Residential Permit Parking enforcement is in full swing — but some residents say they’re still waiting for their renewed permits to arrive and are concerned they will be unfairly ticketed until then.
Enforcement began yesterday (Tuesday) in Residential Permit Parking zones: residential areas near commercial corridors where residents pay for permits to ensure they have a spot on their street.
Customers have to renew their permits annually, a process that typically begins in April. Otherwise, they risk getting ticketed when the county begins looking for the new fiscal year’s permit.
Black Tuesday, 8am tomorrow. 👇👇👇👇 https://t.co/yLPBqglSQr
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) September 5, 2022
But some residents took to Nextdoor to say they were still waiting on their permits when enforcement began yesterday.
“[A]ll I got was a receipt. I don’t even have temporary parking passes and they ticket in my zone,” said one commenter.
Others reported trouble reaching county staff to track down their permit.
“I finally received my stickers after much difficulty, multiple emails, and several phone calls,” another Nextdoor user said. “What used to take minutes each year has taken me hours this year, the price has almost doubled over the past few years, and I’m penalized for having a driveway, which now makes me eligible for one less permit.”
For a handful of registrants, that was due to a delayed printing order, but for others, it’s par for the course, according to Peter Golkin, a spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services.
“We tell residents to expect the process to take a month from application to shipping to receipt of permit materials,” he said. “Every year a number of orders are lost or damaged in the mail or are returned as undeliverable even though the address is correct on the envelope. Those orders have to be investigated and put back into a queue.”
The concerns arose despite the county delaying and extending the permit renewal period.
“The new software system for parking permits was not ready for the usual renewal season start of April 1,” Golkin said. “The software had to be fine-tuned and tested and was finally ready in May.”
The county delayed enforcement until September to account for late-summer travel.
For those without their permanent 2022-23 tags, the county is emailing 45-day, temporary passes to customers who report that their permit materials were lost or not delivered, as well as those who placed their orders after mid-August.
There are a few measures residents can take to avoid a ticket during this period.
“Most RPP residents have off-street parking available in addition to their temporary passes. We encourage those residents with off-street parking to use it if possible, and for all customers to use valid temporary passes while they wait for permit materials to arrive in the mail,” Golkin said.
Those who are worried their temporary passes will expire soon can email [email protected], call 703-228-3344 or visit the Treasurer’s Office in-person at county government headquarters in Courthouse for assistance, he said.
“If a resident is concerned that a temporary pass is about to expire before an order arrives, email [email protected] and the situation will be investigated and a new temporary pass issued if necessary,” he said.
This is the latest blip for the permit parking program. The county reported technical difficulties with its software last year, when a handful of residents with newly constructed homes risked getting ticketed because the system did not recognize their newly created addresses.
The county modified the program in February 2021, reducing available permits for households with driveways, raising fees for additional vehicles and visitor permits while lowering prices for low-income residents, and allowing some multi-family buildings to join the program.
An idea to institute paid, two-hour parking in RPP zones was nixed after pushback from residents and some members of the Planning Commission.
A man upset after being confronted about parking illegally in the Courthouse area allegedly drew a weapon, police say.
The incident happened around 6 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday) near the intersection of Clarendon Blvd and N. Troy Street, a couple of blocks downhill from the Courthouse Metro station.
“At approximately 6:11 p.m. on August 24, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The investigation determined the suspect was illegally parked when the victim approached on foot and confronted him. The suspect then exited his vehicle and allegedly retrieved a weapon, which was later determined to be an airsoft gun, from the trunk. The victim safely left the area and no injuries were reported.”
“Upon arrival, officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident,” the crime report says.
Despite the gun ultimately being found to be a pellet gun, according to police, the suspect — a 28-year-old Fairfax man — was charged with brandishing. He was also charged with DUI and driving with a suspended license, and held without bond, per the crime report.
The County Board is set to consider construction of an underground garage topped with a turf field at The Heights building in Rosslyn.
After issues with the original project design for the garage, revisions to the plan ultimately have eased concerns, and county staff recommends the revised use permit be approved at the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday (July 16), according to a Board report.
But the county’s Planning Commission still isn’t on board with the new plan.
The Arlington Public Schools proposal calls for 61 parking spaces in the underground garage, with a lighted, rectangular, synthetic turf field above. The field is part of an agreement between APS and the county to construct outdoor athletic facilities at the school, according to the Board report.
The previous proposal, submitted to the Board in May, had several issues, mostly concerning the adjacent 18th Street N., which runs parallel to Wilson Blvd. Under the previous design, the street would have been narrowed by eight feet, removing its southern on-street parking lane which could “cause significant operational issues for APS buses,” according to the report.
APS also originally proposed garage access to private vehicles for pickups and drop-offs during school opening and closing each day. The report stated that would pose “a significant operational and safety challenge.”
Additionally, the original proposal would build the turf field to provide access to the first floor of The Heights on the same level. However, that would diminish public and student access and visibility along other sides of the field.
To address those problems, APS would maintain the width of 18th Street N. and keep the parking lane next to H-B Woodlawn, constructing a 5-foot wide, 18-inch tall planter with a seat wall along the length of the garage facade, as well as adding trees on the curbs near the garage and relocating streetlights.
Despite the changes, the Planning Commission still urged the County Board to deny the permit. The commission unanimously agreed that the new proposal failed to conform to the West Rosslyn Area Plan, the Rosslyn Sector Plan and the Arlington County Comprehensive Plan, according to its report.
Specifically, the proposed elevation of the turf field is in conflict with the area plan’s goal of avoiding above-ground or ground level parking, while blocking some pedestrians from viewing The Heights building, which the commission called “a public-facing jewel for both Arlington, the greater D.C. area, and the Commonwealth.”
Although the Transportation Commission voted to recommend approval for the new proposal, it still had doubts about the increased height of the field’s impact on pedestrians on 18th Street N., as well as the plan to build 30 new employee parking spaces when school staff can park at an existing, nearby parking garage instead, according to the commission’s report.
Photo (below) via Google Maps
Five “Complete Streets” roadway project designs are ready for community feedback.
As part of Arlington County’s Complete Streets program, the projects aim to improve safety and access on local roads. The changes are usually made in conjunction with repaving projects and mostly involve re-striping the roadway, sometimes at the expense of parking or through lanes.
According to the project website, the five stretches of roadway that are up for improvements this year are:
- Wilson Boulevard — N. George Mason Drive to N. Vermont Street (Bluemont)
- Clarendon Boulevard — N. Garfield Street to N. Adams Street (Clarendon / Courthouse)
- Clarendon Boulevard — Courthouse Road to N. Scott Street (Courthouse / Rosslyn)
- S. Abingdon Street / 34th Street S. — Bridge over I-395 (Fairlington)
- N. Ohio Street — 12th Road N. to Washington Boulevard (Madison Manor / Highland Park-Overlee Knolls / Dominion Hills)
Those interested in giving feedback on the designs can fill out an online form on the project website through Wednesday, July 6. The final plans are expected to be released in late summer or fall.
S. Abingdon Street bridge
The county’s Department of Environmental Services plans to remove under-utilized parking from the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington.
The project would add buffer zones to the bike lanes to improve access for cyclists and safety for those using the sidewalks, while narrowing the travel lanes for speed control, according to its concept design summary.
Residents previously expressed concern about drivers speeding on the bridge while students walk to and from school.
The bridge is also part of a planned VDOT rehabilitation project, which will include adding concrete protective barriers and replacing bearings.
Wilson Blvd between N. George Mason Drive to N. Vermont Street
The segment of Wilson Blvd in Bluemont between N. George Mason Drive and N. Vermont Street, near Ballston, could see additional high contrast markings at high conflict crosswalks, according to the designs.
The plan is to reduce Wilson Blvd to one travel lane in each direction, with a center turn lane into N. George Mason Drive to better control vehicle speed.
The design plan also includes modifying markings to extend the left turn lane near N. George Mason Drive. The project would also add bike lanes and a continuous center turn lane east of the fire station.
The section of Wilson Blvd between George Mason and the Safeway grocery store saw similar changes last year.
Clarendon Blvd from N. Garfield Street to N. Adams Street
A segment of Clarendon Blvd is set for changes between N. Garfield Street and N. Adams Street, in the Clarendon and Courthouse area, including the removal of nine parking spots.
Apart from reducing parking spaces, the project team also plans to add high contrast markings at high conflict crosswalks. A bike box is set to be added at Clarendon Boulevard’s intersection with N. Garfield Street to make turning easier for cyclists.
The plan will also add parking protection to the bike lane between N. Garfield Street and N. Edgewood Street. A county summary says residents in the area expressed concern about speeding, unsafe pedestrian crossings and double parking in the bike lane.
Beyer Wins 8th District Nomination — Updated at 9:50 a.m. — “Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, has fended off a primary challenge from Victoria Virasingh in the 8th Congressional District. Beyer will face Republican Karina Lipsman, who won a Republican convention last month… With 177 precincts of 182 reporting, Beyer leads, 77.82% to 22.18%.” [WTOP, Fox 5]
Statement from Beyer — “I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District… This is a challenging moment for the Democratic Party, and I look forward to throwing myself into that fight and making the case for equality, shared prosperity, and progress.” [Twitter]
Singing Challenger’s Praises — From Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “Thank you to @Victoria4VA for running and raising important issues in our community. It’s never easy to step into the arena and, win or lose, we should all be grateful to those who do. I am sure we have not heard the last of Victoria!” [Twitter]
Man Drowns in Four Mile Run — “No foul play is suspected in the drowning death of a 52-year-old man in Four Mile Run, according to Alexandria Police. Police were called around 2 p.m. on Monday, June 20. Rescuers found the man in the stream near the 3900 block of Richmond Highway.” [ALXnow]
Neighbors Want Public Garage — “County, regional and state officials descended on Shirlington Road on June 15, ceremonially kicking off construction of a much-awaited and oft-debated maintenance facility for the Arlington Transit (ART) bus fleet… But the proposal still calls for using a parking garage on the parcel exclusively for staff use. ‘Given local parking challenges, a little creative thinking would open sections of the garage for public use, too,’ Stombler said.” [Sun Gazette]
Acquisition for Arlington Company — “Leonardo DRS Inc., the Arlington subsidiary of Italian defense and space contractor Leonardo SpA, said Tuesday it has agreed to merge with Israel’s Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. in an all-stock deal that will create a new public company.” [Washington Business Journal]
Storms Possible Today — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Heads-up for Wednesday afternoon + evening: HEAVY RAIN threat for parts of region and possibility of flooding. * Storms — possibly numerous — between 3 and 10p * It won’t rain the whole time but some areas could see multiple bouts of heavy rain — evening may be busiest.” [Twitter]
It’s Wednesday — Rain and storms in the evening and overnight. High of 86 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
Rent Keeps Going Up — “Arlington’s median apartment-rental rate remains highest in the metropolitan area and has fully rebounded from dropoffs during the early part of COVID, according to new data. With a median rental rate of $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,391 for two bedrooms in May, Arlington’s average rental… is now up just under 13 percent year-over-year.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Making Much Multifamily — From a spokesperson, about a new set of national rankings: “Multi-family units authorized in Arlington increased by 1,095.8% — a total addition of 2,838 units — between 2020 and 2021. Out of all midsize cities, Arlington experienced the 5th largest increase in multi-family home construction.” [Construction Coverage]
Group Decries Missing Middle ‘D-Day’ — From WAMU’s Ally Schweitzer: “With Arlington expected to enact zoning reforms allowing denser housing in more nabes, the group [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future] is ramping up its rhetoric in opposition. The group’s latest blast calls the expected vote day ‘D-Day.’ They’ve said the county is ‘declaring war’ on single-family nabes.” [Twitter]
Parking Removed for Transitway Extension — From the National Landing BID: “Parking lanes along Crystal Drive and 12th Street South will be closed to make way for the Transitway Extension Project beginning Wednesday, June 15, 2022.” [Twitter]
Pedestrian Struck in Bluemont — From Dave Statter last night: “Report of a pedestrian struck at Wilson Blvd & George Mason Dr. Appears to be a bicyclist. There was also bicyclist struck last week a block away. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVaPD handling.” [Twitter]
Amazon Buys HQ2 Phase 2 Site — “Amazon.com Inc. has acquired the roughly 11 vacant acres in Pentagon City that will soon be developed as PenPlace, the massive second phase of HQ2. The $198 million deal with JBG Smith, as expected, follows Arlington County’s late April approval of PenPlace, a nearly 3.3 million-square-foot project slated to include three traditional office buildings, a spiral Helix tower, three retail pavilions, a central park and an underground parking garage.” [Washington Business Journal]
Environmental Finding on HQ2 Site — “Crude oil particles have been found in the soil at Amazon.com Inc.’s PenPlace, the site of the second phase of its second headquarters buildout in Arlington County, per a public notice published Monday in The Washington Post… The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality conducted a risk assessment for the particles, finding that the amount poses ‘no material risk to current or future site occupants,’ according to the notice.” [Washington Business Journal]
It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day with some rain possible. High of 76 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:33 pm. [Weather.gov]
Stay. Lost Dog Cafe is going to stay.
With help from the Arlington County Board, Lost Dog Cafe’s parking situation is now nearing a resolution which has prompted the restaurant to renew its lease on Columbia Pike.
Last June, ARLnow reported that confusing and high parking fees in a county-financed Columbia Pike garage, owned by Ballston-based developer AvalonBay, was potentially costing Lost Dog Cafe and fellow tenant Joule Wellness Pharmacy thousands of dollars a year in customer revenue.
Because of this, both businesses were planning on not renewing their leases on the ground floor of the Avalon Columbia Pike apartment building.
But, in January, the County Board revised an unusual 2006 agreement that essentially allows AvalonBay to stop paying back the county for contributing nearly $3 million to the construction of the privately-owned garage.
This has led the developer to agree to lower parking fees inside of the parking garage at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.
Starting as soon as the end of this month, the developer is changing the fee structure at the parking garage to allow customers to park for free for one hour, AvalonBay spokesperson Kurt Conway confirmed. It’s $2 per hour after that.
Additionally, more employee parking spots will be available to the businesses.
This change has resulted in Lost Dog Cafe signing a six-year lease extension to stay on the Pike. Added to the two years left on its current lease, the neighborhood eatery is planning on staying at its current location until at least 2030.
“We believe that the change in the parking situation will allow us to run our business more successfully,” Lost Dog franchise owner James Barnes tells ARLnow.
Joule Wellness Pharmacy director of marketing Alex Tekie also says that this change will significantly help their business. However, he notes that the pharmacy has actually not yet been informed by AvalonBay of this change.
Most of the parking woes began back in March 2020, when the pandemic hit and, incidentally, higher fees, tickets, and threats of towing began after years of lax enforcement, according to tenants.
At a time when many businesses were struggling and shifting towards more take-out, charging for even just a few minutes of parking made it even more difficult for the local businesses.
“This parking issue has made it so untenable,” Barnes said last June. “We link this to our sales and our sales are not good. There’s a correlation with this parking lot.”
Joule Wellness Pharmacy ownership also told ARLnow at the time they were shelling out nearly $800 for employee parking. This prompted both businesses to threaten to leave the development and Columbia Pike.
But, at least in this instance, a change to a 16-year-old agreement appears to have solved at least a couple of tenant renewal issues, for now.
The leadership of Mount Olivet United Methodist Church near Ballston is looking to do something about its parking lot.
The 120-spot surface parking lot fronts N. Glebe Road and is separated from the church, located at 1500 N. Glebe Road, by 16th Street N.
When Mount Olivet bought the parcel in the 1950s, it considered building a youth center and pool on the site, but ultimately paved it over.
Now, 70 years later, church leaders are mulling whether to redevelop the lot, as well as the open space and associate pastor’s parsonage adjacent to it, with a multi-purpose building and underground parking.
Possible uses include a youth recreation center, an arts and cultural space, an expansion of the daycare and preschool, medical offices or senior assisted living, housing or other church uses, according to a presentation on the church’s website.
The redevelopment idea resurfaced in 2017, when church leadership was drafting a strategic plan guiding future growth, according to the church.
Two years later, a task force began meeting with a local architect to consider uses for the property. Concepts from the task force were presented to parishioners on Sunday during a town hall.
“During the Town Hall, multiple references were made to the fact that the material being presented and the ideas being discussed were in fact only possibilities at this point,” Chuck Mitchell, the chair of the task force, tells ARLnow. “There are no plans to build at this time… If and when the Mount Olivet congregation decides to continue the exploration, there will be multiple and comprehensive meetings with Arlington County, civic organizations and other interested parties to engage in the conversation.”
That town hall was intended to update the congregation on the work the task force over the last two years, he said.
“As a long-term member of Arlington and the local community, should Mount Olivet choose to move forward with a project, we will be scheduling meetings with the local civic organizations,” he said.
To avoid raising money from the congregation, church leaders say they would enter a ground lease with a developer.
Over the course of the lease, Mount Olivet would receive revenue from whatever building the developer constructs. Eventually, the revenue would be used to buy back a portion of the building for the church to use.
After the lease expires, Mount Olivet would own the entire building, as well as the land.
While the church has not settled on a plan to propose and discuss with the local community yet, some neighbors have taken to Nextdoor and other channels to express concerns about things like traffic and safety should a new development replace the parking lot.
Prolific parkers in Arlington will soon have to ditch their EasyPark devices.
The company that owns the battery-operated parking payment device — a precursor to app-based parking payment services — is ceasing operations in the U.S. and service will end in Arlington on Monday, Feb. 28, according to the County Treasurer’s Office.
“We sincerely regret to tell you that EasyPark has ceased operations in North America and terminated its contract with Arlington County,” the treasurer’s office said in an announcement yesterday (Monday). “This message is to let you know what this change may mean for you, if you continue to use your EasyPark device in the coming weeks.”
Locals can refill their devices in-person at the Treasurer’s Office until Feb. 28, after which time they can still use the device to pay for parking until the balance reaches $0. Refills will not be possible after the last day of this month.
Folks can also bring working devices to the Treasurer’s Office and receive a refund of the remaining balance until Feb. 28. Broken devices cannot be replaced and broken devices with money on them cannot be refunded.
The Treasurer’s Office warned that continuing to use the device after Feb. 28 may complicate contesting a parking ticket. Drivers can no longer rely on a technical support team to verify a proper device for use as proof in a ticket appeal.
Arlington County began offering the battery-operated devices in 2015 as an alternative to paying at a parking meter or with a phone. EasyPark succeeded the iPark devices, which Arlington stopped selling after the manufacturer declared bankruptcy in 2013.
It appears bankruptcy almost came for the company that owns EasyPark USA: On Track Innovations (OTI). The company lost significant revenue during the pandemic and filed for bankruptcy, but those proceedings ended when Nayax — an Israeli platform that provides digital, cashless purchasing options to retailers — acquired OTI for $4.5 million.
The announcement encourages people with questions to call the Treasurer’s Office Customer Service team at (703) 228-3702 or email [email protected].
The City of Falls Church is no longer forcing La Tingeria to shut down its new restaurant by January, a city spokesperson tells ARLnow.
Last month, the popular Arlington food truck La Tingeria set up shop at 626 S. Washington Street in Falls Church. But only a few weeks later, the city sent a notice to owner David Peña saying it was pulling the restaurant’s certificate of occupancy due to neighbor complaints about customers parking on neighborhood streets.
The shop was going to have to close by Jan. 2, 2022, barring an appeal.
But now, it appears the city is backtracking and will not be revoking La Tingeria’s certificate of occupancy, at least not yet.
“The City of Falls Church and the business owner are working together to create solutions to the parking issue. The owner has already made improvements by marking the onsite parking,” Falls Church Director of Communications Susan Finarelli says. “The City is working with the neighbors and looking at the right-of-way to help with traffic and parking on the dead-end residential street. As this positive momentum continues, we anticipate not revoking the Certificate of Occupancy in January.”
This comes after ARLnow reported on the story and customers reached out to the city to express their support for the restaurant.
By revoking La Tingera’s certificate of occupancy, the City of Falls Church may have been in violation of the restaurant’s constitutional rights, according to the Ballston-based Institute of Justice, a national nonprofit that helps businesses fight against what it views as government overreach.
“Under the state and federal constitution, people have a right to run their businesses without being subject to unreasonable and arbitrary laws,” senior attorney Erica Smith Ewing told ARLnow. “I think there’s a very strong argument that forcing restaurant owners to be responsible for enforcing the city’s parking laws is completely unreasonable.”
This could have been handled by the city issuing parking tickets, notes Ewing, not the disproportionate response of threatening to shut down a business.
“Especially with the economy as it is, it’s shocking that the city is punishing a restaurant for being too successful,” said Ewing. Locally, the Institute for Justice previously took up legal cases in Arlington after county crackdowns on food trucks and a mural next to a dog park.
When ARLnow reached out to Falls Church about La Tingeria’s violations earlier this week, a city spokesperson was only able to provide one line from section 48-939 that reads “No portion of any required off-street parking or loading space shall occupy or use any public street, right-of-way, alley or property, except by expressed permission of the city council.”
Ewing wasn’t surprised by this lack of clarity.
“This isn’t the first time city officials have said that someone is violating a law and haven’t been able to show them how they’re violating it or why,” she said. “[Peña] shouldn’t have to dig through outdated codes to figure out what he did wrong. The city should be helping him understand and fix the problem.”
It appears that the city is now doing just that with La Tingeria.
Peña tells ARLnow that he’s very happy with this development, but remains fearful there could be more issues going forward.
Despite a challenging first few weeks, he still believes that the Falls Church will be a great home for La Tingeria’s popular queso birria tacos and chicken tinga.
“I absolutely [want] to stay here and see how much we can grow,” Peña says. “This is just the beginning.”
Photo (2) via Google Maps
The past month was supposed to be validation for David Peña and his taco eatery La Tingeria, a popular Arlington food truck.
La Tingeria recently opened at 626 S. Washington Street in Falls Church, ditching the usually-busy food truck — at least temporarily — for a brick and mortar restaurant.
It was going to be a challenge, but Peña was looking forward to having a shop to call his own after nearly a decade of serving tacos out of a truck in various Arlington locales.
However, after only being open for three weekends, Peña last week received a notice from the City of Falls Church and a visit from city officials, telling him that his certificate of occupancy was set to be revoked in 30 days due to complaints from neighbors about parking.
“My office continue to receive daily complaints from neighbors and now [the] City Council regarding City Council regarding your customers parking on neighborhood streets,” said a notice which Peña posted on Instagram. “This is a violation of your certificate of occupancy, and Sections 48-58 and 48-1004 of the City Code.”
As a result, the taco shop is being forced to close by Jan. 2, 2022, barring an appeal.
“I’m not doing anything illegal, but I’m being punished like I am,” Peña tells ARLnow. “How did it get that far so quick when we haven’t even had our grand opening yet?”
Early last month, Peña told ARLnow that he tried to open his restaurant in Arlington, but rent was too expensive. Hence, the move to Falls Church.
He thought La Tingeria, known for queso birria tacos and chicken tinga, had found a perfect home, but now he’s not so sure. Peña admits that when he leased the space on Washington Blvd, he knew the parking lot was small and that there was potential it could fill up quickly.
“We are a popular place, so it was in the back of my mind,” he says.
But he didn’t imagine the situation would rise to this level so quickly.
In recent days, Peña has tried to alleviate the problem by posting more signs on his shop and information on his Instagram telling customers where they can and can not park. The forbidden areas include W. Westmoreland Road and Summerfield Road across the street.
Since there are no official signs in the neighborhoods about no parking, Peña said there’s only so much he can say or do.
“I’m asking [customers] to be courteous to our new neighbors… but unless there are signs up saying that you can’t park here, people are going to park there,” Peña says. “There’s nothing I can do about that.”