Annandale residents want students' cars off their street

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Taylor Holland

A group of Annandale residents charge that Northern Virginia Community College students who park along their neighborhood streets are creating dangerous conditions and should be banned from parking off campus.

The students not only occupy virtually every parking space along Wakefield Chapel Road and its side streets, but create additional hazards by walking in the road, the residents said.

The Fairfax County neighborhood launched an online petition that not only urges the school to change its parking policies but calls on Virginia lawmakers to get involved.

"I am greatly concerned about the dangerous, unsafe road conditions that have developed as a direct result of certain policies of the Annandale Campus of the Northern Virginia Community College," the petition reads. "These policies also detract from the quality of life of our residential area."

Mike Perel, who lives about a mile from the college, said students are flocking to the area every morning not because there isn't any parking on campus but because the school charges nearly $100 a semester to park there. On-street parking is free.

The community hopes the petition will let the school officials, who "maybe aren't as aware as they should be" of the problems, know that students are blocking driveways and putting the safety of themselves and the residents at risk, Perel said.

State Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Burke, said there have been talks between lawmakers and residents about how to alleviate the traffic and parking problem, but that it was a "very complicated situation."

"There are so many problems and so many potential solutions here," Marsden said. "The students say they are having a hard time getting on and off campus and have to park on the street ... which then makes it really hard on the citizens."

Marsden said a wide range of solutions -- from spreading out class times, building a new parking garage and creating mandatory parking fees -- are under consideration by school and state lawmakers to solve the problem.

Another possible answer is to create a residential parking district, under which residents would get stickers for their cars that allow them to park on the street, said Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook, R-Braddock. Students without the sticker could then be ticketed by police.

But the parking district couldn't be created unless at least 60 percent of residents sign the online petition, Cook said, which would then show that "this is what the community wants."

School officials could not be reached for comment.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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