(UPDATED) Some — but not all — of the parking lots at the Loudoun Station development in Ashburn now come with a price — and if you don’t pay up front — that price can be quite high indeed.
Here’s what we’ve learned — there is a surface parking lot next to the AMC movie theater and kitty corner from Señor Tequila’s that for many years has been free to park in. At some point — probably around the time the Metro opened — that was changed.
The new rules also apply to a larger lot next to the “District Park” — the small park across from Señor Tequilas. Signs have gone up at these lots saying you now have to pay to park there via an online app.
Problem is — some people have missed the signs whether because they weren’t expecting them or it was dark out.
Regardless, woe be to them. The parking enforcement team for Loudoun Station is now placing a Barnacle on the windshields of cars that haven’t paid to park in these lots.
If you’re not familiar with a Barnacle, it’s like a boot being placed on your tire, only for the windshield. It blocks the driver’s view and prevents them from moving the car.
People who return to their car from dinner or a movie or the nearby Metro and find the Barncle have to pay $275 via an online app. They are then reportedly sent a code that they punch into the Barnacle which releases it from the window.
We’re told they are then instructed to deposit the barnacle in a nearby receipticle, and if they do so, they will ultimately be refunded $200 of the fee — meaning the final cost is only $75.
That is unless the Barnacle damages your windshield. That’s what one driver reportedly had happen after the device was placed on their windshield.
“My sister from out of town parked in front of the movie theater and came out to find a barnacle parking device on her windshield. Worse yet, the damn thing broke her windshield,” Jennifer Vernon of Leesburg wrote on social media.
Now, Vernon’s sister is reportedly having to deal with her insurance company and get the windshield replaced before she can return home.
Here’s a photo from inside the car showing the cracked windshield and the Barnacle still attached. Vernon says they were only at Señor Tequila’s for an hour and returned to find the device on their vehicle.
There are sporadic signs by these paid lots warning of the Barnacle — but it’s possible drivers could miss them as well.
It’s important to note — the much larger parking lot — the one closer to Shellhorn Road and the core restaurants such as Burger 21, Famous Toastery, and Black Finn — is still free to park in, with a three-hour limit.
This is all likely trying to keep commuters departing on the Metro from parking in spots meant for shoppers and diners. Those parkers are expected to park in the multi-story parking ramps on either side of the Metro Station and the Greenway.
We’ve reached out to Loudoun Station to get more information on the decision to implement paid parking on the formerly free lot and the decision to employ a device like the Barnacle.
But in the meanwhile, consider this a public service announcement and warning to be pay close attention to the signs where you are parking.