Arlington County mulls plan to extend parking meter operating hours

WASHINGTON — Parking experts in Arlington County, Virginia, say extending parking meter operations by two hours in the evening will free up parking spaces. But some business owners and residents have their doubts.

“We are proposing to extend the meter hours. Presently they’re from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., we’re proposing extending the hours of operation to 8 p.m.,” says Michael Connor, Parking Manager for Arlington County. There are 5,400 parking meters in Arlington County.

Currently, meters remain operational until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday in Alexandria, and until 10 p.m. in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“We do know that many, many folks that frequent the District use Arlington streets for (vehicle) storage,” Connor said Wednesday night at a public meeting.

But his pitch to extend the hours of meter operation was met with some skepticism.

“Extending the hours to 8 p.m. would do more harm than good,” says Karen Orlando, owner of Mexicali Blues Restaurant and Bar on Wilson Boulevard. “Once you have a customer sitting at your bar, in your restaurant, you want them to relax and you want them to stay, you don’t want them to feel like they got to feed the meter.”

Residents, too, wonder about the wisdom of expanding meter hours, in an area where some residents rely on curbside parking.

“They’re not going to be happy if they get home at 6 o’clock and find they have to pay for two hour’s worth of parking so they can go into their house,” says Dennis Gerrity, an Arlington resident.

But parking managers say extending metering hours will help the county manage the resource of curbside parking. They say their goal is not to boost revenue, but to rapidly turn over parking spaces to make more parking available. They’ll present their recommendation to the county board on Oct. 17.

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Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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