By. Neil Williamson
Fairfax County residents will have a harder time finding a free parking space in some neighborhoods, if transportation planners get their way.
The article outlines a proposal to create a maximum limit for number of spaces in new commercial and residential developments near Metro stations. The rationale given is these generally high density Transit-Oriented-Developments (TOD) don’t need parking – everyone should take the train. Therefore the local government, not the market, is seeking to severely restrict the number of parking spaces a developer may choose to provide for a project.
Under the current ordinances a new town home must have at least 2.75 parking spaces per dwelling. Under the draft recommendations, parking would be limited to 1.75 spaces per dwelling unit. [emphasis added – nw]
By means of background, Fairfax County has a population of about a million people and covers roughly 400 square miles.
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth is quoted in the article:
We often like to say that too much parking can be a traffic magnet. If we’re going to address traffic and make a walkable community in Fairfax, its important to get the parking right.”
The Free Enterprise Forum believes that the new planning goal is to limit transportation choices for citizens. By forcing developers to limit parking options, the planners behind this proposal believe they are funneling people into mass transit; they’re wrong. The lack of parking will lead to an increase in illegal parking (often on the skinny roads favored by New Urbanism) creating a safety issue and therefore a new citizen demand for parking enforcement.
To be deemed a success, this new parking proposal will limit consumer transportation choices thus increasing walkability and transit use. Such logic reminds me of the philosophy of comedian Stephen Wright who famously said:
“Anywhere is walking distance, if you’ve got the time.”
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and Nelson County. For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org