News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, April 13, 2018

When Transit Oriented Development Gives You No Infrastructure, Make Transit Oriented Lemonade

Confidential Restonian Operative "Robert" sent us this cellular telephone photograph taken on the outskirts of Reston Town Center, near Bluemont Drive and the Hyatt Parking Garage. Aw, it's nice that they put up a sign to warn passing motorists about pedestrians. But wait, what are those flags?

In case you can't read the concise, user-friendly instructions for which RTC is deservedly famous, our favorite stressful, city-like shopping center has come up with a cunning plan to keep their less elite patrons -- the ones who show up on foot or (shudder) bike instead of paying a completely reasonable price to park -- from being run over before getting to enjoy a premium midscale chain retail experience. That's right, silly rabbits, they literally want people to pick up a cheap plastic flag and wave it at speeding cars as they cross the street, then return it to a receptacle if once they make it!

This may be the last post ever on this filthy "web log." We couldn't possibly top this.

In TOTALLY UNRELATED news, there's no truth to the rumor that Fairfax County is scheduling the first of fourteen public impact hearings about potentially replacing the proposed W&OD trail pedestrian bridge across Wiehle Avenue with a similar bucket-o-flags, although preliminary design studies won't be completed until early 2022. "We can't stop development waiting for a handful of 49 cent plastic flags to be bolted haphazardly onto an existing signpost," a county planning official didn't say, probably, the end.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Split Ticket: RA Board Election Pulls One Winner From Each 'Slate'; In Other News Dogs and Cats Expected To Start Living Together (Updated)

The RA Board elections are now over, and there's something to please everyone backers of each "slate."

Among the winners were incumbents Sridhar Ganesan (Sharks 4 for Reston) and Julie Bitzer, as well as returning board member Andy Sigle (Jets Alliance for Better Reston) and newcomer Ven Iyer. In case you're counting, each of the four-candidate slates succeeded in electing one person, a .250 average (pretty great for baseball, maybe not so much for golf?)

Highly relatable rezoning humor aside, as predicted, all the vitriol the Internets could muster for the contested seats did not result in massive turnout (PDF). The two at-large seats each drew 19 percent turnover, on par with last year's more genteel election, while the contested South Lakes seat did slightly better, with 23 percent of eligible households casting votes.

While we're happy that multiple people were willing to face a bunch of largely undeserved grief for what amounts to a thankless job, neither 4 for Reston nor the Alliance for Better Reston achieved their shared goal of world HOA domination. What does this mean for our plastic fantastic real estate development? Will the two slates put down their... um, chalk, metaphorically speaking, and work together against the very real issues Reston faces? It seems like there's a fairly common understanding of what the Board needs to do (not buy any more leaky lakefront property, and just maybe take a leadership role nudging county officials on development issues), so we're assuming all will be fine.

The new board will meet for the first time Wednesday, but in a RESTONIAN WORLD EXCLUSIVE, we have footage of the meeting as it just might happen:

Update: And now, another seat is available on the board. Hunters Woods/Dogwood Board Member Victoria White resigned Wednesday after moving out of her district. But no fun election this time! Interested candidates can apply at the link by May 11 and will be selected by the RA Board.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

BREAKING: Late Stage Capitalism Manifests Itself In North Reston Retail Node

Please to be enjoying this totally normal cellular telephone photo of suburban wage slaves voluntarily spending a bitterly windy night in Reston's North Point Village Center in heady anticipation not of spiritual enlightenment or a shared cultural experience, but free chicken sandwiches. Not since the heady days of Targetville have we seen so many campsites conveniently located next to a retail node.

Savvy critics of late-stage capitalism will draw much meaning from the symbolic occupation of the "drive-thru," calling it an unconscious manifestation of our collective fears of a post Peak Oil landscape in which our car-centric suburban way of life will be replaced by something far simpler, perhaps even antediluvian. In reality, though, the positioning of the tents has more to do with FREE CHICKEN SAMMICHES ZOMG.

And for the second time in a month, FAKE NEWS has reared its ugly head when it comes to Restonians' spontaneous demonstrations. Consider this photo purporting to be the North Point Shopping Center:

We don't know what godforsaken suburban retail node this photo was taken in, but the overhead power lines are a dead giveaway. Capitalism certainly has its benefits (FREE CHICKEN SAMMICHES), but at least the communists knew how to airbrush out inconvenient details in their photos, the end.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Will Lexus Lanes Mar Reston's Ford Focus Future? Almost Certainly

Even as economists wring their hands and warn of the imminent hellish dystopian economic hellscape in which Reston residents will be forced to drive Ford Foci, plans are in the works to jack up tolls on the Toll Road introduce "variable-rate pricing," which has brought us awesomely disruptive high-tech innovations like $47-plus tolls on I-66, to our favorite E-Ticket ride to Tysons Corner, the Dulles Toll Road. Give us some cautiously worded verbiage, BFFs at the Washington Post:

Dulles Toll Road officials are eager to talk about an equipment upgrade that will bring the more than 30-year-old toll collection system into the modern age. The new system will allow drivers to pay by credit card and offer a self-service option for those who don’t have an E-ZPass transponder.

What McKeough and others are reluctant to tout, however, is how the $23.4 million upgrade will give the system the ability to charge variable tolls — such as changing prices based on the time or day or amount of traffic.

McKeough emphasized that no decision has been made on whether MWAA would move to a congestion-based pricing system.

“That is a policy question,” she said. “And I am here to talk about construction.”

MWAA board chairman Warner Session did not respond to requests for comment about the project or whether the panel was considering variable tolls.

The Post notes (with considerable understatement) that variable tolling "has generated criticism" because of high tolls in the so-called "Lexus lanes" on I-66, I-495, and elsewhere in the region. But not to worry, silly rabbits! This is the Toll Road we're talking about, and like Reston, it's special! For starters, it carries the "special" debt from building the Silver Line, which riled up a bunch of people who see mass transit, like other functional government services, as something they shouldn't have to pay for as they drive alone to their strapping-bombs-to-dolphins contracting jobs, but we digress.

What is extra special, though, is that the contract for the Toll Road "equipment upgrade" has been awarded to the same company that gouged developed the I-66 tolling process. So all demureness aside on the part of MWAA, it's a good bet that variable tolling will happen at some point.

It's important to remember that toll rates were projected to go up anyways:

The next projected toll increase — to $4.75 — for the main toll plaza and one ramp transaction — is scheduled for January 2019. By 2043, the rate could increase to $11.25; by 2048, the final year tolls are projected to rise under the current schedule, the rate would be $12.50, according to budget documents provided by MWAA.
Who knows, maybe the variable tolling will help spread out those increasing costs and mitigate congestion in a sensible way, just like it's supposed to. Or by 2048, maybe it'll be the dolphins who will be commuting to strap bombs to us, the end.

Monday, April 2, 2018

At Lake Anne, Sunrise and Sunset

For the first time since 2014, the anchor spot in Lake Anne Plaza's wavy brutalist J building will have a tenant.

New Trail Cycling has signed a lease for the former Lakeside Pharmacy spot, with plans to open this summer. "Come in, sweat, have fun and make meaningful connections," the website says. "Put down your phone, hop on a bike and let’s ride together."


At the same time, sad news for the Lake Anne community. Susan Moran Schram, one of the co-founders of Reston's Used Bookstore back in ought-seventy-seven, passed away in late March. Like Reston founder Bob Simon, she lived at Lake Anne Plaza and remained an active member of the community, including serving as a poll watcher.

Hats off.

Friday, March 30, 2018

As RA Election Season Draws To A Close, Voting Cracks the Two-Digit Barrier

You, valued voter Reston property owner and/or renter, have until Monday to cast your votes in this year's climactic Reston Association Board of Directors election.

And despite a bit of hubbub about this year's election -- "multiple resignations" from the RA election committee! Delayedballotgate! Slategate! Accusations of campaign observers going off the rails! -- the turnout to date doesn't look like it's setting the world on fire.

According to the most recent RA quorum tally, as of March 23, between 11 and 14 percent of eligible households had returned ballots, depending on the race. Three weeks in last year, turnout was between 10 and nearly 18 percent depending on the race; when all was said and done the final turnout wound up at around 19 percent. Unless there's a Mauvetober surprise, it's not looking like we're going to get the massive turnout these actually contested races deserve.

As in a couple of rocky RA elections in the past, there's been a lot of heat on online forums -- but it remains to be seen if these discussions percolate up from beyond the relatively small number of people who keep slinging accusations back and forth at each other. What's worse is that all the noise has made it hard for even filthy "web loggers" like ourselves to sort through the noise and make an informed decision.

That's unfortunate, as the stakes are particularly high this year. Fairfax County has, at least for now, tabled its proposed density changes for Reston zoning (although it's worth pointing out that the road cutting across two holes of the Hidden Creek Country Club golf course that mysteriously appeared on county plans ahead of the golf course being bought by a company that coincidentally happens to develop residential complexes and also coincidentally bought the neighboring Charter Oaks apartments was reaffirmed as necessary by the county as recently as yesterday):

An attempt to remove the road connection between American Dream Way and Isaac Newton Square — a mapped road across Hidden Creek County Club — was also not favored by staff. The option for the road is necessary to reduce congestion at the intersection of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue, county staff said.
We need the RA to step up as much as possible in the months and years to come, and a turnout higher than 19 percent will help its board do just that.

Voting closes at 5pm Monday; we'll learn who the winners are at a RA meeting April 10.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fake News Misreports, Does Not Mar, South Lakes Student Walkout

As the second student walkout in the wake of the Parkland tragedy unfolded today, Reston was on the national teevee news! Well, sort of:

Only that's not the South Lakes protest. Even an unskilled Krelminologist would notice the conspicuous lack of trees and the normally shaped red-brick houses in the surrounding neighborhood, etc. We even thought we spotted a bit of red mulch in a yard! Totally FAKE NEWS. This was the South Lakes protest:

Lest we forget, South Lakes students have a very real reason to march today -- the school was locked down last week for what was believed to be a very real threat.

The kids are alright, in more ways than one.