Local Commentary

Editorial: F.C.

There are two factors that are integral in the increasingly ridiculous tangle that constitutes the on-street parking policy in the City of Falls Church. In recent years, the City has succumbed to a mish-mash of parking restrictions ranging from two to four hour limits, to permit parking only and, now, to some general F.C. resident exemptions, on 44 streets so far in its tiny 2.2 square miles. Monday night’s Falls Church City Council meeting was another exercise in futility and frustration as the Council could not fathom the latest obscure and Byzantine approach to deeping the confusion.

Two factors contribute the most to the current, almost comical, “Keystone Cops” patchwork of conflicting and confusing parking restrictions. They are these: 1. The sense that many City residents have that they own not only their homes, but also the streets in front of their homes, which they don’t; and, 2. The notion that the interests of City residents are superior to those of any others, including employees of City businesses and neighbors from surrounding jurisdictions striving to utilize public transportation, such as the Metro, instead of their cars.

There is a supreme irony in the almost crazed insistence by some City residents that no one who wants to use the Metro should be allowed to park on “their” streets. What happened to the sentiment most in the City share for energy conservation and environmental values? Is this another version of “Not in My Backyard?” On the one hand, we’re telling everyone they should use Metro. On the other hand, we’re telling them they can’t park anywhere near a Metro station.

Already, we’ve seen the amazing waste of money and resources, including the chopping down of 150 trees, that went into the City’s effort to appease residents near the West Falls Church Metro in recent years by creating a parking lot in the 700 block of West Broad Street aimed at keeping Metro users’ cars off the residential streets. The lot was never used, clearly because it was too far from the station.

Moreover, using the City’s personal property tax decal as a restricted parking pass, as is now being proposed, smacks of a kind of us-versus-them xenophobia. In contrast to the City’s recent progressive stand on immigration, it effectively discriminates against “outsiders,” including, ironically, people who work or want to spend money in the city.

This facet is disregarded by everyone at City Hall: the impact of parking restrictions on employees of City businesses or those who seek to do business with them, at precisely the time when both the need for boosting the City’s commercial viability is greatest. Whenever this aspect is raised, it is brushed off, almost literally. Someone mumbles about building a municipal parking garage some fine day, and that’s it.

Our solution is a surprisingly simple one: Have no restrictions to on-street parking anywhere in the City, but put up parking meters everywhere where parking pressures are an issue. The City makes a ton of money and people can park and go about their business.