March 28, 2017
For Immediate
Reston Citizens Association supports Merchants’ Action to
Preserve Reston Town Center as a Welcoming Destination
Last week Reston Citizens Association (RCA) and
the greater Reston community learned about Jackson’s
Mighty Fine Foods (Jackson’s) lawsuit regarding the paid
parking solution being implemented by Boston Properties (BP) at Reston Town
Center. RCA also understands that in the next 30 days further such lawsuits
could be filed on behalf of the nearly 25-member merchant’s association as it
explores its options and RCA wishes to announce its unqualified support to
these efforts.
A group of RCA
Directors for more than 12 months has tried to engage with Reston Town Center
Management in order to find a compromise that would allow the Town Center to
retain its character while respecting BP’s development rights since the Town
Center is in fact its private property.
During multiple
conversations with BP Management, its PR firm, and a separate crisis management
firm, RCA has raised several pertinent issues. Initially RCA on its own accord chose
to keep the details of those conversations private.  However, recent
communications by BP has caused RCA to reconsider this position.
RCA has pointed out
that many other shopping districts such as Mosaic, Fair Oaks, and Tysons Corner
(a shopping area where an actual Metro station is currently open) do not have
paid parking.  Also, at a minimum, a
parking system that permits free parking for the first three hours or so would
allow Reston area residents to visit RTC for short shopping and dinners trips
while still preventing the alleged parking abuse by commuters, the ostensible
BP reason for paid parking.
BP has stated that it
is committed to reinvesting the RTC paid parking revenues in Reston.  If in fact paid parking is to remain in some
form, RCA challenges BP to publicly commit the projected $8 million annual
revenues to community betterments and activities that benefit Reston and not
simply to new commercial construction.
RCA makes this call
because of the misinformation and untruths that BP provided to RCA. From the
very beginning, knowing how central the cellphone app would be for the paid
parking experience, RCA asked many questions regarding how the App would work. Despite
the assurances that were given to RCA that the ParkRTC App would provide a very
user-friendly experience, today it is clear this is patently not true.
As users of the ParkRTC
App frequently spoke of the confusion and frustration about parking validations
handled via the App, BP did not communicate clearly that merchants and
restaurants are set up to validate only specific garages, thereby requiring
patrons to move cars between garages if they desired to avail validated free
parking. This problematic setup would create more traffic movement within RTC and
cause more parking imbalances, the very things that BP claimed paid parking
would avoid. 
From a technology
perspective, in response to a specific RCA query, BP representatives alluded
that the ParkRTC was not an off-the-shelf solution, but was built internally.
We now know this is not the case as BP has admitted publicly that the ParkRTC App
is a “white label” parking app developed by Passport Inc. The ParkRTC App does
not appear to conform to the best practices established by Google and Apple for
their respective app stores, with the Google version of the app being a “port”
of the Apple app and is many generations behind Google guidelines. This is not
the state of the art experience that we were promised.
As a whole, the system is confusing, contradictory and subject
of great frustration for users. Thus the RCA stands with merchants and the
community in calling for paid parking to be scrapped or significantly
overhauled immediately.
BP has in the past been a good and generous manager of the
Reston Town Center and can be this again. 
RCA stands ready to work with BP to address its legitimate concerns
about commuter parking while at the same time preserving the open and welcoming
character of the Town Center that has made it such a centerpiece of our
community and the greater region.  
more information, please contact:
RCA is a non-profit
organization serving over 60,000 people who live in small tax district #
5.  It was founded in 1967 to promote and
protect Reston’s founding principles by serving as a non-partisan forum for all
residents and as a community advocate with County and State government.  RCA is the only community wide, non-partisan
organization in which all Reston residents have a voice. 
For more
information, please visit RCA’s website