Time to face facts: Fotomat is gone for good and just isn’t coming back. And the Arlington zoning ordinance is about to be updated to reflect the changing world.

“Film processing kiosk” is among the zoning classifications that are being removed from the zoning ordinance because they represent “archaic” uses, a county official told members of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s government affairs and economic development committee at a recent meeting.

Other uses being phased out include “tourist homes” and “draying.”

Those under a certain age will not remember the iconic Fotomat kiosks, which from the 1960s through the early 1980s could be found in parking lots of shopping centers and supermarkets across the country.

People would drop off their film – remember “film”? – to be processed, returning the next day later to pick up the finished prints.

The advent of one-hour film processing done by drug-store chains and specialty shops, followed by the arrival of digital cameras, doomed the operation to obsolescence, although some of the stand-alone huts have been converted into other uses.

Update of the county’s zoning ordinance is being undertaken in phases. For information, see the Web site at www.arlingtonva.us and search “zoning update.”


(1) comment

Dave Schutz

I'm not sure this is smart - at least, if you operate on the idea that whatever is happening now in NY and SF will happen in Arlington in about three years, we are due for a big turmoil about Airbnb use of apartments and houses. In those cities, people in apartments and neighborhoods are unhappy about their neighbors renting out on a daily basis. Maybe 'tourist homes' is a category to use in dealing with same thing here.

'Film processing kiosk' - yes, we can let that go!

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