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County Has New Longterm Plan to Boost Economy

by Karen Goff February 4, 2015 at 9:30 am 8 Comments

Fairfax County officials have unveiled a new plan that will “strengthen Fairfax’s economy for the 21st Century.”

While Fairfax County boasts one of the strongest and largest economies in the region, a new strategy will ensure that that the economic climate remains strong in the 21st Century, said a release from the county. The proposed plan offers high-level policy recommendations to expand and diversify the economy. focusing on six goals to accomplish this.

“The new plan is an emphatic leadership statement that recognizes the critical importance of economic success for the county’s future,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John W. Foust, who chairs the board’s Economic Advisory Commission. “We need all of our community partners — businesses, citizens, academia, the Fairfax Economic Development Authority, county government and our regional partners — pulling in the same direction to be successful.”

The six goals:

  • Further diversifying our economy
  • Creating places where people want to be
  • Improving the speed, consistency, and predictability of the county’s development review process
  • Investing in natural and physical infrastructure
  • Achieving economic success through education and social equity
  • Increasing the agility of county government

This plan was created by the 50-member, board-appointed Economic Advisory Commission, along with county staff. The group broadly sought input to craft the plan, obtaining feedback from more than 250 participants. Among those giving feedback: various members of the community, including business, community, and civic leaders, local chambers of commerce, area colleges and universities, and local residents.

Foust said the county needed refreshed economic efforts because of recent events in the DC Metro area in the last few years, including fewer federal jobs due to the recession and sequestration; slow wage growth; job recovery that focused on new employment sectors like health care; and higher office vacancy rates

The plan was delivered to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors during their meeting last week. The supervisors are expected to vote on adopting the plan on March 3.

To see more details, click on the presentation attached to this story above.

  • Terry Maynard

    Thank you for bringing this draft strategic plan to Reston’s attention. Actually, other communities also ought to be looking at it. Having briefly reviewed the actual plan, I have a few comments on the section regarding “Create Places Where People Want to Be.”

    First, I couldn’t help but notice the few photos in this section of the report were all of Reston locations. It suggests quite strongly that Reston is a place people want to be.

    Second, in this section, the draft strategy emphasizes the expansion of the transit station areas. It notes the following:

    –Section 2.2.a: “Explore creation of 20 Minute Neighborhoods where a variety of housing options and jobs are linked by high capacity transit to support clusters of opportunity and innovation.” A “20 Minute” anything is a ONE-mile ring from the Metro stations, doubling the current HALF-mile walkability ring.

    –Section 2.3.b: “Include the concept of expanded Transit Oriented Development
    (TOD) in future planning efforts by increasing the radius distance recommended for
    higher densities from ¼ mile to at least ½ mile around mass transit stations, such as Metrorail, light/heavy rail, or other rapid transit stations.” Like the preceding, this doubles the distance for the highest density development and the commercial vs. residential focus.

    Third, it also highlights the importance of developing amenities that improve quality of life in the face of recent evidence of County actions to the contrary:

    –Section 2.3.d: “Support the creation of a premier performing and other arts facilities in Tysons or possibly other activity centers, as both a community amenity and economic generator.” Why Tysons and not Reston (where a performance center is included in the Master Plan) or even Springfield’s new urban center? This is the only place in the draft strategy where a specific location is suggested for providing a public amenity. And the County wants Restonians to pay for one if it is built through its internal Reston tax special tax district; it’s NOT a county investment in our community at all.

    –Section 2.6: “Continue to improve the overall quality of life to sustain Fairfax County’s reputation as a great place to live, work, play, and learn by protecting established neighborhoods and maintaining our superior public schools, parks, libraries, and public safety services.” The Reston Master Plan for the station areas does NOT provide adequate, much less “superior”, parks and libraries for the 50,000-plus who will live there. Indeed, the county’s libraries are being abused by its administration in the Board through continuous cuts in their budget, staffing, and collection going back a decade.

    So my question is: If we live in a place that is a place where people want to be, why would we want to change it in ways that would detract from our quality of life? Moreover, why is the county unwilling to invest in Reston to make it better? Part of the answer lies in the fact that the committee that put this together is dominated by developer and other business interests focused on high-density development and County officials who know they have limited tax revenues.

    For those of you interested, the draft strategy is available here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/success/strategic-plan-facilitate-economic-success-2015.pdf

  • Mike M

    Agreed. But while terms like “social equity” introduce vagary, they can be used to support any argument for anything. That’s good for people who are preparing to argue for things that nobody wants but them. Higher density, higher density, and higher density. That’s all they want.

    • FULL TIME BOJANGLER

      Economic success through social equity? The goal here is spelled out quite clearly. Its called SOCIALISM.

      • Mike M

        Unfortunately, they are playing to the crowd. Most educated Fairfax County citizens are kinda OK with Socialism for some reason.

  • John Farrell

    Not a word about housing affordability.

    For 50 years Fairfax has pursued one exclusionary housing scheme after another.

    They’ve been so successful that employers are leaving because they cannot pay their employees enough to afford the rents and home prices.

    Is it any wonder that minimum wage service sector jobs are the only job category increasing in NoVA.

    Add to it the 4 missing bridges that were supposed to be built across the Potomac and we have a place where housing is too expensive and its impossible to get around.

    Why wouldn’t every employer want to relocate here?

  • Sickofsocialists

    Social equity…hmm. I suppose the leftist who wrote that probably can’t even explain what they mean. It suppose it means whatever they want when they want and usually involves some unusual government powers and intent. Why don’t they just leave us alone.

  • Terry Maynard

    Bojangler–I have to disagree at least a little. It’s worse than bullshit.

    The draft strategy is DANGEROUS in part because it intends to expand the geographic scope of high-density transit area development FOUR-FOLD–up to a mile from the station. Everyone probably knows how large a chunk of Reston that would be, and it would be similar around other Metro station lines.

    And its stupid because we have huge surplus commercial and residential capacity with no sign of a substantial change in growth rates in the reasonable future.

    Right now, the vacancies in FC office buildings could accommodate 60K-80K+ additional workers and the square footage of rented office space declined by more than 400K SF last year. Indeed, the office building is kind of going the way of the dinosaur, but the FC Board of Supervisors has realized that yet.

    And the number of residential units sold in FC last year declined by more than 1,500 units (all types–down ~0.1%) while time on the market doubled. Multi-family housing, the bread & butter of high-density development, has a 7.4% vacancy rate in the Dulles Corridor (sorry, no FC data) and saw a net absorption (new leases/purchases – vacated units) of only 526 units last year, a 2% growth. It would take more than 3 yrs. to fill these units at current rates, even if no more were added.

    There is no substantial growing demand for commercial or residential space, so building more will do nothing except ruin the quality of life of otherwise nice communities, including Reston.

    NTL–Thanks for giving me the opportunity to spell that out!

    • Karen Goff

      approved

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