In-home childcare providers have, for years, faced a problem: many of them work in residential neighborhoods requiring Residential Parking Permits, leaving them with no good options for parking.
A zoning change working through city bureaucracy could make it easier for in-home childcare workers to secure parking in residential neighborhoods.
Mayor Justin Wilson said in a monthly newsletter that there are currently no good parking options for in-home childcare workers.
“For the parents who live in these districts and have in-home childcare, they are left with a few bad options, including disingenuous practices, leaving children unsupervised to rotate vehicles, etc.,” Wilson wrote. “The City Code creates an inequity between home healthcare workers and childcare workers which cannot be justified.”
Wilson said that the Residential Parking Permit program started in 1979. Back in 2005, then-City Manager James Hartmann put forward an ordinance that would allow issuance of residential parking permits for use by daycare and health care workers providing those services at residences in permit parking districts.
The City Council approved a pilot for home healthcare workers, but Wilson said the Council rejected the childcare proposal. The issue came up again briefly in 2008 but nothing changed.
“As such, last month I proposed to the City Council that we rectify this challenge by allowing childcare workers, serving families in a residential parking permit district, to access these permits, Wilson wrote. “With the support of my colleagues, this proposal will now return to the Traffic & Parking Board and eventually City Council for formal consideration this fall.”
New parking meters are being installed in Alexandria to ditch the old pay-and-display system.
Earlier this year, the city started moving away from pay and display systems with new pay-by-plate meters installed in the Carlyle and Potomac Yard neighborhoods. But now, those meters are starting to get a citywide expansion to replace the older systems.
Users can either use the parking app ParkMobile or input their license place information into the kiosk directly.
“New parking meters are coming to Alexandria early fall 2023,” the city’s website said. “Simply enter your license plate number and pay using the kiosk or ParkMobile app.”
Parking in Alexandria just got easier! New parking meters are being installed that no longer require you to pay and display the receipt on your windshield. Have you seen these new meters around town?
— Alexandria Transportation & Environmental Services (@AlexandriaVATES) September 21, 2023
It’s been a scorching week in Alexandria, punctuated by two major crime events.
Someone was shot multiple times in an alley several blocks east of the Braddock Metro station last Saturday, followed on Monday afternoon by the city’s fifth homicide this year — the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man on W. Glebe Road in Arlandria.
It is not believed that the incidents are connected.
The Alexandria Police Department is now looking for a silver Nissan Rogue allegedly linked to Monday’s shooting.
No arrests have been announced from either incident, and this week Mayor Justin Wilson, City Manager Jim Parajon and Police Chief Don Hayes asked for the community’s help in identifying the suspects.
Top stories this week:
- Alexandria ditching ‘pay and display’ parking meters citywide (32618 views)
- Notes: Many federal employees who report to work Alexandria are still mostly remote (7448 views)
- Del Ray Gateway project construction to start before end of year, city says (6510 views)
- Construction suspended for Holiday Inn Express at former Towne Motel site in Old Town North (5346 views)
- ACPS ignores Gov. Youngkin’s recommended policies on treatment of transgender students (4829 views)
- DEVELOPING: Man transported to hospital in critical condition after shooting in Arlandria (4747 views)
- Pupatella Neapolitan Pizza opening before end of year in Old Town North, owner says (3857 views)
- Duke Street affordable apartment complex ‘Witter Place’ could be ready by late 2025, developer says (3598 views)
- Arlington man busted for allegedly selling stolen car to Alexandria man on Facebook Marketplace (2509 views)
Have a safe weekend!
Alexandria’s garages aren’t the only parking tool getting an overhaul.
A report for a meeting of the Traffic and Parking Board later today (Monday) said the city is working through a replacement of the city’s parking meters.
The city is ditching the “pay and display” model of parking meters — meters where drivers leave the ticket on the dashboard — and switching over to a system that keeps track of who has paid for parking by license plates.
“The City is replacing and upgrading parking meters from pay and display to by plate citywide,” the report said. “The meters that are pay and display print out a ticket that is then displayed inside the car by the user.”
The report said there are currently pay-by-plate meters in Carlyle and Potomac Yard, but that’s being expanded across the city starting with meters that were installed over 13 years ago and have reached the end of their useful life.
“There are currently pay by plate meters in Carlyle and Potomac Yard where the user puts their license plate number into the meter while paying and no ticket is needed,” the report said. “The upgrade of the meters to pay by plate involves replacing parking meters that have reached the end of their useful life and upgrading other meters to the newer pay by plate technology.”
The overhaul is also reducing the number of meters from four on each block to two — one on each side of the street where applicable. The report said the goal is to cut down on the sidewalk clutter, with most parking meters made obsolete by apps like ParkMobile.
“In recent years, there has been a large adoption of people paying for parking on their phones via ParkMobile instead of at the physical meter,” the report said. “We anticipate the use of paying via phone will continue to increase in the coming years. This supports the move to consolidated meters leading to less clutter on the sidewalks.”
Ever pulled into one of Old Town’s parking garages and been frustrated to find a sign saying the garage is full — or, worse, driven circles around the garage looking for a spot only to realize it’s full?
A solution could be on the way. A series of applications to the Board of Architectural Review for the Wednesday, July 19 meeting, indicate the city is looking at installing real-time parking availability signs.
According to the application:
The digital display will indicate real-time space availability in the parking lot. By doing so, these signs will help meet the Alexandria Mobility Plan (AMP) Curb Space and Parking
strategy by guiding users to off-street parking. This improved information will decrease driving around hunting for parking and therefore decrease traffic and pollution. Due to electrical wiring issues, instead of installing the sign in the same location as the present sign, the new sign will be installed at the southeast corner of the planting bed adjacent to the north side of the garage entrance. Staff finds the design and the lighting appropriate for this property and recommends approval of the project as submitted.
The applications are for garages at Market Square (108 N. Fairfax Street), Courthouse Square (111 S. Pitt Street), and just across from the Torpedo Factory (220 N. Union Street).
The changes are part of an overhaul that aims to get more visitors to Old Town in parking garages and off the streets. Last year, the City Council authorized changes that made garages cheaper than street parking.
This week in Alexandria, some long-planned changes around town started to take shape.
The biggest is that the Victory Center’s days may well be numbered, with developer Stonebridge and city staff currently in back-and-forth discussions over whether the building should be entirely demolished or not.
- Stonebridge submits plans for Victory Center demolition and redevelopment
- Suspects chased by police, ditch stolen car in Old Town
- Alexandria rolls out speed camera plans ahead of implementation next year
- Spicy chicken chain Hangry Joe’s opens in Alexandria Commons
- No arrests after commercial robbery across street from City Hall in Old Town
- Two more Covid deaths in Alexandria, cases surpass 40,000
- What is cut-through traffic and how does your phone help Alexandria track it?
- Alexandria rolls out new design for bus stops
- These restaurants, salons and other businesses are for sale in Alexandria
- The Torpedo Factory Art Center needs volunteers, and so do a lot of organizations in Alexandria
The aim of the change is to make parking in garages more appealing. Currently, many Old Town garages sit empty while drivers circle blocks looking for on-street parking.
“One change was to allow these blocks to have higher rates than the meter blocks,” Katye North, division chief for mobility services said in an email. “We’ve identified blocks that seem to have higher numbers of paid parking transactions, meaning there are more non-residents paying to park on these blocks than other residential pay by phone blocks.”
North said the price of parking on those blocks will nearly double.
“To encourage people to park elsewhere, we’ll be increasing the hourly parking rate from $1.75 (current meter rate) to $3,” North said. “The hours of restrictions and the two hour time limit remain unchanged and guests can still park for free if they have a guest permit.”
The second part of the change is incentivizing garage parking.
“In coordination with this increase, we are also reducing the hourly rate at the Courthouse Garage on nights and weekends to $1/hour (currently $2.50/hour),” North said. “We are hoping these changes will encourage people to use the cheaper off-street parking. Over the next few months, we’ll continue to monitor the data for these blocks and the garage to see if it’s making an impact and adjust as needed.”
The City of Alexandria is planning to build a new sidewalk on the north side of Polk Avenue, but the city’s plans have some neighbors concerned about the construction’s impact on the nearby park and the neighborhood’s parking situation.
The city is planning to build a new sidewalk that connects two dead-end stretches of sidewalk that cut off abruptly into dense underbrush. The city said the sidewalk construction will help students in the neighborhood walk to Polk Elementary and Hammond Middle School — though students will have to cross the street anyway to get to Polk.
The sidewalk will bump right up against Polk Park’s steep hillside and remove the street parking on the north side of the street. Around 80% of the sidewalk will be built on the street, but some of that remaining 20% will cut into the forested part of the park.
“The purpose of this project is to fill a sidewalk gap on Polk Avenue near Pelham Street,” the city said on its website. “Currently, the existing sidewalk on Polk Avenue ends, forcing people to either walk in the street or cross Polk Avenue to continue along their route. Filling this sidewalk gap would provide a more continuous path for people walking to the park, to Polk Elementary, and to Hammond Middle School.”
The concerns from some of the neighbors are twofold:
- The new sidewalk will remove nine parking spots from a neighborhood where parking can already be scarce.
- The new sidewalk potentially cuts into the toe slope of the hill, which concerns neighbors who worry about how it could affect the stability of the Polk Park hillside.
Carol James, a resident near Polk Avenue, said there’s already a parking scarcity in the neighborhood but acknowledged that where the cars are currently parked on Polk Avenue is city property.
James wrote testimony for a meeting scheduled tonight:
The proposed sidewalk at 5325 Polk Avenue is entirely within the City’s street right of way. So, it’s [Transportation & Environmental Services’] call. That does not make it right. Removing parking is not without cost. A friend of mine sold her parking place for $50,000 a decade ago. A condo development is asking $10,000 to buy a space. Granted, Polk Ave. parking is public not private. But land is land and it is not without value to those who share its space and place, no matter what sleight-of-hand accounting method you use. Our community values 9 parking spaces. T&ES obviously doesn’t.
James also pushed back against the sidewalk plans in a letter to the editor published by the Alexandria Times in April.
The environmental side of the neighborhood pushback concerns the 20% of the sidewalk build in the underbrush. The project will cut into the toe slope — the bottom of the soil mass comprising the slope. It’s an ecological argument reminiscent of discussions in 2021 about the restoration of Taylor Run.
Rod Simmons, City Natural Resource Manager and one of the vocal opponents to the Taylor Run restoration plans, pointed to the Alexandria Geologic Atlas which identified potential issues with construction on the slope of Polk Park.
The hillside next to the sidewalk construction is marked in red on the city’s slope stability map, indicating that the slope contains high levels of expandable clay materials and, more importantly from a development perspective, is already prone to landslides.
Paying to park your car in Alexandria by phone could be getting more expensive soon.
Alexandria’s City Council voted unanimously on Saturday to enable staff to up the cost of pay-by-phone parking.
The current rate in those zones is $1.75 per hour, but the new ordinance would allow the Director of Transportation and Environmental Services to set a rate of up to $5 per hour.
The goal of the change is to push drivers parking in Old Town towards the city’s underused garages, though several members of the City Council noted that’s unlikely to happen without more wayfinding toward those garages.
Council member Sarah Bagley said it might be worth looking into adding additional signs, either as standalone A-frame signs or onto the existing parking signs, highlighting where the nearest parking garage is. Another suggestion from City Council member Kirk McPike was allowing local restaurants to validate parking. City staff said both options would be examined.
One possibility raised to alleviate parking woes of residents of Old Town residents unable to park near their homes was to set more zones as residential-only, but city staff said there are several problems with this option.
“The conversation about resident-only parking has been recurring,” said Yon Lambert, director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services. “It was considered in previous iterations of the Old Town Parking Study. Something we need to consider: if we’re going to dig our teeth into resident-only parking, we’re looking at reconvening the Old Town Parking Study to make sure we have all stakeholders represented.”
But City Attorney Joanna Anderson said there legal issues with residential-only parking.
“There are some constitutional issues with completely residential only parking,” Anderson said. “We are looking at it, but it is more difficult for fully resident-only parking than it is to allow some outside users like we are now.”
The ordinance was unanimously approved by the City Council.
Auxiliary housing hasn’t taken off like the City of Alexandria hoped, but city staff are hopeful loosening some restrictions — including parking — could kick the housing type into gear.
The goal is to provide a boost to market-rate affordable housing which has been in freefall in Alexandria for years. While auxiliary housing hasn’t been as widespread as city officials might have hoped, a staff report prepared for an upcoming Planning Commission indicated that city staff are hopeful that eliminating parking requirements for auxiliary housing in “enhanced transit areas” could incentivize more commercial property owners to add residential units.
According to a map in that report, “enhanced transit areas” cover nearly all of the city except some of the more residential areas in central Alexandria like Seminary Hill and Rosemont.