72-Hour Ordinance Review

Page updated on May 31, 2017 at 9:09 AM

What's New

At its May 13 public hearing, City Council approved a Code change providing residents with the option to apply for an exemption to the 72-hour rule. Residents who register their vehicles with the City and are approved for the exemption must park within 1/8 mile of their place of residence.  For reference, this is about two City blocks in Old Town. Residents' vehicles are still subject to any on-street parking restrictions. This means a resident who does not hold a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) decal would still be subject to existing restrictions within an RPP district. It also means that a resident who lives outside of an RPP district  would only be able to park in a location with no existing restriction signage.

Approved exemptions allow residents to park a vehicle on-street for up to two weeks, and can be provided to a vehicle a maximum of four times per year. To apply for a temporary exemption, please click here. Individuals who need assistance with the application are encouraged to call the Division of Transportation Planning at 703.746.4086. 

The exemption provision has a specific sunset date of November 1, 2019. After collecting two years' worth of data, staff will assess the value of the program and will analyze how well it is (or is not) meeting residents’ needs. At this time, staff may propose the continuation, amendment, or termination of the program. Potential changes will need to be approved by City Council, at which time residents will have a forum to provide input through a public hearing.


72 Hour Ordinance Review

In 2015, City Council directed staff to add a review of City Code Section 10-4-8 into its parking Work Plan. This section of City Code is known as the "72 hour rule". The 72-hour rule prohibits vehicles from parking within the public right of way for a period of more than 72 hours. The rule applies to everyone--even residents parking in front of their homes or residents with parking permit stickers. When the Alexandria Police Department receives complaints about violations, an officer is dispatched to respond to the situation. An officer returns three days later to check on the vehicle's status. If the vehicle in questions has moved, no action is taken. If the vehicle has not been moved, the officer issues a $25 citation and, when warranted, places notification on the car indicating that the vehicle will be impounded if it is not removed. 

Per Council direction, City staff initiated a review of the rule in December 2016. The process culminated in May of 2017 and resulted in an exemption pilot program. Through November 2019, residents needing to park on-street for longer than 72-hours may register their vehicles with the City. If approved, residents may park their vehicles on-street for no more than 14 days. Vehicles must be parked within 1/8 of a mile of one's place of residence (for reference, this is between 1.5 and 2 blocks in Old Town). To apply for a temporary exemption, please click here.


What did the review process include?

  1. review of enforcement data between 2010-2015
  2. a citywide AlexEngage questionnaire, which garnered 783 unique responses
  3. two subcommittee meetings of the City's Traffic and Parking Board
  4. a citywide open house
  5. a public hearing before the City's Traffic and Parking Board on the exemption proposal
  6. a public hearing before City Council on the exemption proposal

Background Information


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the existing rule as its used today?

The 72-hour rule is used to support parking turnover. Abandoned vehicle enforcement and removal is done through a separate process. For abandoned vehicles, the City has the authority to remove a vehicle after 48-hours of monitoring. This authority is granted to Alexandria by the state. Please see State Code §46.2-1200 and §46.2-1201.

Does the 72-hour rule apply to individuals with residential parking permits?

Per existing City Code language, the 72-hour rule applies to all vehicles--including vehicles registered in the City with residential parking permit stickers.

Does the rule apply only in areas where residents lack driveways or off-street parking?

Per existing City Code language, the 72-hour rule applies to all vehicles--including vehicles whose owners have no off-street parking.

Why did the City review the 72-hour rule?

The City reviewed the 72-hour rule per direction from City Council.

Why did Council direct staff to review the rule? What problems does Council want the review to address?

There are trade-offs associated with the rule as it exists today. On one hand, the rule supports parking turnover, but not necessarily space availability. On the other hand, the rule is not flexible and may impact residents who have on-street parking needs.

The rule supports parking turnover: The rule can be employed to encourage an individual to move his/her car from a particular space. For example, if a vehicle was parked directly in front of one's home for an extended period of time, the homeowner could report the vehicle to the Alexandria Police Department (APD) to help encourage the car to move, thereby opening the space up in front of the home. APD would send a parking enforcement officer to place a check-notice on the offending vehicle, which would warn the owner of a pending citation or vehicle impoundment. Roughly 83% of the time, vehicles with check-notices move prior to an officer's follow-up; however, vehicles are often found parking within the vicinity of the space that they had previously occupied. This suggests that the rule is indeed a tool for parking turnover, but isn't a tool to increase the availability of on-street parking as check-notices typically do no result in a net gain of available parking spaces.

The rule is not flexible: Many residents feel that the rule is too rigid. In particular, residents without dedicated off-street parking have expressed that they may have occasions in which they need to park on-street for an extended period of time. Such needs are often related to business travel, vacations, or temporary personal injury. Residents also have suggested that sometimes the rule is used as a tool in neighbor vs. neighbor conflicts.

Council directed City staff to review the rule to assess:

  1. whether or not the benefits to residents outweigh the costs to residents
  2. whether or not other solutions would be viable to balance the need for parking turnover with the need for flexibility

Council approved a pilot program, which allows exemptions to the 72-hour rule? What are the rules and how will this work?

On May 13, 2017, City Council approved a pilot program that allows residents to register their vehicles with the City. This exemption:

  • allows residents to park a vehicle on-street for up to two weeks
  • can be provided to a vehicle a maximum of four times per year

Residents who receive the exemption are still be subject to any on-street parking restrictions. This means a resident who does not hold a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) decal would still be subject to existing restrictions within an RPP district. It also means that a resident who lives outside of an RPP district  would only be able to park in a location with no existing restriction signage. Residents with an exemption need to park within 1/8 mile of their place of residence. For reference, this is about two City blocks in Old Town.

The exemption provision has a specific sunset date of November 1, 2019. After collecting two years' worth of data, staff will assess the value of the program and will analyze how well it is (or is not) meeting residents’ needs. At this time, staff may propose the continuation, amendment, or termination of the program. Potential changes will need to be approved by City Council, at which time residents will have a forum to provide input through a public hearing.

How will the exemption be administered?

The exemption will be administered through an online system managed by the City. Residents will fill out an online form noting their name, place of residence, vehicle plate, make, model, and duration of the requested exemption. To register for the exemption, click here.

 Why didn't the City simply repeal the rule altogether?

Based on public feedback compiled from an AlexEngage Questionnaire, a public open-house, subcommittee meetings of the Traffic and Parking Board, a Traffic and Parking Board hearing, email, and phone calls, some residents believe this rule is important to encourage turnover of spaces. Other residents counter that vehicles simply move to other spaces on the same block. It is important to note that while there may be no net gain in the number of available spaces after the placement of a check notice, there may be value in encouraging a vehicle to move from a particular space (i.e. it may be satisfactory to the property owner of the adjacent space).

Why didn't the City simply maintain the rule as-is?

Based on public feedback compiled from an AlexEngage Questionnaire, a public open-house, subcommittee meetings of the Traffic and Parking Board, a Traffic and Parking Board hearing, email, and phone calls, some residents feel that their vehicles have been targeted by neighbors. The introduction of an exemption pilot may provide these individuals with a moderate amount of relief. Additionally, this rule is frequently discussed. In 2004, the Traffic and Parking Board held a hearing on the rule; however, no action was taken. If no action is taken during this review, it is likely that staff will be requested to revisit this issue again in future years. The provision of a pilot allows staff the opportunity to test a potential solution. At the culmination of the pilot period, staff will assess the exemption to assess its value, as well as make any tweaks to better address residents’ needs.

Will the proposed exemptions change APD’s current enforcement procedures?

The proposed exemptions will not impact APD’s current enforcement practices, which are primarily report-driven. When APD receives a citizen report on a potential infraction of the 72-hour rule, they will simply reference the travel exemption database prior to placing a check notice on a vehicle.

What about privacy concerns related to data management?

Individuals will not be compelled to register their vehicles for an exemption. In other words, the City is not requiring residents to take advantage of this provision. Residents who have concerns related to sharing data via an online platform have a number of other options. They may choose to not pursue a permit and park on-street, accepting the risk associated with enforcement. They may also coordinate with neighbors on moving vehicles while away. Residents may alternatively seek off-street solutions, either in neighbor’s driveways, through the lease of an off-street commercial space, or in a parking garage such as the lots available at Reagan Airport. These options are beyond the purview of the City.

How will APD ensure that cars are parked within 1/8 mile of an individual’s place of residence?

When individuals call to report potential infractions and an exemption is noted in the system, APD’s parking enforcement team will reference the location of the vehicle against the exemption holder’s place of residence.

How will individuals who do not have access to the internet be accommodated?

Individuals who do not have access to the internet will be able to call parking enforcement or T&ES, who will input the data into the system for the resident.


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