It will be a matter of weeks, instead of months, before Falls Church City Hall will begin to implement a new residential parking permit program for residents behind the nearly-completed West Broad Apartments.
F.C. City Manager Wyatt Shields promised this following a 6-1 vote of the City Council Monday night to amend the City code to establish neighborhood-specific residential parking permit programs in the City.
Some residents have already moved into the large-scale mixed use West Broad structure, and the Harris Teeter on its ground floor is due to open July 20. As the project is completed, pressure on available on-street parking options for the already parking-strapped Winter Hill Community Association will escalate.
The new parking permit policy will hopefully alleviate that pressure, forbidding parking in the evenings to anyone who hasn’t been granted a pass. All residents in the Winter Hill Community Association area will be given passes for each of the vehicles they have registered at City Hall, as well as a booklet of temporary visitor passes.
Signage announcing the restricted parking on Annandale Road, James Street and Gundry Drive behind the 280-unit West Broad announcing the restricted parking policy will go up quickly, Shields told the Council.
In passing the new ordinance Monday, the City Council dismissed the recommendation of Shields that the matter be deferred until some sort of a “quid pro quo” with the community association be negotiated. The City is wanting to get an agreement from the association to permit police officers to enter the private parking areas behind the condos to check vehicles for expired personal property tax decals.
Only Council member Phil Duncan held out for the City’s ability to cut the deal with the association by voting “no” on the passage of the ordinance Monday. The other six Council members voted in support of the request of numerous residents of the area to not delay moving ahead.
Diane Bartley, vice-president of the community association, told the Council that she would work to win approval of the City’s request at its next board meeting in mid-April. However, one resident spoke up saying he was not convinced he should support such a policy since it would amount to a prejudice against anyone living in the small Winter Hill condos with their common space parking.
Single family home owners would not be faced with the same invasion of their private property, he said.
Council member David Snyder also questioned the policy of “leveraging” the adoption of the on-street parking restriction policy with the unrelated matter of allowing police on to the private parking areas of Winter Hill residents.
Shields said it has been City policy recently to negotiate proffers on new multi-family development projects that include permission for the City police to patrol their parking lots to check for expired decals.
But it was pointed out that there is not an equivalency between people going into a new development where the policy has been arranged in advance and those who have lived for years in existing residences who will be subject to the new terms for the first time.
“Each party in this has something they want,” Duncan argued as the only vote for a delay. “The City wants to go onto the private property and the residents want on-street parking passes.”
Under the new policy, it will be at the discretion of the City Manager to determine what neighborhoods and streets in the City will be subject to parking restrictions. For example, the Winter Hill Condominium Association, which is different than the community association and includes residences somewhat further from the new West Broad apartments on S. Virginia, James Court and Hampton Court, has not yet agreed to a restricted parking agreement with the City.
Council member Karen Oliver noted that the new policy will now “move the City down the path of Arlington,” where neighborhood parking restrictions are common throughout that county.
Shields said the new policy will follow the model of Arlington in that residents will not be charged for their parking permits and that the hours when the restrictions will be in effect are the overnight hours.
The fact that the West Broad apartments are charging its residents for parking spaces in its on-site parking garage has added to the need for the nearby neighbors to have a way to protect their few on-street parking spaces, he added.