Opinion Your Views — 03 April 2014
The war on parking picks up steam

By Townsend A. 
“Van” Van Fleet, Alexandria
(File Photo)

To the editor:

Parking spaces, parking spaces, where have all the parking spaces gone?

It seems that every time I say that parking in Old Town has become near impossible, some uninformed member of one of our boards or commissions tells me that that there are excess parking spaces in the old and historic district. Well, as we all know, that’s just not true. In fact, the parking situation is going to get worse as our esteemed director of the city’s transportation and environmental services department continues to recommend taking ever more parking spaces away from us.

Removing 27 parking spaces on upper King Street is a good lead-in for the taking of 66 parking spaces at the King Street Metro station. The upper King Street spaces are going to be replaced with bicycle lanes.

Meanwhile, spaces at the King Street Metro will be turned over to buses and taxicabs. These parking spaces are critical to Joe Theismann’s Restaurant and to the many businesses in the 1800 Diagonal Road office building.

Just around the corner, near the small park, a city task force has just considered rededicating 10 parking spaces for food trucks. Of course, the food trucks also will take parking spaces near other venues in Old Town.

On The Strand, the city intends to take a waterfront parking lot and transform it into a new park. Additionally, the Solo Parking Co. will lose 36 parking spaces in the old Art League Building, which is slated for redevelopment as a hotel. That hotel is only going to include 69 parking spaces in its underground garage. That facility is intended to accommodate the patrons of the hotel’s 120 rooms as well as diners at a ground-level restaurant.

Carr City Centers, the developer, claims that the building’s employees will take public transportation to the hotel. I would like to remind Carr that the King Street Trolley does not start operating until 11:30 a.m.

Additionally, the waterfront plan calls for the removal of many of the parking spaces along South Union Street. All of this is to occur as the two Robinson Terminals head toward redevelopment.

The density in this part of Old Town is about to explode, yet our city government doesn’t think it is necessary to replace all the spaces that they want removed. This is a sad commentary on our local government.

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(5) Readers Comments

  1. Amen! I wrote a very long winded LTE about this topic, but you hit the nail on the head with far fewer words. I guess we need to resign ourselves to the fact that we have a city that does not care about these issues, which are about many things, including quality of life for residents and visitors.

  2. There is plenty of parking. It’s just all not free. If it were all free, then there really would be no parking because it would be overused. If you want tons and tons of parking, take a ride down Route 1 south in Fairfax County and take a look around. Not a pretty picture. Thats what you get when government mandates the provision of parking irrespective of the supply and demand for it.

    • Ah, yes, a smart growth-er weighs in. Too much “free” parking will transform Old Town into Rt 1. And parking will be “overused.” If we all could just understand, it is this logic that has made Holland a superpower, and Amsterdam the city everyone is flocking to.

      • Randy,
        Everyone _is_ flocking to Amsterdam. Almost 16 million people visit the City annually and it is the 7th most-visited City in Europe. (according to a write-up on about.com – not a great source I admit, but probably in the ballpark).

        The comparison between Old Town and Route 1 is a fair one. Old Town was developed before 1960′s parking standards and road standards. Route 1 was developed after. To force those standards on Old Town would be to take away some of the very things that make it special.

        Old Town was developed when walking was the primary mode of transportation. Planning for walking as the primary mode of transportation is staying true to the City’s history. Since Alexandria was founded, households have fewer people and more square feet. As a result, I would guess that population density today is actually below historical levels.

  3. Van thinks the only public transportation in Old Town is the trolley bus. Surely he has seen these blue and yellow buses with DASH written on them. Those aren’t delivery trucks, they are buses!

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