By: Donna Jacobson
LESSONS LEARNED FROM PARKING REIMAGINED
I served for approximately a year and a half on the Fairfax County Parking Reimagined Working Group, whose members were appointed by district supervisors. As a result of my experience, I believe that many in Fairfax County government seem oblivious to residents’ concerns. They give the impression that residents need to be “dealt with” as opposed to being represented and protected.
Of course, Fairfax County needs to continue to evolve and grow; however, Fairfax County government needs to do this by working with residents.
Fairfax County residents should think about what they want from their government and elected officials. We need leaders who want to represent residents and will instruct county staff to respect their needs.
In this election year, please pay close attention to the candidates running and vote for the ones who will value your needs and opinions, versus those who believe in streamlining county processes to eliminate residents’ voices.
The Parking Reimagined amendment to the Zoning Ordinance was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on September 26th.
Both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors had made some changes to the proposed amendment, which thankfully resulted in fewer parking reductions for multifamily housing. The Director of Land Development Services was given less authority to make administrative adjustments to parking requirements, than what was originally proposed.
The board adopted two follow-on motions to the amendment. One requires county staff to monitor data related to the adopted changes in parking requirements to assess their effect. The other calls for staff to establish a readily accessible link to a webpage, which would permit the public to sign up for an electronic listserv and be notified when a request is made for a parking adjustment.
The parking amendment is more resident-friendly because of these changes. We all owe a debt of gratitude to all the community organizations that spent a significant amount of time analyzing the amendment, informing their members, and communicating with county staff, planning commissioners, and supervisors about their concerns.
However, as one of the members of the Parking Reimagined work group, I am concerned about the significant amount of time and resident feedback that was needed to get county officials and staff to consider how the parking amendment would affect residents.
Many unanswered questions remain regarding the responsibility of Fairfax County government to its residents.
Moving forward, is Fairfax County government going to be more receptive to resident feedback or are residents going to have to organize and strenuously work to have their concerns heard? Are community meetings going to be an exchange of ideas or remain a “marketing spiel”
for how the county wants to proceed? Are residents going to have to analyze future zoning amendments with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that they are reasonable?
These are some of the bigger questions that arose from my experience with Parking Reimagined and questions that I think all residents should be concerned about, especially as we head to the polls to elect our leaders.
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