Updates from Letty – May 20, 2016

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

What Happened This Week:

(1) City Council Work Session – this week’s work session was about trees and fees.

  • The Tree Commission joined us this week (as part of the effort we discussed in our February retreat to include a Board & Commission in every work session to further collaboration) and they shared preliminary ideas on managing our urban forest, such as tree preservation in the development process.
    • An interesting tidbit – we currently have 46% canopy cover in the City; 40% is usually the target for most localities. Trees are an important part of the character of the Little City and we’ve been honored to be named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
    • We also had a more in depth discussion on the Specimen Tree program. If you aren’t familiar with it, this is a voluntary designation of large, mature, or historic trees – there are currently 45 Specimen Trees in the City and a formal resolution will be on an upcoming agenda to designate 6 more. Specimen Trees receive additional protection during development: owners must get a permit before removing them (not required on other single-family properties), and any development must be designed without encroaching on Specimen Trees if possible. If you have a tree on your property that would be a good candidate, our City Arborist can help you with next steps.
  • Development Fees – we also received a preview of the proposed revisions to the various permit fees assessed by the Planning and Public Works department, which originated during recent budget discussions as a mechanism to increase revenue by charging fees that more closely approximate the cost of services and remain competitive with neighboring jurisdictions. Examples of fees – permit and plan review fees are paid by developers, contractors, property owners for construction new homes, additions, commercial buildings, or work in the public right of way. If you’re interested in the full list of proposed fee changes, see here. This will require both first and second readings before the ordinance is adopted, with first reading scheduled for next Monday, May 23.

(2) The Play Streets Pilot last weekend had great turnout and cooperative weather! My kids and I enjoyed an hour of hopscotch, street hockey, and other games on N. Virginia and Riley Streets. City staff will now develop guidelines and policies for the program. You can send in feedback on the pilot to through May 27. Residents can also send a message to that email to be notified when the program opens to the community

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What’s Coming Up:

(1) TODAY is Bike to Work Day 2016! We have an official pit stop within FCC borders at Little Falls and the W&OD from 6:30 to 9 am. It’s not too late to dust off that bike and helmet and join 17,000 commuters in the celebration and a healthy, greener way to get to work.

(2) Also TONIGHT – it’s not too late to attend the Falls Church Education Foundation Gala at 6:30 pm at the Washington Golf & Country Club. The FCEF is a great organization that supports our schools. Online ticket sales have closed, but you can email or buy them at the door.

(3) Next Monday’s City Council meeting agenda is posted – the agenda includes several proclamations, 2nd reading for the 2016 budget amendment I wrote about last week, and first reading of the development fees increases I wrote about above.

(4) If you haven’t heard already, Metro finalized the SafeTrack program yesterday, which is a comprehensive maintenance effort that will accelerate three years worth of work into one year. The plan significantly expands maintenance time on weekends (ie, Metro will close at midnight every night), weeknights and midday hours and includes 15 “Safety Surges”– long-duration track outages for major projects in key parts of the system. For FCC residents who rely on the Orange line, the first Surge project will begin on Saturday, June 4, and involves continuous single tracking between East Falls Church and Ballston stations and will last 13 days. West of Ballston, trains will only run every 18 minutes. Starting planning for reduced capacity and longer travel times with other modes of transportation! This is a good detailed summary of the impacts: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/local/metro-closures/