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To Fairfax County Neighbors
Action: Oppose the Fairfax County “Parking Reimagined” Initiative
Where: Via input to the County Staff website, in Public Meetings and in Communication to Supervisors and County Planning Commissioners
What: “Parking Reimagined” is a Very Problematic Zoning Amendment Proposal for
Fairfax County Off-Street Parking and Loading
Deadline for Actions: February 2nd for ALL public comments on the draft ordinance.
Background: The County is proposing a new amendment to its current, outdated Off-Street Parking and Loading Ordinance. Called “Parking Reimagined,” it is far too drastic in reducing parking for the needs of County Residents and Businesses. The proposed Zoning Ordinance is not detailed enough to specific areas with the County and its districts. It continues to broad brush our entire very large and diverse County.
County staff/leadership has refused to consider many issues and concerns, despite many citizen-work group sessions, Town Hall outreach meetings and staff sessions. While the County appointed excellent staff members to work on “Parking Reimagined” and planned extensive outreach, the mindset at the outset was to reduce parking, not examine in-depth the parking needs across the County and in local areas specifically.
- NO consideration is given for Reston’s complex sections.
- Its Transit Station Areas (TSAs) are larger than others in the County.
- numerous HOA and other public and private amenities including major trails and two golf courses are close to the TSAs but certainly require individualized adequate parking to function.
- Residential “clusters” of smaller single-family communities require specialized parking rules.
- The Reston Town Center area is much different from Tysons.
- Reston has four distinctly different “village centers” requiring adequate parking for non-nearby Restonians and surrounding non-Reston patrons. In fact, the fifth, Tall Oaks, no longer functions as a village center but more like a convenience center, due in large part to parking so reduced by densification as to make commerce and stress-free residential living difficult. Its neighbors, guests, delivery, and service workers face guaranteed challenges every day due to inadequate parking.
One size does not fit all; each area requires appropriate custom treatment. Likewise, other areas, like Annandale, Springfield, and Chantilly present their own unique circumstances.
What You Can Do:
- Examine the current white paper used as the foundation by staff – https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/sites/planning-development/files/assets/documents/zoning/parking-reimagined/pr-whitepaper-11-2022.pdf.
- Attend the virtual public outreach sessions on January 31st at 7:00pm and have your questions and comments ready. As a note there have been a lot of negative comments in the past.
- Write directly to Hunter Mill Planning Commissioner John Carter and Supervisor Walter Alcorn at email@example.com. This email goes to both.
Tell a neighbor. Very few people are even aware that the proposed parking amendment to reduce Minimum Parking Requirements (MPRs) even exists. Residents who have studied the parking amendment have spoken up about issues that are never addressed in subsequent meetings. While we support reimagining parking, there is NO public taxpayer (both commercial or residential) and staff consensus on what form that change should take.
- Submit comments about the draft amendment’s negative consequences on the Fairfax County Parking Reimagined webpage page before February 2nd at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/zoning-ordinance/parking-reimagined
Feel free to use any of these in your comments in the County outreach portal for “Parking Reimagined” at mid page for – https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/zoning-ordinance/parking-reimagined. Scroll down to the red “submit your comments” link.
- Staff have been continually improperly stating that the “parking reimagined” initiative has received strong support in their meetings. The truth is that residents do think that the County needs to analyze parking, but residents think that the current proposed amendment is not ready for prime time. The County staff did hold numerous outreach sessions; however, these sessions were often one-sided presentations by County staff and of course most developers enthusiastically support this as reduced parking will increase profits for them.
- Staff say that reducing the required parking will lead to more green spaces and community amenities. This is unlikely as no specific requirements are in the draft. As now written, the much more likely result will be more buildings, not more open space. Once parking spaces are occupied by buildings, they are gone forever.
- As is the Fairfax County trend, “Parking Reimagined” seeks to simplify the process to significantly reduce the projects going to the County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors and even make some approvals automatic. Our District Supervisor and Planning Commissioner should have a say.
- The new amendment will lead to further overparking/parking chaos in both multi-family and single-family residential areas. Already a major county-wide problem today, the need is most acute in areas of smaller lots where frontage space is already at a premium. Multiple household members work and require vehicles to help them sustain living expenses at jobs too far for cycling and work hours/locations not conducive to carpooling or mass transit.
Example: In Reston, overflow on-street parking can be seen fiercely competing for curb space beyond private community-supplied lots on North Shore Drive, Glade Drive, Soapstone Drive plus many more. This is a current, fundamental problem affecting large numbers of people across the county and a wide spectrum of income-level people.
- The changes in parking proposed in the draft amendment, while negatively affecting all of us, will have the worst effect on low-income residents. Even though some low-income residents might be able to obtain affordable housing if more exists, there will not be enough affordable housing for all low-income residents, yet they are the ones who will be paying more for parking and transportation. Whether you are in Annandale, Reston, Springfield, or Chantilly, we all face this substantial current problem. If the goal of Parking Reimagined is to “right-size” parking, shouldn’t there also be some areas in the County where parking requirements are increased?
- The draft proposal gives far too much authority to the Director of Land Development Services (LDS) to authorize reductions in Minimum Parking Requirements (MPRs). The Director of LDS is not an elected position and does not represent the citizens of Fairfax County. Also, the Director does not know the district as well as the elected Supervisor. The Director’s authority should remain as it is today and not be increased.
- The draft substantially dilutes the ability of citizens and neighbors to weigh in when developers seek to reduce parking for developments which are already “in the pipeline.” This phrase refers to developments that have been approved but not built yet. With the adoption of the proposed parking amendment, developers would not need to go back through the Conceptual Development Plan, Final Development Plan, or Special Exception processes to decrease parking in these developments, but instead could simply adopt the relevant lower parking rates in the ordinance. Changing the rules in the middle of the game is patently disturbing, especially when a remedy does NOT exist for fixing parking requirements that are too low.
- Our very expensive Metro is severely hampered in many areas by poor access from a variety of perspectives, including inadequate parking for those that would otherwise choose to ride it. These areas include Reston Town Center and Tysons on the new Silver Line, most of the Orange line stops (except the terminal stop for Vienna/GMU) and others elsewhere in county. This new policy would further aggravate an undeniable problem for the economic success of Metro, the TSAs, the County and individual residents, as well as employers.
CONCLUSION: COMMON SENSE PLEASE!
The majority opinion of most citizens’ groups is that the over-arching county goal of universal reduced parking in “Parking Reimaged” will degrade citizens’ quality of life and endanger commerce. It will particularly harm lower-income people who are already struggling. It promotes the opposite of our adopted, much publicized ONE Fairfax policy of equity for all our citizens.
To be clear, Fairfax County is NOT an all-urban environment with adequate public transit nor are our transportation needs simplistic or predictable.
Ask the County to look at this needed change to parking with an open mind and more detail. This proposed parking amendment is going to affect all residents long into the future. Once Minimum Parking Requirements are reduced and density is increased, it will be impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. Please help force the County to collaborate with residents to “reimagine parking” in a way that will enhance our communities, residents, businesses, and the environment.
DATES TO NOTE:
- Deadline of February 2nd for ALL public comments on the draft ordinance.
- January 31st at 7 PM, Public Open House online with County staff responsible for “Parking Reimagined.” Note that while they have been promoting this parking reduction to needed parking, they are exceptionally good staff people. Please don’t blast the messengers.
- February 14th, Board of Supervisors Land Use Policy Committee meeting on the Parking Reimagined proposed amendment. Updated Ordinance Draft & White Paper with public comments will also be released.
- April 19: County Planning Commission meeting on revised draft ordinance.
- June 16: Board of Supervisors public/decision meeting on the revised draft ordinance.