On February 7, 2023, the President of the McLean Citizens Association, Scott Spitzer, sent a letter (see link below) to Fairfax County officials identifying concerns with a proposal to revise the County’s Zoning Ordinance (ZO) regarding minimum parking requirements known as the “Parking Reimagined” Initiative (PRI). President Spitzer sent the letter to the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Land Use Policy Committee and Fairfax County Planning Commission Land Use Process Review Committee in anticipation of meetings by those committees on PRI scheduled to take place during the week of February 13.
The MCA letter commended the County’s PRI team for its public outreach efforts on the proposed ZO amendments. However, the letter also conveyed MCA’s significant concerns with several of the PRI proposals.
Article 6 of the ZO currently establishes minimum parking requirements for commercial and residential structures. Article 6 also provides the Director of Land Development Services (LDS Director) with unilateral authority to reduce off-street minimum parking requirements that developers must provide to levels that are up to 30% less than required by the ZO.
The MCA letter questioned the proposed ZO amendment that would significantly expand this unilateral authority that would allow the LDS Director to approve reductions in minimum required parking up to 60% less than the required ZO levels. MCA members and other area residents have raised concerns that reduced parking requirements at new residential buildings will lead to “overflow” parking where residents of those buildings park in nearby neighborhoods because they are not offered sufficient on-site parking. The proposed expansion of the LDS Director’s authority appeared excessive.
MCA further commented that the PRI proposal does not transparently explain the factors that the LDS Director must consider when reviewing developer requests to provide parking below the thresholds enumerated in the ZO and does not provide adequate opportunity for public input with respect to such reductions. MCA urged the County to include in the ZO the factors that the LDS Director must consider before approving a developer’s request to provide fewer parking spaces than the levels required under the ZO. Specifically, as it relates to potential overflow parking, MCA recommended that developers should have the burden to show how the proposed parking reduction would not likely lead to overflow parking. The MCA letter also called for the County to provide some type of public notice before approving parking reductions of more than 30% below required levels and give the public an opportunity to submit comments.
MCA also expressed alarm about the proposed significant reduction in minimum parking requirements specified in the ZO for multi-family residential buildings, noting that the lower levels appeared unjustified and could lead to overflow parking in adjacent residential areas. The letter recognized that proposed minimum parking requirements in Transit Station Areas, Transit Oriented Development Areas, and in the Tysons Urban Center, and in Revitalization Areas such as the McLean CBC, reflect the County’s desire to reduce traffic congestion, increase public transit and bicycle use, and reduce dependence on auto use in the more urban parts of the County. However, the MCA posited that it is unrealistic to assume that residents in these areas will give up their automobiles and rely on ride-sharing, bicycling and public transportation for grocery and other shopping, visits to doctors and medical providers, visits with friends and family, and other activities so as to warrant the proposed lower minimum parking requirements. MCA requested that the County provide greater clarity in explaining the analysis and data that was used to develop the proposed baseline parking thresholds.
MCA is continuing to follow developments with regard to the proposed amendments.
To read the letter click here2-7-2023 MCA Letter on Parking Reimagined Initiative: