When the Washington Post real estate section featured the Bailey’s Crossroads area in a recent Saturday edition, the reporter commented to me that one common theme across the region’s neighborhoods is parking.
Whether suburban Maryland, downtown D.C., or “inside the Beltway” Virginia, nearly all neighborhoods speak about some sort of parking problem. The issue is not relegated to old or new construction, single family, townhouse, condo, or apartment. It seems we all have too many vehicles and not enough places to park them.
In our older communities, built with shallow driveways when one family car was the norm, today’s desire for every driver to have a car, including the teenagers, means that parking can be at a premium. The once uncluttered view of a suburban streetscape becomes a dash to get a space on the street near one’s home, ideally in front of it.
Likewise, many apartment complexes were built when tenants relied on public transportation, so that parking lots no longer accommodate the demand for tenant spaces. More recently, many townhouse communities were built to include the garage as a parking space. Over time, some folks have turned the garage into living or storage space, yielding fewer parking spaces than originally tabulated.
Even with the price of gasoline today, the automobile industry has been very successful in selling its products. As a result, Fairfax County police officers are busy writing tickets for a variety of parking infractions in Mason District. One officer was citing two parked vehicles this week when the residents came out to tell the officer that they were the ones who had complained about over-parking on their street. Why was he ticketing them in front of their own house? The violation, he explained, was that both cars were parked “the wrong way.” Under Virginia Code, vehicles must be parked with right (passenger side) wheels to the curb, in the direction of the travel lane for safety.
Most drivers know about parking too close to a fire hydrant, but many fail to observe the rules about parking near a driveway. Vehicles may not be parked closer than 10 feet on either side of a driveway, even if it’s your own driveway. Again, for safety, sight distance and turning radius must be maintained. Parking too close to a stop sign is a no-no. You can be ticketed for parking closer than 30 feet from the sign. Police also will stop drivers for failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Complete stop means forward motion of the wheels ceases, if only briefly. Most of us think of ourselves as good drivers and believe we observe all the rules of the road, but do we?
On Saturday, Fairfax County fire stations will hold Open Houses in observance of Fire Prevention Week. From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., you may visit your local fire station, speak with firefighters and EMS personnel, and participate in fire safety activities. In past years, the firefighters have enjoyed the Open Houses as much as the kids!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]