Updates from Letty – June 22, 2018

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,

After the big meeting we had last week, City Council is heading into a quiet(er) part of the summer. We have one last meeting next week before we take a brief summer break; our summer schedule is below. Before you tune out, make note on your calendar:

  • Founders Row (formerly Mason Row) development at the corner of Broad and West – town hall meeting hosted by the developers next Wednesday night, June 27, at 7 pm. Hear the latest updates and provide your input. The project has been referred to boards and commissions, who will be meeting and providing us formal comments before City Council votes on the final submission, currently scheduled for our August 13 meeting. If you can’t attend the town hall, you can always reference the latest documents online, email us at cityclerk@fallschurchva.gov, or provide public comment at our regular meetings (see schedule below).
  • GMHS Campus and West Falls Church (10 acres) project – the Sunday Series Town Halls continues on Sunday, August 5. By then, the schools will have chosen their finalist for the new school design and construction and the detailed proposals from the 3 shortlisted firms for the 10 acre commercial development will be nearly due.

Of note in this week’s update are some excerpts pulled from draft revisions to the City’s Comprehensive Plan (often referred to as the “Comp Plan”), which is the long range vision and planning document for the City. Several areas, including the environment and housing chapters, are being updated. While Comp Plan updates are admittedly a bit dry, I found some notes about the pace of redevelopment in the city, especially the contrast between residential vs commercial, really interesting and I think you will too.

With that, my updates are off on summer break too and will resume in mid July. I continue to be available to hear from you via email!

Happy summer,


What Happened This Week:

​(1) City Council Work Session (TL; DR version):
  • Heard updates on the HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living Campaign) with a healthy vending machine pilot in the Community Center and more coming soon; updates to the Childcare Ordinance; discussion on the Park and Lee condo proposal.
  • Comp Plan updates, environment/natural resources chapter:
    • The updating process is an opportunity to review and update environmental policy and priorities to achieve the City’s vision of environmental leadership. The environment chapter of our Comp Plan was last updated in 2005, so we definitely are due for an update. For those interested in environmental policy, the staff report does a good job of the sharing the approach, key areas of updates, and the work ahead.
    • Within the actual draft document, of note is the pace of redevelopment in the city on page 2: “Between 2000 and 2015, commercial area redevelopment and retrofits affected a total of 34 acres, about 2.3 acres per year . For the 5 year period of 2013 to 2017, 129 single family homes were constructed, affecting an estimated 5.5 acres of land per year.”
    • Two takeaways:
      • For those concerned about the pace of redevelopment of our commercial land, single family home construction, which is largely by right development that the City has no power to impact, has largely outpaced commercial development – almost by 3x.
      • I’ve also heard similar concerns that we’re developing all of our commercial land and that our current rate of development is unsustainable. As part of the analysis for the 2040 vision work, staff analysis showed that there are actually 200+ acres of land in the commercial sectors of the City (Planning Opportunity Areas or POAs). Of those 200 acres, 34 acres have been developed in the last 15 years. For example, of the 35 acres along West Broad, 11 have been redeveloped and of the 25 acres on N. Washington, only 1.5 acres have been developed. In other words, the City could redevelop at its current rate through the year 2090 before exhausting the land available. 
(2) ICYMI – with the new I-66 toll money, the Metrobus 3T bus line that was eliminated  in 2016 will be reinstated next year. This will help restore connection between Broad Street and the East Falls Church Metro station. Great news for Falls Church commuters!

What’s Coming Up:

(Council’s summer schedule – we will be off the first two weeks of July and the second two weeks of August):

  • Today, June 22 – Campus Coordinating Meeting (730 am, School Board Office)
  • Monday, June 25 – City Council Meeting (730 pm, Community Center Senior Center)
  • Monday, July 16 – City Council Work Session (730 pm, Community Center Senior Center)
  • Monday, July 23 – City Council Meeting (730 pm, Community Center Senior Center)
  • Sunday, August 5 – Sunday Series Town Hall (2 pm, Community Center Senior Center)
  • Monday, August 6 – City Council Work Session (730 pm, Community Center Senior Center)
  • Monday, August 13 – City Council Meeting (730 pm, Community Center Senior Center)