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Patrons Start Petitions to Plead for Free Reston Town Center Parking

by Karen Goff — March 21, 2016 at 10:00 am 32 Comments

Parking garage at Reston Town Center

At least two petitions have been organized by Reston Town Center patrons in response to the news that the mixed-use area will go to a paid parking system this August.

There is a petition on Change.org, as well as on on StandUnited.org, reflecting the frustration of many RTC patrons. From the StandUnited petition:

To Boston Properties: Your paid parking plan is going to kill the Town Center, not help it. Instead of making RTC appealing to people who want to grab a bite to eat or stop at a few shops, you are penalizing them.

Part time and full time hourly employees should not be penalized because commuters have been taking advantage of your parking structure. You are stealing money from people who are trying to better themselves by charging employees monthly fees to park where they work. What other retail places charge employees to park?

Please reconsider your paid parking plan. Tyson’s Corner was able to cut down on commuter abuse without penalizing the store patrons and employees. It’s not right to make businesses who are already paying an exorbitant amount in rent have to subsidize their employees’ and customers’ parking.

A RTC spokeswoman said last week that an app-based system that will go into place in August. The app, RTC Park, will also help patrons locate their car and pay the parking charges by credit card.

Parking will cost $2 an hour. Store and office employees will have to pay for parking as well, but monthly passes (up to $70 for office workers; $50 for retail workers) are being offered. Many stores also say they will offer validation, but that exact plan has not yet been worked out.

Parking will still be free on weekends, holidays and during major community events such as the holiday parade, Oktoberfest Reston or the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. There will also be designated free parking for quick stops at stores such as FedEx, CVS and the dry cleaners.

There will be a community meeting on the topic at 6:30 p.m. on March 31 at The Avant (12025 Town Square St. at Reston Town Center).

“We have been discussing paid parking options since the Silver Line was approved,” said RTC spokeswoman Marion Myers. “Since last year’s opening of the Wiehle-Reston Metro Station, we have seen an increase in the already problematic use of RTC parking by commuters and non-patrons. The upcoming additional Reston station will only add to the problem.”

The Reston Town Center Metro station is scheduled to open in 2020.

  • LaureenMT
  • FreeParkingFreePizza

    Petitions ‘Schmeptitions’ — call the businesses in RTC and ask to speak with their managers. Let them know your feelings and that they will be losing business.

  • RTC isn’t the end-all be-all

    I’m glad they are charging for parking. Hopefully it will drive customers to other businesses in the area.

  • Ming the Merciless

    You are stealing money from people who are trying to better themselves
    by charging employees monthly fees to park where they work.

    Sympathetic as I am to the employees, no, this is flat out wrong. If Boston decides to charge store employees for parking, no that is not “stealing” money from them.

  • WheelieRestin

  • JoeInReston

    I am hoping this problem will self correct. The Metro doesn’t pass through RTC yet. They are still heavily dependent on car traffic. Charging for parking will heavily dissuade shoppers from driving to the RTC. I can’t see how this will be a more profitable move in the end. The increased revenues from parking tolls will be exceeded by the decreased revenues from the decline in the number of shoppers.

  • John Higgins

    To be clear: given the choice, I prefer not to pay for the use of someone else’s property. That said, I refuse to join the entitlement mindset this issue has brought to the surface.

    I have assumed that the owner was recovering its tens of millions of dollars invested in parking structures through its leases. But not for a minute did I believe free parking would last..

    Those who visit RTC as a “park” and do not patronize the retail and food establishments will be unhappy. My sympathy is lacking. Those who go to shop and dine are already paying for the parking, it is just not a separate, identifiable charge…it’s in your bill. It’s up to the merchants to work that out with the owners in a way that sustains their business. My guess is that they will.

    • Mike M

      I don’t agree. Yes, the businesses pay rent and that presumably covers the costs of the lots to the owner. But this is a new gouge aimed at the drivers. Are you saying they would remit the parking costs to the owners once they start taking it from the drivers? If so, then you are right. But I am doubtful of that. It would be incredibly less efficient to work it that way. This is plainly a new source of revenue. They are tacking it on top of what they charge now and they are doing so simply because they believe the market will bear it. One of their reps said EXACTLY that a few years ago when they were talking about doing this. I don’t like it, but I think they are right.

      • John Higgins

        My assumption, Mike, is that validated customer parking will be introduced. That leaves settlement between Boston Properties and the tenant. There could be no charge to the tenant apart from what they pay by the lease; alternatively, BP could assess the tenant a flat fee per validation. In any event, these market dynamics will drive customer response. And that’s fine by me. Once the whining subsides, we can turn our attention to tolls on the RA pathways.

        • Mike M

          It will certainly be interesting to watch the effect on the vendors, the clientele, and the neighborhood.

    • Tammi Petrine

      John, I usually respect your views and candor greatly but today I am saddened that you have no empathy for those who would like to enjoy RTC but are on such limited budgets that they can not afford to eat or shop there. This was part of the lecture a few weeks ago at RCC by Dr. John Powell of the Haas Institute at Berkeley. One of the biggest drivers of unrest in our country today is the inability of those with funds to easily pay parking fees or tolls to understand the stresses of those who can not. Reston is supposed to be a diverse community open to all ages, incomes, races, etc. Shall we say, everywhere but RTC? I think not and will be voting with my feet when paid parking is instituted. I want all of us to share in GRACE, the park, the community concerts and shows. PS: I for one am not crying for the owners of Boston Properties. How much profit is enough for them?

      • Mike M

        I somebody feeling the Bern?

  • FreeParkingFreePizza

    I cannot wait for the first Saturday evening RTC concert and all of the people that bring their lime green 1970’s era folding aluminum webbed lawn chairs. I need to remember to take video of these types trying to figure out what to do… pay to park to see a free concert or park in the BestBuy lot?

    • Ummmm…

      Free parking on weekends….

    • Steve

      Parking is free on Saturday and Sunday, but your point is valid on weekdays. If I choose to go to a discounted Tuesday matinee at the movie theaters, for example, I’ll park in front of La Madeleine and walk across the street.

      • Scott H

        Probably not Steve. Let’s think this through. The day paid parking goes into effect, there will not be a spot avail in the Bestbuy/Container Store lot. They will be forced to control parking as well. Then, well…just keep moving down the block to Elden.

  • Suzanne Zurn

    Follow the issue by liking this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RTCparkingfee/

  • Steve

    The need to crack down on commuters parking in the town center garages on weekdays is reasonable and necessary even if that means charging daytime patrons a fee for the first time. What I do not get is why the town center management cannot compromise and allow free parking in the garages on weeknights after commuters have gone home. If this is a logistical problem, then please explain why. Otherwise, this policy appears to be a revenue-raiser disguised as a commuter parking issue.

    • Scott H

      While preventing commuter parking is reasonable, there is no need to charge RTC customers & employees to achieve this.
      Allow customers 3-4 hours of free parking.
      Give employees a parking pass.
      Problem solved

      This is a naked cash grab by Boston Properties

      • Steve

        Good points. Three to four hours free parking and free employee parking addresses the commuter parking problem.

  • Great Traffic Solution

    Is every change in Reston really going to incite an advocacy group? Maybe we should just let Rescue Reston take on all forms of growth and progress so we can gain some efficiencies in protesting every little change.

    Personally, I found it amazing that parking was free in the first place. I regularly pay to park in DC and Arlington and it has never swayed my decision on where to eat or what to do. Restaurants in those areas seem to do just fine. In fact, since everyone is so worried about traffic and over crowding, won’t this help reduce traffic if so many people are going to boycott RTC? Maybe we will finally be able to walk into Jackson’s without needing a reservation.

    • Steve

      DC and Arlington are part of Washington’s dense urban core where you expect to pay for parking. Right or wrong, suburban town centers and shopping centers historically offer free parking, here and throughout the country. You don’t really want to reduce town center traffic because that hurts the local economy including servers at Jackson’s or anyplace else. You want to encourage, and manage, all the traffic you can get.

  • Gregory Toland

    It seems to me they are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Boston Properties has been buying up all the properties these last several years. It was only a matter of time before they started charging for the garages. They have been slowly building up their control. If it was truly a “commuter” problem then why not charge beginning at $20 for 6 hours, $22 for 7 hours and $24 for 8+ hours? This would surely get rid of the commuters as they would be going from $0 to $24 each day. It would also get rid of long-term parking for those using the garages as airport parking. It would be cheaper to park at Dulles. It seems to me we are punishing those wishing to simply eat or shop at RTC. 5 hours, 59 minutes is more than enough time to enjoy RTC while at the same time getting rid of the “commuter” problem.

  • MsMarlynn

    Greed by any other name is greed. Looks like my guests will have to pay to park to visit me since I live in RTC. Forget it – we can go someplace else. Hey, Tysons has 11,000 free parking spaces. Bye Bye RTC – Boston Properties, you are going to ruin a beautiful thing.

  • kbikeva

    “Free” parking is not free. Someone has to pay for it. If you’re a business, you can wrap it into the cost of doing business and charge your customers, or you can charge only those who use it. In this case, the business owner has decided to no longer subsidize the users of this amenity. If it bothers you, vote with your feet, bus, or bicycle.

    http://www.vox.com/2014/6/27/5849280/why-free-parking-is-bad-for-everyone

    • efme

      well thought out article. Unfortunately it does not apply to RTC. RTC’s non-vehicle traffic is tiny in comparison to vehicle traffic. This theory is sound for dense city environments. The fact that there is no metro stop right outside confuses me.

      • kbikeva

        The article reference is to help people understand the cost of ‘free’ parking. There is no metro stop right outside yet because it hasn’t arrived … yet. This may all change when the Metro arrives (under construction now), but given past history in other areas, it is unlikely to result in RTC rolling back the paid parking.

  • This would be huge detriment to service companies working at RTC. We would definitely have to pass that cost on to our clients.

  • Ken Mcclelland

    glad i move to forth worth texas bunch of chisler

  • Phil Lilienthal

    It’s sad-a bit like paying for the movie and then sitting through advertisements on the screen. The stores attract customers with the suburban benefit of free parking. Nothing has been said of Boston Properties’ financial problems with RTC. In fact, it has been an enormously successful project. Credit to them. Do they have to wring out every last dollar by imposing parking fees on workers, employees of stores, and customers. Yes, there should be monitoring of abusers (ie, residents looking for an extra parking space and commuters parking all day for free), but this can be done by a few meter maids making rounds and putting chalk on the tires to designate the time in. What a shame to visit the Town Center and have to lose the community feeling of Reston through parking fees.

  • Jon May

    Tysons Corner Center installed gates on its parking garages that open after the rush hour commute so customers can still park for FREE. Employees of the Center receive a card that gives them FREE access to the garage while the gates are still closed in the morning. BP and RTC can do exactly the same or sit by and watch the entire RTC quickly lose its shine.

  • mike connor

    As if I ever needed another reason not to go to RTC. One Loudon, etc. is far more convenient to get in/out of. The people who manage RTC have some perceived value that is actually doesn’t have. There are tons of other places to go with the same options and parking is free.

    Also, “Store and office employees will have to pay for parking as well, but monthly passes (up to $70 for office workers; $50 for retail workers) are being offered.”-that is just stupid greed.

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