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Saturday, February 21, 2009

How Much Would You Pay for Parking in Clarendon?

The Arlington Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey recently took aim at a proposal to charge for parking after 6pm and on weekends in the Arlington County garage in Clarendon at 3033 Wilson Blvd (entrance on Highland Street):
THUMBS DOWN: To one of the dumber proposals being considered by county officials to help solve their budget shortfall.

Board members this weekend will be asked to advertise for public hearing a proposal to start charging residents $3 to park on nights and weekends at the Department of Human Services garage on Wilson Boulevard. Parking is now free, and keeping it that way will encourage patronage of Clarendon venues as well as keep vehicles off neighborhood streets.

This proposal is a nickel-and-dime approach to governance that is beneath Arlington’s leaders to propose, let alone enact. County Board members can make quick work of this wrongheaded proposal by simply refusing to advertise it for a hearing.
There are certainly drawbacks to the proposal. But considering these fees would be on the low end of current parking fees in Clarendon, Scott's rhetoric is a little over the top. Would any husband really turn to his wife and say, "Honey, I was going to take you to Restaurant 3 for our anniversary tonight, but it's $3 for parking now, so we're having Hungry Man TV dinners instead. Hope you like salisbury steak."

The current subsidized free parking also incentivizes driving over Metro, biking or walking. Why make the effort and pay at least $1.35 to Metro to Clarendon when parking's plentiful and free?

What do you think? Would a $3 fee be a reasonable considering the county's $35 million budget gap? Or is it a "nickel-and-dime approach," as Scott suggests, and the deficit could be better made up through general tax increases?

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Anonymous almondwine said...

Because all Arlington residents live within walking, biking, bussing, or Metro distance of Clarendon...

4:16 PM

Anonymous almondwine said...

Because all Arlington residents live within walking, biking, bussing, Metro distance of Clarendon...

4:18 PM

Anonymous Scott said...

Since it's the only free garage in the area, it doesn't seem that revolutionary to charge what the other garages already do.

Then again, I can say that because I don't drive, and not-so-secretly favor anything that makes people consider other options. If I had parked here, maybe I'd be up in arms too -- nobody likes having their cheese taken away.

4:11 PM

Anonymous CR said...

I don't think it's so much that you won't go to a restaurant because of the fees, but business WILL suffer. Why? I do not live near a metro, or am close enough to bike or walk to Clarendon, but have no issues with just meeting a friend for a drink or coffee if I can park for free. If parking is $3? That's almost the price of a drink, for smaller events such as "a drink" I would reconsider going. When you add to the fact that many venues there charge a cover as well, it's even more money.

10:37 PM

Anonymous 22209 said...

Well, if they made me pay for that garage I'd park a couple blocks back on neighborhood streets instead.

2:49 PM

Anonymous Lauren said...

I think $3 is a bit high to jump since it was free before. If they are going to charge, I'd suggest they follow the Frederick, Maryland model which has its parking garages charge $1 on weekends (and evenings?). The entrance gates are weight censored and you just insert $1 to open the gates to leave. It will bring in some revenue without inconveniencing those that already use the garage.

9:18 PM

Blogger wbc5 said...

I have a hard time believing that $3 is that much if you're already committed to going to Clarendon. The neighborhood streets are pretty heavily enforced and there's no other space (aside from Market) that has large parking areas available. I might walk more frequently from Ballston, but I don't see this being a major impediment.

Arlington is on the record as favoring multiple modes of transit, and I have trouble believing that a small charge for parking is going to dramatically reduce the number of patrons in Clarendon.

5:32 PM

Anonymous Scott said...

"Because all Arlington residents live within walking, biking, bussing, Metro distance of Clarendon..."

That sounds like you're being sarcastic. They don't? I live just west of the line in Fairfax County, and regularly bike and/or bus to all parts of Arlington with no trouble.

2:44 AM

Anonymous GotKids said...

I like the free garage. Just a reminder that there are families that go to Clarendon and having a free garage is helpful. That's a few dollars more that you can spend on a meal or at the bookstore. Plus, it's alot easier to park in the garage than to circle for parking spots half a mile from your destination. Imagine schlepping your "future" kids that distance just to go to a restaurant.

4:59 PM

Anonymous Steve O said...

Undoubtedly providing the parking actually incurs costs for the county, since they provide and have to maintain the garage. Charging to provide a service is normal and expected for virtually everything we do. Why people think that should not be true for parking escapes me.
I don't see it as a big revenue enhancer, though; they should charge because it's the right thing to do.

5:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charging for services is often done. But providing free services is also a good way to get people to do something (such as visit Clarendon restaurants and shops). Maybe they'll start charging me to walk up Wilson from Courthouse at some point, the sidewalks aren't free to maintain either.

6:03 AM

OpenID virginiavirtucon said...

I almost never go anyplace where I need to pay for parking. There are lots of alternatives where the parking is free.

5:15 PM


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