Herndon considers fines for blocking residential driveways

From drivers seeking to safely exit driveways to vehicles blocking garbage cans and mailboxes, parking is becoming a headache for Herndon residents, who raise complaints only to be told that police have no way to address those issues.

That could soon change.

The Herndon Town Council is now considering a newly proposed ordinance that would prohibit parking in front of or within 10 feet of a driveway, imposing a $50 fine for violations.

Several council members, however, raised concerns about moving forward without more information.

“It’s a safety issue,” Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said Wednesday (Aug. 4) at a town council work session. “So, when you have people that can park right next to the end of the driveway, it severely limits visibility when somebody’s pulling out or trying to get around, especially in some of the narrowed streets we have here in Herndon.”

The topic will be open for public comment when the town council meets this coming Tuesday (Aug. 10), allowing community members to share their concerns and needs, including how the change would affect their ability to get parking.

Town officials noted that addressing parking visibility and access issues could leave people without anywhere to park.

“To solve that issue, are we creating another problem?” Councilmember Pradip Dhakal said.

Town officials suggested that the reported problems stem in part from Herndon’s overall outdated parking ordinance, which even allows people to park in town streets and use a ride-hailing app like Uber to get to Dulles International Airport, for example.

The town began reviewing its ordinance two years ago after seeing neighboring governments update their parking policies, but the effort was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, DeBoard said.

According to a staff report, the review was put on hold when the town’s priorities shifted at the beginning of the pandemic, but it has been revived now that Herndon is starting to return to more normal town operations.

While an ordinance overhaul could be presented in September, town management raised the question of parked vehicles blocking driveways in residential neighborhoods as a piecemeal issue, describing it as a critical situation.

Councilmember Signe Friedrichs noted that emergency vehicles such as fire trucks can have trouble navigating streets because of parked automobiles.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have nearly gotten hit by someone coming out of one of their driveways or trying to get…onto Ferndale Avenue or onto Jorss Place,” she said. “And coming out of Burwick Drive, I’m always very close to getting hit. I have to pull all the way out.”

Mayor Sheila Olem suggested that spending too much time studying the issue could leave pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers in unnecessary danger.

“No one is being considerate of anyone’s need to be able to back out of their driveway,” Olem said.

Graphic via Town of Herndon

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