The seven-member City Council enacts ordinances and resolutions, approves budgets, sets tax rates, and establishes policy.
Leslie and I bought our City home in 1985. Our kids attended City schools K-12. Before my 2012 Council election, I served on the Economic Development Auth., Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Transportation, and FC Education Foundation, to name a few.
1) Preserve The Fields (on Ellison St.) as affordable for our lower-income residents; 2) work with neighboring jurisdictions, the state, and the non-profit and faith communities on a regionwide plan to build more affordable housing; 3) hold our City property tax rate level, helping existing homeowners afford to age in place. Already, Council has helped more City residents remain in their homes by expanding property tax relief and deferral for income-eligible senior citizens. And we are adding significantly to the supply of workforce housing by requiring developers to include affordable units in all new mixed-use communities, such as Westbroad, Lincoln Tinner Hill, Founders Row (Broad & West), and West Falls Church Gateway (old GMHS site).
Because Falls Church is at the historic crossroads of close-in Northern Virginia, we see tens of thousands of vehicles travel through our City every day. Our job is to create an expectation among those passing through that they must slow down and pay close attention — to children at neighborhood bus stops, and to pedestrians and cyclists. In recent years, Council has allocated more resources to neighborhood traffic calming, but I have called for a more ambitious effort, bond-financed if necessary, to design and build a robust traffic-calming infrastructure. I have supported Council’s expansion of on-street parking downtown, and required that new mixed-use buildings include adequate structured parking to accommodate residents and customers.
To better manage heavy-rain runoff, I voted for creating a City stormwater management utility with a dedicated funding source to improve infrastructure. As climate instability brings more frequent intense storms, we must raise our damage-prevention game, and Council has tasked City staff to do so. In one of the most significant open-space preservation moves in City history, this Council approved public purchase of the Fellows property (across from TJ school), which was slated for private construction of seven large houses. And I am proud to have supported construction of numerous mixed-use buildings with stormwater-capture capacity far superior to the outdated 1950s-era properties they replaced, which were mostly impervious pavement.
In areas outside Falls Church, new residents are pouring in — to Tysons, Merrifield/Dunn Loring, Arlington — straining our patience in the morning and evening rush hours. In response, we need to expand and diversify our City’s economy, so we can meet most of our needs very close to home, reducing our carbon footprint by walking, biking, or taking a short hop by car to buy groceries and household goods, dine out, see a movie, concert or play, visit the gym or a doctor, and so on. Directly ahead of us in 2020 is the challenge of finishing the new high school, then in 2021 on the old GMHS site, planning and building the West Falls Church Gateway development. By adding office, hotel, retail, dining, entertainment, outdoor space, and condos and apartments for a range of ages, it holds the promise of helping our City become a truly complete community. In the next few years, we have a golden opportunity to embrace progress while retaining and strengthening all that we love about our City.
*City Council Member since 2016
*City Council's Econ Dev & Appointments Committees
*Liaison to the Econ Dev Authority, Housing Commission, Rec & Parks Board, Arts & Humanities Council
*16+ year resident with deep FC roots
*UVA grad, econ & psychology
with links to my weekly blog posts
Housing affordability, while a regional and market challenge, needs to be a local priority. (1) Keep a tight rein on budgets and capital projects so property taxes don't further exacerbate affordability. As a Council member, I've made prudent budget choices and expanded senior tax relief (2) Preserve the affordable housing here, eg The Fields, and add more workforce housing options so teachers, police officers, service workers can afford to live closer to their jobs. In my tenure, we've negotiated new affordable units that will never expire (3) Learn from housing reform happening across the US, like new zoning tools that incent keeping/renovating smaller homes vs teardowns and how diverse housing types can help- cottages, micronunits, ADUs.
I've advocated for more sidewalks, crosswalks, biking/bikeshare, bus, transit access, and dedicated funding in the budget for pedestrian improvements. By providing safer alternatives, we make it easier to not drive, which reduces congestion. At the same time - some may need to drive, so we should ensure we have adequate parking so our businesses can thrive. I've added 30+ spaces in the downtown with on street spaces and more efficient layout in parking lots. I support the parking study underway, improve wayfinding to the public parking, and forecast the parking supply needed for the future. I'd also support funding a city-wide traffic calming push, extra police enforcement, and signage to address cut through traffic and speeding issues.
I'm proud that in my tenure, the City has purchased the Fellows Property, adding 2 acres of open space as a future park. We should keep looking for strategic acquisitions. We've also brought major improvements in many of our parks such as Cherry Hill, Mr. Brown's Park, and Big Chimneys soon - recreational, gathering space is critical to quality of life. I support updating our city code with more stringent tree preservation for residential and commercial development, tree replacement fund, and higher tree canopy coverage goals. As we experience more severe weather, mature trees boost our resilience by absorbing stormwater runoff. We've pushed public and private building to higher standards: LEED certified City Hall and net-zero ready GMHS.
The current City Council has been ambitious in tackling many priorities at the same time. We have not been a single issue team - so to succeed, we need to do all of this well (1) With the $120M new high school underway that is a huge, generational project, we need to continue our excellent partnership with the schools and execute flawlessly, on time and on budget, and kickoff the economic development project that is defraying some of the costs (2) With an expected recession, we have sound planning in place, but will still require extra diligence in our finances and be willing to make hard decisions, especially with construction costs escalating (3) Big picture issues - create strategic plans and projects to sustain us for the future: climate change, affordability, stormwater, traffic (see answers above) (4) Finally, as we continue evolving into a vibrant, welcoming city for all - we need to balance our small town charm with growth, so our community values remain a part of our identity.
While born and raised in Northern Virginia, it took Falls Church to provide me a forever-home community where I wanted to raise my family.
With two kids in the schools and a wife who works there, I remain heavily invested in Falls Church's future.
It's essential that Falls Church remains an inclusive and welcoming community for all, including those of varying income levels.
We are working towards that goal by expanding tax relief for seniors and folks with disabilities, obtaining affordable units in new developments for the life of the project (instead of 30 years as in the past) and exploring ways to ensure that our current affordable stock remains in the system.
More broadly, we can keep the City affordable by keeping taxes as low as possible through continued economic growth and measured spending. Zoning changes may have a place in addressing affordability, but must be considered with care and community input.
Despite significant walkability improvements, cars remain the means of transportation for many.
Ensuring adequate parking is essential to the success of our downtown businesses.
This means better management of the parking we have and continuing our push for additional community parking in new developments.
It also means expanding traffic calming initiatives as well as adding more crosswalks and other pedestrian improvements.
With over a million cars driving through the City each month, it also means working with our neighbors to implement regional solutions. As the new chair of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, I hope to do just that.
Protecting our environment is essential, and we have been steadily "raising the bar" in this area.
We added City park land with the recently purchased "Fellows Property" and have completed the restoration of the Howard Herman stream valley.
We're building a new “net zero ready” high school from the ground up; its solar panels will eliminate the need for outside energy consumption.
I was on the streetscape task force and I'm committed to ensuring that our tree canopy remains an integral part of our charm.
Finally, we're upgrading our storm sewer system to address climate-change related flooding.
In short, getting through our City's most ambitious capital improvement plan.
We are in the midst of a great investment in our children's and City's future with construction of a new state-of-the-art high school, major renovations to our library and city hall, new open space, storm sewer and traffic calming measures.
Ensuring that these investments are soundly made and properly executed is critical to our City's long-term success.
Intertwined are our plans for 10 acres of economic development on City land, which can go a long way towards paying for the new high school. As a commercial real estate lawyer, I have extensive experience managing these kinds of projects.
Financial economist by training, AB, MBA from the University of Chicago. Worked in telecommunications and information services for an equipment manufacturer and as a consultant, in the US and Europe. Focused on climate and transportation since 2006.
703 863 1289
Many retirees on fixed incomes who have paid off their homes find their property tax bills burdensome. I support fiscal responsibility to keep taxes down and support allowing accessory dwelling units to help further aging in place.
I support revisions to the Comprehensive Plan, including measures to preserve and increase the number of Affordable Dwelling Units, and agree that the current rate of addition of ADUs is too slow. Included in these revisions should be reduced zoning restrictions to allow construction of more multifamily housing. I support using market tools where possible.
Transportation is often the second largest household expenditure in low and moderate households, and should be considered along with housing costs.
Much is known about transportation. For example, a professor at my alma mater won the Nobel Prize in economics in part for research on transportation demand. Sadly, much of the knowledge about transportation never gets to policy makers for a simple reason. While the school system is the responsibility of the school board, whose members presumably were elected because they have an interest and expertise in education, there is no corresponding transportation board whose members are elected because they have an interest and expertise in transportation. I have spent over a decade focused on transportation issues and intend to bring my experience and expertise to critical transportation issues including congestion, parking, and safety.
My concern about climate change and the increased incidence of severe weather is the primary reason I have been working on transportation--the number one source of GHG emissions--and the primary reason I am running for the City Council. We have to protect against severe damage and reduce the cause of severe weather: a global increase in GHG emissions. While we can’t solve this problem alone, it won’t be solved unless we lend our support. As for adaptation, first, I support an honest assessment of the storm risks that we face and development of a plan to address these risks. Second, I will support investing in green spaces, trees, pervious City infrastructure, and requirements that new buildings contribute to such adaptation.
A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system running on Route 7, which will provide transportation choice, reduce congestion, increase safety, reduce the need for additional parking, serve everyone, and reduce emissions, is planned in ten years. We can’t wait. We also need to be careful to ensure that it doesn’t suffer the same fate as the George Bus.
Pedestrian safety is of critical concern. People throughout the City have expressed concerns about the speed of cars in their neighborhoods, the number of cars, and the lack of sidewalks. The City Council should establish a clear policy with respect to speeds, develop a plan to realize that policy, and the City staff should implement such policy.
Bike safety is another concern. Different transportation modes--walking, biking, scooters, autos--don’t mix well, so I believe we need to develop and communicate clear "rules of the road" and develop dedicated bike lanes to reduce conflicts.