In the near future, Fairfax County will amend its zoning ordinance on residential parking spaces. County staff has already issued its report and recommendations, but some concern exists about whether residents in multifamily homes will have enough places to park.
The issue went before the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee on Sept. 19. And although this group ultimately OK'd the plan, it had some serious suggestions and reservations.
"I'm concerned about multifamily parking," said WFCCA's Carol Hawn. "As the economy swings downward, it's not going to be one person in a three-bedroom apartment, but three people."
At-Large Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn presented staff's recommendations, which are as follows:
* Single-family homes: If they're on a public street or a private street 36 feet wide or wider, staff wants to retain the current rate of two spaces per dwelling unit.
If a private street is less than 36 feet wide — which most private streets here are — three spaces per home would be allowed. That's because there's no room to park on the sides of such narrow streets.
* Townhouses are currently allotted 2.3 spaces per unit; staff is calling for a slight increase to 2.7 spaces. Staff believes that townhouses currently have the most parking problems.
* Multifamily housing — condos or apartments — are presently allowed 1.6 spaces per unit. Although a designation of 1.8 spaces was under consideration, staff recommends no change.
"Newer developments have more parking," said staff coordinator Donna Pesto, who also attended the WFCCA meeting. But, she admitted, "This amendment will do nothing to retrofit the parking in older developments."
She said, though, that this issue could be studied at a later date. And Hawn recommended a building's bedroom count be taken into account when determining the parking-space allotment for multifamily homes.
"I think multifamily should be, at a minimum, 1.8 [spaces per unit] — especially where Metro doesn't serve it," she said. "And buses just don't cut it."
Hawn then recommended the WFCCA endorse staff's proposed parking rates, with multifamily at 1.8 spaces. She was pleased about the proposed townhouse increase because "we have more families living in townhouses with their[driving] teen-agers."
WFCCA Chairman Jim Hart agreed with Hawn that bedroom count be a future consideration for multifamily homes. And WFCCA's Russ Wanek said there should also be "a user's guide for [older] communities wishing to retrofit and upgrade their parking so they'll have some guidelines for doing it."
Following the WFCCA's approval, the matter went to the Planning Commission on Sept. 20 for a public hearing, and there were only two speakers.
"One speaker didn't want any more parking, period, because it would mean more impervious area," said Sully District Planning Commissioner Ron Koch. "And another said, 'If people couldn't park, they wouldn't drive their cars.' But the consensus on the Planning Commission was that people would just keep driving around until someone left and they could park."
However, the Planning Commission didn't decide on its position that night. Instead, it deferred decision until Oct. 12. And the record is open for public comments on the parking proposals until that afternoon. They may be e-mailed to email@example.com. Next stop after that will be the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 23.