Greater Greater Washington

Arlington considers using fees to reduce parking

Arlington may consider instituting a fee for developers who provide less than the "standard" amount of parking in office buildings. The money could be used to pay for improvements in the surrounding area, particularly ones that encourage using alternatives to driving.


Photo by Tallent Show on Flickr.

At an Arlington Transportation Commission meeting last Monday, staff presented the results of the county's Commercial Parking Working Group, charged with finding a fair and transparent method for developers to compensate the community for the external costs of building less parking.

Their solution: a three-tier fee for developers that provide less than the "standard" amount of parking for an office building. The minimum parking requirement is about one space per 600 square feet for most projects, and less in Rosslyn, Crystal City, and Pentagon City. Normally, developers only have to comply with standard site plan requirements, like working with the county to provide transportation demand management (TDM) services to the building's users.

Under the proposal, a developer that wanted to provide less than the standard amount would have to pay a fee. County planners would use the guidelines to decide the amount of the contribution when the developer submits their site plan for consideration. The guideline amounts would adjust periodically according to inflation. The money would be specifically earmarked for improvements in the building's immediate area or would pay for TDM services for the building's tenants.

The first two tiers are fairly inexpensive, ranging between $7,000 and $10,000 per space, since it's relatively easy to convince a small number of people to switch from cars to other transportation modes.

As developers build less parking, it may be harder to convince committed drivers to reconsider, and the county may have to construct or otherwise provide parking instead of less expensive commuter services. At the top tier, a developer would be required to pay $40,000 per space not built, which is equivalent to the average cost of providing a parking space underground.

This is a good solution for Arlington. We have a robust system of review for major projects, and the proposal lays out in concrete terms what developers can expect if they want to reduce the amount of parking in their projects.

Although the payment amounts are lower than I would like to see, they are linked to analysis concerning the costs of convincing people not to drive to work. I would rather have seen payments linked to the cost of construction for parking spaces, which could have more closely reflected the benefit to the builder for reducing the number of required spaces.

Hopefully, Arlington embraces a similar result for residential buildings. Apartment and condominium developers similarly ask to build fewer parking spaces, but there are not concrete guidelines for what community benefits we should expect in return.

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Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia. 

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As developers build less parking, it may be harder to convince committed drivers to reconsider, and the county may have to construct or otherwise provide parking instead of less expensive commuter services.

This seems to be an awfully big and untested assumption.

by Alex B. on Dec 2, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

I think this is a good idea. I think the county is correct to make the amount for the first tier well under the cost of constructing parking. One benefit of relaxing parking mins is to make it more economical to build, with all the benefits that come with that. If you make the price the same as the average cost to construct parking you have not added that incentive, except for those developers facing above average costs to construct parking. If you make it the same as the cost to encourage the mode switch, the County breaks even in cost, but gets all the side benefits of fewer VMTs.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 2, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

If you make it the same as the cost to encourage the mode switch, the County breaks even in cost, but gets all the side benefits of fewer VMTs.

This is the untested assumption I'm asking about. How is building less parking not part of the behavior change?

You can assert that some people will still stubbornly drive, but they'll pay higher prices to park, will they not? Those 'committed drivers' will have to park somewhere, will they not?

In other words, building less parking is part of the behavior change.

by Alex B. on Dec 2, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

@Alex B: The way the county was describing the proposal, the $40k payment was for the county to go out and find or build parking for the committed drivers, which I found somewhat crazy.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 2, 2013 2:45 pm • linkreport

"A fair and transparent method for developers to compensate the community for the external costs of building less parking"??? Seriously?? What about the external costs of building lots of parking in the first place (more car trips, more pollution, more congestion, more noise, and more injuries and deaths)?

This policy is based on the premise that there is a fixed demand for parking, unrelated to the supply, cost, or convenience of parking. This premise is deeply flawed, as demand for parking is dependent on parking supply, price, etc. More progressive cities realize this and have simply removed parking minimums, letting the market decide how much parking is needed. Better yet, they set maximums, to cap the number of parking spaces developers are allowed to build, to minimize the negative externalities of building lots of parking.

Cities only truly become liveable and walkable when they stop trying to store as many cars as possible, and instead, strive to create places that are both attractive and easily accessible to a wide range of people. This Arlington policy, while well-intentioned, is stuck in a "maximize parking" mentality, and therefore attacks the problem in an illogical manner that is doomed to failure.

by TransitSnob on Dec 2, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

I do not think its currently politically feasible to get ArlCo to sign off on market urbanism to the extent of abolishing all parking minimums with no givebacks.

This is a proposal that apparently would provide effective abolish such minimums for a fee, even in areas away from heavy rail transit. As such, its as radically "shoupian" as any such policy in our region. The tiers effectively seperate a reduced minimum for which the county gets an amount of cash well under the usual cost to build parking - yes, people might switch modes anyway (as Alex says) but why leave 7k per spot on the table, when that can fund lots of goodies like bikeshare, cycle tracks, improved sidewalks, transit, etc.

The 40k per spot for the 3rd tier is high - but for something as radical as a completely parking free office building, that may be a necessary sweetener.

This is a huge step forward.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 2, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

This seems like a cumbersome proposal. Why not just reduce or eliminate the parking required by ordinance, particularly in major transit corridors with high levels of service? The higher price to park (from reduced supply) combined with the access to quality transit should be enough to encourage some "committed drivers" to switch modes, negating the need for more parking.

by Jonathan P on Dec 2, 2013 3:30 pm • linkreport

@A Walker: Agreed. Politics is the art of the possible, and ultimately this policy has to be approved by people that are elected. There's a certain amount of vision and leadership you can have as an elected official, but you can't lead too fast in certain areas or you might get a backlash, and then you'd lose the ability to lead at all.

The point of this was to get some rationality behind all of the reduced parking requests the county was getting. It used to be there was a number of spaces you had to provide, and if you wanted to build less you had to negotiate without knowing what the result would be. Now it's out on the table what the county will expect, and we won't be able to reasonably expect more, and the builder won't be able to offer less and expect the county to accept.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 2, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

@Jonathan P: The county has already reduced the required parking by about half in three key zones: Rosslyn, Crystal City and Pentagon city have drastically reduced minimums compared to the rest of the county, about 1 space per 1000 square feet compared to 1 space per 580 square feet.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 2, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

As such, its as radically "shoupian" as any such policy in our region.

I don't think Dr. Shoup would agree; and I also don't think this is better than, say, DC's proposed elimination of parking minimums downtown.

Shoup's basic policy reforms are:

1. Charge the right price for parking - let the market set the price so that 85% of spaces are occupied and some are always available;
2. Re-invest proceeds from that market rate parking into the neighborhood for local improvements;
3. Eliminate minimum parking requirements so that developers have flexibility to find cost-effective parking solutions while the market-rate pricing from #1 eliminates the threat of spillover parking.

This proposal gets it all backwards - instead of setting a market for parking from parkers itself, it is trying to build a market of parking from developers as a part of their zoning approvals.

by Alex B. on Dec 2, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

DC’s zoning rewrite would impose a penalty on developers in DC who might choose to provide as much parking for office uses as Arlington is requiring if a developer wants to avoid this fee. At a recent Zoning Commission hearing, DCOP increased the amount of parking that would trigger imposition of a penalty, so that within a half-mile of Metro or a quarter-mile of certain bus lines, a penalty would be imposed if a developer provided more than 1 space for every 2,000 square feet of office space over 3,000 square feet.

With the ZRR, a penalty would be assessed if the developer provided more than 29 spaces for 60,000 square feet of office space in those zones. Yet, in Arlington, a fee would be assessed if the developer provided fewer than 100 spaces for the same amount of office space. (Far from transit, the developer would pay a penalty in DC with the ZRR if they provide more than 58 spaces for 60,000 square feet of office space).

The policy makers in Arlington seem to have a better understanding of the long-term impact of inadequate parking than DCOP.

by OtherMike on Dec 2, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

DC is not Arlington. If "othermike" likes their policy, maybe they would prefer to live there.

I, for one, prefer the OP approach as it fits the District and the future needs of the city. Really, if DDOT would get its act together, we would have parking reforms for OP to react to, but as it is, just about every complaint associated with the zoning rewrite is related to parking.

by William on Dec 2, 2013 4:12 pm • linkreport

This policy is like a city saying it wants less obesity, then proposing to charges restaurants who offer less fatty foods and use the money for anti-obesity measures. There is a fundamental flaw in the logic, here.

For all you realpolitikers out there, the incremental approach is to reduce parking minimums, an approach which still recognizes that requiring high amounts of parking is detrimental to a city.

by TransitSnob on Dec 2, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

DC's proposed (not yet adopted) policy is more radical (as in more flexible, less of a mandate to provide parking) for office buildings downtown, then is ArlCo's - and while Arlco requires fewer spaces in Rosslyn/Pentagon City/Crytal City - there is, IIUC, no provision for a parking free building in DC outside downtown, except by Special Exception.

This would allow parking free office buildings anywhere in Arlington, in theory. If there were a rationale why in a particular spot the 40k giveback was unreasonable, a SE for that could be applied for, presumably.

Neither ArlCo nor DC has gone to full market rate pricing of pricing with no mandated minimums.

DC has not (IIUC) asked for give backs for parking free buildings, and the result is that even in a jurisdiction wiht so many car free households, the OP had to fold on eliminating parking mins outside downtown, and is still encountering resistance on eliminating parking mins in downtown. Arlco has set up a give back program, and it appears that a proposal that would make it possible to build a parking free office building anywhere in the County is now politically feasible.

If at some future point it appears that the level of the givebacks is a problem, it will not be that hard to change them. The principle having been established.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 2, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

The county has already reduced the required parking by about half in three key zones: Rosslyn, Crystal City and Pentagon city have drastically reduced minimums compared to the rest of the county, about 1 space per 1000 square feet compared to 1 space per 580 square feet.

That seems like a positive step. Did the county look at the impact of that policy change? Has there been any reduction in "committed drivers" to newly built sites or have neighboring properties seen spillover effects?

by Jonathan P on Dec 2, 2013 4:34 pm • linkreport

"This policy is like a city saying it wants less obesity, then proposing to charges restaurants who offer less fatty foods and use the money for anti-obesity measures. There is a fundamental flaw in the logic, here. "

what if the city already had a law in place, for over a generation, that MANDATED the provision of fatty foods.

The starting point here is that ArlCo HAS parking minimums. Without going into why, its a fact that many people in the county like those minimums, and would resist their abolition. They do not view parking as something bad in itself. In fact they view off street parking as something that preserves the availability of on street parking for them. You and I may know whats wrong with providing free on street parking (and I wish you well in spreadin that message). But meanwhile the folks benefiting from the free on street parking are not wild about charging a market clearing price for it.

This solution is pareto optimal. It leaves no one worse off than they were before.

It does not make sense to compare it to an ideal that is NOT the case in Arlco (and, even if the zoning changes are passed, will not be the case in DC) and that is likely not going to be politically feasible in Arlco for quite some years.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 2, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

OtherMike

ArlCo does not have any parking maximums at the present time, that I am aware of. That may well be due to no streets in Arlington being so congested that ArlCo feels a need to use parking maximums to relieve auto congestion. That is due to both provision of transit, high levels of bike/ped usage, good balance of work and residences, a pretty good street grid, and a policy on highways that has somewhat controversially discouraged bringing autos into Arlington County.

I am not sure if DC could replicate all that.

I note that Fairfax's plan for Tysons includes parking maximums. Fairfax is certainly at least as auto friendly a place as Arlington is - its just that Tysons faces congestion issues worse than Arlington faces.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 2, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

More hoops against developers in a county with an astronomical vacancy rate and the longest lead-time in realizing projects = even less economic development.

by AndrewJ on Dec 3, 2013 8:19 am • linkreport

This policy grows out of the following notion that is prevalent in Arlington planning circles:

Developers can build less parking in Arlington than they would in other areas because Arlington has spent a lot of money investing in high quality transit/bike/ped infrastructure. The fact that they are able to build less parking saves them money. Some of that money should go to Arlington to further invest in high quality transit/bike/ped infrastructure.

by Chris Slatt on Dec 3, 2013 8:30 am • linkreport

And Michael, the $40,000 figure was put out there as being the cost of building a parking space because at that point the county "might have to go as far as" building or obtaining a parking space elsewhere. I'd be amazed to actually see such a thing occur.

by Chris Slatt on Dec 3, 2013 8:32 am • linkreport

@Chris Slatt
I agree that building less parking saves the developer money, but that savings should be passed on to the market as lower housing costs, not gobbled up wholesale by the city. $40k off the price of housing is a big deal.

Is the goal to having more affordable housing and less parking and driving, or is the goal to get more revenue for the city? Seems to me that this policy values the latter, and at $40k per spot, I doubt you'll even have many takers. Truly absurd.

by TransitSnob on Dec 3, 2013 9:25 am • linkreport

There are a considerable number of people who own their homes in ArlCo, and probably do not see much benefit to themselves in moderately lower prices for multifamily housing. Certainly not as big a benefit as in money to the County.

Is 40k on the high side? Perhaps. The County can lower the price if there are no takers, and especially if it becomes clear that they don't actually have to build replacement spots.

At AndrewJ

This is NOT imposing a new hoop or cost on developers. Developers can build the mandated number of parking spaces precisely as they did before, and pay nothing. This gives them an additional option they did not have before.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

People just do not understand that for many there are no alternatives for driving. Nevermind Metro is in meltdown mode and people do live outside the beltway and beyond. Arlington needs to understand that multimodal means more than bikes and transit and they need to start making it easier for people with cars to come into the county and do business.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 10:01 am • linkreport

People just do not understand that for many there are no alternatives for driving.

Ok, but that doesn't mean parking should be as low cost (to the consumer) as possible.

Arlington needs to understand that multimodal means more than bikes and transit
That's exactly what it means. This policy is explicitly aimed at letting buildings become more friendly to multiple modes of transport.

they need to start making it easier for people with cars to come into the county and do business.
Why? Especially if making these easier for drivers makes things worse for everyone else, not just in transportation but in terms of driving up the cost of real estate?

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

John

1. Metro has problems. Its NOT in meltdown. I rode it this AM, it was fine. Huge numbers of people use it every day.

2. If you work at a metro served location in arlington, and live outside the beltway, its quite possible to take metro to Arlington. You drive or take a bus to Vienna or Huntingon or Franconia-Springfield, and take the metro from there. If you live near a VRE stop and work in Crystal City, thats also an option.

3. Owners of office buildings who want to provide more parking, are able too. As we discussed above, Arlington has no parking maximums. presumably if there are locations where lots of parking is needed for business to be successful, the businesses will only locate in buildings with parking, and developers will build parking. Under the law just passed to avoid building their own parking, they would have to pay Arlco a substantial amount of money.

So I am not clear on what it is that Arlco is doing that you consider to be making it hard for people with cars to come into the County.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

Why?? because if they don't make Arlington more friendly to cars people will not come to Arlington to do business nad have fun and our economy will suffer. Sorry, not spending two hours on a being reconstructed Metro to dine at Rays the Steaks no matter how good it is.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

Actually Arlco does have parking maximums in that developers can come to the county expecially in the Metro corridor and get their parking mandatories reduced. Bottom line is that MEtro is in meltdown just look at the red line and the blue line yellow line split and as I just posted people are not going to spend two hours on Metro to dine out nor are they going to spend two hours driiving to go to the dentist or pick up a cake. If Arlington wants to thrive it has to accomdate more and more cars as our region grown and grows.

Arlington likes to think it is the center of the earth it is not. It is a gateway community that needs to start acting like a gateway but that is a topic for another day.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

Ok, is that happening. Is Arlington suffering because people are having a hard time driving there?

I don't visit bethesda that often because it'd be a long metro (or car) ride. Does that make Bethesda anti-car? What about the places I don't visit in Woodbridge?

You're putting your personal experience on an issue that can really only be considered systemically.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

"Actually Arlco does have parking maximums in that developers can come to the county expecially in the Metro corridor and get their parking mandatories reduced"

Thats not what a parking maximum means. A parking maximum says a developer cannot build more than a certain amount of parking. If a developer builds LESS parking, and people do not come to their building, they suffer. So why would they choose that? if they are choosing to build less parking (not easy, as there are parking minimums even in Rosslyn and Pentagon City) then it must mean they think people will come anyway.

You seem particularly concerned about Rays the Steaks and cake shops. From what I can gather restaurants and cake shops are doing pretty well in Arlington - to the point that retail rents are high enough to make it hard for less fancy independent businesses to survive.

That you mention ArlCo as gateway, makes it sound like you are less concerned about cake shops, than about the difficulty of getting from outside the beltway to DC. Is that the case?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 10:41 am • linkreport

If Arlington wants to thrive it has to accomdate more and more cars as our region grown and grows.

Considering the astronomical growth that correlates with flat rate of car traffic in certain corridors over the past 30 years I'd say that doesn't have to be the case.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

"Sorry, not spending two hours on a being reconstructed Metro to dine at Rays the Steaks no matter how good it is. "

Do you no longer live near Columbia Pike?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

I do, but many do not and even from Shirlington and CP you are talking an hour plus v. a 15 minute car ride.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

Then drive! Just live with the expectation that you may need to pay to store your car wherever you end up.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

Actually developrs don't like to build parking. It is expensive and they can't rent it like office space so they try and sleaze out of it if and when they can to the detriment of the neighborhood and area around them. No surprise there developers are all about the bottom line and care less about the neighborhood they destroy because they are off to the next project.

I am more concerned about restaurants than cake shops (pie shops are another matter) and I am concerned that Arlington makes it difficult for people from the outlying suburbs to get into and through it caused traffic tie ups and air pollution. And not just the outlying suburbs, I have Shirlignton friends that won't go to the R-B corridor because it is hard to park and an hour on the bus each way ain't happening.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

from CP to Rays the Steaks nr Court House? Isnt there a bus that goes more directly? And if its too infrequent, its probably a pretty decent bike ride.

Yup, 2.6 miles, which google maps estimates (and they do not assume heroic biking speeds) at about 16 minutes, from Col Pike and Glebe.

They estimate the bus ride at about 20 minutes - there are multiple lines.

Given the demand for apartements in Shirlington, I do not think that people are leaving there because of the lack of parking. Similarly retail in the Court House area seems to be doing well.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

The problem is of course that people won't come here or will just park in the hood. The problem comes is that you also get island fever and need to leave your Arlington island but can you without your car? Do you really want a two hour bus trip to Reston Town Center?

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

1 bus the ART 42, not real frequent and it does not run really late. I have walked it in an hour and beat the bus every time. But not many folks are going to do that. Bottom line, we are not England, we either have to really ramp up teh public tranport REGION wide to include the Loudon and Prince Williams or we have to accomdate cars at a very cheap inexpensive price.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

Actually developrs don't like to build parking.

Not true, they'll build parking when they think they need it to make a project successful. Not every project in Arlington needs a lot of parking to be successful. In part because we have good transit.

are all about the bottom line and care less about the neighborhood they destroy

What neighborhoods have been destroyed? By "destroyed" do you mean it feels like its harder to park? Like Walker says, what is the evidence that Rays is harmed by lack of parking? If it were the case wouldn't it make sense for Ray to move the restaurant to someplace with more parking?

I have Shirlignton friends that won't go to the R-B corridor because it is hard to park and an hour on the bus each way ain't happening.

Cool. I was the same way when I lived in Ballston and didn't really visit shirlington. I didn't take that as evidence that Arlington should make it easier to drive and park in Shirlington.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

"Actually developrs don't like to build parking. It is expensive and they can't rent it like office space so they try and sleaze out of it if and when they can to the detriment of the neighborhood and area around them."

of course if there is demand for it, they can rent it out. If they can't rent it out, that suggests not much demand for it.

" No surprise there developers are all about the bottom line and care less about the neighborhood they destroy because they are off to the next project. "

How do they destroy the neighborhood? IIUC there are RPP zones in all the SFH areas near the RB corridor.

"I am more concerned about restaurants than cake shops (pie shops are another matter)"

And again, there are loads of restaurants thriving in N Arlington.

" and I am concerned that Arlington makes it difficult for people from the outlying suburbs to get into and through it"

I get through it almost every day, on the express bus in the HOV lanes of I395. Lots of other people get through it on metro.

Letting more people through it into DC by auto would be pointless - DC does not have room for more cars.

"caused traffic tie ups and air pollution."

Moving more people out of single occupant vehicles is probably more important in reducing emissions than any marginal improvement from higher speeds - also note how much of the really bad tie ups are due to incidents, not to normal congestion.

If we added to the price of gasoline, that would further incent drivers to avoid congested roads where their vehicles operate less efficiently. For some reason our legistlature decided to reduce the tax on gasoline, and to add a charge for hybrid vehicles, which add little emissions, at any speed. Perhaps you should focus your activism on changing that.

" And not just the outlying suburbs, I have Shirlignton friends that won't go to the R-B corridor because it is hard to park and an hour on the bus each way ain't happening."

Is it really a full hour? I note theres no single seat bus service from Shirlington to Court House at this time. As both Shirlington and RB grow, it will probably make sense to add a direct bus line, which should get that time down to under 30 minutes. Which is about the time to bike.

Of course if they live in Shirlington, they have many closer options - in Shirlington itself, on Columbia Pike, and in Crystal City. It must be wonderful to live in such a vibrant place.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

"The problem is of course that people won't come here or will just park in the hood."

But they DO come there. If the problem is parking on residential streets, there are a number of ways to address that.

" The problem comes is that you also get island fever and need to leave your Arlington island but can you without your car? Do you really want a two hour bus trip to Reston Town Center? "

Im not sure how not having parking minimums at office buildings (but again, Arlco DOES have such minimums) or not widening I66, implies residents can't own a car. You can live in Shirlington or on Col Pike and own a car and drive to Reston when you like.

OTOH if you ARE car free and want to leave Arlington, there are of course many ways to do so. You can acess the many amenities of DC via bus, train, bike, or (if you live in Rosslyn) on foot.

If you live in Shirlington you are very close to Alexandria.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

The majority of Arlington's workforce lives outside of Arlington (think: Fairfax Co or even farther out), and a majority of those workers have no serious alternative to auto travel to get to work in Arlington. Simply reducing parking until the costs of parking change commuter behavior may indeed have a long-term effect of workers moving from their current homes to more transit-accessible homes, creating political will for more transit services, or more pressure on housing prices in Arlington. However, with existing infrastructure, the short and medium term effect will be to lower the desirability of Arlington's attractiveness as a job center. This proposal is a sensible way to modestly divert money saved from marginally excess parking to other community benefits, including transit operation. It moves the ball forward without upsetting the applecart, to mix metaphors.

by Thethinker on Dec 3, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

And parking is pretty easy in Reston (and is in Fairfax anyway so its hard to see how Arlington's policy will affect it). But the act of parking your car has a cost, in time, money or whatever. Right now a great deal of the cost of parking is provided by a developer. That has its advantages and drawbacks, chiefly its a subsidy for driving that makes it hard for transit to compete no matter how good the transit is. Arlington is exploring ways that remove that cost from the developer because it can mean better transit, less traffic, and lower real-estate prices which makes Arlington more competitive. In some instances that means a driver now has more responsibility for the cost of their parking but its hard to see how that's unfair in and of itself. It's only seen as unfair because its a change in the status quo.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

They have to prove to me that they can make transit as easy and convienent as a car to use. I don't know anywhere that is true except maybe NYC. Certainly not DC and not Boston or LA.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

It's also very hard to find parking in the most transit friendly areas of NYC and when you do you can be expected to pay a pretty good price for it.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 11:39 am • linkreport

And here the program is designed to raise money to make transit easier and more convenient (note: it's already easy and convenient for a great number of Arlingtonians).

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

"They have to prove to me that they can make transit as easy and convienent as a car to use. "

In order to do what? Convince you to go car free? Convince you to go car lite (IE less than one car per licensed driver in your household - but if you live alone, thats not a relevant option)? Convince you to use another mode for SOME of your trips? Convince you to support lower parking minimums?

It may well be that going car free will never make sense for you (My household is not car free, though we are car lite). But I don't see what that has to do with this post, which is about parking rules. I do not see how the proposed new rule will force you to be car free.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

*I should note that it's hard to park in NYC not because of an evil scheme to screw over people who'd rather drive to dinner and a show than take the subway but because so much of the city was built in an age that didn't require parking.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 11:50 am • linkreport

Well Rays may not be harmed but he (like this site) could be greater if he had parking. More folks would come from farther away to eat his steaks and he would make more money and Arlington would make more money.

As for public transit in Arlington, they do try but with the Metro being what it is both in ists current state of dis repair, over crowding (and tell me why are we building bigger buildings in the R-B corridor when the orange line is taking over Rosslyn and forcing out blue line riders)

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

Well Rays may not be harmed but he (like this site) could be greater if he had parking. More folks would come from farther away to eat his steaks and he would make more money and Arlington would make more money.

At what cost? Parking (and driving to that parking)isn't free. It's paid by somebody. Right now its mostly paid for by developers and the traffic generated from driving around to get to that parking is a cost borne by everybody.

So instead you have a plan that allows a developer to instead pay money that would be earmarked for parking to go to improving the transit that you're deploring.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

So there may be more money that's made sure but that's not proof that it'd be profitable. If Ray wants to make parking easier for his patrons then let him figure out a solution (valet service, contracting spots in an existing garage, etc.) rather than relying on other people building it for him.

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

what needs to happen is instead of building Acquatics centers (and just how are people from North Arlington to get there on public transport in a reasonable time) or trolley follys, the key is to build more public garages and charge a reasonable cost to use them or even make them free after say 6P. We would recoup the cost over time in new taxes.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

Hmmm but there has been huge redevelopment in NYC since the 50s and 60s yet the problem has not abated.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

What problem? That's its hard to park? Seems to me like that is still an argument against high parking minimums since they don't really make it easy to park in a lot of cases.

Anyway, NYC's parking/transit policy really only applies to NYC. We can't expect their experiences to be strictly analagous because there are so many different factors.

You seem to be concerned that allowing less parking doesn't fix problems in public transportation. Except that this plan explicitly does that by mandating that a developer pay cash in exchange for not building parking. That money goes towards improving transportation which has been shown to work in Arlington.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/20690/walkability-parking-and-tdm-influence-whether-you-drive/

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

and if I wish to go to Loudon County for a Sunday afternoon in the country if I am car free (I am btw). Or to Prince William for some cheap stuff at Potomac Mills? OR maybe the best Chinese food ever at Peter Chang's in Fredericksburg???

No can do without a car same for those folks who want Rays the Steaks.

I think I made my point. Multimodal means multimodal and that must include cars not on an equal level with bikes and buses but ahead of them since more people use that mode because of tiem and necessity.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

Not really necessity, none of those things raises to the level of necessity for me. But I agree that cars will remain supreme outside of the city. There is no one size fits all for transportaiton and the hierarch depends on the type of development. Cars shouldnt really have a high mode share in the city. And transit will remain low in rural/exurban areas.

by BTA on Dec 3, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

The problem is that money should NOT go to increased transit in Arlington because the people who will be pushed out from parking are not the folks who will use ART buses. IF we are going to tax the developers who do not build parking then we need to replace that parklng on an at least 1 for 1 basis. I mean if even transit loving Arlington thinks the parking is necessary enough to fine the developer who refuses to meet his mandate, them the parking is becessary.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

Is Arlington underparked? Last time I read up on it, Crystal City had an excess of parking available. People just want to park directly in front of their destination which is not actually necessary.

by BTA on Dec 3, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

Some part certainly are and yes people do want to park close to their destination and if you wnat theri business you need tomake it easy for them to access you. Its why Amazon is so popular. And just wait til the drones show up.

In fact that may solve the problem. Peter Change in Fredericksburg can put my order in a drone and I have it in 30 minutes right to my balcony.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

and if I wish to go to Loudon County for a Sunday afternoon in the country if I am car free (I am btw). Or to Prince William for some cheap stuff at Potomac Mills? OR maybe the best Chinese food ever at Peter Chang's in Fredericksburg???
Then buy or rent a car. Or don't go to those places. Why is the fact that some places can only be accessed with a car mean that Arlington must be on their level?

Multimodal means multimodal and that must include cars not on an equal level with bikes and buses but ahead of them since more people use that mode because of tiem and necessity.
Or that we've focused so much on planning on cars that we've ignored other modes at their peril. Yes Arlington is somewhat of an outlier in this regard but even that is a recent development. Besides, why cars? They're mostly environmentally destructive, dangerous, and make it hard to design better cities because they take up a lot of room.

The problem is that money should NOT go to increased transit in Arlington because the people who will be pushed out from parking are not the folks who will use ART buses.

Who are these people? Why are they refusing to do anything but drive to their destinations? Why should they guide planning in Arlington? Why is someone who drives more valuable to the county than someone who takes the bus? What should the county spend the money on if not transit? Why should parking be free to people driving around Arlington?

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

What you say is true if people stay in the city but people come in and people want to go out.

by John Antonelli on Dec 3, 2013 12:56 pm • linkreport

Fine, and if they want to drive they shouldn't necessarily expect for someone else to have paid for the parking or to pay less than what that spot is worth for the time required.

Besides, if you get the things you want delivered via drone (or horseback or whatever) then why require the parking still? Like I said, Ray can make parking easier for his patrons if he wants to. The county should require others to do that for him (or anyone else).

by drumz on Dec 3, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

I live in Arlington, not far from East Falls Church. Not a chance I am getting on a bus or metro just to go to Ballston or Clarendon. Would rather drive 15 mins to Georgetown and have a nice parking spot in a garage.

by Hondo on Dec 3, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

"and if I wish to go to Loudon County for a Sunday afternoon in the country if I am car free (I am btw). Or to Prince William for some cheap stuff at Potomac Mills? OR maybe the best Chinese food ever at Peter Chang's in Fredericksburg???
No can do without a car same for those folks who want Rays the Steaks."

You dont have to be car free if you dont want to be.

"I think I made my point. Multimodal means multimodal and that must include cars not on an equal level with bikes and buses but ahead of them since more people use that mode because of tiem and necessity."

The fact that many folks want to own cars because of an occasional trip to loudoun does not have any bearing on how much priority should be given to any given modes.

Take my family for example. We have a car and use it when we need to go to places like that. But I commute by transit, we walk and bike, etc. Our quality of life would improve more from improved transit and biking than from any particular improvement to the roads. Transit and biking (and of course walking) are NOT only used by car free people. Lots of people who own cars want more investment in transit and biking and walking.

And Im not sure what any of that has to do with the post about parking minimums. We have far too many generic mode wars. They are mostly silly.

I do not think Arlco needs subsidized municipal garages. There is no evidence of a problem in retail that would be alleviated by them. There is no evidence of any weakness in the housing market. There is weakness in the office market, but that has effected buildings with lots of parking, and is certainly due to other factors.

If Arlco would be better off without the acquatics center (way off from the topic of this post) there are many other things they could use that money for - from education to tax cuts. if they want to spend it on transportation, there are needs more pressing than muni garages - as you pointed out, a direct bus from Shirlington to Court House might be useful.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport

There is actually quite a bit of good parking near Ray's that make it a convenient location to drive to. The parking garage across the street under the Courthouse metro station is free after 5 and all day on weekends. My visits to that area would be rare if they relied on rail or buses.

by selxic on Dec 3, 2013 9:46 pm • linkreport

The supposedly über-progressive planning community of Arlington wants to:
- penalize developers for building less parking
- be out shined by Fairfax's more progressive planning (see other GGGW article on Tyson's parking), and,
- refuse to change its parking ratios that were last adjusted in 1968.
For shame .
This proposal is simply bad public policy and even worse planning theory.

by Charlie on Dec 3, 2013 10:47 pm • linkreport

More hoops against developers...

There is no new hoop. Developers are free to continue doing things as they have before. This is a new option.

by David C on Dec 5, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

I agree that building less parking saves the developer money, but that savings should be passed on to the market as lower housing costs, not gobbled up wholesale by the city.

In this policy, it's a little of both. The reduced parking will lower the cost of building - especially the tier 1 spaces - and will create revenue to improve non-car transportation.

To some people, density brings the negative externality of more people - especially manifested in the form of traffic and more competition for on-street parking. [I don't see it that way]. A parking minimum is a way to mitigate that negative externality. This policy will allow builders to invest in transit, walking and biking as an alternative mitigation strategy. It's not a money grab.

by David C on Dec 5, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

Do you really want a two hour bus trip to Reston Town Center?

No. No one wants this. Nor would I want a 3 minute walk to Reston Town Center.

by David C on Dec 5, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

"The supposedly über-progressive planning community of Arlington wants to:
- penalize developers for building less parking"

Not compared to the status quo - which sets a hard minimum.

"- be out shined by Fairfax's more progressive planning (see other GGGW article on Tyson's parking),"

That is specifically about commuter garages and lots, not parking in office buildings. While Tysons office parking mins may well be more lenient than Arlingtons (I do not recall the exact mins) thats certainly not true for parts of FFX outside Tysons.

" and,
- refuse to change its parking ratios that were last adjusted in 1968."

This particular change does not change the parking ratios. Not every change changes all things.

"This proposal is simply bad public policy and even worse planning theory."

The best should not be the enemy of the good.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 5, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

If competition for on-street parking is the issue, then restrict new building residents' access to it. DC has experimented with letting developers build zero-parking buildings but then waiving the right of residents of those buildings to receive Residential parking permits. Viola, no new competition for on-street spaces. No new car traffic. Developers won't build these if there's not a market for it, but clearly there is. Why are we fighting it?

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/16467/bravo-to-parking-free-development-in-tenleytown/

by TransitSnob on Dec 5, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

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