Letter to the Editor: Chatham restrictions should be applied citywide, not waived

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This house on 425 Oronoco St. is in the middle of Old Town development Chatham Square. The residents in this neighborhood aren't eligible for District 2 parking permits, which would allow them to park on the street for an extended period of time (Photo Credit: Aleksandra Kochurova)
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To the editor:

I would like to comment on your article, “Chatham Square seeks parking revision,” in the Aug. 9 Alexandria Times. While this article was specific to Old Town, I believe it is an issue that is pertinent to all Alexandria residents. Granting permits to these residents would not only limit the ability to visit residents and businesses within a few blocks of Chatham Square, but also set a bad precedent for parking in other areas of the city where development of similar sized homes, and garages, will similarly affect parking.

First, I would challenge the comment by one of the residents that two cars will not fit in a garage at Chatham as well as challenge the statement that 20 by 20 foot is industry standard. Most townhome developments within Alexandria have garage sizes similar to those at Chatham; it is size within Alexandria that we should be comparing as a standard, not garage sizes for homes well outside the beltway. We happen to have a garage size with similar dimensions and are able to comfortably fit two vehicles, a midsize and compact SUV.

I believe the real problems that are impacting parking is how families utilize their garages, as well as not factoring smaller sizes of those garages when making a home purchase in Alexandria. We live in Cameron Station, where our homeowner’s association rules specifically state that garages should not be utilized for storage in a manner that prevents parking of vehicles in the garage, yet many homeowners use garages for bulk storage and park their vehicles on local streets.

We are fortunate in Cameron Station in that we have dedicated visitor parking that residents are not permitted to utilize and as a result vehicles that should be parked in garages are not taking away spots that our guests can utilize when visiting. This tendency for using garages for other than vehicle storage is not unique to Cameron Station, or townhomes for that matter, and as development continues throughout Alexandria we can expect families to do the same and park vehicles on streets, thereby limiting parking for neighborhood guests and businesses.

I suggest that current and future townhome residents need to factor in smaller sized garages, with appropriately sized vehicles for those garages, when purchasing in Alexandria. Living in townhomes in Alexandria requires a conscious decision to sacrifice home, garage and vehicle size. But as we have found, that sacrifice is insignificant compared to the public and local benefits of living in Alexandria.

I would also welcome similar parking restrictions that apply to Chatham residents in other areas of the city. Public parking is a community space and preserving the availability and accessibility of it for all Alexandria residents and businesses, helps preserve access to Del Ray, all sections of Old Town, parks, fields and all other parts of Alexandria.

-Leo Ochoa, Alexandria

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