Controversy has shrouded the planning process of Tysons once again, this time in protest to the long debated (over two years in fact) tax for infrastructure on all land owners in the district. At its heart opponents believe the tax is just another nuisance being imposed on them, and many say it should be the developers who pay for these costs, as they reap all the benefits. Some feel that Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors envisioned plans that were grand, but avoided figuring out a way to pay for it. They believe the unforeseen costs are now being passed onto the residents.
Those are interesting points, but sadly most who are arguing this case simply have not been in touch with the discussions and reality of the past three years. This is not saying they are incapable of understanding what is going on, it is that good information in context is often much less interesting. Why delve into the depths of what is involved and has been debated on a tax, when you can simply blame developers and call the whole plan a boondoggle doomed from the onset.
The Comprehensive plan, and the many months of planning that came there after have worked towards finding equitable solutions to funding, schedule, and needs in Tysons. Opponents are quick to point fingers at the most visible object of grievance, and this is what continues to happen time after time. Even more shocking is that most of the time the angst is being generated by people who don't even live in Tysons and are unaffected by these tax options and planning decisions.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting there were residents of Tysons who were against the tax. Then again, who in their right mind wouldn't try to avoid a new tax? I mean, the goal should always be to negotiate the minimum absolute need, right? So with that in mind, I can completely understand the protest to the tax. However, what these protesters continue to leave out is what the decisions of this Board, and ongoing funding provided by private developers, have meant to the values and marketability of their units in Tysons.
Since the Board pushed for the Silver Line's approval home values in Tysons have risen 25 percent, in some cases 50 percent. This at a time when most of the country saw values collapse. This is an illiquid value, but it is equity none the less. Beyond this, the rental value of their property, something that could make them money, has risen significantly paralleling and often exceeding rates in Reston.
How about the economic well being of the city? During the past three years several companies selected Tysons as their home to be close to Metro, within state-of-the-art buildings, and in an area which is growing and becoming a true urban core for business. This means more high paying jobs being located within short drives, or in some cases walks, for Tysons residents. The productivity gained from not having to drive 30 minutes to get a job is worth thousands of dollars in saved time, let alone the savings for travel that many who don't have the luxury of a next-door job market incur. These are all tangible benefits that residents are gaining through this process.
Now, I do have some serious qualms against the tax. While I am not as outraged as some that I didn't get to vote for this tax (blame an archaic state law for the reason why this won't be voted on), I am very disappointed that through out this process the voice of residents in Tysons isn't being listened to for which projects are needed, and when these improvements will occur. This has been highlighted by the disconnect that occurred in opposition to a toll road exit planned through one of the few green spaces in Tysons. It wasn't just the destruction of the park that opponents stood against, but the idea that one of the first steps to making Tysons more urban and resident friendly was to destroy something aesthetic to help commuters use cars more easily.
I am upset with Fairfax County that they continue to push for Route 7 to be widened, a project which will cost a half billion dollars and goes against the purpose of the comprehensive plan to promote safe alternative transportation options. It is more of the same, and sadly I believe it will be pushed to the top of the list of early projects that are deemed a "must have" because of the political connotations of its construction. We residents in Tysons deserve to have more of a say on Table 7, but instead we must continue to listen to transportation planners who have only one solution, more pavement.
As an agreement to this new tax, I believe the residents of Tysons should be given an elected chairman to vote on their behalf for matters involving public works projects within the district. This solution would ensure that Tysons' residents, those who are being taxed, are not consistently silenced by the much larger population of Fairfax living outside of Tysons.This tax is necessary. The state has all but abandoned us to find our own source of funds, regardless of how many times Governor McDonnell drops by to champion an accomplishment he had nothing to do with. Without a change in that dynamic, the big problems we have in Fairfax will need a local funding source in order to be solved.
I am a resident of Tysons, I plan on being so for many years, and I am for this tax.
Tysons Engineer is a resident of Tysons and has lived in Fairfax County for nearly 30 years. He is the founder of TheTysonsCorner.com, a website discussing community events and development activity in Tysons. He has no association with development projects in Fairfax County but is passionate about promoting responsible planning and communicating smart growth policies to residents of the County.
Local Road Funds Unlikely to Come from General Assembly
LTE: Tysons Tax District Should Worry Us
Fairfax Board Defers Vote on Tysons Tax District
Tysons Tax District Hearing Scheduled for Tuesday
Fairfax County Endorses Tax Hike for Tysons Transportation