Arlington County Board members wrestled last night with a plan to substitute car parking spaces for spots for bike and car-sharing at new apartment and condo buildings near Metro stations.
The proposal, put together by county staff as part of a number of changes to parking policy under discussion at a Tuesday work session, is meant to encourage developers to contribute to other transit options.
Staff recommended that a developer providing a Capital Bikeshare station could substitute that for for up to four car parking spaces, depending on its size, or bike parking could be exchanged for two parking spaces. One car-sharing space, provided for a private company like Zipcar, could be in place of five spots.
But Board members questioned why the provision for different transit means is tied to reducing car parking spaces, especially near Metro stations, as adding such amenities is becoming a more standard practice in developments across the region.
“It bothers me that going to suggest that we’re not going to get these things until we go down to the minimum [parking ratio],” said Board chair Jay Fisette. “These are things that should be part of every site plan.”
Among the other recommendations put forward by staff, developers could request fewer parking spaces the closer a property is to a Metro station, with some committed affordable housing units not being required to have any parking spaces if they are within an eighth of a mile of a station.
Board member John Vihstadt argued that orienting the changes in parking policy around Metro, which would allow developers to provide fewer spaces at new buildings if they are close to a station, might be misguided given the drop in ridership due to the system’s ongoing safety concerns and year-long SafeTrack rebuilding program.
Vihstadt said that drop in ridership was “casting a pall” over the discussion, but county transportation director Dennis Leach said it was important to attract residents to such buildings who “build a lifestyle” around Metro. Vihstadt requested further data on the county’s declining ridership, which Leach said has also been hampered by more teleworking and other factors.
A major addition by staff to a report in March, by a residential parking working group on the new parking policy, is a requirement that developers provide for dedicated visitor parking.
Stephen Crim, a parking planner in the county’s Department of Environmental Services, said that change came after concerns from nearby residents that cars would park on their residential streets, especially those of visitors who have few options.
Leach noted that the parking garages in neighborhoods like Crystal City and Pentagon City are under-utilized, especially by visitors, and that DES could do even more to promote use of those spaces alongside the various Business Improvement Districts in the county.
Staff and County Board members agreed that while the policy still needs work before approval, it is aspirational and designed to attract residents who would prefer to have minimal, if any, car use.
“We are all seeking to hasten a future that we are interested in, which is a more multimodal corridor especially with fewer cars and more people taking alternatives to the extent that it suits them and choices that allow them to do so,” said Board vice chair Katie Cristol.
Park Upgrades Approved — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Board approved contracts that will “upgrade the playgrounds and picnic shelter at Oakgrove Park and add a restroom/picnic pavilion and futsal court at Tyrol Hills Park.” The contracts total around $1.7 million. [Arlington County]
TJ Construction to Take Away Theater Parking — Construction of a new elementary school next to the Thomas Jefferson community center and middle school will mean a loss of parking for the community theater used by a number of local performing arts troupes. Those troupes, including The Arlington Players and Ballet Nova, will now have to decide whether to relocate to another community theater or stay and deal with the lack of parking. [InsideNova]
New Location for Children’s School Approved — Last night the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a site plan amendment allowing the Children’s School, a co-op child care center for Arlington Public School employees, to occupy two floors of a Ballston office building. The center is moving from an APS-owned building in Westover to make way for what’s expected to be a new elementary school. Some Ballston condominium residents expressed concerns about the child care center, primarily related to traffic; County Board member Christian Dorsey pointed out that the space it’s moving into was formerly used by a for-profit college. [Arlington County]
Ballston Profiled by WaPo — “With an array of amenities, it’s easy to see why Ballston is one of the area’s hottest markets,” says a real estate-focused profile of the neighborhood. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
A spokesman for the county’s department of environmental services said that after previously considering a nearly two-mile stretch of bike lanes from N. Sycamore Street to George Mason Drive, staff has revised their plan.
Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to a shorter stretch, westbound between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets; eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.
“The revised plan would still provide bicycling facilities both eastbound and westbound from East Falls Church to Westover Village, albeit with a section along neighborhood streets, while also minimizing the impact to parking in the middle section that was most heavily impacted in the initial proposal, including the preservation of parking in front of and across from the Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, which does not have off-street parking,” DES spokesman Eric Balliet said.
The project is part of a wider re-paving plan by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which controls that section of Washington Blvd.
The initial plan of bicycle lanes in each direction, improved pedestrian crossings and other improvements was shared publicly last March and received more than 400 comments. County staff then broke them down into categories to get a sense of the main areas of support and concern. Staff then integrated those comments into their revisions of the proposal.
Balliet said the revised plan “continues to meet all major goals with fewer impacts on parking in the middle section where impacts were most acute.”
But bicycling advocates vented their frustration at the change. In a blog post published yesterday on the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s website, WABA staff member Garrett Hennigan blasted the changes.
“Following the first meeting, supportive comments poured in from neighborhood residents. 65 percent of comments supported the bike lanes as did 55 percent of comments from neighborhood residents,” Hennigan wrote. “Now, to save some parking spaces and appease a vocal minority, the County has thrown out the public process, abandoned years of planning and determined that putting people on bikes at risk is a fair compromise.”
A community meeting on the project’s latest iteration will be held tonight at 5 p.m. in the Reed-Westover Building at 1644 N. McKinley Road.
Photo via Google Maps
New apartment and condo buildings close to Metro stations in Arlington could have fewer parking spaces, and more spaces for bikes and car-sharing services, under a recommendation by a county working group.
The group is made up of residents and other stakeholders, and came together in 2016 to work on a policy to guide county staff on required parking for new apartment and condo buildings.
Staff is now asking for feedback on those recommendations in an online survey, which is open through April 18.
The group’s first recommendation was to reduce the number of spaces available depending on how close a new building is to a Metro station. According to the final report, members were split evenly on how low that parking ratio of units to spaces should be.
One proposal would have 0.4 parking spaces per unit for a building less than one-eighth of a mile from a Metro station, and up to 0.8 parking spaces per unit for a building less than a mile away. The other would have even fewer spaces per unit.
The working group also recommended that if developers provide parking spaces for bicycles and car-sharing, they should be permitted to reduce vehicle parking spaces. The group said that providing 10 bicycle parking spaces should allow two fewer vehicle spots, while adding a Capital Bikeshare station and paying for its upkeep should mean up to four fewer spaces.
Committed affordable housing units would also see lower parking ratios if close to Metro, due to what the report said is lower demand for parking spaces.
Units priced at 40 percent of area median income would not be required to provide any parking spaces, while affordable homes at 60 percent AMI would be required to provide 0.7 spaces per unit.
Other recommendations include a one-time payment by developers for “excess” parking, expanding shared parking on-site, and permitting developers to provide 100 percent of parking off-site, provided it is no further than 800 feet from the building and is secured for at least 10 years.
What’s it like racing around an expansive Crystal City parking garage on a bike?
Kind of like a videogame, as a video (above) from this week’s edition of Crystal City’s Wednesday Night Spins demonstrates.
The events are taking place on Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m., on the G3 and G4 level of the parking garage at 201 12th Street S., through the end of March. The races are free for spectators and around $15 for participants.
A community meeting is scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) to discuss a road re-striping plan that would add bike lanes but remove some parking on the western portion of Washington Blvd in Arlington.
The meeting is set to take place at the Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) from 5-8 p.m.
“We invite community members to provide ideas and insights on how we achieve the maximum benefits for bicycle access and pedestrian safety, while minimizing potential impacts in the area,” says the meeting’s web page.
Among the changes being proposed:
- “Create nearly a two-mile stretch of bike lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.”
- “Narrow unnecessary wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.”
- “Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.”
- “Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bike lanes.”
The restriping, as proposed, would add bike lanes in both directions to where they don’t already exist on Washington Blvd between Westover and East Falls Church, but at the expense of some on-street parking.
The project is being planned by Arlington County but will be performed and funded by VDOT, which maintains that stretch of Washington Blvd.
Photo via Google Maps
Monday is George Washington Day in Virginia. Others know the holiday, long associated with mattress and appliance sales, as Presidents Day.
Arlington County government offices, courts, libraries and other facilities will be closed Monday. Parking meters will not be enforced.
Trash and recycling collection, however, will go on as normal.
Arlington County brine trucks could be seen pretreating roads around Clarendon earlier this afternoon. VDOT, meanwhile, says it’s preparing for a potentially messy Thursday evening and Friday morning commute.
“Road crews are conducting anti-icing activities today and tomorrow,” VDOT said in a press release. “Please watch for crews as they stage along roads prior to the storm. Crews will treat roads with salt and sand as needed once the storm begins Thursday afternoon, plow in areas where and if snow totals reach two inches, and will remain on duty throughout the course of the storm.”
The snow is not expected to amount to much — maybe just a dusting to an inch. But even a small amount of snow could cause slippery conditions and virtual gridlock.
With snow expected tomorrow afternoon, crews have been pre-treating the roads today and will continue this evening and tomorrow. #ARLwx
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) January 4, 2017
Our first snow is almost here! Expect snow to impact Thurs PM & Fri AM rush. Check wx & modify trip times. https://t.co/nmHVmLCRGN
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) January 4, 2017
Hmmm, guess what's coming our way! pic.twitter.com/dptq5SHqHy
— Doug Kammerer (@dougkammerer) January 4, 2017
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) January 4, 2017
It might not be necessary with this storm, but Arlington County is urging residents this year to park in a parking lot or on the odd numbered side of local streets when it snows.
The county recently released the following video on the topic.
Park(ing) Day 2016 is in full swing in Arlington.
Described as “an annual international event where the public collaborates to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into small parks to elicit a reconsideration of the designation of public space,” Park(ing) Day is taking place on the side of the road in five separate locations in Arlington this year.
Among them: in front of 4075 Wilson Blvd and 4245 Fairfax Drive in Ballston; 2200 Wilson Blvd and the N. Uhle Street parking lot in Courthouse; and 2847 Clarendon Blvd in Clarendon.
We stopped by two today: in Clarendon, the Lululemon store was hosting yoga lessons, demonstrations and other feats of flexibility. On Wilson Blvd in Courthouse, staff from the Arlington Community Planning, Housing and Development office were giving away free schwag and encouraging passersby to play games they had on hand.
The county tweeted photos from two of the other events:
— Plan Arlington VA (@planArlingtonVA) September 16, 2016
— brett wallace (@bretthwallace) September 16, 2016
“Events like PARK(ing) Day enrich our community life by creating an inviting streetscape and by promoting activities that allow for social exchange, fun, creativity and critical thinking,” the county said on its website. “PARK(ing) Day in particular can furthermore promote a rethinking of the usage of the public-right-of-way and may motivate the public to more actively participate in the civic processes which shape our urban environment.”
The tiny temporary parks will remain open until around 3-3:30 p.m.
Arlington Named No. 11 Best Place in America — The same folks who named Arlington the best city to live in America earlier this summer have named it the 11th “best place to live in America.” Los Alamos, New Mexico topped the list and locally Merrifield, Virginia placed fourth. [Niche]
APS Schools Earn State Accreditation — All Arlington public schools, save one that is still being considered, have earned state accreditation. The final school is expected to be accredited later this fall, school officials say. “I want to congratulate all of our dedicated teachers and school leaders as well as our students and families on achieving full accreditation in all of our schools once again,” Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said in a statement. [InsideNova, Arlington Public Schools]
Park(ing) Day Returns Tomorrow — The annual Park(ing) Day event in Arlington will be held tomorrow (Friday). At least five metered parking spaces around Arlington will be blocked off and converted into pop-up parks, “to elicit a reconsideration of the designation of public space.” [Arlington County]
After interning for the past three months at ARLnow, we all had different experiences working in and learning about the area.
The three of us came in from different backgrounds: One of us is an Arlington native (Jackie Friedman), another is a New Yorker who moved last year to the D.C. area (Adrian Cruz) and the other (Omar DeBrew) commutes from Maryland.
As a result, we all had different experiences and opinions to share about our summer covering news in Arlington.
While I had lived in Arlington for most of the past year, there were still a lot of places and areas I had no idea existed. Because I lived in Lyon Park, I tended to stick around the Orange Line corridor, wandering into Pentagon City and Columbia Pike once in a blue moon. Throughout the summer, my work has sent me to all corners of the county, allowing me to explore and learn about neighborhoods I had never even known existed. Now, I can say with confidence that I know my way around the county and that names such as Cherrydale, Buckingham and Fairlington aren’t just stereotypical names for small English towns.
Arlingtonians as a people are an interesting bunch. The county is extremely diverse with people from all walks of life and one never knows what to expect. Just in my time working here, I have encountered people ranging from a lawyer who’s a finalist on “American Ninja Warrior” to a grumpy British man. Also, by reading our comments section, I’ve also learned they’re an opinionated and sarcastic bunch, with lots to say.
As a place to live in, Arlington is what I’d like to call Washington’s Disneyland. What I mean by that is that it’s cleaner, safer, quieter than anywhere I’ve ever lived in, almost as if it was designed by Walt Disney himself. Coming from New York City, I’m used to a dirty, gritty city with lots of crime and weird stuff going on. In contrast, the weirdest things that happen in Arlington are weekends in Clarendon. I currently live in Buckingham, an area that many call “Arlington’s ghetto.” I come from the South Bronx. Buckingham is no ghetto. What it does have is a thriving Latin American community with many amazing restaurants. The only drawback about living in Arlington is that it’s expensive! Finding a decent meal under $10 in Clarendon is close to impossible, and as my fellow interns will attest to, finding cheap parking is just as difficult. Nonetheless, this is definitely somewhere I could see myself living in the future.
While I have lived in Arlington my whole life, I wasn’t really aware of everything that goes on in the area. It’s amazing how someone can live in the same place their whole life, but have no clue about the people living around them. Your next door neighbor could be a craftsman like Jeff Spugnardi or the person working out next to you at the gym could have starred on “America Ninja Warrior” or even be 100 years old. Interning this summer at ARLnow allowed me to meet different people living in my community and learn about their interesting stories and lives. Everyone has an interesting story, especially in Arlington, so I encourage you to get to know the people around you. Maybe if you strike up a conversation with a stranger about how sad you are about Minh’s closing (I’m still mourning the loss), you could find out that the person you are talking to happens to be an Olympic gold medalist. But beware that person could go on and complain to you about the Clarendon stores that keep their doors open during the heat or how their child’s swimming instructor has man boobs.
Covering Arlington as a videographer is easy with all the history and new development taking place. Any issue big or small has some meaning to the community, such as a restaurant closing, a new 7-Eleven, or a fire station about to be demolished. The coverage helps Arlingtonians form opinions and decide for themselves. My only advice to those driving in Arlington is to take Metro when possible, and if you have to drive, find 24-hour parking areas near parks. Some spots are free; with others, you’ll have to pay. But that parking is cheaper than city areas.
Starting Friday, visitors to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City will be able to use the mall’s new valet parking service.
“A valet service has been something we’ve wanted to implement for many years now,” said Todd Jerscheid, the mall’a director of marketing and business development. “As we prepare for the renovation completion later this summer, we couldn’t think of a better time to launch the program. We know this will be a huge hit for our shoppers, especially around the busy holiday season and as they begin to really experience all of our new features and services!”
The service will cost five dollars on top of the garage’s usual parking rate and it will be available from 10 a.m.-midnight from Friday to Saturday and from 11 a.m.-9 p.m on Sunday.
The Fashion Centre, which is starting to wrap up an expansion project, will hold a launch event on Friday. The first 50 customers to use the service will receive complimentary “swag bags” and two randomly selected shoppers will also win a $150 Simon gift card. Valet shoppers will also receive special promotions throughout the month of June.
Those who work and shop in Clarendon have a new parking option.
A new surface parking lot opened earlier this month in the empty lot along Wilson and Clarendon Blvd, between the Whole Foods and PNC Bank.
The lot is being operated by Crystal Parking, a local parking firm owned by Abraham Melles.
Melles said the new parking facility will allow the otherwise empty lot and eye sore generate revenue and help to alleviate parking issues in the neighborhood. He said the company will also consider offering a car wash service for customers.
The rate for parking is $2 for 0-30 minutes, $5 for 30-60 minutes or $6 for all day.
Melles has other local parking ventures he’s working on. In the “near future” he’s hoping to open a 400-500 space lot in the Shirlington area — no word yet on where, exactly. And in January Melles plans to launch Vaalio, an “on demand valet parking app” that will allow users to request a valet to show up, park and then bring back their car wherever they’re going.
Justin Funkhouser contributed to this report.
Arlington Man Arrested for Murder — A 51-year-old Arlington man has been arrested and charged in the strangulation death of a man in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The alleged crime happened Saturday afternoon. The suspect was arrested by U.S. Marshals and Arlington County Police in Arlington; we hear the arrest took place at a McDonald’s restaurant, but so far that has not been confirmed. [WHAG]
Couple Hopes to Find Owner of Lost Ring — A school custodian and his girlfriend are searching for the owner of a lost gold wedding ring. Dennis Avery found the ring in June following an event at Glebe Elementary School. The ring has engravings that offer clues as to who the owner may be, including a date and a pair of initials. [WJLA]
Self-Driving Cars Come to Arlington — State officials, Virginia Tech researchers and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) demonstrated self-driving cars for the media on the closed-off I-395 HOV lanes yesterday afternoon. A press conference for the event was held in Pentagon City. [WTOP, Fox 5]
Part of Park Is Being Used for Parking — A portion of the 22-acre Jennie Dean Park along Four Mile Run near Shirlington is being used as a temporary parking lot for ART buses and vehicles from Shirlington-based public TV station WETA.County officials have promised residents that the portion of the park used will go back to being a park, but admitted they didn’t have any other good options for ART bus parking at the moment. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Samer Farha
(Updated at 10:50 p.m.) Street parking in Arlington will now cost an extra quarter.
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.
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.