Updates from Letty – November 24, 2023

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,

I hope you’ve had a warm and delicious Thanksgiving. This week’s post will be briefer than normal, but important enough to warrant a spot in your inbox, IMO!

In our work session this week, among other topics we discussed our draft Legislative Program, which contains the City’s positions ahead of the General Assembly session in January. Being a Dillon Rule state, we only have the authority expressly granted to us by Richmond so these priorities are important. I’d welcome your input ahead of our vote on Monday to adopt the Legislative Program – especially on two items I’ve requested we add/modify in response to community input I’ve heard: authority to regulate gas-powered leaf blowers and to expand the locations and times of operation for speed cameras.

Two holiday plugs: come kickoff the festive season with the annual “Lighting of the Trees” celebration on Monday, November 27 at 6 pm at Founders Row. And if you’re holiday shopping, I encourage you to shop local (tomorrow is Small Business Saturday) and take advantage of the Little City Gift Card program again this year, which goes live tomorrow.

Take care,

What Happened This Week:

Letty’s Highlights from 2024 Legislative Program

  • Charter Amendment – we’ll again pursue a charter amendment to remove the “qualified voter” (ie, citizenship requirement) to participate in our local boards and commissions. The charter amendment has been in our work plan since 2021 as part of our equity review. Various boards and commissions have consistently requested the ability to expand representation and diversity of its membership in order to provide richer and more inclusive perspectives. There are many non-citizens in the community who are affected by the decisions of the City’s advisory boards and commissions and there is consensus among many staff and board and commission members that those persons should be able to participate equally in the commission system. We originally proposed this charter amendment in 2022 and 2023, which failed both sessions (vetoed by the Governor in 2022 and failed to leave committee in 2023).
  • Speed Cameras – we continue to include positions focused on pedestrian safety such as local authority for red light/speed cameras and walkability infrastructure, specifically addressing the definition school zones to include pre-schools and expanding eligible times beyond the current limited arrival/dismissal times.
  • Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers – new this year is a request for local authority to regulate the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. This is an emerging issue across the country (this November WaPo article is a good summary of the issue). Locally, both Washington, DC and Montgomery County have enacted prohibitions on gas-powered leaf blowers. While the City transitions to an electric fleet and landscaping equipment for its public works crews, such legislation would provide the City with greater capacity to mitigate toxic and greenhouse contributing emissions that have adverse impacts on the health of the broader community.

And in case you’re interested in the first bills filed for the upcoming session, this is a good summary.

What’s Coming Up:

Monday, November 27 – Lighting of the Trees Celebration (6 pm, Founders Row)

Monday, November 27 – City Council Meeting*

Monday, December 4 – Joint City Council/School Board Meeting (6 pm, MHS)

Monday, December 11 – City Council Meeting*

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