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County seeks feedback on reductions in parking requirements, overhaul of policy

A sign warns about parking tickets in a lower Springfield Plaza parking lot (staff photo by David Taube)

Parking requirements in Fairfax County — which are getting their first major overhaul since 1988 — are set for public hearings later this year.

The multi-year effort — coined Parking Reimagined — is the focus of an open house coming this week.

“Access to the internet, along with flexible telework options and convenient home delivery of goods, has decreased the need or desire to drive to shop or work,” the county says. “Growth of transit availability with the expansion of Metrorail and bus service and the movement toward compact walkable mixed-use communities has decreased the need for auto trips and parking demand.”

The county is now seeking feedback on draft recommendations related to off-street parking, loading and bicycle parking. A final draft is expected to be released later this year, with public hearings slated for the spring.

“County staff’s final recommendations will be presented at each of those public hearings,” the county says.

One of the most significant changes is the introduction of a tiered system for off-street parking requirements in the county’s specialized planning districts. The effort is intended to accommodate and encourage more modes of transportation in walkable and high-density areas.

Most of the county would be designated as tier 1, which covers low-density areas that would only see modest parking rate reductions. Tier three — the highest tier — would see the most significant changes.

The tiered system sets rates based on the development’s gross square footage instead of the number of people served:

Proposed parking requirements (via Fairfax County)

The proposal reduces the parking rate for shopping centers by excluding interior open areas of centers under 1 million square feet from parking calculations.

For residential uses, apartment unit spaces would be reduced from 1.6 to 1.3 spaces per unit.

For townhouses, 2.7 spaces per unit are required, with 0.2 set aside for visitor or shared parking. That’s lower than a previous proposal of 0.7 in response to concerns about increases in impervious surfaces. A similar change is under consideration for stacked townhouses.

With regards to off-street parking, the county would round down instead of up when calculating the parking requirement. For example, if the tabulated parking is 3.7, only three spaces would be required instead of four.

Also, the number of required accessible spaces will be calculated using the overall baseline minimum for a particular building or use before taking into account any adjustments allowed for suburban centers and revitalization areas.

After holding a meeting last week, the county is set to hold another open house on Thursday (Jan. 12) at 7 p.m., followed by a discussion before the Board of Supervisors’ land use policy committee on Feb. 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Comments should be submitted by next Monday (Jan. 16) to be reviewed by staff for inclusion in the final draft.

“It continues to be important to strike a balance between the importance of parking and the environment while maintaining shared parking opportunities,” the county says.

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