News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

At Elite RTC, Park Like A Butterfly, Get Clamped Like A Bee (Updated)


As Reston starts a new, somehow even more elite year, our fabulous fake downtown has, in fact, implemented paid parking. But what if you forget, or maybe "forget," to download the fabulous Park RTC app, follow the 34-step registration process which at least probably doesn't translate your personal information into Cyrillic for the convenience of our new Russian data overlords, and then use your stubby fingers to (hopefully) enter your license plate number? What fresh hell awaits parking scofflaws in our new world order?

They won't boot your car, silly rabbits! That's like something you'd see in a real icky downtown, where poors people might not even have the means to pay for a smartphone and data plan to manage their parking when they pull their late model domestic vehicles over to stop at a "bodega," or whatever, because they don't have elite midscale chain shopping options like cupcakeries and gourmet salad places. Instead, you'll experience a premium parking enforcement experience:

Repeat offenders could be stuck with the “bumblebee,” a device that is suctioned to the windshield so a driver cannot see out to drive a car away. To get the device removed, they must call security and pay a $35 fee.
No word on whether the suction cups are made of premium velvet.

The funny thing is that this device is usually called a "barnacle." But we guess the elite crisis management team advising RTC decided that sounded too crusty and reminiscent of non-elite seaside villages where a different class of people say things like "chowda" and "wicked sad bah scene," so they "rebranded" our parking immobilizer of choice to fit in with our more sophisticated sensibilities.

We haven't seen our first bumblebee in the wild as of yet, as we carb-binged on midscale chain appetizers over the weekend while parking was still free. And the crisis management folks said that they'd gradually ramp up enforcement. But just as certain as spring, they're coming.

Update: The RTC crisis management charm offensive continues. Feast your eyes on this explanation of how to (maybe) get your parking validated.

Easy Peasy

Somehow this Proustian explanation doesn't include the actually useful tidbit that not all validations are valid in all RTC garages (what?), but that's somewhat moot since our eyes glazed over somewhere around the fifth line of text until the all-caps SESSION OPTIONS jolted us awake again, the end.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Woonerfing In An Earth-Toned New Year: What's Hot and What's Not in 2017

Trash truck on fire

Has 2016 got you down? After a year that felt a lot like this, we're all ready to see what a new year will look like. So once again, this filthy "web log" is offering its totally original "In/Out List" for 2017. Take heed, or prepare to "graduate" to Ashburn, where particleboard is always "in" and the parking is (still) free, the end.

Reston's Seven PrinciplesElitism
Road dietsTraffic circles
High-rise mauvescrapersHigh-rise schools
Silver LineScrapping the Silver Line
CGI granniesCGI dealmakers
Free parkingDubious smartphone apps
AirBnBTiny studio apartments
Cougars at JacksonsBobcats everywhere else
ParallelogramsWavy architectural adornments
Long waits for traffic improvementsNo wait for new taxes
to pay for them
Community outreachCrisis management
Unsuccessful court challengesUnchecked development
through regular channels
Lake HouseLeak House
Trojan horsesSpillway art

Peeping tom

Same, CGI Granny. SAME.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Very Reston Christmas Carol

The Ghost of Christmas Past:

Xmas past

From Reston, Remember When:

Fifty years ago today, on December 18, 1966, Dr. James Christian Pfohl directed The Reston Chorale in an outdoor concert -- billed as "Christmas in a New Town" -- at Lake Anne's Washington Plaza. About 40 members of the new ensemble sang from a tree-shaped platform, including Reston Founder Bob Simon. The Reston Children's Choir formed the base of the tree, conducted by Marion Dillard. Other ensembles performed that day, as well, including the Bram Smith brass repertory ensemble and the choir of Herndon High School. WETA-TV filmed the concert and aired on Christmas Eve. The National Education Television Network also broadcast the concert nationwide throughout the holiday season.

The Ghost of Christmas Present, courtesy of a uniformed federal agent:

Xmas Present

The Ghost of Christmas Future, or really just the Ghost of A Week From Tuesday:

Xmas future

Have a happy healthy elite holiday!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Never Mind The Bollards: Woonerf Is The New Reston Hawtness for 2017


As Reston Station continues to grow, the massive mixed-use development that gave us our beloved fanciful concrete bollards will now give us something completely different: woonerf.

As part of plans to expand Reston Station into the low-rise office condo complex between the existing development and Sunset Hills Road, developer Comstock is proposing 500 residential units, 91,000 square feet of retail, and 178,000 square feet of office and/or hotel space, a suspiciously elite name (The Promenade at Reston Station) -- and a lil' old dash of woonerf.

But what exactly is woonerf? Give us some pedantic definition blockquote, BFFs at the New York Times:

Roughly translated as “living streets,” the woonerf (pronounced VONE-erf) functions without traffic lights, stop signs, lane dividers or even sidewalks. Indeed, the whole point is to encourage human interaction; those who use the space are forced to be aware of others around them, make eye contact and engage in person-to-person interactions.
INDEED. Several other DC-area developments by Reston-centric developers, including JBG, have embraced this concept, though to hear them tell it, it was all a happy accident:
One of DC’s leading developers, The JBG Cos, stumbled upon this concept by accident, principal Bryan Moll says. While designing Parcel C of the Atlantic Plumbing project in Shaw, architects were having issues introducing curbs and began to investigate curbless environments. They chose to create a 40-foot-wide street, rendered above, that will allow two-way traffic alongside pedestrians and bicyclists.
The idea isn't new, even in Reston. The "limited vehicular access" portions of Reston Station's fabled "civic plaza" reflect the same thinking, only with more inscrutable art and ambiguously sexualized barnyard animal statuary. You might be wondering if having pedestrian areas through which cellphone-distracted SUV drivers are permitted to pull into to check out the chain retail streetscape more closely might be a bit dangerous. You, silly rabbits, are clearly NOT urban planners:
Shared streets with little to no vehicle signage have actually been proven to improve pedestrian safety. They can only work in certain areas where slow driving won’t gridlock the city. Drivers will have to tolerate some congestion, though Stan says that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “My goal has always been to create a little bit of congestion,” Stan says.
Well, the area around Reston Station certainly has the congestion part down already. Woonerf for the win!
“The more people walking, the slower cars can move. The result is a safer environment where commerce—which relies on cars—can thrive. You can’t make everywhere a place you can drive through, it's much better to have places to drive to.”
But if you do want to drive through, McTacoHut is just a short woonerf away (for now).

For those of us feeling a bit bruised by the blistering pace of change in our beloved earth-toned community, let us offer a bit of reassuring continuity. See the woonerfy rendering above? Remove the Photoshopped SUV (sorry to obliterate the fourth wall there), and you'll see an old familiar friend:

Woonerf Bollards

Screen shot 2010 05 11 at 10 06 29 AM

Forgive us if we get a bit emotional.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Happy Holidays: Three Grinchy Developments To Separate Restonians From Their Money in 2017

GrinchHow's your holiday season going so far? Unless you wanted to run an Airbnb or ride the Silver Line, hopefully okay! Just don't overdo it on the conspicuous consumption, because three recent developments hint at more money leaving our earth-toned wallets, purses, or other appropriate conveyances in 2017:

• Our BFFs at Reston2020 inform us that the machinations to create the Very Special Tax District to (eventually) fund solutions to the (present-day) congestion created by all the wacky bollardy development is proceeding apace to its inevitable conclusion. Give us some infuriating blockquote, BFFs at R2020:

In its planned presentation to the Board of Supervisors acting as the "Board Transportation Committee" this Tuesday, December 13, FCDOT will recommend that the Board adopt Option #12, a Transportation Service District (TSD) for Reston's station areas with a tax rate of $0.021/$100 valuation. This tax will apply to all property owners in the station areas, including residents.

Although the initial tax rate would be set at $0.021/$100 valuation, there is absolutely no restriction on the Board raising that rate (just like property tax rates) as transportation improvement costs rise. Moreover, as assessed property rates rise, the cost to residents will increase with appreciation. (Note: As we documented just last month, early estimates of major roadway improvement costs routinely double and triple in a very short period of time.)

Despite FCDOT's assertion of broad endorsement of this tax, no community representative from the Metro station areas has served on the Reston Network Analysis Group (RNAG). The only Restonian who lives in these areas serving on the RNAG is a stakeholder representative who is a paid representative of Boston Properties as Executive Director of the Reston Town Center Association. This is truly taxation without representation.

The county Board of Supervisors still has to approve the Very Special Tax District, but they can do so whenever they choose. Right now, the tentative date for a public hearing would be in February.

• After a spot of negative PR and some elite crisis management, our favorite fake downtown "lifestyle center and office hub" is instituting its fun, app-based paid parking system on January 3. Hope you get one of those sweet, whazzitcalled, smartphones for Christmas, before you have to pay to go to the RTC Apple Store to pick one up!

• Oh, and we almost forgot: The annual RA assessment is going up to $698 in 2017 -- that's a $41 increase, or, in terms we all can understand, the equivalent of 20.5 trips to our elite lifestyle center and office hub. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Sharing Economy Stops at Reston, Sort Of

Airbnb drbThat great government contracting job strapping bombs to dolphins providing "services" to the Federal Office of Subregulation Enforcement of Federal Office Regulations, Micronesia Region not bringing in enough "cheddar," as the kids haven't said in years? Well, no worries! You can just strap a giant pink mustache on the front of your car and start driving for Uber or Lyft... or you could really bring in the cash by offering to rent out your swank 70s condo to tourists excited about mixed-use suburban development, or being an unreliable hour-long Metro ride away from the inner-city hellhole that is downtown DC, through a service like Airbnb. Fans of recently demolished brutalist architecture and exciting midscale chain dining will be blazing a path to your door before you know it!

Only not.

As Confidential Restonian Operative "Elizabeth" put it: "RA has gotten all hot under the collar about Airbnb, and has begun sending official cease-and-desist letters, written by actual lawyers not the DRB, to the peasants."

In fact, our favorite homeowners association has created a fancy new home-sharing policy, inappropriate hyphen and all. It states:

Despite changing times, Reston has an obligation to uphold and enforce its covenants in accordance with their terms and conditions, and as informed or interpreted by local ordinances, when appropriate.. Fairfax County recently issued guidance on its interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance with regard to short-term rentals and Reston has begun enforcing its own covenants in accordance with that interpretation.

Reston has a duty to its Members to enforce the covenants and restrictions put in place to preserve the character and serenity that has made Reston the community it is today. As the County has now officially determined that short-term rentals violate the Zoning Ordinance, Reston has a duty to enforce the covenants incorporating the Zoning Ordinance and to take action against Members in violation thereof.

There's a bunch of other stuff about Section 6.2(b)(17) of the Reston Master Deed, but we all know that by heart, right?

But not all is lost! If you live in one of our groovy earth-toned single-family homes, you could apply for a Very Special Exception to run your home as a bed and breakfast, which means you can have "five or fewer guest rooms... rented to transient visitors for a period not to exceed 30 days." (Insert obligatory joke about in-laws here.)

As CRO "Elizabeth" points out, "apparently "Live Work Play Get Involved " doesn't apply to peasants who own townhouses and condos. But - have a single family home the rest of us can't afford ? Feel free to charge for visits."

While this is more the fault of the county than the RA, we wonder what's next. No Uber parking allowed in our beautiful 70s carports? No dog-walking services unless the leashes are all an approved shade of brown? Will they rip up the fancy new BikeShare stations? The mind boggles, the end.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Newest Threat To The Reston Way Of Life: Bobcats

RTC bobcat2

Forget copperheads, cannibalistic insects, invasive flora, floating nightmare hellspawn, even whatzzitczlled, Pokemons. There's a new apex predator prowling our earth-toned paradise, and it isn't even well-versed in land use regulations. Apparently we're in danger of BEING OVERRUN BY BOBCATS.

A vigilant Restonian posted on some other internet thingy:

Saw a Bobcat on Triple Crown Road last night at 5:00 AM when my security lights came on. Very interesting critter, appeared to be very healthy, plump, about one and half to two feet high. Most likely a female with a thick light brown coat. We will see many more Bobcats in the near future if it was a young female. Bobcats are very shy, nocturnal and typically will not bother humans, but it is best to give them space since they are wild and may feel they have to protect a litter. Be careful letting small pets out in the early morning since Bobcats are great hunters.
"Looks like there's big trouble in River City (or would that be Remediated Stream City?)" our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, notes. He offers the following thoughts:
Does this mean that the days are numbered for our Canadian Geese WMD (Weapons of Mess Defecation)? Or, if the bobcat is a vegan, that it might be an honorary Weed Warrior and munch away at our invasive English ivy? If it came from Loudoun County, are we permitted to chant "Build that particleboard wall! Build that particleboard wall!"?

Or, horror of horrors, given that description -- female, with a thick light brown coat, very healthy and plump -- could it in fact have been a cougar from Jackson's scouting out new territory to prowl for fresh meat, given the imminent arrival of paid parking at RTC ? Maybe it indeed was a case of mistaken identity, because as [they] helpfully pointed out, "it is best to give them space since they are wild." The mind shudders.

Far be it from this humble "web log" to stir the flames of Internets panic, but we think it's clear WE'RE ALL DOOMED. Time to bow before our feline overlords, the end.