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Reston Merchants Will ‘Regroup’ to Consider Impact of Parking Fee Changes

by Dave Emke June 2, 2017 at 11:30 am 49 Comments

An announcement earlier this week from Boston Properties regarding changes to the paid-parking fees in garages at Reston Town Center has prompted a variety of reactions.

Aaron Gordon, head of the Reston Merchants Association, says the changes — allowing for one hour of free parking before 5 p.m. and free parking afterward — are “a step in the right direction.” But he isn’t convinced it will be enough.

“We would like RTC to offer 3 hours free parking at all times, which would end the controversy entirely,” Gordon said. “Ultimately, our customers will decide if the recent concessions are enough. I’m very hopeful they are.”

Gordon, owner of Red Velvet Cupcakery (11939 Democracy Drive), organized the Reston Merchants Association earlier this year to bring together numerous business owners and managers whose bottom line was suffering under the 24-hour paid-parking format — many reporting double-digit drops in sales. Gordon said the system was “tearing the fabric of who we are, how we choose to live and what we do within Reston.”

Following a successful protest in March, the merchants announced that they were planning a town hall-style meeting and a second protest march. They also have flirted with legal action over the BXP initiative; one restaurant, Jackson’s, did file a lawsuit on its own. Many potential customers have publicly stated they have been boycotting visiting the Town Center due to the policy, choosing options elsewhere with free parking instead.

While Gordon said he is encouraged by Boston Properties’ recent announcement, he said the merchants’ efforts may not be over.

“The Reston Merchants see this as a victory for our group and our customers,” he said. “But, we will regroup in the next two weeks to discuss if we think [Boston Properties] is doing enough. Then, we’ll be able to determine our next steps.”

The new parking rules will go into effect at Reston Town Center on Monday.

  • Mike M

    Did the Patriots quit after the end of their good Super Bowl third quarter?
    Did man stop making music after discovering percussion?
    Did NASA quit after orbiting of the moon?
    Did the Allies quit after the successful D-Day landings?

    Regroup, yes! But do not quit until this dragon is slain! SLAY the dragon or it will ultimately flame you.

    • Willie Reston

      Leave the Patriots’ good name out of your wretched mouth.

      • Mike M

        I grew up with the Patriots, pretender. I was a fan when their “dynasty” was at the other end of the spectrum. They are mine.

        • Willie Reston

          There you go, pretending like you know something about someone when you’re really just a sad, closed-minded fool who makes knee-jerk assumptions. I remember the 1-15 and 2-14 seasons quite well and have been a die hard fan throughout. And now I’m ashamed to know that you and I root for the same team. You’re totally the scumbag Pats fan who hates on minorities from his run-down triple-decker apartment in Lynn that gives the rest of us a bad name.

          • Mike M

            Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin!
            Who is the hater here?
            I am a suburban boy.

  • Kara Gardner Wills

    I can’t park and have lunch in an hour, I can’t shop in an hour and I can’t have my hair cut in an hour…plus I would have to download the insidious ParkRTC app.

    I choose to lunch, shop and visit a salon that doesn’t pressure me for time AND doesn’t track my every move.

  • Tom

    This issue will not be “over” until they offer 3 hours of free parking and more importantly, get rid of that obnoxious, invasive app.

    • Blair

      The app is an extraordinary problem. People want to park and shop with anonymity. They also do not want to put their credit card information in the hands of an untrusted third party.

  • RestonAssurance

    1 free hour needs to be 3 free hours. The app has got to go! A real apology for the shortcomings, and how both merchants and guests have been treated is a must. There’s no in between. Step it up, BP!! Don’t be cheap and sleazy!

    • NB

      You guys would all find something to complain about even if they did give 3 free hours. Too much #NotMy(insert cause here) going on around Reston. Times change – deal with it or move on. But goodness please stop the whining.

      • Adrian Havill

        Kathy Walsh, is that you?

      • JoeInReston

        Translation – I can’t rebut all the complaints so I will resort to telling people to shut up.

        • Kim

          Real mature. And it gives so insight on the validity your argument.

          • Kim

            Sorry Joe that was meant for NB

      • Wheatie

        Translation – I work for Boston Properties

      • ikkf

        Delete your account.

      • Blair

        Not really. We are all pretty well aligned on this one. I’m not hearing folks complain about anything other than this topic.

        Let’s review the facts. Boston Properties made a business decision that placed themselves squarely between their tenants and the customers who frequent Reston Town Center. The customers have revolted. One tenant has sued. The other merchants have formed a loose association to address this topic with their landlord.

        Boston Properties has responded with a compromise. But they took too long and did not compromise nearly enough. To be frank, I do not believe customers are very much interested in a compromise — so the debate continues. Customers remain disenchanted with the draw Reston Town Center once enjoyed. Merchants are sueing, closing, or moving out. To be fair many are staying, however, multi-year leases are designed to drive a certain degree of consistency. And, the public debate continues.

        Labeling repeated and consistent feedback as “whining” is not helpful. Our goal is to get them to reverse a poor business decision. We are not complaining for the sake of complaining. We are trying to make Reston Town Center a place worth visiting again. That sounds like a nobal cause, not whining.

        • JoeInReston

          In addition to insufficiently addressing the why-should-non-commuters-pay issue, Boston Properties did not address the other source of frustration – the poor implementation of the policy:
          Unpopular parking app
          Unconventional setup where you pay when you arrive
          Absurd policy that would allow for a validated ticket to only be valid for a subset of the RTC parking garages

      • Brinn

        Funny how everyone complaining about how we should shut up and be happy posts their comments on anon. Hmm.

  • 40yearsinreston

    As long as parking is not free, maintain the boycott
    BPX are on the run

  • JoeInReston

    I was near the RTC today around lunch time for a Dr’s appointment, considered eating at RTC, but did not want to deal with opening a “parking session”. Parking session… has that phrase ever been uttered prior to the Boston Properties paid parking implementation?

    • Mike M

      (Um, psst! Once upon a time in the really good old days, boyfriends and girlfriends would have “parking sessions.” But nobody was watching the clock and taking fees, as I faintly recall.)

      • JoeInReston

        Poor kids today would have to open a parking session (bad kind) to partake in a parking session (good kind).

      • Guest

        Or recording video! (to our knowledge)

  • Reston Realist

    Parking should be free after 10:00 AM for the remainder of the day. This would solve the so-called “commuter problem.” This half-assed appeasement by BP just makes the issue more annoying.

  • covfefe

    God almighty, is there any topic that better fits the category of #firstworldproblems than this one?

    • Mike M

      Thanks for your contribution. So, your point is, . . .?
      We are not starving. We have reasonably clean drinking water. We aren’t dying rapidly of widespread disease. So, we should hand over our money and personal information to your employer?

      It’s 2017. That cheapazoid “First World problem” dismissal is so, . . . 2013! Never made sense anyway. If people in the First World rolled over for every bully, we would be Third World.

      • Brinn

        Not to mention it’s classist and racist as hell. Concerns about unnecessary fees are not limited to so-called “first world nations” (and by the way, the very idea of “third world” nations is incredible racist).

        • Mike M

          As I recall the three “worlds” had to do with alignment with the west. The Soviet Union. Or non-aligned. I have been around enough to know why Third World came to mean backward economically. By the way, declaring something racist out of thin air is lame, lame. Up your game.

          • Brinn

            Fun fact people in so-called third world countries also worry about things like cell phone bills and paying for parking so yes, actually, it is a racist term but thanks for playing. It’s not a coincidence “first world countries” (a term people are using in this, the year 2017) tend to be majority white and “third world countries” tend to be majority nonwhite. I was actually agreeing with you but your reading comprehension skills apparently leave something to be desired.

          • Mike M

            When you see every issue as a matter of race, you are racist in the perfect sense.

          • Brinn

            First all, way to derail with a grade school “I know you are but what am I” very mature, good job. Second of all, race does, in fact, affect every issue. Every single one. Race is always relevant. Privilege might prevent you from seeing it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

            And third of all can we please stop with the “if you focus on color you’re racist” BS? Guess what, race might be a social construct but it exists. It affects people. “Color blindness” doesn’t erase racism, it just ignores it. I’m white, and that means the system is constructed to benefit me. Pretending black people are exactly the same as me and not “seeing color” would just blind me to the ways other groups of people are disadvantaged compared to me.

            Not that I really expect some racist comment section goblin to actually, yknow, read and consider. I thought Reston was supposed to be inclusive.

          • Mike M

            Race is irrelevant. That’s the point.

          • Brinn

            Race is always relevant. /That’s/ the point.

          • Mike M

            You are the racist.

          • Mike M

            You political correctness is perverse. You have stated exactly what racists believe.

            You have some serious growing up to do. I am trying to help you before you are lost.

          • Brinn

            Oh boy “political correctness” aka code for “wahh sjw’s won’t let me say all the bigoted nonsense I used to get away with!!!!”

            And I’m done engaging with this “conversation” since your ability to discuss is apparently limited to ad hominem attacks and playground insults. I’m not the one who needs to grow up here, buddy.

          • Mike M

            SJWs. Ha! Social Justice Workers? Now, there’s a playground concept.

    • JoeInReston

      Do you have a first world problem with others discussing first world problems?

    • Chuck Morningwood

      If it would make you feel better, we could argue about parking fees and apps for our draught animals.

    • ikkf

      Wrong. First World problems are when people complain that Christmas is racist because Santa Claus is white. This is one more unnecessary tax and people are sick of getting nickel-and-dimed.

  • meyerweb

    Until I can park for free, without the privacy invading app, for an entire lunch I won’t be eating lunch in RTC. BXP’s stupidity is probably making the owners of Not Your Average Joes rich.

    I’ll consider going back to RTC in the evening if I don’t need to use the app. But if BXP still insists on tracking my every move, forget it.

  • Tammi Petrine

    Boston Properties has destroyed their PR in the Reston Community with their bone-headed, nonsensical paid-parking scheme. They have turned the entire Reston community upside down for 5 months and cost themselves their formerly fine reputation AND, more importantly, harmed the livelihoods of the commercial tenants and 100’s of service employees. NOW they show up with concessions that still make it impossible for us to patronize their entire fiefdom until after 5PM? How would free parking after 10AM OR at least 3 hrs of free parking damage BP?

    May I also mention another contingent that rarely gets mentioned: the condo residents around RTC. OMG, I can’t imagine what hell their lives have been since guests and service people have been denied parking to visit your homes. Surely your housing values have declined due to this stupid, greedy BP ‘business’ decision. And as we speak, BP is adding 1,000’s more residential units in its 2 new buildings on New Dominion Way! Good luck selling those puppies with this terrible PR nightmare continuing.

    Boston Properties has shamed itself and now still gets it wrong. How fascinating that just when our Supervisor rolls out her rush, rush PRC Cap elevation zoning change that so totally benefits BP, they suddenly relax their Draconian and insulting paid parking scheme! Pay attention, folks. BP wants something and that is more $$$ plus much more density.

    I say NO to the PRC Cap increase AND NO to RTC until BP behaves like it really does value and honor the principles of Reston that welcomes everyone. Get rid of the invasive parking app, apologize to those who have been hurt and present a parking policy that discourages abuse of parking in your garages but also recognizes that a min. of 3 hrs is reasonable for people to re-visit our RTC boycott and most importantly feel welcome in RTC once more.

    • Guest

      I agree, but in my (selfish) view the primary challenge is that, in mere months, BP has done permanent damage to local commerce. They’ve interrupted economic growth in a bald faced attempt to expand their cut. Even backing out fees entirely won’t help. People are pretty happy with the new normal.

  • Blair Miller

    I encourage everyone to continue their boycott of RTC until all paid parking is eliminated. At some point, those of us who are boycotting RTC will lose all interest and never return. The fact RTC is still willing to allow this risk to their brand to continue is surprising. Their reputation is tarnished already. It seems as if they are willing to ride this sinking ship right down to the very bottom.

    • 40yearsinreston

      Not surprising
      Egos are on the line

  • Ron Wagner

    I’ll still boycott during the day. A 3-hour free window is needed. I can’t have lunch and shop in one hour at RTC, but I can EVERYWHERE ELSE, which is where I’ll be going until we get three free hours during the day.

  • Mike M

    My grandma used to always say, “Mike M, when you get the vampire down, do you forgive him and make nice? NO, Mike M! You drive that farkin’ stake right through his farkin’ heart!”

    Lordy, I miss grandma.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    I think I’m going to join the chorus, BP. No app to park, and three free hours. Once that is done, we might consider coming back to RTC. Until then, well, Herndon is right next door.

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