Alexandria, VA

Worried about driving and parking with expired tags? Alexandria is suspending its vehicle registrationsafety inspection and emissions inspection requirements through October 31, and any parking tickets issued after July 19 will be voided and payments will be refunded.

“This follows the City’s prior suspension of enforcement, from mid-March through July 19, of the requirement to display a valid state safety inspection sticker while parked,” notes a city release. “Any parking tickets that were issued by the City for safety inspection violations after July 19 will be automatically voided, and any payments will be automatically refunded by October 16.”

Vehicle registrations can also be renewed online.

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle locations throughout the state were closed from March 18 to May 18 due to coronavirus, prompting action from Governor Ralph Northam to extend the deadline on license renewals. That deadline has also been extended to October 31.

Alexandria’s DMV at 2681 Mill Road reopened on June 22. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.

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After weeks of laissez-faire parking enforcement during the pandemic, Alexandrians may want to start being more careful about where they park later this month.

“The City of Alexandria will resume enforcement of residential parking zones, weekend meters, and other parking regulations beginning Monday, July 20,” the city said in a news release. “Enforcement has been temporarily suspended since March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While residents could still be ticketed or towed for parking in restricted areas, the city went months without enforcing meter times. The city said regulations will start going back to their old enforcement at the end of the month, however, including:

  • Time restrictions for the general public in residential parking permit zones (signs in these zones include the language “residential permit-exempt”).
  • Saturday time restrictions and meter fees on blocks with pay stations (time restrictions and meter fees on blocks with pay stations will continue to be enforced on weekdays).
  • Time restrictions for street sweeping (signs pertaining to these restrictions prohibit parking during a one-hour window on a particular day of the week).
  • The prohibition against parking on the street for more than 72 hours.
  • The requirement to display a valid state inspection sticker.
  • The City suspended enforcement of these parking regulations to assist vehicle owners who were working from home, caring for others, or trying to ensure the flow of goods and services. As Virginia continues to reopen and state COVID-19 related restrictions are being lifted, the City has determined that it is now appropriate to resume normal parking enforcement.

There will be some form of grace period implemented to get people readjusted to the regulations, the city said.

“To give residents, visitors, and workers adequate time to adjust their parking routines, the City is giving advance notice before parking tickets are issued to cars in violation of posted restrictions,” the city said. “Residents who are still unable to move their vehicles on a regular basis may apply for an exemption of the City’s 72-hour rule. To encourage continued physical distancing, temporary signed curbside pickup zones will remain in place at this time.”

File photo

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(Updated on May 16 at 12:00 p.m.) The director of Feed the Fight Alexandria was picking up 300 cupcakes from Alexandria Cupcake to donate to three Inova hospitals on May 6, when she found an unexpected surprise waiting on her windshield — a $40 parking ticket.

The ticket was later paid for by an Alexandria Police officer.

Ali De Jongh Whitley asked Mayor Justin Wilson for help after receiving the ticket by posting her grievance on the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria! End Seminary Rd Diet & Other Bad Ideas Facebook page.

Whitley said she was parked outside Alexandria Cupcake at 1022 King Street in Old Town with the rear trunk door of her SUV left open, and was inside picking up the cupcakes for National Nurses Day.

“There were 3-4 large white bags in there as I was carrying bags filled with 25 cupcakes per bag into the car. I had 300 cupcakes to pick up to deliver to 3 INOVA hospitals for National Nurse’s Day,” Whitley wrote. “While I realized there was no parking on that side of the street, I was loading the car and there were NO other cars on King Street that morning. (ZERO!) I had my hazards on, and the parking police saw me walking back and forth loading the bags. I WAS STILL GIVEN A $40 ticket. I was shocked.”

Whitley added, “In the last 5 weeks, we have delivered over 4,000 meals to the frontline heroes in Alexandria. I am not asking for a pat on the back or a trophy, but what I am asking for is that this ticket be rescinded. I am asking Justin Wilson to speak with the Old Town Parking Enforcement officials who clearly made a rude call. Can I afford to pay the ticket, yes…Should I get a break, YES!!”

As Mayor, however, Wilson legally has no ability to direct staff to do anything. The city manager is the individual who runs the government, while the mayor and council direct the city manager with their votes and requests at various official council meetings and work sessions.

“Ali De Jongh Whitley, thanks for the important work that you are doing,” Wilson wrote Whitley in response. “I do not have the authority to cancel tickets, but if you drop me a line ([email protected]), I can help you navigate the process to contest the ticket.”

Whitley responded by saying that being given a ticket was wrong.

“Thank you for your prompt response. I will reach out to you,” she wrote. “We have been trying to keep the restaurants in… Alexandria afloat by supporting local and donating local to our INOVA partners. Most of the time, the restaurants deliver for me, but we had to deliver to 3 separate hospitals that day, and it was impossible. I have such a bad taste in my mouth about the whole episode that I could no longer stew about it at home. It was wrong.”

When ALXnow spoke with Whitley, she said that the ticket had been paid for anonymously.

“I don’t know who paid for it,” Whitley said, and joked that “except for parking enforcement,” her organization wants to partner with the fire department and other city departments with uniformed officers.

It turned out later that the ticket was paid for by an Alexandria Police officer. One of the residents monitoring the Facebook page asked City Attorney Joanna Anderson for help on the issue.

“She looked into it and felt she could not legally intervene but got the word out and one of the police officers, Captain Fard took it upon himself to pay the ticket because his wife is a nurse and he wanted to thank Ali for her caring kindness!” resident Baraba Beach wrote. “So although I don’t believe a ticket should have been legally or morally issued in the first place, I do want to recognize the City staff who tried to right a wrong. Thank you again Ali and am so very sorry this happened to you!”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Vice Mayor Volunteers For ACPS Food Giveaway — “I’m putting my food manager’s license to good use this week in coordinating the preparation of school meals at TC. Thanks to a rock-star team of Alexandria City Public Schools employees, Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities employees, and Volunteer Alexandria volunteers, we distributed more than 1700 meals yesterday.” [Facebook]

Police Hosting Virtual Story Time Tonight — “Great news! Every Friday evening APD will be starting a new initiative–APD #VIRTUALStorytimes at 7PM. This Friday join Sgt. Morgan as she reads “Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle. Do you have any book recommendations you wish to see us read???” [Twitter]

Online Focus Group on Parking, Curb Issues Planned — “The City of Alexandria’s Transportation & Environmental Services will be conducting another round of focus groups from April 20 – May 1 on transit, parking and other curb-side uses for Alexandria’s streets.” [Alexandria Living]

Senior Services of Alexandria Gets Face Mask Donation — “We appreciate all the mask donations we have received! Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for masks, our volunteers now can continue to provide services to local seniors while staying protected. Grocery Program volunteer Dave Dolton rocked his new mask this morning while shopping!” [Facebook]

Old Town Boutique District Starts #lovelocalOT Contest — “Each day is a different theme, all you need to do is post in your stories how you supported local in OT that day, use #lovelocalOT & tag @otboutiques… Winners will be chosen at random each night & will receive a $50 gift card to the OT small biz of their choice!” [Facebook]

Evening Star Cafe Sells Wine Package With Tiger King Theme — “As an ode to the latest Netflix phenomenon, Tiger King, Beverage Director/Cat Enthusiast Greg Engert has curated a special selection of bottles tail-ored to sip as you watch the cat-astrophe surrounding Joe Exotic and the G.W. Zoo unfold.” [Facebook]

Village Brauhaus T-Shirt Sales Going to Staff — “We can’t wait for the day when we can all be drinking and eating together at Village Brauhaus! Make sure to get your shirt and wear them when we open our doors again!” [Facebook]

Yates Dry Cleaning Makes Face Masks For Customers — “In challenging times, we’re thankful to have a team with such diverse skills! Our wonderful Seamstress at Yates Dry Cleaning, Joy, has been hard at work making face coverings for our Yates team and some at-risk customers.” [Facebook]

Seifeldein Asks Governor to Ease Restrictions on Medical Transport Businesses — “Some medical transportation businesses needed assistance and I reached out to our governor and elected officials in Richmond. The DMV Commissioner looked into the issue and provided reasonable relief. Our collective actions will help us navigate this crisis.” [Facebook]

ABC Store at 686 St. Asaph Street to Close — “Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority announced Thursday afternoon that they’re closing 12 ABC liquor stores in Northern Virginia in order to deal with reduced staffing levels as workers self-quarantine. The closure starts Monday and lasts until at least April 30.” [WTOP]

Del Ray Farmer’s Market Open Saturday — “Farmers’ markets in the City of Alexandria are open ONLY for the distribution of pre-paid preorders. Many of the #delrayfarmersmarket vendors are offering this option. Vendors will NOT be offering items for sale at the market – only pickup of preorders is permitted. Please place your orders as soon as possible to give our vendors time to prepare.” [Facebook]

Rosemont Neighborhood Holds Door Decorating Contest — “The Hooff family came in First Place in the “Most Creative” category for their stained glass chalk artwork on their door, windows, and front walk, inspired by artwork they had seen on Facebook.” [Zebra]

Updated Del Ray Easter Menu — “Celebrate Easter while supporting our restaurants! Special menus available for carry out.” [Facebook]

Old Town Deli Needs Support — “If anyone is in the DMV area please stop by my dad’s shop Old Town Deli in Alexandria, VA! It’s been around for over 29 years. Just like everyone else, we’re struggling and we could use all of your support! We offer UberEats, carry out and delivery!” [Twitter]

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Alexandria is cutting down its parking enforcement even further as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city said on its website that the changes in parking enforcement were aimed at helping the disrupted routines caused by working from home and other effects of social distancing.

“To assist vehicle owners who are now working from home, caring for others, or trying to ensure the flow of goods and services, the City has suspended enforcement of the following parking restrictions until further notice,” the city said.

The biggest change is the elimination of time restrictions for general public parking in residential zones and time restrictions and meter fees for blocks with pay stations.

The suspension of enforcement is an expansion of the policies from two weeks ago, which suspended enforcement of parking restrictions for residential street sweeping and for the prohibition on vehicles parking on the street for more than 72 hours.

The full list of waived parking restrictions:

  • Time restrictions for the general public in residential parking permit zones. (Signs in these zones include the language “residential permit exempt.”)
  • Weekend time restrictions and meter fees on blocks with pay stations. (Time restrictions and meter fees on blocks with pay stations will continue to be enforced on weekdays.)
  • Time restrictions for street sweeping. (Signs pertaining to these restrictions prohibit parking during a one-hour window on a particular day of the week.)
  • The prohibition against parking on the street for more than 72 hours.
  • The requirement to display a valid state inspection sticker.

The city noted that parking restrictions are still being enforced in areas that are prohibited “no parking” zones.

“All other time restrictions not listed above, such as 15-minute spaces or time limits in commercial corridors, will continue to be enforced,” the city said. “Parking enforcement officers will have the discretion to enforce suspended restrictions in exceptional circumstances where a significant traffic safety or community concern exists, or as necessary to ensure the safe and orderly movement of vehicles.”

File photo

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Morning Notes

Schools Preparing for Coronavirus — “ACPS has partnered with the Alexandria City Health Department and local first responders to form a COVID-19 Task Force Planning Committee to work closely to monitor this evolving situation. We plan to provide updates as we progress with this planning and work.” [ACPS]

Reminder: Primary Day is Tomorrow — “On Tuesday, March 3, there will be a Democratic Party presidential primary election in the City of Alexandria. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]

Business Robbed in Old Town on Sunday — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a commercial robbery in the 800 block of South Washington Street. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Kaine Campaigning for Biden Today — Sen. Tim Kaine is scheduled to help Joe Biden’s re-energized presidential campaign phone bank at its Eisenhower Avenue office this afternoon.

Resident: Parking Is Too Sparse in Old Town — “Personally, I have consciously put off or cancelled Old Town plans several times because the parking crisis made visiting a business or meeting up with friends impossible with my own vehicle. I believe our city planners should consider building a public parking deck or similar facility somewhere in the neighborhood in order to alleviate the impossibly high demand on our limited parking situation.” [Gazette Packet]

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Update on 1/22/20 –Craig Fifer, spokesman for the City of Alexandria, told ALXnow in an email: “Port City did not ‘snag away’ the parking lot from the City. When the City learned that an Alexandria business was attempting to purchase the lot, we discontinued our efforts to purchase it.”

Thanks to some new negotiations, 4001 Wheeler Avenue might become a place you’re happy to find your car, rather than an impound lot.

In December, the City of Alexandria started moving forward with negotiations to acquire 4001 Wheeler Avenue — directly across Wheeler Avenue from the Port City Brewing Company at 3950 Wheeler Avenue — and use it as an overflow impound lot to help handle the city’s shortage on impound space.

According to Emma Quinn, a spokeswoman for Port City, the brewery was working on acquiring the space around the same time.

“There had been talks about the city buying and we saw that [ALXnow] article in November when Bill had already been in negotiations to get the lot for [Port City],” Quinn said. “Luckily, we were able to secure it!”

https://twitter.com/PortCityBrew/status/1218256104058212352

The brewery is in an industrial-heavy area off Duke Street and is off the beaten path for most transit services, meaning the existing parking lot is heavily used even when there aren’t spaces taken up by food trucks for events.

Though the idea of adding more car parking at an alcohol-focused venue might turn some heads, Port City said most of their events feature sampling in small amounts.

“We always encourage responsible drinking!” Quinn said in an email. “Luckily, our brewery serves as a place to educate and sample the product more than a bar scene where people are drinking to excess. A lot of customers come by just to get beer to-go and were avoiding doing so because we didn’t have enough spots.”

For large events, Quinn said Port City provides Lyft codes to get people to and from the brewery safely. She also noted that tasting room beer guides are trained to watch for people getting intoxicated.

Photo via Port City Brewing/Twitter

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A new series of buildings, including a towering automated parking garage, could be replacing a parking lot just off King Street in Old Town.

The groundwork for the project was laid months ago when the city agreed to sell the lot at 116 S. Henry Street, in addition to another parking lot along King Street.

“The development consists of three separate buildings: a townhouse condo with two units facing S. Patrick Street, an automated parking structure that will provide spaces for the new developments on this site, and a mixed-use four-story building on S. Henry,” the applicant, Galena Capital Partners, said in its application.

In the discussions over whether to sell the property, Planning Commissioners said they were “nerdily excited” for the automated parking garage.

The designs for the building show that cars will be driven onto a platform where a sliding structure can turn and shift the vehicle into a parking spot. The six-story garage will be accessible from Downham Way, which connects S. Henry Street and S. Patrick Street.

The designs for the building are scheduled to go to the Board of Architectural Approval on Wednesday, Jan. 22, for approval

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Temporary Parking Change for Rec Center — “Due to the closure of Chinquapin Road, parking for Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility and Chinquapin Park is being redirected to the parking garage at T. C. Williams High School (3330 King St.) on Thursday, December 26. Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility is open until 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 26 and all programs will take place as scheduled.” [City of Alexandria]

Assault Investigation in Landmark Area — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a felonious assault in the unit block of South Reynolds Street. The victim was transported to a local hospital. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Local Real Estate ‘Hits Pause’ in Nov. — “The number of sales in Alexandria dropped significantly from year-ago levels, down 25.8%, with the median selling price down 2.5% to $539,000.” [WTOP]

Alexandria Drug Dealer Sentenced — “An Alexandria man was sentenced in federal court to 20 years in prison for drug dealing that caused at least one overdose death. George Addae, 26, was sentenced for conspiring to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin related to heroin trafficking from 2016 to September 2018. Addae was also ordered to forfeit $100,000.” [Patch]

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Parking at metered spaces will be free throughout the city on Christmas Day this week.

The police will not be enforcing parking restrictions at metered spaces, residential permit parking districts, and other areas with parking time limits on Wednesday (Dec. 25), according to the city’s website.

This only applies to restrictions on legal parking spaces, so prohibited places like loading zones or spaces for persons with disabilities will still be restricted. Temporary no-parking signs will also be enforced.

Bus riders are less lucky, though. DASH buses will not be running on Christmas.

On Tuesday (Dec. 24), the regular weekday schedule will be in effect, but service will end at 7 p.m. On Wednesday (Dec. 25) there will be no DASH service, but the free King Street Trolley will operate on its regular schedule. The trolly will run every 10-15 minutes from 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. between the King Street-Old Town Metro station and the waterfront.

Meanwhile, most other city services in Alexandria will be closed:

  • Alexandria Library: all branches will be closed tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday, (Dec. 25)
  • Recreation Facilities: all recreation facilities will be closed on tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday (Dec. 25).
  •  The Torpedo Factory: the art fac ility will be open tomorrow (Tuesday) from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. but closed on Wednesday (Christmas)
  • Animal Shelter: the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter will be open from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 24, with animal viewing beginning at noon. The Animal Shelter will be closed on Wednesday, December 25.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Alexandria’s street parking could be in for an overhaul at an upcoming City Council meeting.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss a series of changes to permit parking districts in Alexandria that would allow for greater flexibility of time restrictions. The move is part of a trend in the city of making underutilized parking spaces more accessible.

Amendments to the city’s parking restrictions include scaling back the time restrictions that aim to keep parking spaces from being occupied by commuters. Currently, parking restrictions in Alexandria end at 9 p.m. in areas that experience commuter parking, but under the new rules, those restrictions would end at 5 p.m.

Conversely, in areas with a high volume of visitors for shops and dining, parking restrictions may not end until 11 p.m.

The changes would also set up a process for creating new residential parking permit districts near transit or in areas with documented parking issues.

Under earlier language, only building owners could be involved with signing up for a residential parking permit. In the new system, at least 50 percent of occupants of residential properties abutting each block of a residential district must sign on to a petition to add residential parking. Approvals could also be approved by the Traffic and Parking Board rather than requiring City Council approval.

The issue came up at a recent Potomac Yard Working Group meeting. Mayor Justin Wilson spoke with local residents about some of the challenges involved in setting up a residential parking district, like the difficulty in relying on building occupants to respond to a request to sign a petition.

The issue has also been a topic of debate in Arlington, where questions over the future of the residential parking permit program have, in some cases, pitted apartment dwellers against homeowners.

Photo (top) via Google Maps, (bottom) via City of Alexandria

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The city-owned small parcel at 2 King Street — currently home to eight leased parking spaces — could have a big impact on the block at the end of King Street if the city approves a sale.

At the Waterfront Commission meeting this morning (Tuesday), staff said the city received an unsolicited offer for the lot in June from the current owners of the adjacent Fitzgerald Warehouse building. The City Council subsequently authorized staff to consider the sale and look into alternatives for the property.

Staff said the proposed plan would involve tearing down the late 20th-century addition to the historic property — which currently houses Thai restaurant Mai Thai — and replace it with a new extension that would take advantage of the waterfront view. The historic Fitzgerald Warehouse, where Starbucks is currently located, would not be torn down.

Staff was skeptical of the likelihood that another development could be built on the site, saying it could theoretically be its own building but “it would be a tight fit.”

One way or another, the parking spaces at the foot of King Street are likely going away soon. Jack Browand, division chief with the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, said that the current use does not fit with the city’s plans to make the surrounding streets more pedestrianized.

“Even if it stays with the city, it would be improved in some way, like turned into an outdoor seating area,” Browand said.

Whether the property stays with the city or is sold to a developer, several members of the Waterfront Commission said that part of the deal should be the inclusion of public restrooms or other public uses at the site.

Staff said a public meeting will be held in December to gather more ideas for what to do with the site, but no specific date has been scheduled.

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