Visitors to the Reston Town Center, in Reston, Virginia, are complaining that parking fees are too high, but they could face the Barnacle if they run up too many unpaid parking violations.
The Barnacle, also known as the Bumble Bee, is an immobilization device that attached to the windshield of a vehicle with suction cups, preventing the driver from leaving the scene. If a car gets a Barnacle on it, the driver will have to call security and pay a fine for the device to be removed.
Rob Weinhold, with the Fallston Group, said, "It is a means of last resort for the most egregious habitual violators" and has not been used at the location yet.
On Jan. 3, the Reston Town Center began charging for parking 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Garage parking is $2 for the first hour, increasing incrementally as time progresses, up to 24 hours. Street parking is $3 per hour for the 2 hour maximum.
Garage parking on weekends (from 12:00 a.m. Saturday through 12:00 a.m. Monday) is free, as are major holidays and premier events at the town center. Street parking is free on Sundays.
Some visitors to the complex said the pricing is too high. Stores and restaurants said paid parking is hurting their business.
“I'm actually going to a bible study, and I don't particularly want to pay $4 to go to an hour bible study,” said Karen Dorbayan, a Reston Town Center visitor.
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Stores and restaurants said paid parking is hurting their business. Some offer to subsidize parking for visitors.
“The traffic has been way down,” said Aaron Mervis, a partner with Big Bowl restaurant. “People are upset, and they are boycotting the center as a whole.”
Many workers at the complex have to pay for their own parking.
“That could be really high for someone who gets a basic wage,” said Charan Puladas, a visitor at the Reston Town Center.
Some businesses subsidizes parking.
"Because I'm here and an employee, no impact," Rebecca Holderness, with the Reston Town Center. When asked about whether her clients pay for parking, she said, "We would give them a code."
A spokesman said the ParkRTC app has been downloaded more than 55,000 times, and 95 percent of people use technology to pay. Some visitors would rather use meters than their smartphones.
“It's not easy. Why can't they just put a meter in there like everyone else does?” said Al Jablonski, a visitor to the Reston Town Center. “It is the only place in the county where it's done like this that I know of.”
A spokesman said once Metro opens in the area, they didn't want Reston Town Center to become a free commuter parking lot.