City Officials Discuss Del Ray Parking Study

Business parking requirements, shared-use lots garner attention

The elimination of small business parking requirements and the creation of shared-use parking lots could be in the future for Del Ray.

City officials discussed these possibilities while presenting the draft Del Ray Parking Study to the Del Ray Business Association Monday afternoon. Barbara Ross, deputy director of the city’s Planning and Zoning Department, said the study consultant recommended removing Del Ray's parking requirements, as has been done in Old Town. City representatives met with the Del Ray Citizens Association's Land Use Committeee last week and received feedback on that possibility.

“We didn’t hear, ‘The sky is falling,’ ” Ross said. “We didn’t hear, ‘This is the end of the world – we can’t live without the parking requirement.’ We did hear a lot of concern, and a couple people told me specifically, ‘We would only go along with that if.’ I see that as a good thing.”

The city also plans to explore shared parking lot options for the Sun Trust Bank lot, the AGA lot, a private gated lot on Howell Avenue, the U.S. Post Office lot and the Salvation Army lot.

Faye Dastgheib, the city’s principal parking planner, said the city has conducted preliminary research on the shared parking lot possibility. “Although the idea of shared parking is an excellent idea, and it would be great if we could have two or three shared parking lots in this neighborhood, there are some issues,” she said.

Those include determining liability, deciding on the best use for shared lots, getting all property owners to agree on use and making zoning ordinance changes, Dastgheib said.

Sandra Marks, division chief for transportation planning with the city’s Transportation and Environmental Services Department, said the city would seek community feedback on the shared parking option. “The shared-use program would really require some additional work and additional research, as well as input from the community, and there are legal issues and other things that need to be worked through,” she said.

The parking study also recommends the implementation of paid meters for the Mount Vernon Avenue corridor once parking utilization in the area is in excess of 85 percent. However, current on-street parking density in the area is lower, ranging on average between 53 percent and 64 percent, meaning paid meters won’t be installed yet.

The report recommends additional monitoring to identify when the system approaches the 85 percent threshold. Immediate recommendations of the parking study include:

  • Adding parking (with the existing two-hour time limits) along the northwest corner of Mount Vernon and Windsor avenues;
  • Implementing additional loading zones to support local business at various locations along Mount Vernon Avenue;
  • Creating Customer Convenience Zones, which are short-term, high-turnover spaces to serve businesses with quick turnaround transactions;
  • Exploring the addition of residential permit zones;
  • And removing some taxi stands to add general parking.

Also on Monday, Dastgheib said the study consultant completed a parking turnover study in selected blocks and found that the average car stays parked for less than two hours in the time-limited zones.

“I’m not saying that there weren’t people who stayed longer, but the results showed that only a few people stayed more than two hours,” she said.

Also, one loading zone is already in place at the intersection of Del Ray and Oxford avenues.

Business association members mentioned that parking that backs up to intersections is creating a safety hazard by obscuring oncoming traffic. Ross said the issue would be addressed.

The next steps in the parking study process include holding a community meeting to solicit public input, finalizing the report and presenting the findings to City Council, implementing selected strategies and creating a city manager-appointed stakeholder work group to implement recommendations.

Read more about the study .

Terry Atkin Rowe January 24, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Residential permits would also prevent commuters (bus stops for now) and construction workers (Potomac Yard) from parking all day on neighborhood streets. This is currently a problem on streets closer to Route 1.
BG Del Ray January 25, 2012 at 12:23 AM
I used to live in Chicago, and when you bought a parking permit, it came with a book (about 30, I think) of 1 day guest passes. If you ran out (or were having a party) you could buy another book for about $10 or $20. This was in the late 90s, but it worked pretty well. In a perfect world, I would not want residential parking permits to be necessary, but I think a 2 hour zone, with a solution like a limited amount of free daily guest passes (and the ability to purchase more online, since we've now entered that era) is a decent solution. I live on the 500 block of E. Nelson Ave. and I know once they open those soccer fields on Monroe, our unregulated street parking is going to be a mess and untenable for those of us that actually live here.
BG Del Ray January 25, 2012 at 12:24 AM
It's also a problem on DeWitt at the intersections of Alexandria/Glendale/Luray.
Leslie Hagan January 25, 2012 at 02:06 AM
When will the City stop assuming that the DRCA and its land use (read land give away) speak for ALL of Del Ray. Neither part of the organization gives a hoot about the part of Del Ray between Rt. 1 and Mt. Vernon. They oked the rerouting of the Monroe Ave traffic down two of the oldest and narrowest Del Ray residental streets, have allowed SUPs to build on substandard lots, and approved reduction of parking requirements. Now they want to completely free businesses from any parking requirements so what little free space is left on our 22 foot wide streets. I guess that both the City and developers know that DRCA will give them everything they want. Why should they bother with the people actually involved. I have lived here for 35 years and nothing that DRCA has done has benefited what is the real Del Ray.
FYI from DRCA January 27, 2012 at 02:48 PM
There is some incorrect information in the previous post. * The DRCA has rarely supported parking reductions which is one reason the business association is often annoyed with us. The Parking Study has only just been released, the DRCA is reviewing it, has yet to take a position on it, and our input to the study did not include reducing the parking requirements. * Increasing traffic in the neighborhood was always going to be a problem regardless of what form the Potomac Yard project took, especially during construction. During the bridge construction, traffic counts did increase significantly. The City tends to enact traffic calming in small steps, waiting until patterns stabilize, and then doing no more than necessary. The westbound traffic on Howell had increased to 3 to 4 times the volume that existed prior to the bridge construction. The Oct 2011 traffic count on Howell shows that the volume is down to 1.5 times the original volume. The completion of the protected left turn onto Custis should reduce this even more. * Several years ago, the DRCA fought for the completion of the grid of 4-way stops in the neighborhood between Route 1 and Mt Vernon Ave. We did not get the entire grid, but did achieve a significant increase. * Not certain exactly which substandard lots are being referred to, but the City does allowed them to be developed, and compromise typically results in a better project then the tactic of just saying no which usually results in having no influence.


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