F.C. Absent From Regional ‘Activity Centers’
It was with pleasure that I read in last week’s Falls Church News-Press that a city official has such a good understanding of modern urban planning principles. Specifically, the article described Planning Director Jim Snyder’s characterization of this City’s current Floor to Area (FAR) ratios in its prime commercial corridors as “woefully short of where they need to be…”
FAR ratios relate directly to the density of building structures. Higher density allows for a larger number of people who can work and live in these buildings. This, in turn, provides what is needed to support a thriving and diverse mix of retail shops. These retail shops would provide additional tax revenue for the City. Just as important, City residents would find it unnecessary to get in a car and drive to other jurisdictions to purchase basic necessities.
This is not a novel concept. In fact, all 21 of the local metropolitan Washington, D.C. jurisdictions (including the City of Falls Church) signed off on a comprehensive guide for regional planning called “Region Forward.” This guide, issued by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, describes the benefits of establishing Activity Centers (subsequently renamed Complete Communities) which are self-sufficient areas of higher density.
Unfortunately, the City of Falls Church is not included in the current list of Activity Centers/Complete Communities.
Increasing FAR ratios for our commercial corridors will be an important step to living up to the vision contained in Region Forward, and for insuring the viability of the City as an independent jurisdiction.
Peruvian Voters Also Victims of Predatory Towing
The predatory towing company’s were busy this past week, weren’t they now?
First, the poor out-of-towner’s who dared to attend our Memorial Day parade, and now the voters attending the Peruvian election at our schools, were once again victimized by these greedy, money-hungry businesses and towing companies.
The city needs to take some action to stop these predatory towers, at the very least during special occasions! Don’t they realize the damage they are doing to the “Little City”s reputation?
I’m interested to see what will happen at the upcoming Tinner Hill festival. I’m sure the tow truck drivers are rubbing their hands together in anticipation, with a big grin on their faces.
Hillwood Avenue, Annandale Road Crossing Woes
The problems with the current crossing of Hillwood Ave and Annandale Rd are continuing to get worse. I use this route multiple times a day several days of the week and here are some of the problems:
1. Lack of enforcement of the left turn only (also a good thing since when the police do enforce it the invariably stop the offender in a traffic lane causing more problems)
2. People speeding to sudden merges to avoid left turn only lane.
3. Massive backups on Annandale Rd since the timing of the light is not sufficient to allow traffic on a major thru way (Annandale Rd). This is extremely bad at the intersection of Washington St and Annandale Rd, as cars during rush hour end up blocking one or more lanes of Washington St.
Since this change was to make getting onto Hillwood Ave easier and to prevent left turn backups at that light, I’d say this particular approach failed.
What should be done now is a
1. Remove the left turn only signs.
2. Re-sequence the lights (this should be a minimal cost since all the parts should be there to do it) so each direction to goes by itself.
For example First Annandale towards city center, Second Annandale away from city center, Third Hillwood towards Washington St, Forth Hillwood towards Seven Corners
This would allow those who need to turn left the freedom to do so (including those on Hillwood who still get a backup under the current setup), and thru flow on the lanes reducing congestion.
Don’t Forget Plight of Poor in This Region
Summer is here again in Falls Church, which means — among other things — vacations, the end of school, and burgers and barbecue on the grill. But while we enjoy the great food that summer offers, we should also take a step back to reflect on how privileged we are to be able to do so.
Many people, even in our area, which boasts some of the richest counties in the United States, live in poverty or are otherwise without access to adequate food and nutrition. The official poverty rate in Northern Virginia isM around 5%, meaning over 90,000 people live in poverty in our area, about 30,000 of whom are children.
The issue of hunger in Northern Virginia has only gotten worse in recent years as a result of the economic recession. After paying a visit to the Merrifield warehouse of Food for Others, a local nonprofit that serves as our area’s primary safety net for those needing emergency food assistance, I and a number of other students at George Mason High School were inspired to see what we could do to help out.
We created Food Justice, a new service club to educate our fellow students about food insecurity in our area and to help out in any way possible. Over the past two weeks, we have been running a food drive at Mason for Food for Others. It ends Friday, June 10, but anyone who can still donate canned food or other nonperishable items is strongly encouraged to do so.
Even if that is not possible, there is still a wealth of opportunities available for Falls Church residents who want to help out with the issue of food insecurity in our area. The Falls Church News-Press along with Diener and Associates is also running a food drive for Food for Others, which will end on July 4. Additionally, Food for Others lists a number of other options for volunteering on their website, www.foodforothers.org.
Food insecurity and hunger aren’t issues people think about often in Northern Virginia, but they are serious ones, and any help is appreciated.
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