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My schedule lately has me at the Starbucks in McLean, AKA the Starbucks of the world bank, the 0.1%, and the CIA.  The clientele at this place is clearly from the wealthy part of the wealthiest county in Panem.

Parking there is a mess.

The Starbucks is in a clumsy building repurposed and renovated as a coffee shop, next to a Seven-Eleven.  There are three parking spaces on one edge of the parking lot, seven spaces facing the road, and three more next to the store.  Two of those are handicapped spaces, per the ADA.  During the school year, this lot is entirely and reliably full al, of the time.

Consequently, luxury cars are parked in all the adjacent lots when those businesses are not even open.  There’s room for four in the informal parking spaces along the curb.  But then the fire station gets its ten spaces filled, disregarding the stern sign about towing unless you have official fire station business.  The strip mall behind the Starbucks even gets cars, two or three.  No real skin off their NOSE, that early in the morning, hours before anything is open in the mall.  I’m sure the mall has a policy about employees or customers parking in their lot.  This costs at least $2,000 a space for construction and real estate, but probably more in tony McLean.  No  one is around to enforce the neighbor’s parking rules in the morning, so cars, trucks and SUVs disperse all around the Starbucks.

The mornings I’ve been there, about half of the cars are parked “illegally” in adjacent lots.   But no one’s enforcing it because the adjacent lots don’t need the space at that time of day.  I’ve only been there in the morning, so I can’t judge how things are when those businesses do open up.  I can guess by the nature of the signs that there have been conflicts.

McLean jus a warren of roads and parking.  Fairfax county sees it as a paragon of antique urbanism because they have an enforced height limit of under four stories.  It is a hot mess in terms of roads, circulation and parking.  A warren of arterials, circulators, access roads, circulator lanes and alleys connects one parking lot to another in a continuous scrim of concrete only broken by the roofs of buildings.  I won’t even mention the bikers and walkers, because they are an afterthought.  Walking in the confines of a shopping mall or on a residential street is pleasant enough.  Most of downtown forms human-scaled superblocks that make it clear walkers should be driving, but a walker could get places if they try.  At least there are lots of stores to visit, and they aren’t far apart in a traffic scale.  The street trees are sparse and the sidewalks implied in most of downtown McLean.

One thing I haven’t tried or observed is parking in the grocery store right behind the fire station.  There must be over a hundred spaces there, and there probably hasn’t been enough of a capacity crisis to hire bulls to enforce patronage at the store.  I’ll have to go over at lunch sometime to see how things are working out.


Just look at that.  Its like paradise for the weary car.

Thursday night or Friday morning, I’m going to post something 1776 themed.