Updates from Letty – June 10, 2022

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council

Dear Friends,

Happy summer! It was great to resume our Memorial Day traditions last week to honor those fallen and to kickoff summer. With summer in full swing, our City Council schedule will dial back to 3 meetings per month instead of our typical weekly meetings until we recess in mid August. As such, I’ll be taking more blogging breaks – expect around one to two posts per month instead of my weekly missives. I’ll time them when we have heavier agendas and/or important items I think you’ll want to know or be able to comment.

This week’s post will be lighter – we continued discussions on affordable housing initiatives from Amazon grants we won last year, an innovative homeownership program and a partnership with non profit housing developer Wesley Housing. I’ll also give a brief update on Richmond happenings and a few fun items, including Pride Month in Falls Church and public art efforts.

Next week we’ll resume an important discussion on our work plan, which lays out our priorities for the next two years. Then we take a week off before our last meeting in June. We will continue to welcome public comment at our regular meetings or via email and we will keep up monthly office hours. And I hope to see you this weekend at the Tinner Hill Music Festival!


What Happened This Week:

(1) Affordable Housing

Out of the 5 quadplexes in Virginia Village owned by the city, 4 are owned by the Economic Development Authority (EDA) and 1 is owned by city, Next week we’ll be voting to convey the city-owned quad to the EDA so they can re-financed and then included in new partnership with Wesley Housing. We’ll be partnering with Wesley so they can take over operation of the properties, and then work with us on acquiring more properties and developing a long term redevelopment plan for a larger affordable housing/mixed income project. The latter components will need more time and work, so only the conveyance of the property is up for a vote next week.

We also discussed the proposed affordable homeownership program and mechanics of how the program will work. I’ve written about it several times (Feb and May) so won’t recap again. When we have the details ironed out, it will be exciting to be able to offer affordable homeownership access in an increasingly expensive region – nationally, the affordable housing crisis has only worsened in past few years due to lack of housing supply.

Additional info on both homeownership program and partnership with Wesley at Virginia Village can be found in these slides.

(2) Richmond

We’re still waiting on a final state budget (the General Assembly passed a compromise budget, which is awaiting the Governor and any potential amendments).

Speaking of the Governor, I was disappointed that the city’s charter amendment bill to expand eligibility to serve on city boards and commissions was vetoed by Governor Youngkin. The amendment would have allowed all residents of the city to volunteer on one of our boards, regardless of citizenship status – which was widely supported by many of you and passed both houses of the General Assembly before the veto. I hope we’ll try again.

(3) Pride Month

ICYMI, June is Pride Month in Falls Church and we’re continuing with the tradition we started 4 years ago to fly the pride flag in front of City Hall all month.

Beyond proclamations – it’s great to see our inclusive values in action. On Wednesday, we welcomed the INOVA Pride Clinic to Falls Church at 500 N. Washington. This is the first medical clinic in Northern Virginia dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community, offering gender affirming care, HIV prevention, adolescent health, STI treatment and prevention, and mental health care. The clinic is located at 500 N. Washington, Suite 200 – and was an impressive and welcoming medical office.

(4) Public Art

One of the best stories I read this week was about how crosswalk art can help make our streets safer! I’d love to see us use art as one of the many tools we deploy to improve transportation safety. Pedestrian safety, sidewalks, and bike infrastructure continue to be the top community needs we hear, so you can expect continued focus on these areas .

And for some new art in Falls Church – I’m thrilled to share a pilot project I worked on last month with a positive environmental message + community public art. Thanks to creative student artists from Meridian (and in 90 degree heat, no less!), we now have three storm drain murals at Oak Street Elementary, Community Center tennis courts, and Larry Graves highlighting the importance of only putting “rain down the storm drain”. Unlike waste water, water in our stormwater system is untreated and flows straight to tributaries, then to either Tripps Run or Four Mile Run, then to the Potomac River and out to the Chesapeake Bay – so it’s important that we remember to keep pollutants and garbage out. I hope this will be the start of more storm drain murals and public facilities as art canvasses across the city!

What’s Coming Up:

Monday, June 13, 2022 – City Council Meeting*

Wednesday, June 22, 2022 – City Council Office Hours (4th Wednesdays, 9 am)

Monday, June 27, 2022 – City Council Meeting*

Monday, July 11, 2022 – City Council Meeting*

*every Monday (except 5th Mondays and holidays) at 7:30 pm. You can access the agenda and livestream here, including recordings of past meetings