RTC Parking 101: What Happens if I Refuse to Pay?

by Karen Goff August 12, 2016 at 10:00 am 54 Comments

Yellow parking enforcement device at Reston Town Center

When weekday paid parking goes into effect at Reston Town Center Sept. 12, visitors will have to learn a new system that includes, among other things, downloading and using an App; scanning a beacon for validation; or rushing to a kiosk to manually pay by cash or credit card.

That has led more than a few patrons to say they will no longer visit the town center. Or they will take their chances and not pay the $2 an hour.

Here’s how RTC owner Boston Properties plans to enforce parking violations.

Boston Properties says it will use a “soft touch” for the first several months that paid parking is in effect.

“This is a obviously a big change for Reston Town Center,” said BP Property Manager Matt Bonifant. “We have listened to the [visitor] feedback.”

Bonifant said they will progressively warn violators, but they will not ticket or tow (which is a change from current procedures). Patrons can expect leniency, say, for parking over the allotted time period or a one-time offense.

But with the new system in place, security can track how many times you have visited RTC and NOT paid, so repeat offenders should be aware, Bonifant said.

Repeat offenders could be stuck with the “bumblebee,” a device that is suctioned to the windshield so a driver cannot see out to drive a car away. To get the device removed, they must call security and pay a $35 fee.

Indicator lights will also blink when your car is in violation, letting security know to come check it out, Bonifant said.

Photo: The device that could be suctioned to your front windshield for repeat parking violations.

  • Scott H

    It’s like they want to make RTC as unfriendly and police-state like as possible.

    Question: If a parking garage opens in the suburbs and nobody parks, does BP still collect $2?

    • Ming the Merciless

      They have the same philosophy as the airlines: people will grumble and complain but ultimately will suck it up and pay because it is more convenient than the alternatives.

      • SMH

        That’s the thing. The convoluted payment structure coupled with the draconian punishment should you fail to comprehend said payment structure will make RTC decidedly less convenient.

        • Larry

          Ming has a point but I think what BP is hoping is for 2 things.
          1. It’s like a fast toll. You install the data sucking app on your phone. Give it a credit card and you don’t even notice the $30 a month BP is collecting.

          2. The part that no one is talking about is the ability of BP to monetize the NFC Bluetooth information. BP can track all customers at the RTC what stores, restaurants, activities they are doing and how long they are doing this for. Then they can either sell or include as a bonus ad to their tenants. They can also further monetize the platform by selling flash ads that pop up based on your specific location. Since their location is using bluetooth it is way more accurate and can do all kinds of things you can’t do with GPS. This app is going to be a big monetization platform for BP.

      • Reston Realist

        Ming is exactly correct on this point.

        Also, there was a comment earlier about all the 10,0000 housing units in this immediate area… Perhaps BP has done an analysis and feels that loosing several hundred customers at the RTC will be offset by all the new multi-family housing being developed around it.

  • SMH

    … or put in gates and charge $1-2 for the first three hours (free with validation, or not, who cares) and increase the rate after that to recoup the difference from the commuters who stay for ~10 hours and don’t buy anything at the stores. Why hammer your bread-and-butter customers? And for the love of God, just use paper tickets or, at the very least, the Parkmobile app.

    • JoeInReston

      Yes, the best customer policies prevent you from doing wrong rather than allowing you to do wrong and then be punished for it.

    • dbncoold

      It’s quite a coincidence that commuters have to park in a private garage, isn’t it?? What horrible “planning” or shall we say conspiring on the part of VA transportation officials. Nice way to design the success of RTC and Boston Properties. We’ll bring metro right into your backyard but we won’t build sufficient public garages so then you can charge anything you want for parking.

      • 30yearsinreston

        Thank the BOS and Ms Huggins for that fiasco

        • Bert

          Ditto that!

          • Patrick Ohara

            Is Boston Properties going to pay for damage to windshield by this device.I have read stories of damage done by device to glass,and surroundingThis group(Boston Properties gave no ideas to community about enforcement surfaces of car by application.I would have thought a tow truck or a boot would have been better idea

        • dbncoold

          Can you tell me what is the BOS and who is Ms Huggins?

  • DogPark

    Anyone know how to defeat this thing https://www.facebook.com/barnacleparking/ ?

    • kcowing


    • ClownCenterExpress

      I assuming using water with a plastic scraper could get it off. Or something like olive oil or some mineral oil based compound if you can get it to budge to break the seal.

  • johnQPublic

    Incredible! What kind of world is this!! “a device that is suctioned to the windshield so a driver cannot see out to drive a car away” all for the sake of picking up a few extra dollars at the “Clown Center” a place that is already grossly overpriced. I’m so encouraged to now have a valid reason never to drive there again.

  • Nyla J.

    Aggressive and ridiculous.

  • kcowing

    There is a similar product called “Barnacle” – product information http://www.ideasthatstick.net/infficiencysolved-1/

    • Guest

      Yes, it’s the same device. “Bumblebee” sounds slightly more friendly.

      • kcowing

        A little acetone (or other solvents) poured on the windshield should seep under and start to dissolve the device’s suction cups.

      • kcowing

        I am certain the smart folks in Reston will start to pool ideas on how to remove these things – easily.

        • Chuck Morningwood

          Drill through the suction panel. Bring a drill driver with a 1/8″ steel bit. That will make short work of the device.

          • Chuck F’in Norris

            Or work a bit of social engineering with the security folks. They are not as smart as you’d imagine.

          • BagOfHammers

            you could also predrill holes in your windshield

          • Patrick Ohara

            if you did that water would leak in and damage interior

  • Fred hgggg

    I guess I’m not shipping there anymore!

  • meh

    I do not see this ending well for the retailers or Boston Properties. There are a lot of other places to grab a bite to eat, and if I want a beer – that place at Lake Anne makes some really good brew.

    And as far as movies? I’ll just go to the AMC at World Gate, it’s nicer anyway.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      They do have nice recliners, don’t they?

      • meh

        Those recliners are the best thing since sliced bread. Get my lazy rump to that seat, press the button and get horizontal while watching a movie. Can’t beat it

        And the ability to reserve a seat online and see where your seat is, perfect! Back in my day you’d have to get to the theater early, put the wife’s coat over the other seat and then have to constantly tell people the seat is taken.

        Now it’s just show up 5 minutes before the flick starts

      • 30yearsinreston

        So does WG

  • Guest

    Boston Properties and their agents are well within their legal rights to fine or immobilize vehicles on the property according to whatever rules they post that are clearly visible, day or night, at all entrances.

    Their plan to charge a $35 fee to remove this device is interesting. I expect that fee will go up very soon after paid parking starts, because per Fairfax County Code, Section 82-5-32(G)(2)(a)(i), an operator (BP or agent) may charge up to $75 to release a vehicle once it is immobilized. It’ll be easy for Mr. Bonifant to escalate fees after a majority of visitors understand a fee structure exists.

    Also, that county fee restriction is reviewed every two years.

    • Cobania

      So I guess you’re the person in charge of implementing the plan?

      • Guest

        Cute, but no. Just laying out the legal justification. That doesn’t mean it’s nice. I’d especially hate to be one of their long term business tenants.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Boston Property’s idea of a “Soft Touch”: disable your vehicle.

  • Biggus Dickus

    I’m gonna drive through and see how many people are sheep today..

  • Perhaps BP believes that RTC (on down to Reston Station) can and should be a city independent from the traditional Reston with its subdivisions and strip malls? RTC broadly defined will soon have some 10,000 housing units which combined with the Metro stations will become more and more an economically independent community? RTC might become a unique and distinguished 21st Century Virginia city or that might be what Mort thinks?.

    • 30yearsinreston

      An urban slum

      • The big movement is to Suburban Slums. (See the link below.) And iit is hitting Reston hard right now as more than 40% of kids in Reston schools are on federal free lunch programs. The poor are going to the suburbs.and the next generation of millennials are going urban. The Reston TC has more than 3,000 homes now and fewer than 100 children from the TC are enrolled in FXPC schools. Things are changing.

  • BertW

    My God, are we living in a police state? The Reston Town Center has nothing that would make this worthwhile, Nothing at all.

    • Dentro

      Uh, no. You aren’t living in a police state. You are storing your possession on somebody else’s private property.

      • Lee – G

        Then they need to manage their own land/property better then don’t they and think about getting barriers put on the entrance with a paypoint that will open it up once the fee has been taken. Blaming desperate drivers looking for places to park for their own stupidity of leaving their land space wide open is completely irrational so they deserve all the cars parking without paying they get.

  • Wheatie

    I will only go to places that encourage me to shop or dine. Which is certainly not the Reston Town Center.

  • dbncoold

    If I owned a business I would never step foot in a place that forced my employees or customers to pay for parking. And as a consumer I refuse to reward Boston Properties’ nasty behavior. Even With with free parking, RTC was too inconvenient and too overpriced. I never liked it anyways and now I hate it even more. There are plenty of better options.

  • vdiv

    That’s what is going to make the place more attractive, people driving their car inside the garage blind. Well, I have news for them, most cars have side windows and sunroofs that open 🙂

  • Why do you bother?

    I’m not going to have to worry about it, because RTC is now dead to me.

  • dandiprat

    Does Boston Properties think RTC is the only place nearby to eat? I’ll just go somewhere else.

  • 30yearsinreston

    This is against the law

  • Peggy Suntum

    Matt Bonifant/Boston Properties, don’t patronize us with your “we’ve listened to the feedback.” If you had listened you would know nobody agrees with what you’re doing and everybody thinks it’s wrong. Listen to that, say you’re sorry and fix this mess.

  • Glad to have left

    I just moved out of Reston after 14 years, and every time I read this site it looks more and more like I made the best decision of my life. The board arbitrarily enforces HOA rules that should be left to the clusters, even if the cluster itself had no issues with the variance, all in the name of preserving the “spirit of Reston.” All the while, they are hypocritically hell bent on turning Reston into the next Arlington or Tysons, destroying that very same spirit and sense of community that made Reston so appealing when many of us chose to live there in the first place. Add to that questionable real estate deals, continual increases in association dues, their decision to involve themselves into the dog park dispute, the rising crime rate and traffic congestion, etc, and it was a no brainer to get out while the getting was good.

  • Dentro

    I can’t wait to go to RTC confident that idiots who not only can’t manage to navigate the world without their cars, but also can’t stomach paying for the resources they’re consuming, are far far away. RTC will thrive without you out-of-touch car-worshipping complaining welfare queens.


    If they had listened to feedback they wouldn’t have instituted paid parking. I swear since Bob Simon kicked the bucket it’s “Build baby, build!”.

  • mitch

    We in the UK would not stand for this. In fact we dont. Its now illegal to immobilise a vehicle ( unless its a Govt Agency) Private entities would be committing an offence. This thing is pathetic. Drill it off with a cordless drill and duamond tipped bit. Straight through the back of the suction pads. Or simply park with your wiper blades in a vertical position. Happy Parking!

  • Ron Angel

    points here would be illegal to use privately ( not police use) for
    parking enforcement in UK as same as clamping or blocking car in to
    prevent driving away.
    Looking at it from engineering point of view after seeing pictures of it folded held on by
    vacuum as somebody else has just pointed out drilling a hole through
    middle of square on each or maybe just one side with small high speed
    drill would release vacuum and device will come straight off. They could
    have thought of this and both sides would have separate vacuum lines so
    releasing vacuum in one other still in place until drilled. They also
    might have fitted a ceramic drill resistant plate under cover to stop
    this (increasing cost and weight considerably of device so not lightly)
    but if so then a diamond drill or hammer drill should work. This device
    is much more expensive than a clamp but much easier to remove tools
    wise. Probably has loud alarm as well when attacked. There is another
    thing they could do but I would be a fool to say what here! just for you
    at company guy says glass drill .5-1mm through glass screen from inside
    will release vacuum without damage to device. Big failure before it
    starts have spotted two more flaws without even seeing device! forget UK
    market.In Europe you will never see any you put on cars again. in Paris
    France they tried clamping every person carried superglue and put in
    lock of any clamp (Boot) they saw. Italy, person putting on car would
    need police protection!

  • David Young

    Nothing that a dremel tool. With a diamond bit can’t fix. Just drill a small hole through the center of the suction cups. (From the top side. Make sure to stop when you hit the suction cup. So as not to damage your wind screen.) And release the suction. Then toss device to side of road and drive away.


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