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RA Board to Discuss Reston Town Center Parking at Meeting This Week

by Dave Emke — July 24, 2017 at 10:15 am 44 Comments

After repeated member comments on the issue, the Reston Association Board of Directors will consider taking a more aggressive role regarding the paid-parking situation at Reston Town Center.

According to the agenda packet for Thursday’s meeting of the Board, they will consider moving “to authorize Reston Association (RA) Board President Sherri Hebert and Vice President David Bobzien to engage with representatives of Boston Properties and Reston Town Center (RTC) to inform and discuss with them the pressing requests from RA Members that further consideration be given to RTC’s paid parking system.”

In May, members Suzanne Zurn and Paul Steidler addressed the Board and asked directors to take a position against paid parking at the Town Center. Steidler again addressed the Board on the matter at its June meeting.

In her statement, Zurn — who has created an online petition about the issue that has nearly 10,000 signatures — argued that the ParkRTC system has negatively affected the Reston community.

“Not only is the system complicated and the data tracking creepy, it’s also deterrent for attracting new or occasional visitors,” Zurn said. “The livelihoods of our neighbors who work there and its local business owners have been hurt by significant reductions in revenue, fewer work hours and dramatically less tips. One only needs to look at the barrage of negative comments that appear on every RTC Facebook post to understand how the community feels.”

As of June 5, Boston Properties stepped back from 24/7 paid parking at RTC, allowing for free garage parking after 5 p.m. each day, along with one hour of free parking prior that time. Monday morning, Reston Town Center posted on its Facebook page that its parking garages now feature “easier-to-use” park-and-pay kiosks that do not require use of the ParkRTC app.

Reston Town Center is not under the purview of Reston Association; however, Zurn says she is hopeful RA can “engage in the conversation and use [its] clout to convene a community conversation about parking at RTC.”

Among other topics at Thursday’s meeting:

Reston Association’s Board of Directors will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive), and the meeting will also be broadcast live on RA’s YouTube channel.

  • EliteinReston

    While I appreciate the RA board’s interest, this is really a matter for Reston’s elected supervisor and state lawmakers. Even if the elected officials say they cannot interfere with a private developer’s parking policy, they had many opportunities over the past year to convene discussions with Boston Properties on our behalf. They leave themselves vulnerable to a challenger who accuses them of standing by while Boston Properties defied the public with this senseless policy.

    • Generic User

      More like Boston Properties defiled the public…..or at least defiled Reston.

    • Greg

      Reston Town Center is not a part of the Reston Association and has no business wasting yet more of our money on this matter.

    • Suzanne Zurn

      Like our elected officials, RA has an opportunity to convene a community conversation with BP on this issue. RA represents 60,000 Restonians. ParkRTC has negatively affected our community and quality of life which is why there is a role for RA to play.

      • Nah

        RTC is not under the purview of the RA, so BP will quite properly tell RA to talk to the hand. RA has no “clout” to use against BP. This is a waste of RA time.

      • Why do you bother?

        While I appreciate your enthusiasm, you need some education in area government. RA has plenty of appropriate issues to address without getting involved in a private entity’s money grab. BP has clearly demonstrated that its impact on Reston’s “quality of life” is of no importance to them. RA has NO JURISDICTION in this matter, and BP will just laugh them off.

        • Suzanne Zurn

          Re-read my testimony… this is a community issue and RA can express a sense of the community in a resolution. Much like it did on the AirBNB issue. Personal attacks especially when you don’t even reveal your name is uncool.

          • Why do you bother?

            What personal attack? Suggesting that you better understand the situation? If that’s your idea of a “personal attack,” you must spend a lot of time with your feelings hurt.

          • Heh

            If you challenge the vastly over-inflated feeling of self-importance she gains from opposing paid parking in RTC, she interprets this as a personal attack.

          • Why do you bother?

            okey dokey. Whatever floats her boat.

          • Why do you bother?

            I’m sure that your testimony was very moving. However, you were preaching, as it were, to the wrong congregation.

          • Big Drop

            Soemhow I have a feeling that BXP has hired people to post under simplistic pseudonyms in an effort to discredit those of us who live here and genuinely care about this place. When housing values, condo values and the ability to rent an apartment dramatically fall, when the regional image of Reston nosedives, when the ability to pay the $700+ RA fee and frequent tennis courts, swimming pools and other RA facilities suffer then the RA needs to have a voice. No, not a decision, but a voice. Housing values have collapsed at Town Center: many condos are down $100,000 year over year while individual home sales have almost ground to a halt. Our home has literally been dead money for more than ten years: the assessed value in 2016 was LESS than in 2006. The RA has to enter in here, especially considering that there are another 2,000+ apartments currently under construction and virtually no new office space leased in the last year. We need all the help we can get. I am sure Boston Properties is learning this lesson now; it will really hammer home when then start trying to lease the 500+ unit Signature apartments. And, when Balducci’s learns that people aren’t going to pay to park in a garage in the daytime.

          • Why do you bother?

            “Somehow I have a feeling that BXP has hired people to post under simplistic pseudonyms ”

            I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

          • Greg

            What does RTC parking, paid or not, have to do with frequenting RA’s tennis courts and swimming pools? Or paying RA’s ever-higher assessment?

            Hint: RA staff salaries and benefits and buying many millions worth of useless assets play a huge part. $3.00 parking? None at all.

            Use of the RA tennis courts and swimming pools has been low for decades, and the RA has wasted tens of thousands of assessment dollars on consultants who told the RA to close or repurpose the underused assets. RA ignored the advice.

        • Paul Steidler

          Hey, Why do you bother if you are going to take shots at Suzanne, at least have the decency to use a real name. The reason for RA involvement is very simple: the RA serves the people of Reston and the people of Reston, for good reason, despise the paid parking system at the Town Center. It has harmed many economically. Though the RA cannot wave a magic wand and end the parking fees, they can be part of the community process and pressure to get Boston Properties to end these ridiculous parking costs which harm many in Reston.

          • Why do you bother?

            I’m not “taking shots.” I’m trying to infuse this pie-in-the-sky discussion with a reality check.

            BP has clearly shown that it only acts if its wallet is hit. We can wheedle and cajole ’til the cows come home, but that won’t change a thing. I’d rather see RA focus its limited attention to things it can actually affect.

  • MakeRestonBetter

    I have a difficult time understanding why what RTC does is any business of RA’s and what they should do on behalf of RA members or why RA members think the Board should stick their oar in. If I don’t like their fee structure, the entity to address is Boston Properties. If they don’t change it, I vote with my $$ and go elsewhere. Clearly, many are doing so. RA’s Board has enough on their plate within our own borders. They don’t need to seek other fights with other entities.

    • Why do you bother?

      Sounds like a lot of people who don’t know that have bugged RA enough that they’re willing to try to get through.

      • Suzanne Zurn

        I spoke at one meeting and made this request. You can check the May minutes on the RA website for my remarks. Another resident also spoke in May.

    • What he said

      Yup.

  • The Constitutionalist

    This is what they’re using our money for?

  • John Higgins

    I have to agree, this is a monumental waste of the RA board’s time (and a few bucks for legal advice.) What could RA say that Boston Properties has not heard? Withdrawal from participation in holiday parades and periodic events? Advise them on good business practices? To some extent, any action they might take amounts to biting the hand that feeds them. BP has intimated (or stated) that a portion of its parking revenue will be made available to local community groups. If consumers don’t sway BP from its path, I expect BP will make decisions on who benefits from its benevolence based, in part, on the amount of clucking and hissing they hear from these groups.

    There is RA work to be done that is meaningful to all of us. It’s not really necessary to accept invitations to every fight.

    • Donald

      I agree. Why did this board even agree to put this on the agenda? I’ll chalk this up to a rookie mistake, but, I was told this was THE board to get Reston’s work accomplished. So far I’m not impressed.

      Donald

    • Greg

      That will be a $10,000 legal bill…

    • Suzanne Zurn

      It’s about RA using its clout to convene a community conversation on this issue and to engage Boston Properties on a peer-like level to try and improve the situation. The reputation of Reston has been hurt. The Chamber should also engage a community conversation – they have members on both sides of the issue.

      • Why do you bother?

        RA has no clout in this situation.

        • Suzanne Zurn

          That’s for RA to decide.

          • Why do you bother?

            Actually, it isn’t.

          • Big Drop

            “Why do you bother,” do you really live here? Do you really understand what is happening to Reston right now? I’ve been here for more than thirty years and like others believe we need all the help we can get. Of course you can also be someone who is renting and cheering when signs go up in front of apartments like the 21 story building at the Weihle metro advertising “four months free rent.”

          • Why do you bother?

            I have lived/owned a home in Reston for almost 20 years, which is why I don’t want my tax dollars to be expended nor our governing body’s time wasted on a fool’s errand in which it has NO STANDING.

            BP gives not a single fark about our quality of life, blah blah blah. BA only acts when it’s hit in the wallet. Thus, the albeit limited success of the RTC boycott.

            RA has enough mess of its own devising to focus on. It needs to not knuckle under to well-meaning but uninformed people demanding that it waste its time on matters that are not in its scope.

          • Arielle in NoVA

            I don’t agree with a lot of what you say, but I do agree that we need to maintain the boycott until parking at RTC is ALL free again. It’s our numbers that will make the biggest difference with BP – well, that and lawsuits. BP will only respond in our favor when they feel it in the wallet or when forced to by a court.

          • Greg

            You should consider moving. Far from Reston.

          • Why do you bother?

            Bless your heart…

  • 40yearsinreston

    maintain the boycott. Its working – keep it up
    RA is useless and will just muddy the waters

  • Big Drop

    Does anyone reading this know how much the price of a condo has fallen in the last year at Town Center? Retail and restaurants are only part of the story. May I mention the impending impact of Cooper’s Hawk, Nando’s Peri Peri and the five other restaurants opening in RTC West. May I note a sign in front of a 21 story rental apartment bldg. at the Weihle Avenue metro offering four months free rent? The explosive growth at Tysons to the east and One Loudoun to the west? Whether shopping, dining or living in or near Town Center Boston Properties has made a decision that is changing the direction of all of Reston.

    • Suzanne Zurn

      Do you know how much the price of a condo has dropped? There have been rumblings of units moving slower and at lower prices with paid parking as a contributor to the market change.

  • Blair

    Does Reston Association have the right to ask Reston Town Center to stop associating themselves with the greater Reston community? Is the name “Reston” trademarked? If so, who owns it?

    • Why do you bother?

      Anyone has the “right” to ask anything. However, this is a ridiculous idea.

  • Larry

    RA is in no position to negotiate more favorable parking accommodations in the so called RTC. Send a letter and save the expense of time and effort in going to a meeting. Also include in the letter a request to change the town center name to Boston Properties Town Center… the name Reston Town Center is rooted in a lie.

    • Arielle in NoVA

      Funny you should say that – when driving home *past* RTC (without stopping or wanting to, I might add), I was thinking that they shouldn’t be allowed to call it RESTON Town Center when it’s not the center of Reston and is actually a hostile-to-Reston business entity. I then started trying to come up with a better, more accurate name for RTC. Boston Properties Shopping Center/District (a la Mosaic District), Boston Properties Marketplace, Boston Properties Mall… I’d be fine with any of those, as they wouldn’t give the misleading representation that they’re the center of Reston and are anything official having to do with Reston. Since they’re not just shopping but a hotel and businesses, and since they’re trying to be super-urban especially compared to the surrounding suburban area, “BP District Center” would probably be the most accurate.

  • Paul Steidler

    This issue is clearly within the RA Board’s purview. The RA serves the people of Reston and the people of Reston by a large margin despise, and for good reason, the paid parking at the Town Center. The Board can give voice to those frustrations and they have standing on the issue because they are here to represent, and serve, the people of Reston and to help make our community better.

    • Greg

      It’s a boondoggle, waste of time, and, most importantly, a waste of our assessment money. The RTC is not part of Reston and how RTC runs its business if no business of RA.

      Do you really think that BP doesn’t know and understand the issues? Its fired its PR company. Changed its pricing policy. Twice. And now you think the RA is going to spew some of its pixie dust and settle everything? Please!

      RA should focus on getting rid of its white elephant properties (Tetra), get a code of conduct for its officers and directors, cut bloated staff and their salaries, better use those assets which it already (mis)manages, and consistently and rigorously enforce maintenance covenants which are rarely enforced let alone policed.

    • Why do you bother?

      Please educate yourself on RA’s mandate and charter. None of what you said is accurate.

      BP knows we hate the parking fees. RA can contribute nothing to this off-scope situation.

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