News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

$24 RA Assessment Increase to Be Decided at RA Meeting Tonight, Spent at Nature Center Unveiling This Weekend

At a board meeting tonight, the Reston Association will decide whether to increase next year's annual assessment by $24 to $515. Given what sounds like a pretty tepid reaction during earlier public hearings, signs point to "yes."

Next year’s proposed rate increase was to be discussed at two recent public hearings on the budget, but Reston Association Chief Financial Officer David Hopkins said only one resident showed up for the meetings.

The increase would be on top of a $16 increase that went into place this year. Blame the declining economy:
Last year’s assessment increase of $16, rather than the $8 increase that had been planned when the biennial budget was laid out in 2007, represented the first time that the association had amended a two-year budget before the second year began.

That increase was due to declining revenue resulting from the economic downturn. Federal subsidies for affordable housing were decreasing, investments were not paying off as expected, more households were qualifying for the association’s reduced rate and an increase in foreclosures was expected to affect the collection of dues.
The good news is that this weekend, you can see one of the things that extra $24 will help pay for if you attend the grand opening of the new Walker Nature Education Center from 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Our Facebook BFFs at the Observer got to go to some fancy elitist "sneak preview," which they used to make a totally rad Facebook photo gallery. It looks like a seriously awesome -- and long anticipated -- facility, but here's our favorite shot:

To the untrained eye, this may look like a basement, but that's actually a fancy earth-friendly geothermal system to heat the place and whatnot. We're assuming you shovel the bald eagle carcasses into the box at the right.

Har, har. We kid because we love... the environment!


  1. Brooklyn Bridge SalesmanNovember 19, 2009 at 4:20 PM

    "Federal subsidies for affordable housing were decreasing..."

    Sorry, am I missing something here? I am not trying to be snarky (for a change), but am I interpreting this correctly that some of my RA assessment is being used to subsidize someone else's housing?

    Can anyone shed some light?

  2. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)November 19, 2009 at 4:26 PM

    So only 1 person out of 65,000 showed up to a meeting for the governing body of their pseudo-town? Wow! This coming on the heels of an embarrassing 40% voter turn-out for the 2009 election has really surprised me. I thought Northern Virginia was a politically-savvy area? Why so apathetic then?

  3. Reston's supposedly a haven for political junkies! So much for that.

    BBS, the way I read that was that more people were qualifying for assessment reductions based on their income/housing support. I could be wrong, though.

  4. And Milton Matthews makes about $180k with all his fringe benefits and we see nothing!!!

    Search for the IRS Form 990 in the website and look at page 7 for salries. They also spent $400K+ on IT services.. Give me a break!!! $400K for what? How many computers is that? The new website cost them $400K?

  5. Milton Matthews makes how much??? Where did you learn that?

  6. And just when and where were those noticed about the meetings published? I get all kinds of mail from the RA addressed to me (vote for this and vote for that and vote for the house for the stuffed eagle!) but nothing (AT ALL!) to tell me that they are about to steal yet more money from my ever thinner wallet.

    Business as usual for the tax-and-spend liberal who run thos FUBAR place.

  7. Check it out...

    Page 7... and check Appendix J.

  8. I mean Schedule J, page 2.

  9. $180k for that idiot? That is just insane.

  10. What does he do for $180k? I don't really understand why a homeowners association needs a CEO.

  11. Brooklyn Bridge SalesmanNovember 20, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    Just for comparison's sake, here are the salaries of the mayors of the 10 largest cities in the U.S., along with their July 2008 population, in parathenses:

    New York City - $195,000 (8.36 million)
    Los Angeles - $205,661 (3.83 million)
    Chicago - $216,210 (2.85 million)
    Houston - $176,762 (2.24 million)
    Phoenix - $87,996 (1.56 million)
    Philadelphia - $186,000 (1.44 million)
    San Antonio - $3,000 (1.35 million)
    San Diego - $100,464 (1.27 million
    Dallas - $60,000 (1.27 million)
    San Jose - $115,000 (948,000)

    Reston - $180,000 (60,000)

  12. brooklyn bridge, holy (expletive). And we don't even have a real government. Why isn't this in the newspaper??

  13. @anon 5:19

    Perhaps because reporters are too lazy to do any research nowadays. It seems the local papers only contain press releases, canned police reports, and a couple of feel good stories. And they wonder why no one reads them anymore.

  14. Anoon 5:19

    There has been plenty to read in the local papers. The reporters do fairly good work. They cannot be blamed for a disinterested public who has better things to do than read local papers. The Washington Post rarely covers Reston's issues.

    You need to be proactive here. Go to the RA website and click on calendar to find out when the RA board meets.

    Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will host a meeting December 1 at 7 pm at South Lakes High School in the Lecture Hall. The Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force will be introduced. Their function is to help rewrite the Master Plan. Reston is to be redeveloped, folks. The time to pay attention is now. Reston's character is about to be changed forever.


  15. Adrian Fenty, $145,000
    Montgomery Cty Exec Duncan, $143,000
    FCPS Superintendent, over $260,000
    President of the United States, $400,000 (plus lots of perks)

    I know Fenty, Duncan, Jack Dale and the President work some long hours, with thankless people depending on them...can someone refresh me exactly on what Matthews does? It seems like Robin Smyers takes most of the heat around here. You'd think she'd be the one getting paid for the flack that she's taking for him. Not suggestin' -- just sayin'

    While I applaud Anon 7:28's call to civic action, I can guran-darn-tee that the meeting on December 1 will NOT be an opportunity to hold Matthews accountable on his salary or job performance. It will be one of those carefully orchestrated sessions that give the public the impression they have an opinion that matters. And then Hudgins, et al will go and do exactly what they want to do because they know they'll never be booted out office in Reston because so many people are more content to live with the devil they know than take a chance on a devil they don't -- like a non-D.

  16. BiCo -
    "So only 1 person out of 65,000 showed up to a meeting for the governing body of their pseudo-town? Wow! This coming on the heels of an embarrassing 40% voter turn-out for the 2009 election has really surprised me."

    It shouldn't surprise you. Those of us who have been tilting at the business-as-usual windmill for years keep hoping that even the liberals will wake up and smell the coffee. Our elected officials (and apparently non-elected like Mathews) aren't doing us any favors, but people actually willing to turn the switch for something DIFFERENT are few and far between. The ruling party in this area (Dems) keep putting up the same ol' same ol' and apparently their party members don't raise a fuss. Once people get into the voting booth in Reston they're faced with voting for continuity, as awful as it might be, or (gasp) crossing party lines to see if someone from another party might actually shake us out our complacency.

    At this point I'd even vote for a Democrat if it was someone other than the usual gang of 'automatically reelected' folks. So how about it all you Reston Dems -- are you willing to tell YOUR party that you want something different? Like . . . how about . . . CHANGE?

  17. Milton Matthews' salary is a minor issue compared with what Reston is facing. Now if a couple of hundred of Reston voters showed up for the meeting on December 1, Hudgins might be persuaded to add citizen advisory groups to assist the task force in changing the plans that will double our population and add many, many millions of square feet of commercial office space. Staying home and whining on the blogs is for weak sisters, mister. The battle for Reston is engaged. People in this town need to come down to the front lines. December 1 at South Lakes High School 7 pm in the Lecture Hall. Bring pencil and paper.

  18. The fact Mac Cannon could have won the last election with only 11 more points must have had some impact on our county supervisor. The last election Plum won unopposed with 87% of the vote. Ken Plum took away the Wiehle Charter which would have allowed us to vote for town status and to be in control of our own zoning. Had more people in Reston understood what is heading our way with the coming of Metro and rewriting the master plan, it would have been a much closer election. Restonians are disinterested and disengaged and living their lives in ignorant bliss of the changes to come. Will the task force rewrite the master plan to allow infill development in our residential neighborhoods? Will our open spaces be protected? Come to the meeting December 1 and find out who has been appointed by Cathy Hudgins to the task force.

  19. The Convict in the GulagNovember 21, 2009 at 5:53 PM

    I would be willing to consider another D or even an I with the (more or less) correct agenda over the current administration. However, after watching what the Rs have done to this country during 2001-2008 and the way they're trying to hamstring anything that smacks of higher taxes or increased regulation or economic stimulus, I have to ask myself, why would I want that on a local level?

    I suppose that we'll see what the Rs will do at at the state level now that they have the legislature and the executive. I'm betting, however, though that it's not going to include sending back our way more of the tax dollars that we send to Richmond and I'm betting that their answer to our transit issues is going include car-friendly policies like more roads and less gas tax.

    Who knows? We may even see them take a swipe at abortion. It would be cool, though, watching the folks in Richmond commit political suicide all in the name of gawd and party.

  20. The reason I don't go to these meetings is because I know that our elected leaders have what I feel is the best direction for Reston to go. It would be a waste time of for me to go and say, "yes, I support these changes," when I know the decision has been made. Maybe most Restonians are like me, and because they support the inevitable changes they don't feel a need to make a big fuss. If people really were upset about the direction of Reston our elected officials would know.

  21. Most people in Reston don't know what the "direction of Reston" the supervisor envisions and when they are told, they refuse to believe it. How would you feel if several homes (if you live in single family neighborhood) are removed and replaced with high-rises with retail on the ground level (mixed-use). You could walk to Starbucks for your morning coffee. Maybe there would also be a convenience store there. The older clusters are going to be re-done, too, and not just the ones where the poor live. Reston is to be urbanized. Cathy Hudgins has stated as much and it won't be just the Dulles corridor. Perhaps, Joshua Davis, you want Reston to be morphed into a big city with all that comes with big city life--pollution and crime. What will happen to our cherished woodlands? I don't mind if you stay home Joshua Davis. The rest of you need to come to the meeting on December 1.

  22. I go to a lot of the meetings. I see some of the reporters there sometimes. It seems like most of the residents though don't seem to care. There are usually only 5-10 people there and they leave after the topic they came to listen to is over. When people go with the status quo and it's been that way for years it isn't really "news" anymore. I looked at this budget compared to the last one and it's not all that different, meaning there's now much "new" to it and probably not a ton of news value. Now in Herndon, a group of citizens got together, created an alliance and are working to change the status quo of their town government. I remember seeing it in the paper when they first announced it. If Restonians did that - it would probably be news too.

  23. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)November 23, 2009 at 7:54 AM

    So what I've gleaned from this thread and from living in Reston six months thus far is:

    1.) Restonians seem to be disheartened and concerned about the direction our community is starting to head in yet are simultaneously too apathetic about their governance to consider running for office themselves or rallying a large group of concerned denizens together to form some sort of effective (not just "for show") Cathy Hudgins watchdog group.

    2.) A train coming to Reston = "Bad." Gnashing our teeth in traffic congestion several hours per day is much more desirable than giving we thousands of Tyson's Corner (a.k.a. Baghdad) commuters the option to ride the rails and reduce our carbon footprints.

    3.) Arlington, which is higher on the "Best Places" list than Reston (presumably not for terrible reasons) = "Bogeyman"

    4.) People will vote for a straight Democratic ticket at any and all costs, even if Satan was on the ballot, because they are still mad at President Bush. This past election the ONLY Republican candidate I had zero faith or confidence in was Ken Cuccinelli, who surprisingly won by a landslide. I voted also for Jody Wagner for lieutenant governor, but I place great trust and have high hopes for the incoming McDonnell administration. I vote for a PERSON, not for a PARTY. There's a fair number of screw-ups in BOTH parties.

    5.) Reston overall is very fractured and still doesn't yet have its own mature "identity." Some want us to emulate yuppified Arlington or Bethesda. Others want us to look to the mish-mashed candyland known as Loudoun County for urban planning answers. Yet others are delusional and think it is possible for a county with one of the nation's healthiest job markets to somehow manage to NOT grow in the coming years. I'm solidly in the Arlingtonize/Bethesdafy camp because the way I see it is if these people ARE coming to Reston and if there's no way to hold them off other than building the "Great Wall of Reston", then why not concentrate them into as little land area as possible to protect as much open space as possible instead of spreading them out all over Reston in McMansions, turning us into...gasp...Ashburn (shudder at the thought). Some of you need to be realists. Growth is coming whether we like it or not. Reston is a very desirable place to live, and even though I'm a critic of some of our nuances (i.e. calling a 1960s-era strip mall a "historic treasure" when I came from an area replete with 1890s-era Victorians). I'm still more or less content here. We have to trend towards lower density and a greater loss of open space or higher density and less loss of open space. The choice is yours.

  24. Okay BiCO

    Come to the meeting December 1. You know something about planning. We could use your help. Arlington has something we don't have. Arlington has ROADS. Many roads. Grids of roads. We have two. TWO roads between north and south Reston. What we need to do is build the new buildings over the Toll Road using air rights. That was done in New York City. When they build new developments over the Toll Road, they can put in new roads to connect north and south Reston. That way those of us living in south Reston will be able to go to Lake Anne. People in North Point will be able to come down to Cafesano for a meal.

    Go see an illustration from Beyond DC:

    And I need to remind you once again Reston is built-out. There is NO MORE open space. All the woods that you see are someone's private property.

    Arlington was very carefully created with the help of residents and planners over many years to get to where it is now. And yet, four of five Metro station areas in Arlington have only 7 to 8% open space and some of that is private. We don't want that for Reston.

    We don't want to be urbanized.

    And it's very difficult to rally Restonians. They don't read the local papers. I would wager that if you asked a random 100 people in town if they knew the Master Plan was to be rewritten to accomplish massive redevelopment projects, you wouldn't find more than 2 or 3 who knew anything about it.

    South Lakes HS 7 pm.

  25. I love it when the folks start saying one political party is responsible for everything that's wrong... reminds me of the 30's... (Europe in particular)

  26. Hickory Cluster knuckle dusterNovember 25, 2009 at 9:47 AM

    Ann 2:22
    said " That way those of us living in south Reston will be able to go to Lake Anne. People in North Point will be able to come down to Cafesano for a meal."

    WTF? I live in lake Anne and somehow manage the impossible task of driving to South Lakes to eat at Sano all the time. It is a great place.
    Amazingly, I even make it into Hunters Woods (The hell hole some S. Restoners would have us believe) to eat at Ariake the awesome sushi place.
    Hell I even manage to get to Herndon once in a while.

    You don't need more roads to get to Lake Anne, you need the will. It is not very hard...

    Hope to see you at Jasmine Cafe or Cafe Monmartre one of these evenings... Next time I'm at Sano I'll say "hi"

  27. Hickory Cluster Knuckle Duster:

    Once the 20 deferred high-density development plans are complete along the Dulles Corridor, once the new Wiehle Station development is on site, and when our population goes from 60,000 to 100,000 plus, nobody will be moving anywhere.
    Except by foot. There are only two roads across the Toll Road. It works now. It won't work then.

  28. Hickory Cluster knuckle dusterNovember 27, 2009 at 1:57 PM

    If you can make it to RTC, you can make it Lake Anne.

    Anyhoo, Where are these "roads" as you call them going to go?

    Will you connect 'Reston Heights' to 'Plaza America'? And then this connector, I suppose could cut across that bit of 'infill' known as Hidden Creek

    Then you could have South lakes connect up to those business parks across the toll road, and then continue on through a bunch of housing and eventually bridge Lake Fairfax to connect with 606.

    A reasonable person before suggesting these things might have consulted with oh I dunno a MAP and sen that imposing a grid on Reston is basically impossible excepting some kind of drastic destruction of the entire town so that you can re-build it in a Arlingtonian style "grid".

    The refrain: If you wanted to live in Vienna or Arlington, then that's where you should have moved.

  29. Arlington is a grid? Now that's amusing and far from true.


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).