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Monday, March 2, 2015

Gross considering having all of Mason covered by a Community Parking District

Boats like this one on Terrace Drive in Annandale would be banned in a Community Parking District.

Mason Supervisor Penny Gross plans to decide by this summer whether to go forward with a proposal to create a Community Parking District (CPD) to cover the entire Mason District.

Within a CPD, boats, motor homes, campers, trailers, vehicles with three or more axles, 12,000 pounds or more, or holding 16 more passengers could not be parked on residential streets.

Gross told community homeowner association officers at a civic leadership session Feb. 28 that so far she’s gotten about 40 emails from people who want a CPD and only a couple from people opposed to the idea.

Some people misinterpreted the concept, thinking that a parking lot would be created for RVs and boats, Gross said. That’s not correct; owners of the vehicles would be responsible for parking them in a driveway or putting them in storage.
Fairfax County adopted more restrictive parking rules in 2009, said Maria Turner of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT). Vehicles more than 21 feet long, more than eight feet high (including ladders) and vehicles with three or more axles are banned in residential areas. But boats, RVs, and single-axle trailers are allowed.

Mount Vernon was the first district to create a districtwide CPD. The Lee District followed, and Springfield and Hunter Mill have large CPDs. There are smaller CPDs all over the county but only two in Mason District: along Pine Vista Drive in the Pinecrest community and along a section of Old Columbia Pike between Little River Turnpike and Elmdale, which Gross says was “becoming a storage lot.” 

A community association or HOA can request the creation of a CPD. That requires a petition showing at least 60 percent of residents of the area and at least 50 percent of the residents of each block support the CPD and a $10 fee for each petitioning address. The Board of Supervisors would hold a hearing, and if the CPD is approved, FCDOT would install signs.

Establishment of a districtwide CPD doesn’t require a petition or fees. If Gross goes ahead with the  proposal, there would be a public hearing, and if approved by the BoS, there would be an effort to educate the public about the rule changes.

During the first 30 days, the police would give warnings, not tickets. After that, vehicles parked illegally would get a warning notice, and after two days, could be towed.

Officer Bob Otten, supervisor of the traffic enforcement department at the Fairfax County Police Department, said when the first large CPDs were created, the police thought owners of boats and RVs would move them to another street outside the CPD boundaries. But that didn’t happen. 

Within communities controlled by an HOA, there are usually more restrictive parking bans, so residents often move boats and RVs to nearby public streets. That would no longer be allowed if the whole area is a CPD.

People are allowed to park vehicles on other streets if they are within easy walking distance but there is no hard and fast rule on how far that should be, Otten said.

Parking has become more of an issue in recent years, said Gross, because households have more cars. Also more businesses are requiring employees to take company vehicles home at night.

A member of the audience complained about a stretch of Ravensworth Drive – between Little River Turnpike and Jayhawk Street in Annandale – where large commercial trucks regularly park. That particular part of Ravensworth is zoned commercial, so truck parking is allowed, Gross said.

Otten reviewed some parking rules:
  • Under state law, an unattended vehicle can’t be parked in the same spot for more than 10 days.
  • If the police come across an unregistered vehicle near a home, they put a notice on it asking the owner to put the correct tags on it and call the police. If there is no response, the police will tow the vehicle.
  • You can’t put cones in front of your house to prevent people from parking there.
  •  Residents are allowed to keep up to two taxis or limos with Virginia licenses – one in the driveway and one in the street, as long as there is other parking available on the street.  
  •   Public service vehicles, such as a Dominion or tree-trimming vehicles, are allowed to park in a CPD while work is being done. Plumbers or other workers can park in front of a house while doing repairs.
  • You can’t park within 10 feet of a driveway, 15 feet of a fire hydrant, 20 feet of an intersection, 20 feet of a crosswalk, 30 feet of a stop sign, 60 feet on the approach side of a bus stop, and 10 feet on the departure side of a bus stop.


  1. That stretch of Ravensworth Drive mentioned in the article is unbelievably dangerous with zero visibility. That no one has died or been critically injured is miraculous. Try crossing it on foot to catch a bus. I dare you.

  2. Finally, this is what the constituents want and it needs to be put into effect immediately.

    Return the boats, trailers and large commercial vehicles to sender. Sorry folks but we are not an extension of home depot's parking lot, although I would agree there are times when Mason looks and feel likes it.

  3. If the CPD is going to be bold enough to somehow kneecap the HOAs and put an end to the idea of "we will decide what vehicles are acceptable in your driveway", then the CPD idea would be the best idea to come out of Gross's office in some time. If the CPD is enacted WITHOUT suitable amendments to local HOA codes, though, then Gross's office begins to play with some ugly repercussions. Is the county prepared to say that anyone who owns an RV automatically needs to shell out the cash to privately garage it? Is the county prepared to brand compact white vans as "prohibited commercial vehicles" and screw up the lives of everyone who drives them to work?

    The CPD will have my support if it is aimed narrowly at large commercial trucks and all trailers.

    1. Anonymous Mason District Resident3/2/15, 3:29 PM

      People who park their boats, trailers, RVs, etc. in residential neighborhoods other than their own are absolutely reprehensible, regardless of what their HOA says about driveway or street parking.

  4. Anonymous Mason District Resident3/2/15, 12:26 PM

    I'd support this. If other districts can be CPDs - why not us? Penny Gross passing this would show real promise in the area of not making Mason a dumping ground for everything that other Fairfax County districts don't want.

    But, we already have hundreds of quality-of-life related laws on the books that are just not enforced, and I'm tired of being told that everything is solely complaint-based. Is parking enforcement in DC complaint based? How about Arlington? NO for both. They have proactive forces that do the jobs that they are given taxpayer money to do.

    How about reducing the 10 day street parking rule to something more reasonable, like 5-7 days, and then add an addendum saying that you must move your car 1/2 mile away after that period is up, or risk getting a ticket? Other cities, like Baltimore, and counties have similar laws. Otherwise, people just move their car a few spots down the street and call it good.

    This is related to overcrowding, and this how to deal with overcrowding. Enforce parking laws, and other tertiary effects of overcrowding, and the landscape will change.

  5. Is that boat hitched to a Focus? holy crap!

    1. No dude....The Focus is hitched to a boat. Its an aquatic trim-level.

  6. The big problems are group homes with excessive numbers of cars and fleets of ladder vans belonging to people who run businesses from their homes. A CPD won't affect any of that. It's purely cosmetic and, in the long run, won't be worth the time and expense.

  7. My experience has been very positive with calling in parking violations. As long as they are not chasing real bad guys, come out promptly, assess the situation, and come by and tell me what is a violation or not. In some cases, the police will speak with the potential violators and actually solve the problem.

    The key to the equation is that you have to be engaged in your community - the police have many priorities and parking violations are low on the list. If you have an issue, call the non-emergency number: 703-692-2131.

    (They'll also come out and talk to people who have obnoxious barking dogs!)

  8. I've had two boats parked in front of my house for almost eight weeks. No idea who owns them. Certainly none of my neighbors. Finally, after numerous complaints to the County to enforce the Ordinance, one was towed away by the Police last week. However, I was told the other cannot be towed away because it was being "tended to" under the existing Fairfax County ordinance. The Police say the ordinance is ambiguous so they interpret "tended to" to mean that someone came and took the "tow tag" off the boat and moved it about 6 inches. The Police said that therefore they couldn't do anything about the boat and I am stuck with it. Obviously someone knows how to "game" the system. The officer, who was very accommodating said their hands were tied and he wished there was a CPD in Mason District. Hopefully, we'll get one this summer. Not only an eyesore and a nuisence, but dangerous as it hinders entry and exit from my driveway.

    1. Hitch that puppy up and drop it off at a location less forgiving about towing enforcement. ;-)

    2. Put it on twitter and ask ISIS to blow it up, I am certain they will find a volunteer in the hood.

    3. Throw a raging kegger in it every weekend. Do not provide trash cans.

    4. Put a note inside a zip lock bag on the trailer hitch. If it's mine I'll move it asap. My boat is part of my employment and I don't want to piss off anyone. I've already had one street parked boat destroyed by a drunk driver and most recently my cover slashed by vandals. I tend to my boat regularly and will move it if needed. If someone offers to store it near them I'll take them out often.

    5. Why would you park your boat in front of someone else's house?

    6. I live at Pinecrest. I parked by TJ but that road is now FCPS only. I parked on Old Col Pike but that is now no boat trailers. I parked on one street and was vandalized. Another location and my car was vandalized when parked with boat because of the boat. There are not a whole lot of places I can legally park and some of the places I feel safe to park my boat are unfortunately near residences. Trust me it's not my choice, the houses just happen to be near the safe locations - no curves no hills no blind spots. I'd love to park in that empty lot at Kmart where Shell keeps their beaters or anywhere else. My options are limited.

    7. You can put it in a self service storage lot for less than $50 a month. If you put it in Prince William you can claim it's principally garaged there and don't have to pay personal property taxes. Try Holly Acres on Minniefield Road. They store about 300 boats and RV's. Used them myself in the past with no problems.

    8. Rob Snowhite, not to be rude, but can you not see why people may not want a boat parked in front of their house?

      I am not sure if this is an option but can you not park it on your own property? Build a driveway and possibly a shed to store it?

      I guess I am unsympathetic since this is something you purchased and I do not see as a fair burden for other people?

      I like that you take responsibility and find that admirable. You seem like an honest guy but this would infuriate me if someone parked a boat in front of my house. :(

      I have seen streets that have been taken over by semi trucks and boats and campers before. Luckily that was on a street with no houses so I thought it was nice that people had a place to park. If that happened to the street on which I lived I would not think highly of this practice. :(

      Good luck though Rob. Nothing personal.

    9. If you can afford a boat then you should be able to be able to afford to store it. If not pitch it or some angry neighbor or vandal may ditch it. It is that simple!

    10. I can see why it would be annoying as hell to have a boat parked in front of my house for 10 days, but if the practice is allowable, your anger towards the owner is misguided. Furthermore, threatening to damage his property because you don't like something that is in compliance with the law just makes you seem like a real cool guy.

    11. Pray tell sir, how do you know the person who threatened to do damage to the boat is the same person who wrote the initial post? It you who are misguided; your obviously lacking in reading comprehension. Also, if you read the original post, the boat has been parked there for almost 8 weeks, not ten days. However, if you will give me your address, I will tell the owner where you live so that he can move his boat as you are "cool" enough to allow him to park his boat in front of your house for as long as he likes. I'm sure he'll appreciate that. I don't. Guess I'm not a "cool" as you are.

    12. Adam you are usually smart with your rebuttals, but your response to 12:49 pm was pretty lame to insinuate the commentator was the violator.

      I interpret the commentary differently in that: if you do things that are rude and offensive with your JUNK, and if the law does not protect the folks being violated it simply invites trouble. That is why the law needs to be changed so that consequences are not commuted by vigilantes.

      Common courtesy and effectively enforced laws by the County would mitigate much of these problems.

      Clearly we have niether in Mason and I am glad that Supervisor Gross is pushing forward with this initiative.

  9. election year!

  10. "Under state law, an unattended vehicle can’t be parked in the same spot for more than 10 days. "

    The car parked in front of my house 5 days when I called for report and this car can park there in 10 days more before moving .
    The parking rules should change

  11. If someone parked a boat in front of my house, I would call "my little buddy Gilligan" and have him take it for a three-hour tour. Or more. Much more.

  12. Boat has been moved down the street.