On the Street in Alexandria

On the Street in Alexandria

Old Town complex to seek removal of parking restrictions.

The Chatham Square Home Owners Association is requesting to amend the DSUP to allow residential parking permits.

The Chatham Square Home Owners Association is requesting to amend the DSUP to allow residential parking permits. Photo contributed

To keep new developments from exacerbating the already strained parking in Old Town, and to appease Old Town residents concerned about the impact of the added density, new developments are often prohibited from on-street parking. Stipulations in Development Special Use Permits (DSUPs) prohibit residents of many new developments from obtaining residential parking permits. However, those at meetings protesting the new developments have often remarked that it would be a simple matter for the developers to come back at a later point and gain approval of the residential permits.

Sure enough, one of the items on the recently posted Sept. 4 Planning Commission docket is a request by the Chatham Square Home Owners Association to amend the DSUP to allow residential parking permits.

The application points to the 2017 updated guidelines’ restrictions on residential parking permits, which states that a development is not eligible to obtain them when average on-street occupancy is 85 percent or higher or more than 50 percent of the ground floor frontage is non-residential use. Chatham Square is entirely residential, so the restriction in question is the average on-street occupancy.

Kimley-Horn, a planning and design engineering consultant firm, conducted a parking study to the city’s specifications. City guidelines detail the time of day the study can be conducted, the qualifications for occupancy, and that school must be in session. The study found that parking in blocks adjacent to the property and across the street had parking ranging from 49 to 63 percent occupancy. Parking within the the block ranged from 68 percent occupancy to 75 percent occupancy. The average Friday evening occupancy was 63 percent. Saturday morning occupancy averaged 67 percent. Average weekday noon parking averaged 73 percent.

The study concluded on-street parking occupancy generally falls below 85 percent, the city’s updated requirement for a residential parking permit.

“This suggests that there is sufficient excess capacity to support on-street parking use by residents at the Towns at Chatham Square,” the study concluded. “The current DSUP conditions which restrict the ability to apply for and receive residential parking permits should be reviewed with respect to these findings.”

But these spots are some of the few on-street parking spaces in Old Town not limited to residents. Each of the fair market apartments has two parking spaces on site, the low income apartments have 1.8 spaces (a calculator for a slightly smaller space than the fair market apartments). Some residents in Old Town have said they will fight the removal of the restriction.

“This is one of the only places in Old Town with unrestricted parking.” said Yvonne Weight Callahan, president of the Old Town Civic Association. “This is the end of on-street parking in Old Town as we know it.”