Updates from Letty – October 25, 2019

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,

We’re in the home stretch of the campaign season. With just over 10 days until Election Day, we’ve wrapped up our many candidate forums, completed the last questionnaire, planted yard signs, and knocked on many doors. (The School Board candidates have one forum remaining – at the Elementary PTA meeting next Monday night 10/28 at 7 pm, TJ Elementary.) If you’re undecided or have undecided friends or neighbors, below are the links to 3 sets of candidate questionnaires so you can share this email. Some of the forums have been recorded and when the video links are out, I will post them.

Key takeaways for you:

  1. Election: the best thing you can do is to encourage voter turnout. With no referendum, only local/state races, and a 4 day school holiday long weekend – help me remind your friends and neighbors to vote! And vote in person, absentee if they might have a conflict on Election Day. You can vote all weekdays and the next two Saturdays, with no wait and no hassle, through November 2. And remember if you used to vote at Oakwood/Falls Green, you will vote at the Community Center this year.
  2. Weekend:
  3. Scooters: as I wrote about in September, we’ll be starting a pilot for e-scooters by the end of the year. Read on for the latest regulations we’re considering, ahead of our vote next week. Remember, we can’t ban scooters and if we don’t take action by the end of 2019, we can’t regulate them. So we are starting with sensible regulations based on learnings from others. This will be a pilot program, where we learn about the uptake, popularity, rider preferences, etc – which will then inform future updates. Read on and email us with your thoughts.

Go Nats!

PS A bonus weekend item: now that Mr. Brown’s Park is up and running with electricity, I’m excited we’ll have live music in addition to the fitness, children’s, and community programming in the downtown park. Come check out a local band play tonight from 6-8 pm before the Nats game!

What Happened This Week:

(1) Northern Virginia Regional Dinner

Being a small jurisdiction with many neighbors, this City Council has really embraced working across boundaries. This week, Falls Church hosted a regional dinner with fellow electeds across Northern Virginia (and we all missed several innings of Game 2 as a result). Besides love of the Nats, we share many of the same challenges like affordable housing, transportation, environment – and with good partnership, we can tackle them together. Represented: Falls Church, Fairfax, Arlington, City of Fairfax, Prince William + Northern Virginia Regional Commission staff.

(2) Scooter Pilot Proposal

Before jumping into the details of the latest scooter regulations – it’s worth sharing my general take on all things transportation. While the region as a whole is slowly evolving from being car-centric and as evident with my work on parking, pedestrian safety, biking etc, I believe we should have something for everyone, with a bias towards walkability – because walkable places also make great places to live. I’m excited that we’ll pilot scooters in Falls Church because I think 1) we have to try them out, otherwise state law will prevail and we’ll have no ability to regulate them and 2) I think they will meet a need, especially in the first/last mile connectivity to transit that transportation planners often talk about being a gap for us. Arlington’s year-long pilot has shown that scooters have been used for the ~1 mile trips – just a little too long for most to want to walk. And scooters have replaced some car and ride-sharing trips, which is a good thing to get single occupancy cars off the roads.

I’ve been following the pilot programs in the area and discussing with my counterparts to learn from them, so I know it has been a polarizing topic. The staff report for Monday’s meeting is incredibly thorough and detailed, and I think you’ll be as impressed as I am about how much research has gone into the proposed regulations we’re considering on Monday.

At a high level – here are the proposals:

  • Max of 75 scooters in Falls Church (benchmarked based on regional per capita data)
  • Scooters will be allowed on sidewalks and streets, except not on the streets of Rt 7 and Rt 29, with speed limit of 6 mph on sidewalks and 15 mph on streets (same as Arlington and Alexandria)
  • Scooters should be parked upright and without impeding pedestrian or other traffic. There will be corrals/marked areas for parking around town, but they don’t have to be in those corrals as the value proposition is nearly door-to-door usage.
  • Helmets highly recommended, but we don’t have authority to require helmets for anyone below age 14
  • Most scooter companies require scooter riders to be 18+
  • There is a permit fee structure

(3) Election 2019 Voter Guides

The first two have been previously shared by me the past few weeks, but here are links to all 3 for easy reference:

  • www.vote411.org
  • www.vpis.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/VPIS-Candidates-QandA-2019-1010.pdf
  • www.fallschurchfacts.com/falls-church-gears-local-elections/

The Falls Church News Press has endorsed all three City Council incumbents.

What’s Coming Up: