be used for design, installation, testing, and deployment of a pilot hardware and software system.”

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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.

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Morning Notes

Fund Bets on Amazon HQ2 Coming to Crystal City — A New York-based asset manager is making a $10 million bet that Crystal City will be the location chosen for Amazon’s HQ2. The company cited a high concentration of millennials and housing in the area, as well as proximity to Metro stations, commuter rail and Reagan National Airport. [Bloomberg, ZeroHedge]

Chamber Wants Extended Parking Meter Hours Paused — “Leadership of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce wants the county government to hit the brakes on a proposal to increase parking-meter fees and extend the hours meters must be fed. In a letter to County Board Chairman Katie Cristol, Arlington Chamber president Kate Bates said the government failed to do proper outreach before proposing the alterations to existing policy.” [InsideNova]

Grumbles About Ballston Construction — “Like many who venture to the kingdom of Ballston, I am impatient for the never-ending renovations to be over. Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston Business Improvement District, was happy to promise me that the rewards for us patrons of Arlington’s most central community will unfold in September–with staggered openings continuing through May 2019.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Average Single-Family Home Sale: $1 Million — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington in March was $1,066,368, up 6.9 percent from a year prior. [InsideNova]

Ribbon Cutting for Abingdon Renovations — A ribbon cutting ceremony is being held at 9:30 this morning to celebrate the recently-completed addition and renovations at Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. [Twitter]

Lopez Talks Medicaid Expansion — Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) was a guest on Politico’s healthcare podcast to discuss the possibility of expanding Medicaid in Virginia. [Simplecast, Twitter]

Photo by Anna Merod

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The county manager’s proposed 2019 budget includes new parking meter rate hikes.

Short term parking, defined as less than four hours, would go up a quarter to $1.75 per hour. Long term parking, more than four hours, would also go up a quarter to $1.50 per hour.

Currently, drivers only have to feed the meter in Arlington between 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Under the proposed budget, the times would change to 8 a.m.-8 p.m., or an additional two hours of metering for a total of 12 hours a day, six days a week.

The increase would add about $3.775 million per year to the county’s coffers, with $1.575 million in anticipated revenue from the rate increase alone and an additional $2.2 million for the hours extension.

In a budget document, county staff note that the increase would “encourage more frequent turnover in parking space during hours of greatest demand” and would be “more consistent with other rates and hours in the region.” It would also, of course, raise revenue at a time when the county is facing a significant budget gap.

The proposal comes less than three years after the County Board approved parking meter rate increases, which raised rates a quarter across the board. In 2011, a rate hike brought the long-term parking cost per hour up to $1.

Parking ticket fines will also rise, from $35 to $40 per offense, leading to just over $236,000 in revenue per year.

File photo

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Morning Notes

County Focused on Child Care — “Demand for child care in Arlington is high and the County is working with business owners and families to meet the increasing needs. Preliminary steps also are underway to map out a comprehensive Child Care Initiative that establishes an action plan to advance the availability, accessibility, and quality of childcare in Arlington.” [Arlington County]

GGW Urges Support for Accessory Apartments — The website Greater Greater Washington is urging its readers to write to the Arlington County Board in support of two proposals: lowering parking minimums for buildings near Metro stations, and “reforming overly burdensome regulations on accessory apartments.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Yankee Stadium Operator to Run Rosslyn Observation Deck — JBG Smith has hired New York City-based Legends to run the public observation deck at the top of its Central Place tower in Rosslyn. Legends also operates Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium in Anaheim, AT&T Stadium in Dallas and the One World Observatory at One World Trade Center. The 12,000 square foot Central Place observation deck will feature “an outdoor cantilevered terrace and full food and beverage program,” plus panoramic views. [Washington Business Journal]

Ballston Building Sells for $72 Million — New York-based property investment group Westbrook Partners has acquired the Two Liberty Center office building, at 4075 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, for $72 million. [Commercial Property Executive]

Ballston BID CEO on Redevelopment — Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone says changes along the Ballston corridor, including extensive renovations to the former Ballston Common Mall (now Ballston Quarter), are having a ripple effect. “This redevelopment has spurred on like 10 other projects here,” she said. “The face of Ballston is going to change again in the next three to five years, it’s going to look so different. I know it’s just going to be better.” [Washington Business Journal]

Reminder: No Parking Meter Enforcement Today — Parking meters in Arlington will not be enforced today, due to the Veterans Day observation, but meters will be enforced tomorrow. [ARLnow]

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Morning Notes

Airplane watching at Gravelly Point (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

County Offices Open for Columbus Day — Arlington County offices are open today during the Columbus Day holiday, but parking meters will not be enforced, according to the county’s holiday schedule. Courts, DMV locations and schools will be closed, while ART buses will run on a modified holiday schedule. [Arlington County]

Cyclist Cited for Eluding — There was a brief police pursuit of sorts Friday afternoon, involving a cyclist in the Courthouse neighborhood. “An officer activated his lights and sirens after witnessing the cyclist run a red light,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. ‘When the cyclist refused to stop, the officer rode beside him and attempted to make verbal contact with the cyclist. The cyclist eventually stopped and was released on two citations, one for the red light violation and one for eluding.”

Public Art Initiative Coming to Courthouse — On Saturday, Oct. 15, the “Reimagine Civic” public art initiative will bring “C_vic,” an interactive sculpture, to Courthouse Square near the county government headquarters. The sculpture has a space between the first “C” and “V” where members of the community can stand, in place of the “I,” and take a photo. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Paid parking along Campbell Avenue in Shirlington

If you’re shopping or dining in Shirlington and are lucky enough to get a street parking spot along Campbell Avenue, you’ll now have to pay.

Parking meters were installed along Campbell Avenue over the weekend.

“The goal is to improve traffic flow, discourage abuse by long-term parkers, improve space availability/turnover, and enhance the utilization of free off-street parking garages,” explained Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.

“The County conducted a parking study of the area last year following concerns raised by… [Village at Shirlington] owner Federal Realty Investment Trust and other stakeholders,” said Baxter. “The study found that there was considerable abuse of long-term parkers exceeding the posted time restrictions. It was determined that the best way to manage the right-of-way is through the expansion of our existing curbside metered program that is currently in place on S. Quincy Street, S. Randolph Street and Arlington Mill.”

Baxter said the county “worked closely” with FRIT to notify tenants of the changes prior to the parking meter installation.

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Logo via Arlington CountyParking meters will not be enforced on Wednesday, as Arlington County observes the Veterans Day federal holiday.

Arlington County courts, libraries, public schools and other government offices will be closed for the holiday, and metered parking will not be enforced, the county said. Arlington Transit will operate on a holiday schedule.

Trash and recycling services, meanwhile, will operate on a normal schedule.

See the full Arlington County holiday calendar here, the Arlington Public Schools holiday pool schedule here and the ART schedule modifications here.

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Morning Notes

Road construction on Key Blvd

Immigrant Group Launches Get-Out-the-Vote Campaign — The immigrant rights group CASA Virginia launched a new get-out-the-vote campaign aimed at women yesterday. “It’s time we raise the minimum wage and improve child care,” said a CASA representative, at a press conference yesterday held at the Arlington courthouse plaza. County Board chair Mary Hynes and vice-chair Walter Tejada were at the press conference and issued a proclamation calling on residents to support the campaign. [Washington Post]

Longer Parking Meter Hours Still on Hold — A plan to extend the hours of parking meters in Arlington from 6 to 8 p.m. is still on hold due to “a backlash from the public and business leaders.” Said acting County Manager Mark Schwartz: “It needs more work.” [InsideNova]

Albino Squirrel Spotted in Arlington — An all-white squirrel has been spotted in a North Arlington neighborhood. Such albino squirrels are “extremely rare” but have been spotted in Arlington before. [Washington Post]

Firefighters Endorse Dorsey — Arlington County Board candidate Christian Dorsey has picked up the endorsement of the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association. The firefighters previously endorsed Dorsey’s Democratic ticketmate Katie Cristol. [InsideNova]

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Parking meter on N. Oak Street

(Updated at 10:50 p.m.) Street parking in Arlington will now cost an extra quarter.

The 25 cent rate increase for parking meters went into effect on Sept. 7. The raise was approved by the County Board in May.

Rates for short-term, two hour parking are now $1.50 per hour, up from $1.25. Four hour, or long-term, parking rates are $1.25 per hour, instead of $1.

The increase does not apply to meters with reduced rates of 50-75 cents per hour. Areas with lower parking demand, such as near Virginia Hospital Center, were also not affected by the change, said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.

All digital, multi-space parking meters have been switched to the new rates, Baxter said. Parkmobile, a mobile app that allows users to pay for meters through their phones, has also been updated to reflect the new prices.

Old meter (left), digital meter (right)

Older, mechanical parking meters for individual space will most likely reflect the changes by the end of the week, Baxter said.

“County staff is working diligently to convert the older mechanical meters (this requires a manual effort where staff physically reprograms each individual meter to the new rates),” she said in an email.

The 25 cents increase is predicted to bring in $1 million in revenue per year, but was prompted by higher demand for street parking, according to a county press release from May.

“Raising the rates to levels closer to the rates charged in nearby parking garages and closer to those of the rest of the region will help level the playing field ensuring that businesses that need short-term parking spaces on the street for their customers are more likely to have them available,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a May statement.

The County Board is also expected to discuss a proposal to extend the hours that paid parking is enforced by two hours. If approved, people will have to pay to park until 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.

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