Hunter Mill District Supervisor Election: Meet Walter Alcorn

Five Democrats are running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor after Cathy Hudgins, the current supervisor, announced plans to retire earlier this year. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements for each of the candidates.

Statements, which are in question-and-answer format, are published in the order in which they are received. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. Stay tuned for a stand-alone article on the candidates’ positions on the recent sale of Reston National Golf Course.

What inspired you to run for this seat?

The Reston land use battles inspired me to run. As Reston grows around our new transit stations we must make sure infrastructure keeps pace, our green spaces are protected, and that we build on our tradition as the first open community in Virginia. New development must be managed to protect our residential neighborhoods, facilitate mobility, and provide housing and economic opportunities for all. Growth should not clog our roads nor price-out residents.

I am also running to improve the process for citizen engagement to ensure that communities are fully empowered in the planning and development review processes.

What are the three biggest concerns you have for Reston? What do you plan to do to address them?

My three biggest concerns for Reston are 1) plans for village center redevelopment, 2) balancing Reston’s population growth and infrastructure, and 3) preserving and increasing affordable housing. All three of these are guided in the adopted comprehensive plan.

And we need to update the comprehensive plan in 2020:

  1. Reston Village Center Redevelopment. Instead of the high-rises currently allowed in the adopted comprehensive plan, village centers such as South Lakes, Hunters Woods and North Point should undergo a rigorous community engagement process that reflects the needs and desires of the community before any density is assumed or development plans approved.

  2. Reston’s population growth. Should Reston’s population in 30 years be 90,000 — or in 40 years be 120,000, as suggested previously by the Coalition for a Planned Reston? This number should come from a community-wide discussion and a plan for balancing development and infrastructure. The result should be reflected in the comprehensive plan.

  3. Inclusivity and affordable housing. New county plan language on retaining existing affordable housing is sorely needed. The best approach may not always be redevelopment at three-to-four times current densities. Our kids growing up here should be able to afford to live here in the future.

How can the county improve how it manages growth and development in this growing community, especially as it relates to infrastructure needs, transportation, and affordable housing?

First, modify the comprehensive plan for Reston as suggested above.

Second, empower communities to chart their own future. For example, concerning efforts to redevelop Reston’s golf courses into other uses, the adopted comprehensive plan specifies their use as golf courses. As Hunter Mill Supervisor I would strengthen the role of affected residents by not initiating any possible change to the comprehensive plan until communities surrounding the courses so requested (i.e., residents in affected clusters — not developer-owned properties). Even then there must be support from the broader community (e.g., golfers, users of the trails through the course). Absent such support the golf courses should remain golf courses.

Third, we should accelerate critical infrastructure improvements to failing intersections, make or improve inadequate bicycle and pedestrian connections to transit and to workplaces.

These changes should be done through the One Fairfax lens which recognizes diversity as a core strength of Fairfax County. We should be inspired by and seek to carry forward the vision of Reston founder Robert E. Simon Jr. who created the first open community in Virginia — a place where people of all races could live together. Today we face new challenges to ensure inclusion and equity on many levels, including race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, income, ability, or where someone lives or has lived.

What do you hope to accomplish in this position?

  1. Clean up the Reston Phase 2 Comprehensive Plan (see above).

  2. Implement the affordable housing land use reforms developed by a work group I chaired in 2017 to get thousands of new affordable units across Fairfax County. This includes policies to allow old office parks and commercial centers to convert to mixed income communities but only with significantly higher affordable housing commitments — closer to 30 percent than the current 10 percent.

  3. Develop a Fairfax County Energy and Climate Action Plan for both county operations — 3 percent of the local problem — and its residents and businesses which generate 97 percent of Fairfax County greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The plan should incorporate the following:

  1. Affordable Living/Housing Strategy. Focus benefits of this plan (e.g., lower energy bills) on communities that would benefit the most as an extension of the county’s affordable housing initiatives.

  2. Sustainable Mobility. Prioritize low-carbon transportation options and related strategies around transit, walking, biking, telecommuting, electric vehicles, and emerging mobility options that reduce GHG emissions.

  3. Incorporate Renewable Energy Strategies into Facility Renovations and New Construction Projects. Plan and budget for the implementation of solar, wind and other renewable energy generation into the County’s Capital Improvement Program.

  1. End monopolistic ownership of the core of Reston Town Center by including updated language in the Reston Comprehensive Plan. When a single landowner controls the accessible parking garages, storefronts and streets with no public ownership nor public spaces the broader community suffers from unnecessary parking fees and other arbitrary decisions.

Photo via Walter Alcorn

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