Thursday, Apr 25, 2024

Important Update to Arlington County Parking Regulations

On Saturday, April 20, The Arlington County Board approved amendments to the Zoning Ordinance intended to improve and recodify certain parking provisions of the Zoning Ordinance. These include amendments to § 14.3.7.A, for the removal of existing parking requirements for athletic and health clubs and § 14.3.3.F, to allow compact parking spaces for hospitals, hospital-related medical and health care facilities, medical office, retail sales, service uses, and guest/visitor parking. The Planning Commission public hearing for this Zoning Ordinance Amendment was held on April 10, 2024, where it voted to move for approval, amendment and recodification of the parking provisions mentioned above, with a motion of 9-0. 

The proposed amendments are part of the Commercial Market Resiliency Initiative (CMRI) 2.0, which allows the County to respond to shifts in the economy, market innovations and business practices. The proposed changes offered could have a significant impact on businesses as parking requirements for certain uses become less stringent and demanding. Community outreach for this proposal included two meetings with the Transportation Commission and a single meeting with the Zoning Ordinance Committee, both of which expressed support for the proposed changes.  

Looking closer at the specific changes being made, we can see how current regulations create barriers for businesses by making it difficult to meet parking minimums and fill vacant space. Athletic and health clubs currently are required to provide one parking space per 50 SF of gross floor area (GFA). This standard does not reflect current transportation needs or modern land use practices. With the proposed amendment athletic and health clubs would have to meet the same requirements as general commercial uses, which require one space per 250 SF of GFA. This amendment would also be similar to the requirements of adjoining jurisdictions such as Alexandria, which requires one space per 400 SF or Fairfax County, which requires four spaces per 1,000 SF (equates to one space per 250 SF). 

Another barrier to be amended is the removal of prohibitions on compact car spaces. Currently the Zoning Ordinance does not allow compact car spaces for medical and healthcare facilities, medical offices, retail and service uses, as well as required guest and visitor parking. Although this amendment does not revise the permitted maximum of 15 percent for compact car spaces within a parking area, it does allow for certain land uses to begin utilizing compact car spaces to meet minimum parking requirements.  Uses requiring site plan approval may also request modification of this provision with Board approval of a new site plan or site plan amendment and include a greater percentage of compact spaces.