Updates from Letty – October 28, 2022

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,

This week’s post will be short but important. At the beginning of our meeting this week, we discussed our full support of the School Board’s public comments to Virginia in response to the Governor’s proposed model policies that seek to rollback privacy protections and treatment of transgender students. I share the concerns I’ve heard from many of you. Our job is to provide a safe and welcoming community for all residents, businesses, and visitors to Falls Church. As such, we will continue to ensure our programs and policies are developed that respect the gender identity of our residents and workforce. For example, the Recreation and Parks Board recently codified a long-standing practice that for programs that are segregated by gender, participants are encouraged to enroll and participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity. Non-binary participants are encouraged to participate where they feel most comfortable.

Read on for the regular updates – our vote on City Council salaries (public hearing and a final vote in November) and the latest on the West Falls project. And as we head into November next week, there’s no better time to remember to #livelocal.

Take care,

PS – With next Monday being a 5th Monday when we traditionally don’t meet (and a sacred holiday for kids), City Council is taking next week off. You’ll see many of us at the T Zones listening session next Wednesday and then back in the saddle at the November 7 work session. My weekly posts will resume then too.

What Happened This Week:

(1) City Council Salaries

As I wrote about in September, we discussed and voted on the proposal to increase City Council member salaries for the first time in 15 years. Salaries would increase from $9200 (Council members)/$9800 (Mayor) per year to $11,000/$11,500 per year. Salary limits are regulated by the General Assembly based on population size. In addition, based on existing city employee policies, Council members are also eligible for benefits such as health insurance, which hasn’t been discussed til date.

Public comments are welcome before our final vote on November 14.

Note this wouldn’t be effective until after the next City Council election in November 2023, going into effect July 1, 2024. You can read my thoughts about why I support this modest increase in salary + availability of benefits in my original post – my hope is that this change is made with full transparency and well in advance of the next election so potential candidates considering elected office has this information.

(2) West Falls

Also this week, we approved the site plan for the senior living building, the final component of the first phase of the West Falls project, aka the almost 10 acre site adjacent to the schools secondary campus. The project will help offset the $120M cost of the new high school and create a vibrant new community in the western gateway of the city.

Staff reports that major building permits have been issued for all of the buildings now in the first phase. (Recall that we had already approved the majority of the first phase last year, which is now well under construction.) From the diagram below, the senior building is labeled D1. The multifamily apartment building is A1, office building is B1, hotel is B2, condo is C2.)

Similar to past projects, the developer hosts regular community meetings. To be added to the distribution list for monthly uipdates and invites to the community meetings, submit your information on the project website here.

(3) Live Local

As we head into November, remember to #livelocal for your holiday shopping and dining. Besides supporting our small business community, local taxes contribute a growing and significant percentage of our city revenues. As I wrote in the fiscal year wrap up last week, local taxes make up 25% of our revenues, so living local does make a difference! Special thanks to the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce for continuing to promote Live Local month and supporting our businesses.

What’s Coming Up:

Wednesday, November 2 – T Zones Listening Session

Monday, November 7 – City Council Work Session*

Monday, November 14 – City Council Meeting*

Saturday, November 19 – East End Small Area Plan Community Meeting

Monday, November 28 – Holiday Lighting Event

Monday, November 28 – City Council Meeting*

Monday, December 5 – City Council Work Session* (Joint with School Board)

Monday, December 12 – City Council Meeting* (last meeting of 2022)

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