Arlington County Board Approves Revised Parking Requirements for Schools, Public Community and Recreational Facilities

  • Board's action reduces required parking for elementary, middle schools
  • Flexibility for Board in considering parking needs for elementary and middle schools and public community & recreation facilities
  • Transportation Demand Management plans to be required

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today adopted revisions to the Zoning Ordinance to reduce parking requirements for elementary and middle schools, and to allow the County Board to modify parking requirements for all new public and private schools and public and private noncommercial recreational facilities.

“With APS expanding some facilities and adding new ones to keep up with growing enrollment, we needed to come up with a new approach to parking for our schools and public facilities,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada. “The changes the Board is making in the Zoning Ordinance will ensure that our schools provide for adequate, but not excessive, parking and have plans in place to reduce parking demand.”

All schools, publicly-operated facilities must submit TDM plan

The County Board voted 4 to 0 to amend, reenact and re-codify the Zoning Ordinance to revise parking standards; permit County Board modification of the required number of parking spaces; and require all schools and publicly-owned and publicly-operated facilities to submit a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan.

The TDM plan helps to ensure that these types of sites do not build excessive parking and that the use of shared parking and strategies to reduce demand for parking are explored.

Revisions will reduce required spaces

The revisions will reduce the number of required spaces for schools and permit the County Board to make modifications to locate a portion of the spaces off-site, reduce the parking ratio, and/or approve other alternatives to reduce parking requirements. Schools will be required to submit a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan with a Use Permit application.

For community and recreational facilities, the Zoning Administrator will continue to make the determination for the number of required parking spaces based on applying parking ratios for similar uses, as currently provided in the Zoning Ordinance. The County Board will have the authority to reduce the number of required spaces and/or approve alternative strategies, as is provided for schools.

County staff did extensive research into parking standards for these types of sites, including examining neighboring cities and counties and analyzing parking standards nationwide.

Community outreach

The draft amendment was reviewed by the Zoning Committee of the Planning Commission through the regular process of reviewing proposed Zoning Ordinance amendments. Multiple scenarios were presented to the Committee in response to feedback. The draft amendment was also heard as an information item by the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Urban Forestry Commission, and as an action item by the Transportation Commission and the full Planning Commission.

On January 22, 2013, the County held an informational open house for public review of the proposed amendment.

For more information, visit the project webpage.

To learn more about this planned project, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item 18 on the County Board Agenda to read the staff report.


Arlington County is in the planning stages for several public facilities identified as part of the recently approved 2013-22 Capital Improvements Program (CIP), which included funding to accommodate 1,875 new elementary school students and five school expansion projects, as well as development of an aquatics facility.

During the public review processes held by the Public Facilities Review Committee (PFRC) for the addition to Ashlawn Elementary School, a new elementary school at the Williamsburg Middle School campus, and the planned aquatics facility at Long Bridge Park, it was identified that applying the existing Zoning Ordinance parking requirements would result in an excessive amount of parking not based on actual demand and not in keeping with current County policy. At that time, the County Manager directed staff to study the current parking requirements and recommend changes to the Zoning Ordinance, as warranted.

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.