County supervisors are considering a new ordinance that for the first time would allow on-street parking meters.
Although parking meters are a familiar sight in Leesburg, currently the county government has no ordinance permitting metered parking on public streets outside of towns and private streets. Supervisors are considering changing the rules specifically for on-street parking near the future Ashburn metro station near the Loudoun Station development.
According to a county staff report, when that station opens, there are expected to be nearly 300 on-street parking spaces on the south side of the station, opposite Loudoun Station. The businesses that county leaders hope will be attracted to areas around Metro stops will not be there yet, and without regulation or businesses using those spots, county officials expect Metro riders will use the free street-side parking rather than paying to use the county-owned garage.
No rates have yet been suggested for those spaces; the county report suggests waiting until the rates have been set for the parking garages near the station. County leaders hope metering the street-side parking will collect parking revenue when Metro riders don’t park in the garage, and eventually chase Metro riders into the paid garages as businesses pop up that need those parking spaces. Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) called it an “important tool” for the county’s investment in that garage.
Since businesses have not yet moved into that area, Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure Director Joe Kroboth suggested a transition plan as those businesses begin showing up.
“I would suggest that we start out with a long-term fee, and as businesses start and residents begin to occupy those spaces, we would transition that down to more 15-minute, one-hour, two-hour intervals to be able to allow that transient use into and out of those businesses,” Kroboth told the board’s finance committee Oct. 8.
County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said there had been comparisons to Reston Town Center, which saw a dip in business after it began charging for parking. She said that was different.
“The Reston Town Center did not charge for parking for years, and then they all of a sudden implemented the parking,” Randall said. “So if you go for 30 years and not charge parking, and then one day there’s these parking garages that there’s both a charge, but also fairly convoluted and complicated to use, I’m not surprised at all that there was some business that was lost.”
The parking meters would also come with $50 civil fines for parking in restricted zones or for destroying meter equipment, and $40 for all other violations, such as parking without paying the meter.
Although parking meters are currently only proposed on the south side of the Ashburn Metro station, adopting the ordinance would allow the county government to use parking meters countywide.
Supervisors on the finance committee recommended the full Board of Supervisors hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance.