For more than twenty years business owners, residents, and visitors have expressed frustration with the parking situation in Occoquan’s historic and business districts and urged the Town government to take action to remedy the situation. Complaints have centered on two primary issues: (1) the lack of sufficient parking inventory for both the actual and desired level of commercial and recreational activity in Occoquan, and (2) non-resident vehicles being unnecessarily parked during business hours on the street in front of businesses or residences. The latter include vehicles that belong to non-resident commuters who park on Town streets or in Town lots and then join others commuting elsewhere.
In November 2017 the Town received the results of a parking study it had commissioned. The study contained a variety of recommendations regarding how to address the long-term parking issues associated with the Town’s historic and business districts. Since that time frustration about parking has continued. Soon after the receipt of the study the Occoquan Planning Commission began analyzing the report and studying the changing commercial, residential, and traffic patterns in Town. After more than two years of work, the Planning Commission recommended and the Town Council has been pursuing a three-part parking management initiative.
Elements of the Town’s Parking Management Initiative
The Town’s parking management initiative contains three elements, variously designed to encourage more efficient use of existing parking and to increase the available supply of parking. These three elements are (1) free, timed parking in the historic and business districts, (2) the construction of a parking facility, and (3) the use of underused private property for paid parking.
Element 1: Free, Timed Parking
The first element – free, timed parking – is designed to encourage longer-term users of daily parking to park in designated lots so that street parking in front of businesses is more conveniently available for those residents and visitors who are patronizing shops, restaurants, and other businesses. It is expected that this will generate additional patronage of Town businesses while also making it easier for historic district residents who do not have off-street parking (and will be exempted from the time limits) to find parking. Learn about the Town’s Timed Parking District.
Element 2: Parking Facilities
The second element – the construction of a parking facility – has long been a desired objective. A parking facility would increase the inventory of available parking to everyone’s benefit. Although the Town has formally studied the concept multiple times over the past two decades, it has generally been deemed beyond the Town’s financial capabilities, requiring not just construction, but the acquisition of appropriate additional real estate. In response, it is the Town’s preference that redevelopment of existing areas in Town include increases in public parking capacity through the construction of parking facilities.
Element 3: Private Parking Opportunities
The third element – the use of private property for paid parking – is an example of public-private partnerships the Town is willing to pursue to help address the Town’s parking challenges. In short, the Town plans to negotiate with private party owners to implement app-based, paid parking on the latter’s property. Town staff would arrange the app-based program with revenues flowing to the property owner. Recognizing that such property owners are typically not on site, the Town would handle enforcement in return for receiving enforcement revenue.
Together, the Town believes that these three elements, which both increase the efficient use of existing parking and increase the overall stock of parking, will effectively address the parking issues that have plagued the historic and business districts for more than a generation.