Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council
After the ceremonious votes last week, City Council got back to business in a work session all about the future of Falls Church. “Comprehensive Plan” usually doesn’t make headlines, nor does it inspire people to show up to community meetings, but hear me out – this is important. The Comp Plan, the strategic plan for the city for the next 25 years, is being updated which means everyone has an opportunity to shape how the city evolves. Specifically the Comp Plan chapters for Demographics, Housing, and Natural Resources are being updated – and I’d argue that housing and the environment are the most important issues for the city and region going forward. Read on to see the draft chapters and how you can contribute your ideas.
Speaking of the future – the FAQ I’ve been fielding recently is whether I’ll seek re-election this fall. As an introvert and mother of young kids, this is the *last* job I’d ever thought I’d do. And nearly 4 years in, the decision has been even harder this time – especially knowing what I know now! On the flip side, I can see the impact of our Monday night decisions which has been fulfilling and luckily, sustaining for those late nights when I miss bedtime with my kids. 4 years ago, we were nowhere close to a path forward for the high school. 4 years ago, I had not yet cast my vote to proceed with Founders Row. 4 years ago, we didn’t yet have a more restrictive gun ordinance, bikeshare, pedestrian improvements, an expanded Mt. Daniel, new restaurants, downtown tree lights, new public parking spaces, a Miller House, curbside composting, updated parks, pinwheel gardens, recognition of Indigenous People’s Day or Hispanic Heritage Month…there is a lot to be proud of, but we still have much left to do. So with that – yes. Yes, I will run again and hope to continue to bring the rigorous and balanced decision-making, diligence, and transparency to the job I promised 4 years ago. I’ve asked friends to help me collect signatures in the coming weeks; I’d be honored to have your signature in getting me on the ballot and earning your vote in November.
Happy long weekend,
PS – If you haven’t been downtown recently, check out the amazing progress at the downtown park at the 100 block of Broad St. Stay tuned for official grand opening!
What Happened This Week:
Comp Plan Updates
As I wrote above, the Comprehensive Plan is the key document that guides the growth and evolution of the city. Most jurisdictions have one. A few years ago after much community input, we rolled out a new 2040 Vision for the city. And from the vision, updated chapters of the plan now underway (their last revision occurred in 2005).
As I wouldn’t do them justice with my summaries, I’m providing the links to the full draft chapters, the “cliff notes” version which are the staff presentations, and a few ideas/policy implications that are top of mind for me based on the draft changes.
- Demographics Chapter & Presentation.
- Letty’s thoughts: with an aging boomer+ population, do we have sufficient human services for the elderly? Likewise, with the intentional decision to add more young, single person households to the city, do we have the right recreation options for them? Do they use the current channels to engage with their government? Is asking for attendance at town halls or giving public comment at meetings on weeknights old-school, or are there new, technology-enabled ways to involve the next generation? My March 8 blog post also has the Letty-version of the highlights from the demographics study.
- Housing Chapter & Presentation
- Letty’s thoughts: I’ve written extensively about affordability and my belief in its importance for both social and economic development reasons. I’ve written less about the “missing middle” housing and how Falls Church is becoming increasingly inaccessible for even the true middle class – workers who have full-time jobs but yet have to live an hour+ away because we have no housing stock for their income levels, like our teachers and city employees. If we believe that is an important component of our housing stock – like affordable housing, it will take deliberate planning and investment. And it will require sustainable funding resources to replenish the affordable housing fund. Recognizing that we’ve been investing in the capital projects, we need to decide as a community whether this is merits a dedicated revenue stream, whether it comes from our operating budgets or a new revenue source.
- Natural Resources Chapter & Presentation
- Letty’s thoughts: a notable data point from the chapter compares the amount of commercial vs residential redevelopment in the city. While we pay *a lot* of attention to commercial redevelopment, you might be surprised that the land impacted by residential redevelopment, mostly done by-right, is actually greater and likely more impactful to environmental issues like stormwater flooding. “Between 2000 and 2015, commercial area redevelopment and retrofits affected a total of 34 acres, about 2.3 acres per year…For the five-year period of 2013 to 2017, 129 single-family homes were constructed, affecting an estimated 5.5 acres of land per year.” If the pace of redevelopment continues in neighborhoods, ensuring the environment impacts of those projects are mitigated is going to be even more important. Also, our focus on transit-oriented development, good urban design, multi-modal transportation so that people have options to walk, bike, or use a car – is not just for the sake of economic development or contributing to the tax base, they also have significant environmental benefits.
If you have a passion in these areas or would rather hear the presentation and be able to give feedback in person, join us for a community meeting on Saturday, June 9 at 9 am.
What’s Coming Up:
- TODAY – Friday, May 24 – Campus Coordinating Committee Meeting (730 am, School Board Offices)
- Tuesday, May 28 – City Council Meeting (730 pm, Community Center)
- Saturday, June 8 – Comp Plan Community Meeting (9 am, Columbia Baptist Church)
- Saturday, June 8 – Tinner Hill Music Festival (11 am – 9 pm, Cherry Hill Park)
- Sunday, June 9 – Sunday Series Town Hall (2 pm, Community Center)
- Monday, June 10 – City Council Meeting