Letter to the Editor: How City Counts Parking Spaces

Letter to the Editor: How City Counts Parking Spaces

As the City Council moves forward with plans for waterfront development and considers other issues that impact resident parking, such as allowing for food trucks, I feel compelled to reiterate the parking concerns residents have in Old Town.

A few weeks ago, I was surprised when my husband received a parking ticket on the corner of Prince Street and S. Lee Street. He was parked four feet from the crosswalk, and was within a foot parallel to the curb, so I wasn’t sure why he received the ticket. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the city code cited on the ticket and found that in Alexandria, it is illegal to park within 15 feet of an intersection.

There are several problems with this ordinance, the least of which being that it is randomly enforced (after all the time we have lived in Old Town and parked in similar spots, this is the first and only time we have been ticketed). There is no signage to this effect so how are visitors to know about this law, particularly when you see cars parked up to crosswalks on nearly every corner in Old Town? Also, there are numerous locations with “No Parking From Here to Corner” signs throughout Old Town that are within 15 feet of an intersection, which mislead residents and visitors to think that absent a sign, it is OK to park up to the crosswalk line.

Troubled by this issue, I decided to look at the 2012 Old Town Area Parking Study to see if it took this city law into account when it surveyed numbers of parking spaces (and subsequently concluded that there is sufficient parking in Old Town for residents). No methodology was outlined in the final report of the study, so I reach out to the city’s Transportation Planning Division for a clarification. After a couple of rounds of emails, the city essentially confirmed that the study included “illegal” parking spaces in inventory counts (the email response indicated that unless there was a “No Parking From Here to Corner” sign, parking spaces were counted up to intersections).

So for the purposes of ticketing residents and visitors, you cannot park within 15 feet of an intersection in Old Town, but for a parking study to determine whether there is sufficient parking in Old Town it is acceptable to park within 15 feet of an intersection unless there is a sign posted to the contrary? Does anyone else see a huge problem with this?

I hate to say it, but this does not give me a lot of faith in the city as we embark upon waterfront redevelopment projects. Old Town needs a real parking study. Parking is already a huge problem in Old Town, and it will only get worse as redevelopment moves forward. I hope the City Council and parking planners do the right thing, and I encourage all Old Town residents to join me in urging them to do so.

Katherine Viar