Guest Commentary: Future of Our City is in Her Taxpayer’s Hands

October 31, 2013 10:16 AM0 comments

By Dan Sze

I am running for City Council for all of us whether you have chosen to live in a mid-rise development, townhome or single family home – it is vital that we all do what we can to preserve, enhance and celebrate all the people who make our City special.

I believe in straightforward, smart, pragmatic solutions. I want to implement quickly the smaller things everyone can agree to and add to our quality of life. I will take this approach on issues such as making streetscapes suitable for walking and biking, allowing commercial landowners to maintain city landscaping, and any number of other easily-solvable issues.

I will vote yes on the referendum to sell the water system and urge you to do the same.

Our city is facing big, important decisions. I will use my knowledge, experience and skills to help the city make those decisions, shaping her future and achieve progress in important areas that matter to all of us:

Our great schools enhance real estate value and create prosperous citizens. We need our young citizens to be prepared for the global marketplace because we will rely on them to support our needs in the near future. That is why I support a new high school and will work with the School Board to address the pressures in the lower grades and adequate funding for operations. Any approval of the annual budget request would be accompanied by careful review. I have just toured the schools and have seen the situation with my own eyes.

Residential property taxes are increasing at an unsustainable rate. I will reassess our position on risk and our fund reserve. I will do my part to control the tendency to spend simply because the money is there. I will decelerate real estate tax pressure on our mature citizens because it is in our interest to preserve residential neighborhoods and ease climbing pupil enrollments. Enlarging all other areas of the revenue pie is the only solution to solving the annual real estate tax rate increase.

We must create a well-designed city and properly redevelop our commercial corridors to sustain the future. Growth will come to our city and I bring leadership that understands how an intelligently-designed city looks and works. Development addressing our underserved demographic – young professionals and singles, who will demand interesting and unique, high-revenue generating retail spaces that are regional attractions – will pay for city services and the school system and bring wonderful places to shop and dine in our City. My previous experience on City Council (2006-2010) produced environmentally-sustainable developments targeted at achieving economic prosperity while yielding revenues which saved property owners from paying millions in higher residential tax collections every year. In any redevelopment of our commercial corridors, I pledge full support to our current community of unique small businesses and will work with them to help maintain our existing retail establishments and ensure that they stay and flourish.

Redevelopment land-use decisions must consider all impacts, including increased vehicular traffic and parking. Additional municipal parking must be created. I will address the safety issue caused by cut-through commuting and congestion caused by pass-through traffic by working with the State and adjoining jurisdictions.

I will take a harder look at where our zoning is inadequate or obsolete and will seek to codify the small sector, special-use district plans under a clear system of economic and planning bonuses and disincentives to encourage the redevelopment we desire. We can begin by mandating wider sidewalks and need to do more of these straightforward, smart, pragmatic actions.

I advocate taking advantage of opportunities to ensure future stability and which will eventually fund a new high school by looking for highest and best use revenue-generating facilities on the 10+ acres available for non-educational uses subsequent to a vote approving the water system sale. I envision the future identity of this area to reflect an advanced technology manufacturing, future industries, research campus orientation unique to Northern Virginia; and one that will optimize the Silver Line, direct access to two airports and a major interstate. I will interact with relationships in neighboring jurisdictions to seek partnerships to maximize this opportunity for all our mutual benefit.

When we moved into this City over two decades ago, a Falls Church citizen approached me to help him with a small chipper-shredder. When I asked him what was hoped to be accomplished with such a modest effort; he said that he envisioned a city-wide enterprise harvesting and making leaf mulch available to all. From that experience, I learned where to stand when you need to swing for the fences. I learned that, together, we can have a vision and achieve major objectives. Where others see challenges, I see opportunity. I ask for your vote this November and I will work for the betterment of our City every day.

 


Dan Sze is running for election to the Falls Church City Council in November.

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