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Letter: The Folly of 15

by RestonNow.com January 2, 2019 at 1:00 pm 29 Comments

This letter was submitted by Dennis K. Hays, the president of the Reston Citizens Association. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

Fairfax County has proposed to increase the population cap of the Reston Planned Residential Community district (PRC) from the long-standing 13 persons per acre (ppa) to as many as 15 persons per acre — which when combined with already approved projects would add an additional 30,000 people above our current population for the established, primarily residential areas of Reston. Please keep in mind this doesn’t include the areas around the Metro, where the county is on track to authorize building enough high rises to add an additional 80,000 residents.

Here are 10 reasons why the cap should be left alone. There undoubtedly are more.

1. If the ceiling (13) is shattered, there is no new ceiling: Fourteen or 15 today will be 16 tomorrow, 17 the day after and 20 down the road. The current 13 ppa has been in effect since Robert Simon created Reston. Does anyone believe the county will stop at 15?

2. The county bases its proposal on numbers that are rough estimates at best, gross misrepresentations at worst. The county has provided no established methodology that can be used to arrive at accurate numbers. The county promised to meet with the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) and the Reston Association to agree on a methodology before any action would be taken. We’re still waiting.

3. There are thousands of dwelling units (what the county calls where we live) that have been approved but not yet built (1,400 at Spectrum alone). How will all these already authorized residences affect roads, schools, first responder services, and parks? The county counts them for cap purposes, but not for the provision of services.

4. The county doesn’t count people who live in affordable or workforce housing as part of the cap, despite CPR’s frequent complaints. These neighbors of ours have kids in school, drive to work, go to the library and play ball in the parks just like everyone else. So why are they second-class citizens in the county’s eyes?

5. Although the county is in a frenzied hurry to authorize new high-density construction, they are in no hurry to provide the needed infrastructure that should go along with it. Reston has received no funding from the county in its current transportation budget. There is no land for additional athletic fields or open space confirmed. The Master Plan calls for infrastructure to be phased in with development. County officials talk for hours about their “plans” for roads, schools, parks, etc. but when pressed they are forced to admit they have no funds, no identified land and no timetable for the required infrastructure.

6. Why the push to raise the cap now? Even using the county’s questionable numbers there aren’t any development proposals that take us over the 13 ppa limit. So what is the rush? Why not use this time to assess how we grow in phase with the services needed to support our neighborhoods?

7. Until five years ago the county had an official on the Planning staff dedicated to working on Reston proposals. This provided some coordination. They haven’t replaced that official. Now the county can’t say specifically where the development allowed by their increased cap will go, although it doesn’t take much to figure this out — initially it will go to build high rises in the Village Centers, take parking spaces away from the library and push again on St. Johns Wood and the other “hot spots” the county believes should be more urban. And by urban they mean you will only walk, bike or Metro to work, the grocery store, the movies, to see family and friends and everywhere else. And then they will come for the golf courses.

8. The Reston Master Plan was changed in significant ways after community representatives had signed off on what they believed to be the final version. Leaving that aside for the moment, the Virginia Code calls for Master Plans to be reviewed and updated at least every five years. The Master Plan for the Metro areas is up for review next month. The PRC portion must be updated no later than next year. Yet the county has taken no steps to begin the review process. Given all that has happened, isn’t it time to pause and take stock?

9. The more you dig into the county’s assertions, the shakier they become. The CPR and the Reston Association met with county officials in four sub-groups last summer. It became immediately apparent that a lot more information and data was needed to properly review and assess the issues surrounding the cap. We had agreement coming out of all four meetings that the additional information would be developed before any action on the cap was taken. CPR and RA asked over 30 specific questions. On Dec. 11 the county responded by sending a blizzard of paperwork — that restated what we had already been told but provided no new information. Why hasn’t the county met its commitment to answer these questions? Could it be that the answers would be more damning than not answering?

10. The county speaks often of the need for “community involvement” and the Master Plan lists community participation as the foundation stone on which all else rests. So why has the county refused to meaningfully engage with its citizens? We remain ready to work with the county to further the unique vision of Reston as a balanced, welcoming community that takes to heart our motto of “live, work, play.” Is that too much to ask?

If you agree that raising the cap is unneeded and counterproductive, please let our Fairfax County Supervisor ([email protected]), the other supervisors ([email protected]), the Planning Commission ([email protected]) and the Department of Planning and Zoning ([email protected]) know. We can make this a Happy New Year if we act together.

— Dennis K. Hays

  • JoeInReston

    I think the county’s silence towards addressing Restonite’s concerns speaks volumes on where they stand. It is unfortunate but not surprising that our supposed voice on county matters, Cathy Hudgins, has not intervened with the county staff to ensure that they respond to her constituent’s concerns.

    Has their been any talk or planning among the Reston Citizens Association, Reston 20/20, or any other Reston community group to find and recruit a candidate that understands the concerns of Restonites to run for the Fairfax Board of Supervisors?

    It appears that political power will be the only way to get concerns addressed, and right now Reston has no power.

    • 30yearsinreston

      I have been advocating ending Hudgins tenure for some years

      I am glad, that some residents and voters are seeing that the only viable means of preserving Reston opens spaces and quality of life is to vote her out of office
      Her myopia, arrogance, discourtesy and disregard for other opinions, coupled with her lack of leadership skills is a prime factor in the destruction of Restons open areas and contributed greatly to the traffic woes

      The county staff are working at her direction. The buck stops with her
      The sooner she leaves office, the sooner we can move on with smart development that prioritizes infrastructure and not just high rise dog boxes exchanged for “workforce” housing

  • Michael Gandolfo

    I read your first “reason” and saw the logical fallacy of the slippery slope. And that’s what you choice to lead with. Thanks for letting me know early that I don’t need to continue wasting my time.

    • PretentiousnessIsFun

      Ah, it looks like you prefer the argument from fallacy fallacy.

      • Michael Gandolfo

        I said nothing of Mr. Hay’s conclusion. Simply that he has a poorly constructed argument. This issue has been discussed to death with other providing much more persuasive points. It seems like your fallacy is that of the Straw man.

        • Dennis Hays

          Hey Michael – thanks for writing in. A slippery slope is only a fallacy if the initial premise is wrong and/or the extrapolation is excessive or unconnected. Otherwise its just an observation on human nature (think Vietnam, that “just one bite” of cookie dough ice cream, Game of Thrones binge watching, etc. (I was a philosophy major once long ago.) I know you only made it to my first point, but at the end there was a question – “Does anyone believe the County will stop at 15?” If you do, please let me know what you base this on. It would be helpful to this discussion. Best regards for the New Year, Dennis

          • Michael Gandolfo

            I am sorry, but you are wrong. Slippery slope fallacy is specifically:

            If a, then b. If b, then c. If…

            Your first point specifically says ’15 today will be 16 tomorrow, 17 the day after and 20 down the road’ with no evidence that will occur. This is fear mongering at best.

            The fact remains that the area should not have economic growth artificially limited regardless, so the number is largely irrelevant. It only matters to people who oppose change. And that is a valid excuse for opposing this measure! I completely understand that some people want Reston to stay as it is, but let’s not pretend that there are detrimental aspects to the change beyond your preferences. Any given area will grow to a limit that the economy can support.

          • Dennis Hays

            Michael, Michael, Michael – we really need to get you into a Logic 101 course. I’m sorry if I was’t clear enough for you to understand the issues. Perhaps if you had read to entire article? The issue is not development, its development without infrastructure. It’s the County not being responsive to its citizens. It’s making assertions and not being able to back them up. Its not listening to other voices. No point in continuing this discussion, but please come to any of our CPR or RCA public meetings. Who knows, you might get interested in civic issues and that slippery slope could lead you into becoming an activist!

          • Michael Gandolfo

            I actually did read the entire article; I was being cheeky. As I have stated elsewhere, these are the same tired and disproved points that have been going on for months. Frankly, I am tired of it. I am tired of repeating the points that myself and others have made to disprove these concerns. I’ve already provided my position of support to the Board of Supervisors. I didn’t mean to make a whole new thing of it, it just noticed a glaring logical error and pointed it out. Take the criticism and use it to improve your persuasive argument going forward.

          • Restonlover

            Would you be willing to share your position? I, for one, would appreciate hearing the other side.

          • Michael Gandolfo

            On my phone on metro right now. Will elaborate later with sources. But essentially the population estimates made by groups like RCA are typically overblown. Another common complaint is that the county has “no plan” for infrastructure, yet the County does have a plan as required by State law. Lastly, these groups usually overlook the boom to the economy that the additional jobs, spending, and taxes will bring in.

          • Umust B Kidding

            1. Neither RCA nor RA nor R2020 has made “estimates” about future population. They have made statements about “potential”, meaning the population allowed by changes in the plan or zoning ordinance. Actual growth will depend on demand.

            2. The county has oodles of “plans” and even “policies” for just about everything you can imagine–including those required by state law. The problem is they have no money to implement them. And some of their plans are just plain stupid. This, too, is demonstrable. For example, there are no funds to improve Reston’s streets (including DTR overpasses) despite the ongoing growth.

            3. While growth will generate additional taxes, there is great doubt that the taxes from residential growth–the focus of the current development onslaught–will cover the cost of providing services for the new residents. See https://www.restonnow.com/2017/07/31/op-ed-countys-doomed-high-density-residential-development-strategy/

          • Michael Gandolfo

            1. Pedantic
            2. More people = more tax revenue, as you stated. Also, roads are under state jurisdiction funding, not county.
            3. Avoiding the ad hominem, Terry has a documented history of fudging numbers and straight up using wrong data. So forgive me if I take his analysis with a grain of salt, especially since his analysis (wrongly) includes areas outside the county’s financial jurisdiction (transportation).

          • Umust B Kidding

            1. Arrogant, condescending elitist
            2. Roads get funding from every level of govt, including the special tax on Reston station area residents. Still, no funded road improvements in Reston transpo plan.
            3. In that particular article, you have to argue with his sources–two large-scale independent academic studies (at least). Both have links even, so you can go and critique them yourself. I didn’t see Maynard “fudge” them, just bring them to our attention.

          • Umust B Kidding

            The points have not been “disproved.” In fact, they are demonstrable. That you choose to continue to present your fake news (or logic) says more about you than the situation facing Reston.

          • Michael Gandolfo

            You claim “fake news”, yet Terry Maynard of Reston 20/20 literally posted an op-ed factually incorrect numbers and facts on this very website. When he was called out, he doubled down. I am quite comfortable with my position, are you?

          • Umust B Kidding

            Absolutely, whatever Maynard said.

          • 100yearsinReston

            Ohhh, so you don’t care for the actual truth. Only your truth. You must be a Trump supporter: first to call out “fake news” while being its primary customer.

    • Mike M

      Michael, I have studied logic and philosophy among many other things and I know lots of professors will tell you that the slippery slope is logical fallacy. OK, but there is one problem with that “lesson.” The slippery slope is alive and well in actual human behavior. I know. I have seen it in my life and in my job. I have seen it in extensive study of human history. I suggest a book called Presuasion. It goes into how humans don’t make decisions based on logic and it is true. You will learn that with age. College professors these days are naive leftist creeps.

      • 100yearsinReston

        How did I know that when Michael posted this that you would chime in with your anti-intellectualism? Let me suggest something for you: let go of your tribalism.

    • JoeInReston

      Lets stipulate for the sake of discussion that point #1 is indeed a slippery slope.

      You have committed an Ad Hominem logical fallacy. You have discounted Dennis’ 14 other reasons because he made an logical fallacy in argument 1. You are attacking the person who made the argument rather than the argument itself.

      • Michael Gandolfo

        Ad Hominem is a character or motive attack. I neither said anything disparaging about Mr. Hays or his motive. If fact, I said below I understand his motives, I simply didn’t agree with his methods to justify them.

        • JoeInReston

          Call it what you want, but you dismissed the remaining arguments because of the dissatisfaction of the first argument rather than the substance of the arguments.

          • Michael Gandolfo

            As someone else stated that is more of a fallacy fallacy, but I disagree with that claim because I said nothing on the conclusion. Regardless, below I stated that I did in fact read the whole thing and I was (unsuccessfully) being cheeky.

  • Why do you bother?

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  • Chuck Morningwood

    It’s a well written opinion with plenty of salient points. Still, you don’t have to read it to understand the reasons not to support raising the cap. All you need do is look at Reston Ave or Wiehle Dr during rush hour.

    No Growth is Smart Growth.

    • Greg

      Sorry, but that growth train left the station long ago. It’s called the Silver line.

      What were people thinking when all were so eagerly advocating for the Silver line? No growth?

      In fact, long before the Wiehle station opened, nearly a billion dollars of unfunded infrastructure was identified. Just for that station.

      Growth is happening and lots more is on the way. Only hope now is to influence what goes where, when, what it looks like, and what identifying funding for infrastructure needed to support it.

  • Stormy_Fireriver

    Do our voices even matter? I don’t think so. They are adding more dwellings and business and taking lanes away from us which . . . wait for it . . . cause more f’ing traffic. The schools are doing poorly and worse then when I moved here 14-years ago. Crime is going up, traffic is going up, honestly the quicker I can leave this town, this state the better. I f’ing hate Reston. I f’ing hate Virginia. Hey look what happens when democrats take over . . . everything turns to crap.

  • Osinovsky Alex

    Reston

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