Updates from Letty – October 27, 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,

Exciting news – if you haven’t heard, the Oak St bridge has reopened after being closed for the past 10 months for a reconstruction. It’s timely news as this week’s update is all about infrastructure projects, based on our recent quarterly review of our work plan and CIP (Capital Improvements Program). It’s among my favorite topics, as it’s one of the most tangible ways we can see tax dollars at work, especially in response to top community needs. I’ll specifically focus on projects that you may see in the coming months.

Also timely: vacuum leaf collection has started this week. Over the years, I’ve received more advocacy to “leave the leaves”, especially as it relates to last week’s post on actions we can all take to reduce our carbon emissions. Did you know that running a two-stroke leaf blower for 30 minutes results in emissions equal to driving a Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck 3,887 miles? This year, consider leaving your leaves, mulch mowing, or backyard composting. (Note, Fairfax County is considering discontinuing vacuum leaf service – citing staffing and cost issues as well conflict with sustainability policies.) I’d welcome your thoughts!

We’re about 10 days from Election Day. Make your plan to vote – either weekdays or starting this weekend, you can early vote on Saturday and Sunday at City Hall. If you’re interested in helping my campaign in the home stretch, please let me know.


What Happened This Week:

(1) Budget Amendment – we voted 7-0 this week for the “first reading” of the budget amendment dealing with the surplus I’ve written about previously. As proposed, it appropriates $2.3M of the $4.1M available to us (after re-filling our rainy day fund and revenue sharing with FCCPS). As with other budget items, between first and second reading (the final vote), budget items can decrease but cannot increase, as the first reading sets the upper limit for public advertisement. We’re set to have the final vote on the budget amendment at our November 13 meeting if you’d like to provide us input.

(2) Work Plan & CIP Updates

The City Council work plan is developed and adopted every 2 years when a new City Council is seated and includes policies and projects for the coming 2 years, including many CIP (Capital Improvements Program) items of importance to Council. We review and discuss the work plan status quarterly.

Here are highlights from this quarter’s update, but you can see the breadth of the entire work plan here. At 12+ pages, our work plan continues to be an ambitious plan that tackles everything from safer streets, environmental sustainability, social inclusiveness, to effective and responsive government services.

  • “20 is Plenty” campaign rolls out – following our vote to adopt 20 mph as the new speed limit last year as one of many ways to promote traffic safety – over 100 new speed limit signs will replace the old ones to transition the city to the new speed limit this fall. You can pick up yard signs and other ways to promote this in your neighborhood.

  • Broad St HAWK Signals3 HAWK signals are coming to the intersections of Broad and Oak, Berry, and Fairfax. After various delays, the latest update is that construction will begin this fall.
  • Neighborhood Traffic Calming – this is the bottoms up, resident-driven program to request traffic calming measures in the neighborhood that began receiving consistent funding in our budget about 5 years ago. Greenway Downs is the largest NTC case ever working through the process – following approval from the neighborhood earlier this year, neighbors can expect to see painted temporary markings of the proposed measures this fall with construction happening late 2024. See the other cases in the NTC “queue” which includes E. Columbia, Hillwood, and other streets at various phases of data collection or petition.
  • Sidewalks and ramps – our evolution from a car-centric city is slower (and more expensive) than I’d like, but every week there is more work happening in neighborhoods. You may have seen work that rebuilds crosswalk ramps to modern ADA standards. And one of the newest stretches of sidewalk connects a “missing link” on S. Maple and includes a nice nod to women’s history. Last year, we appropriated an additional $800K to catch up on core infrastructure like paving, sidewalks, crosswalks, signals since the budget was gutted 15+ years ago in the Great Recession.
  • Speed cameras – the city’s pilot of speed cameras will be coming to the 800 Block of Broad St this winter.
  • LED Street Lights – Dominion Energy is now in the process of installing LED lights across the city
  • Stormwater – with the prioritization of the “Big 6” projects by the Stormwater Task Force, the first 3 projects are underway in construction or engineering: Trammel Branch, Hillwood 1, and Sherrow Ave.
  • Winter Tree Lighting – save the date! Our street trees lighting celebration will once again happen the Monday after Thanksgiving on November 27. This year, the street trees will be lit the entire length of our commercial corridor on Broad St, as part of our ongoing effort to make the city more vibrant and welcoming.

What’s Coming Up:

Tuesday, November 7 – Election Day

Monday, November 13 – 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

Voter Guides & Endorsements: