Do Proposed RPP Changes Make It Illegal?
At the Feb 15 Open Door Monday session hosted by County Board Member Libby Garvey, one of the participants (who is a lawyer) raised a potential legal problem if the County makes the proposed changes to the Residential Permit Parking Program (RPP).
The proposed changes declare the current RPP preamble, “Purpose and Intent,” to be “secondary” and seek to substitute a different primary purpose: to “manage parking demand.”
The RPP program’s current intent language refers to issues like litter, air pollution, and improvements in air quality, reducing congestion and/or hazardous traffic conditions in the neighborhood, increasing the use of public mass transit. However, these are secondary benefits of the RPP program.
The Virginia Supreme Court held that the ordinance violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, this was reversed by the United States Supreme Court citing its “social and environmental” objectives.
The United States Supreme Court quoted the preamble, “Intent and Purpose” at length in explaining its decision to uphold the RPP. Replacing the RPP’s preamble should be viewed as a legislative “third rail.” Arlington County Board v. Richards(1977)
The Supreme Court decision made the current RPP a national model for neighborhood conservation. Sadly County staff seek to go in a different direction as step by step Arlington moves away from being a model for the nation.