Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council
It was City Council’s first week back and we’re well into the swing of things again. We are continuing to make strides in affordable housing with a final vote this week that launches a new partnership with Wesley Housing, a leading housing non profit, at Virginia Village. For those following Founders Row – we deferred action on the economic incentives for the theater (originally version approved in 2016) until our meeting at the end of September.
Because everyone’s calendars are filling up, I’m going to take the opportunity to highlight good community events. (This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of happenings – you should subscribe to the city’s eNewsletter and various special interest newsletters for that.) For this coming weekend: the City Council will be at the Fall Festival on Saturday and the Run for the Schools on Sunday. And because so many people have expressed interest in supporting refugees, as part of Welcoming Week, Welcoming Falls Church has kicked off a donation drive to prepare for families arriving soon.
Finally – in between soccer games and funnel cake, here’s a specific call to action by Sunday, September 18: help Falls Church continue to win transportation grants by commenting on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) long range plan. As the Little City with big transportation ambitions to be more walkable, bikeable and transit friendly, grant dollars have enabled us to go after far more projects than what our small city budget could do alone. We’ve had a good run with NVTA so far – winning over $50M of grants in the past few years (yes, these projects are expensive!) because of your voices. I provide links, the proposed categories of projects, and a quick blurb of support you can use below, or feel free to craft your own.
PS – Our work session next week will be focused on all things transportation, including the latest on traffic calming projects and the 20 mph speed limit proposal.
What Happened This Week:
(1) New Affordable Housing Partnership
After much discussion the past year, we voted unanimously to authorize the city to execute a MOU (memorandum of understanding) to launch a partnership with Wesley Housing for the future of Virginia Village. As you may recall, the city acquired 4 quads in Virginia Village the past few years in addition to 1 quad we’ve owned since 2008, in order to preserve them as affordable and for a future redevelopment opportunity. With this new relationship with Wesley, the city transfers ownership of the quads to Wesley, who will assume maintenance and operations of the buildings, work with the city on an acquisition strategy for the remaining quads (using Amazon funds we won) and then a long term redevelopment plan, which could involve phasing and potentially other partners, mix of incomes, and other uses in addition to the core purpose of affordable and moderate income housing. Residents will not be involuntarily displaced and Wesley has also committed to preserving the current units as affordable for no more than 60% of area median income (AMI). After the relationship is official, expect to see community engagement to begin on the future of Virginia Village.
Letty’s thoughts: while acquisition and redevelopment at Virginia Village will be a multi-year process, this is a landmark achievement that sets that ball in motion. Besides progress in our inclusionary zoning affordable housing program (as you may recall – we have gone from commitments of 6% of units in new buildings as affordable for 20 years to 12% of units in buildings as permanently affordable in Founders Row 2) – this new relationship with Wesley Housing will enable us to make a more serious dent in the city’s affordable housing needs.
(2) Covid Local State of Emergency Lifted
As I previewed last week, we did vote to lift our local state of emergency effective October 1. Expect city meetings of public bodies to be held full in person by then based on Virginia’s current meeting laws that do not allow public bodies to convene electronically outside of an emergency. With the new meeting technology we used during Covid, city staff and the public will still be able to participate electronically. We also voted to extend for 6 months the temporary zoning flexibility for outdoor dining that enabled restaurants to adapt during Covid, so that staff has time to determine appropriate updates.
(3) NVTA Transaction Long Range Plan
TransAction is Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA)’s long range transportation plan and we have the opportunity to provide feedback and support for the city’s proposed categories of projects. The actual draft plan is quite lengthy but there is a sortable project list. (Note we are not at the request for grants/funding stage for any of these projects yet, but we can’t seek future funding unless they align to what’s in the TransAction plan when adopted.) The city’s initiatives are mostly centered around pedestrian and bike infrastructure like sidewalks, bike routes, better access to East Falls Church Metro, safe routes to school.
You can provide your input in this form here. A suggested blurb to make it easy:
“As a resident of the City of Falls Church, I would like to voice my support for this NVTA TransAction vision, and for the City projects contained within the draft project list. Investments in pedestrian, bicycle, transit projects help to relieve congestion and increase connectivity and accessibility.”
Of the 400+ regional projects, here are the city-specific projects included in the draft TransAction Plan:
TransAction Project ID 2021 Previous TransAction Project ID Project Name Project Description 57 66 Falls Church Multimodal Improvements Multimodal improvements in Falls Church revitalization areas: West Broad Street, Washington Street Corridor, and East End. Improvements will include improved intersection geometry and signalization, improved pedestrian connectivity and accessibility, improved transit stops, and improved bicycle access. 105 118 East Falls Church Bikeshare Connections Install up to 24 bike sharing stations along Route 29, Route 7, Sycamore Street, Roosevelt Street, and W&OD Trail in the City of Falls Church. 116 133 Falls Church Enhanced Bus Service Enhance bus service along Route 29 and Route 7 in the City of Falls Church, including all day service, 15 minute frequency, bus shelters with real-time information, additional vehicles required to operate the service, maintenance/storage facilities, mobility hubs, bus stops and access facilities. 117 134 Falls Church Enhanced Regional Bike Routes (W&OD) Enhance regional bike routes (W&OD), including separate trails for walking and bicycling, updated crossings to increase safety, and lighting to keep trail open all year. 301 333 Transit Boulevard along Sycamore Street and Roosevelt Street: East Falls Church Metrorail to Seven Corners Transit and pedestrian/bicycle connections along Sycamore Street and Roosevelt Street with a bridge overpass connecting to planned redevelopment in Seven Corners. 302 334 Falls Church Metro Station Access Multimodal access improvements for the East Falls Church and West Falls Church Metrorail Stations, including pedestrian access, bicycle access and bikesharing stations, and bus access. 303 335 Falls Church Regional Bicycle Connections On-street bicycle facilities to connect Falls Church’s bicycle network to the W&OD, Arlington County’s network and Fairfax County’s network. 323 New City of Falls Church Greenway and Parkway Network Provide greenways and parkways through and between City parks, open spaces, and Great Streets through the installation of trails, dedicated bicycle facilities, bikesharing, key sidewalk improvements, and lighting. Provide connectivity to and within the City of Falls Church activity center, connect to the regional transportation network, and reduce auto congestion by reducing auto dependence. Provide first and last mile connection to regional transit. 324 New Bicycle Facility Route 7 – City of Falls Church Construct a separated bikeway along Route 7 in the City of Falls
325 New City of Falls Church ITS Projects Implement Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)- example TSP and others; to better manage traffic flow by including CCTV/PTZ cameras, improved vehicle and cyclist detection, and other devices to better manage traffic flow and emergency response times. Update and upgrade traffic signal software, server hardware, and various signals throughout the City to meet current standards. 326 New City of Falls Church “Park Once and Walk” Garage Network City of Falls Church “Park Once and Walk” Garage
327 New City of Falls Church Safe Routes to School Implement infrastructure to support a Safe Routes to School program in the City of Falls Church, to reduce congestion caused by driving children to and from school. Manage travel demand during peak travel times. Implement new or improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities within 1 mile of school campus. Includes also crossing of major thoroughfares. 328 New City of Falls Church TDM Program Implement and expand TDM initiatives and programs in the City
of Falls Church.
329 New City of Falls Church Access to Transit Construct new bus shelters in the City of Falls Church. Project also includes improved pedestrian and bicycle connections to bus stops and shelters.
What’s Coming Up:
Saturday, September 17 – Falls Church Festival
Sunday, September 18 – FCEF Run for the Schools
Monday, September 19 – City Council Work Session*
Tuesday, September 20 – Coalition for Smarter Growth Walking Tour (not city sponsored)
Tuesday, September 27 – City Council Meeting* (moved to Tuesday due to Rosh Hashanah)
Wednesday, September 28 – Meet the Council Office Hours (City Hall, 9 am)
Thursday, September 29 – League of Women Voters City Five Year Outlook Forum
Tuesday, October 11 – City Council Meeting* (moved to Tuesday due to Indigenous Peoples Day)
*every Monday (except 5th Mondays and holidays) at 7:30 pm. You can access the agenda and livestream here, including recordings of past meetings