News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Paidparkingpocalypse Soon, Or Maybe Never: Why A Protest March Could Hit a Roadblock at RTC


As Reston Town Center merchants continue to consider legal options to address the excessively convenient and inexpensive paid parking now in place in Reston's gritty urban core, they're getting a lot of attention. Watch some Action McNews teevee coverage, which includes this statement from the crisis managers:

BP statement


Now a Facebook group called Park Free RTC is planning a protest march on March 4, which apparently involves 1) Vapiano's, that noted symbol of the Resistance, and 2) wrist bands.

It sounds nice, but here's the problem: RTC is private property, and as such, the same property rights that allow them to chase away photographers (and the homeless) mean they really have no obligation to allow anyone to protest anything. It's all a bit muddled, but while we may think of it as our fake downtown, Fountain Square is no more a public place than the coin-encrusted fountains in the middle of what the old-timers used to call "shopping malls." You're more than welcome to spend money there, but don't think about raising a ruckus.

As more and more of what we think of as public space has been privatized -- in Reston and elsewhere -- this has become a real problem, and all the woonerf in the world won't fix it.

But on the other hand, it allows us to make fun of urbanphobic Ashburn residents like this:

Stressful RTC

Come to think of it, "stressful city-like shopping center" isn't a bad description of RTC at all, the end.


  1. I love your sense of humor. Always laugh at Trump's drawing. BUT I hope the parking fiasco at the "Centre-ville de Reston" ends soon. I need running shoes!

    1. New Balance at Mosaic has yer back. Oh and free garage parking too. :)

  2. This is some seriously wasted rage, for exactly the reasons highlighted. It's private property. Don't like it, your choices are STFU or GTFO. Of course the business owners have a legitimate beef that things have been changed so rapidly and they've lost so much foot traffic -- and they may well have a legitimate civil case, depending on what their lease contracts contain etc.

    If Boston properties prefers to see larger national names in the retail space, or higher-end retail to filter out The Poors that can't spend $2 for parking... well, it's not like this is the only property BP has. I assume they have made a rational calculation to maximize the value to the commercial tenants and to people that are buying or renting apartments in RTC.

    I care about my own pleasant lifestyle, and property values, and as long as there are still business that attract people (and hence keep property values high), I'm not too concerned about the notion of controlling traffic and cars. Uber, self driving vehicles, etc., are all likely to reduce vehicle ownership in the future so it seems like rational planning, and I'm happy enough to be able to easily find parking if I do drive over there. Wasting less space on parking is ultimately a good thing, as long as traffic flows quickly and efficiently.

    As a token gesture which would have some practical value, maybe Boston Properties could help fund Capital Bikeshare expansion more in Reston. More stands (maybe at Fairway tennis courts, or Lake Anne plaza for example) might help reduce the need to drive and park at least for people that live pretty close by, and increase the utilization of the other nearby stands in Reston.

    If BP's decisions do result in small retail decamping from RTC, I'd love to see a couple more business, especially the bike or running store, move to Lake Anne. That'd be awesome organic growth which would fit well with the area. The coffee shop / wine bar, brewery, and existing restaurants are all really great right now, but there needs to be more diversity of retail at LA.

    In short, I am a suburban, car-loving lard-butt, and even I don't really think this is a bad thing. Meh. There are bigger things going on now.

  3. Paul "Dirty Harry" BlartFebruary 7, 2017 at 8:23 PM

    Boston Properties' ace security guard Paul Blart confronts a parking scofflaw at Reston Town Center:

    "I know what you're thinking. 'Did I pay for three hours of parking or only two?' Well to tell you the truth in all this paid parking excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is an RTC parking app, the most powerful parking app in the world and would blow your smart phone clean off, you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?

    1. Excellent "snarkism"! It's that dang ap -- I think of people who aren't tech savy or don't have smart phones. Discriminatory. I was really PO'd that a nice quiet evening dinner at Clyde's turned into my BP escalating over installing that parking ap on my phone. I refuse.

      It'd not your normal parking situation either -- why not a ticket like the old days?

      And it seems really stupid when other shopping areas have free parking.

  4. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonFebruary 7, 2017 at 8:43 PM

    Interesting that 25 of the 30 most recent reviews of Reston Town Center on Trip Advisor give a thumbs down to RTC because of paid parking.

    That's REALLY a way to attract potential customers. Way to go, Boston Properties!

  5. Per the BS from BP about paid parking not having any impact on RTC merchants (as reported in Reston Now today):

    Just came back from visiting a friend who lives across the street from RTC at Stratford Place. She told me that on a recent weekday evening visit to Big Bowl, her waiter told her that instead of the normal 200 customers per night Big Bowl used to get, it was now more like 50. And that evening six waiters had been sent home since business was so slow.

    A couple of weekdays later she went with a friend to Bow Tie Cinema for an evening screening of "La La Land",and she counted exactly two other people in the theater.

    So yeah, Rob Weinhold and Kathy Walsh, that paid parking is working out just swell for all the business at RTC.


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