On-Street Parking Policy Guidelines
On-street parking in Arlington County is managed through the use of various control devices including parking meters, signs and where appropriate no controls at all. In some areas, which have mixed land uses, a combination of parking control devices may be appropriate. The intent of the parking policies, which follow, is to provide the rationale behind the use of various parking controls.
Parking controls are necessary to assure that the on-street parking supply is used in a manner consistent with the adjacent land use and the demand for parking which accompanies that land use. For example, retail and commercial areas typically have many customers visiting for short periods of time. This means that the curbside parking near retail businesses should not be occupied by all day parkers; "turnover" of these parking spaces is needed to provide parking for numerous users throughout the day.
Prior to any parking controls being placed on the street, a study is conducted to determine which control will have the greatest benefit given the land use present and the expected utilization of the parking space present. At locations where safety (vehicular or pedestrian) may be compromised, parking will not be allowed. Examples of this include near street intersections, driveways or where obstructions block the view of motorists or pedestrians.
Following are the parking policies, which are most often used within the various land use types present in the County. Each land use is followed by a description of the parking controls used, why they are used, and examples of where they are used currently.
Parking meters and two-hour parking signs are the type of parking controls most often used in retail areas. The duration (number of hours one is permitted to be parked) at parking meters depends on the type of retail or business use; smaller, quick-stop types of stores require more turnover and therefore shorter term parking meters (example: 30 minute). Larger stores or restaurants where customers spend more time require longer duration meters (example: one or two hour). Parking meters used in retail areas have the benefit of discouraging all-day parkers and encouraging rapid turnover of parking spaces. Retail and commercial areas within Ballston, Rosslyn, and Crystal City benefit from the use of parking meters.
Two-hour parking signs are used when demand for parking turnover is present, but not as frequent as in the more densely developed retail areas. Signs are less expensive parking controls than meters and work well in the lower demand commercial areas which do not require continuous parking turnover. Commercial areas in Shirlington and along Columbia Pike, such as on South Highland Street, benefit from the use of two-hour parking signs.
Some retail areas are small and are frequently older strip-commercial land use types. Historically, these commercial areas have not created a need for continuous turnover of parking spaces on adjacent streets; thus no parking controls were instituted. As these retail areas are re-developed and higher demand stores are built the demand for parking will increase. Off-street parking may not be sufficient and this may create more competition for on-street parking. Re-study of these areas and parking controls may be warranted. The Westover shopping center is an example of this type of retail area.
As with retail areas, both parking meters and two-hour parking controls are used in office areas. Longer term meters (example: four-hour) are utilized to create turnover when the office use creates a demand for visitor parking which is not fully met by the off-street parking supply. In locations where the land use is mixed office and retail, shorter-term parking meters are installed to respond to the need for greater parking turnover. A primary objective is to discourage parking by all day parkers, frequently commuters.
Office areas in Ballston, Rosslyn, and Crystal City benefit from the use of parking meters.
Lower density office areas often do not need the continuous and frequent turnover of parking spaces facilitated by meters. Two-hour parking controls meet the demand for on-street parking in these areas and at a much lower capital and operating expense than meters. Two-hour parking signs are installed on the street in office areas in Shirlington as an example.
Post offices, libraries and parks have varying needs for on-street parking controls. Post offices and libraries in particular are located in areas that are attractive to all-day parkers and thus would be occupied by them if parking controls were not utilized to optimize the on-street parking supply. Post offices, which create a very high parking demand for short duration visits and quick turnover of spaces, benefit most from short-term parking meters. Fifteen and thirty minute duration meters are installed on adjacent streets to serve post office customers. The post offices in Rosslyn and Clarendon are examples of locations where short-term metered parking controls are utilized effectively.
Libraries also require turnover of parking to provide access to customers. This can be accomplished with longer duration meters (typically two and three hour). The Central Library on North Quincy Street is an example of the need for turnover of on-street spaces afforded by the presence of parking meters.
Public recreation areas are yet a third area requiring some degree of on-street parking control. This is due to the fact that parks create a continuing demand for use of the facilities present and they are often located in areas which otherwise would have a low demand for parking turnover. Competing demand for parking at public parks is best met with the use of different duration signed (two-hour) parking controls. Signed parking controls used at Tuckahoe Park on North Sycamore Street and East Falls Church Park on 18th Street North represent effective ways of creating turnover appropriate to the area.
Ideally, the parking needs of higher density residential developments are met by the off-street parking required under the Zoning Ordinance. However, this is not always the reality as residents of these units acquire additional vehicles. Both two-hour parking signs and parking meters are used selectively in cases where problems are identified after a study is completed.
Two-hour parking (or some other duration if appropriate) is used in front of mid and high rise apartments in mixed use areas where other demands for street parking may exist. In some cases studies indicate that the available off-street parking is not sufficient to meet the needs of visitors. The Astoria located in Rosslyn is an example of this situation. Another example is Court House Crossing in the Court House area.
Parking meters have proven to be most effective in high density residential areas when installed on the side streets or in the back of high rise apartments or condominiums. This is only done when the residential units are located near commercial areas and there is the co-incidental need for parking turnover. These on-street metered parking (one and two hour) controls then serve the needs of both retail area visitors and visitors to the apartments who find the two-hour signed parking areas in front of the building occupied. Streets where shorter duration parking meters are installed next to apartments and condominiums include Key Boulevard at North Ode Street and North Oak Street at the Atrium and South Joyce Street at the River House..
Parking meters are not used in lower density residential developments, such as townhouses, since parking turnover is generally not the problem. Townhouse developments often have a need for more parking flexibility, particularly if they are located near higher density mixed-use areas, to meet the needs of visitors. This is accommodated through the use of two-hour signed parking controls. Examples of these townhouse developments include the Highgate at Colonial Terrace and Court House Hill on 14th Street North, Barton and Wayne Streets.
More often the issue at townhouse developments located adjacent to other destinations is a combination of inadequate off-street parking combined with an influx of commuters. Parking controls used in this case take the form of residential permit parking ("permit parking"). Specific steps are required as part of the permit parking program including a study and referendum of the effected residents. A variation of the permit parking controls is available to assist residents in cases where at least 50% of the dwellings do not have off-street parking available and there is a need to accommodate visitors. Under these conditions permit parking with a special provision (2-hour permit holders excepted) can be instituted. Permit parking as an on-street parking control is utilized in many residential areas including Ballston, Rosslyn, and Crystal City.
In most garden apartment developments there is sufficient parking as parking demand is relatively low in these lower density areas. In the few cases where there are problems with either commuter parking or insufficient parking for visitors both permit parking and two-hour signed parking controls are available for consideration. Each is subject to a study and confirmation of a demonstrated need. Otherwise parking is not restricted in these areas.
Single family homes are located away from parking demand generators and thus require little or no parking controls. Parking supply is almost always sufficient to meet the demand. If there are single family homes located in areas experiencing commuter parking problems, then permit parking (with appropriate hour restrictions) is considered. Parking meters and signed restrictions are not considered as controls.