News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reston Master Plan: 'Strawman' To Be Unveiled At Tonight's Meeting, Promptly Beaten With Sticks

strawman2.jpgIt's time for another exciting meeting of the Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force (or, as all the kids are calling it, RMPSSTF, only they're sticking in random dollar signs like they do with that Kei$ha character when they "text" each other their kickin' PDFs of air rights schematics).

So what's been doin'? Well, after our friends at Reston 2020 started grousing about a lack of agenda or documents or whatnot for this evening's meeting, county planning officials slapped a bunch of stuff together at 4:59 p.m. last night, including a "strawman" document of guiding principles, which are intended to "create a bridge from Mr. Simon's goals to future plan recommendations that will be more specific in nature."

Sweet! We like bridges. The document, linked above, is a fascinating read, including a nice copy-and-paste job from the seminal work A Place Called Reston. Here are the strawman's guiding principles:

• Preserve the long-term stability of Reston by protecting and enhancing existing neighborhoods throughout the community;
• Continue to encourage a development pattern which provides residential, commercial, recreational and other entertainment uses in proximity to each other to maintain Reston as a community in which to live, work and play;
• Promote a wide range of mobility options throughout Reston to address pedestrian, bicycle, shuttle, and bus service needs as well as personal vehicle use;
• Encourage a transportation network that appropriately supports the planned land uses;
• Identify and pursue opportunities to improve connectivity throughout Reston, particularly north-south connectivity in the vicinity of the Dulles Airport Access and Toll Road (DAAR);
• Encourage the expansion of housing diversity within Reston to achieve an even broader range of housing types and prices to fully meet the needs of residents throughout their lives;
• Respect and build upon Reston’s tradition of fostering natural and structural beauty by:
  • Continuing to encourage environmentally sensitive development;
  • Preserving existing open space to the extent possible;
  • Ensuring that high-quality green and open space are incorporated into new development;
  • Promoting the provision of new facilities for cultural and recreational activities and public art;
  • Encouraging innovative and high-quality site design and architecture.
Other community groups who have expressed interest in the Master Plan process will also be given time to discuss their own principles. We've talked about one such plan; now the Reston 2020 folks have come up with principles of their own:
1. Comprehensive Planning--"must consider the Reston community as a whole"
2. Excellence in Planning, Design, and Architecture--"held to the highest standards of excellence and innovation"
3. Infrastructure and Transportation--"must be planned and funded in concert with approved development projects, and must be completed concurrently with that development"
4. Density--"Higher densities... should be confined to the RCIG, Town Center, and the various Village Centers."
5. Reston Urban Core (RUC)--"must be developed into an integrated, dynamic and vibrant urban center"
6. Existing Residential Neighborhoods Outside the RUC--"re-development of existing residential neighborhoods must maintain the essential character of the neighborhood as defined by the current residents."
7. All Ages/All Families--"(Reston) must continue to accommodate people of all ages, physical abilities, economic circumstances, and families of all sizes and at all stages of family life."
8. Open Space--"at least 25% of all future developed and re-developed land must be reserved for open space"
9. Natural Areas--"must not be developed, and should be extended to the extent possible"

In a commentary on the Reston 2020 Committee's proposed planning principles, Dick Stilson, co-chair of the committee, said the following:

"Many of the principles in the committee’s “Planning Principles” paper are already incorporated in the county Comprehensive Plan. In general we think the Plan is good, although it must be updated with the coming of Metro and other development that will affect the community. That, of course, is what the Task Force is charged to do. There are, however, several ideas contained in our paper that we think are important that are not in the current Plan. We think they should be discussed and considered by the Task Force for inclusion in the Plan."
Tonight's meeting starts at 7 at Langston Hughes Middle School. If you go, be sure to share your reactions, or just dash off a bunch of random principles of your own, in the comments. C'mon, it's fun! Here we go, to start you all off:
1. I am NOT going to pay a lot for this muffler!
2. No strawmen taller than 4" can be displayed in anyone's yard
2a. Unless that yard has red mulch and/or white stone. Then anything goes!
3. Juiceries in every village center and a submerged roller derby arena underneath Lake Anne
4. All RA filing cabinets must be alphabetically, not chronologically, ordered.
5. No Bratz dolls north of the Toll Road
6. More nekkid plays, plz. Thx!
7. Rad '80s art in all Metro stations, funkadelic '70s art at all bus stops
8. More rock, less talk
You're welcome.


  1. The Convict in the GulagJanuary 26, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    The plan should include a statue to Lloyd Woodson for helping relocate crime from Reston to New Jersey.

    And that roller rink should be in the Gulag because the red voting republic of North Reston is just not able to appreciate the merits of Roller Derby.

  2. 11. Define walkability as the distance needed to get to the rail station, not how far your project is from the nearest urban development. For example, the Fairway Apartments complex is .8 miles from the planned Reston Parkway station.

    12. Follow the county guidelines being applied in the Route 28 Dulles North Planning Process. Development beyond 0.5 miles from the rail stop are limited to an FAR ratio of 1.0.

  3. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)January 26, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    0.8 miles IS walking distance for many of us. I live on North Shore Drive as well, just up the road from Fairway Apartments, and can't wait to walk to the Reston Parkway Metrorail station to take the train to work in Tyson's Corner. Perhaps if more people WALKED places in Reston I wouldn't have had to have sat in traffic for 40 minutes the other day around 5:30 PM just trying to get down Reston Parkway?

  4. enough of the Strawman meetings -- get it done...!!!

  5. 0.8 miles is not a distance most people would walk everyday in work clothes twice a day in all weather. I recall that the original proposal had a more realistic quarter-mile as the walkable perimter around each metro station for high-density development.

  6. I was put in mind of the child's game "pin the tail on the donkey" in the last phase of the meeting where attendees of the meeting would place adhesive circles of various colors to various parts of the proposal printed on large papers in the various corners of the room. County planners would we were told decipher the circles in order to then plan Reston appropriately or just the Reston master plan. Somehow though we were given to feel that it was all a exercise for the benefit of making us feel that our participation was somehow meaningful.

    And in general about the master plan planning what is meaningful. How do we get to have some control of the planning of our town when we were told we were not able to be a town by our elected officials? Cathy Hudgins said that we didn't need to be a town because she would listen to us and help us.

    How do we limit growth until we have needed infrastructure? Who's going to pay for needed infrastructure. Most of the time the developers build and the citizens later pay for infrastructure. Is there any way that scenario can be changed even with all of the thoughtful citizens we have working on it? Will we ever be able to get out of our neighborhood streets and on to Wheelie? Will end up like Charlie on the MTA just sitting in our cars and going nowhere never to return?

    Let me tell you the story
    Of a man named Charlie
    On a tragic and fateful day
    He put ten cents in his pocket,
    Kissed his wife and family
    Went to ride on the MTA

    Charlie handed in his dime
    At the Kendall Square Station
    And he changed for Jamaica Plain
    When he got there the conductor told him,
    "One more nickel."
    Charlie could not get off that train.

    Did he ever return,
    No he never returned
    And his fate is still unlearn'd
    He may ride forever
    'neath the streets of Boston
    He's the man who never returned.

    Now all night long
    Charlie rides through the tunnels
    the station
    Saying, "What will become of me?
    How can I afford to see
    My sister in Chelsea
    Or my cousin in Roxbury?"

    Charlie's wife goes down
    To the Scollay Square station
    Every day at quarter past two
    And through the open window
    She hands Charlie a sandwich
    As the train comes rumblin' through.

    As his train rolled on
    underneath Greater Boston
    Charlie looked around and sighed:
    "Well, I'm sore and disgusted
    And I'm absolutely busted;
    I guess this is my last long ride."
    {this entire verse was replaced by a banjo solo}

    Now you citizens of Boston,
    Don't you think it's a scandal
    That the people have to pay and pay
    Vote for Walter A. O'Brien
    Fight the fare increase!
    And fight the fare increase
    Vote for George O'Brien!
    Get poor Charlie off the MTA.

    Or else he'll never return,
    No he'll never return
    And his fate will be unlearned
    He may ride forever
    'neath the streets of Boston
    He's the man (Who's the man)
    He's the man who never returned.
    He's the man (Oh, the man)
    He's the man who never returned.
    He's the man who never returned.

  7. The Convict in the GulagJanuary 27, 2010 at 10:24 AM

    I love the irony of your post BiCO. You want more people to walk so that your car won't get stuck in traffic. This is so typically Northern Virginian. Mass transit, including walking and biking, are something that most people around here want so that the roads are less clogged for their cars.

    Charity and Sacrifice start at home. Try walking or taking the bus next time.

    (Great song, Rod. I remember singing that at summer camp as a kid even before I knew what the MTA was.)

  8. The Convict in the GulagJanuary 27, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    12:36, I can't even get my neighbor to walk the 150 yards to the bus stop. Instead, he takes his car to the park and ride.

    In all fairness, though, his main objection isn't the distance but the timing. He doesn't want his commute dictated by a bus schedule. I guess a 15 minute wait is just too long for some people.

    It's funny because he has no problem getting up at 5:30 in the morning to go to the gym for a workout.

  9. hee, Convict, I had a good laugh about that, too.

  10. There is a bus stop at the Reston Town Center. It should be convenient for someone like BICO who claims to work in Tysons.

  11. BTW, it looks like the new sushi bar in Lake Anne will be opening on Monday. There's a fancy cardboard sign on the front door with words to that effect. I can't read Japanese, but I think it said "OPEN MONDAY".

  12. Sharpener, was that song originally a political one or coopted? I remember it being sung to us at camp back in the 70's (this was not in Boston, actually in New York), but I don't remember any of the political stuff or references to individual specific stations. I just remember one kid asking why his wife couldn't just pass him another nickel instead of a sandwhich and the counselor giving the lame excuse "because then there wouldn't be a song!"

  13. And for someone living in Charter Oak Court, there is already a direct transit option to Tyson's Corner: Bus 574 stops on North Shore right outside Charter Oak and proceeds from there to Tyson's Corner, with stops at the West*Park transit station, Nordstrom's in Tyson's Corner Center, and along Route 7 in between; runs once every hour from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. (with an additional 11 p.m. run back to Reston). Looks to be underutilized now; lots of people use the 552 from North Shore to get to West Falls Church, but hardly anyone ever gets on the 574.

  14. It's a Kingston Trio parody based on an old folk song. The original is at

  15. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)January 28, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    1.) Convict, my destination that day wasn't accessible via mass transit, so in this particular circumstance trying to say "do as I say, not as I do" was not appropriate. Technically I COULD have gone on a very long walk, but doing so in a rain storm (where we had about two minutes of hail) and trying to dodge heavy traffic would have proven far too difficult.

    2.) Anonymous @ 4:30 AM: The reason so few use the 574 is that if it's quicker to drive, and cheaper to drive, then it is difficult to convince people that it's very efficient to take the bus. With my 6 AM-2:30 work schedule I can leave at 5:40 AM to get to work on time with my car and get home by 3 PM. Add a considerable length of time each way for the bus, which travels more slowly, has more stops, and would drop me off a good hike from where I work. Get dedicated bus lanes for Route 7 that can bypass traffic tie-ups and sail along at a slightly higher speed than personal vehicle traffic, and ridership will increase. I've taken the bus to West Falls Church before. That saves me the hassle of paying to park during weekdays, but even then if you want to enjoy nightlife in the District the last bus between West Falls Church and Reston Town Center leaves too early, meaning you have to cut your night short as everyone else is just gearing up OR pay through the nose for a taxi.

    The Silver Line is LONG overdue---why wasn't this done years ago? Don't say "no funding", either, as in other areas when a specific issue needs to be addressed people are more willing to bite the bullet and PAY UP to make life better.

  16. Your reason #2 is exactly the reason why many in the vicinity of Charter Oak and Fairway Apartments will not walk to the subway station. The walk will take at least 20-30 minutes during rush hour. The wait for the next train will add another 5 to 15 minutes.

  17. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)January 28, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    I still DO plan to walk to the new subway station. I'm a brisk walker, so I can be at the station in 15 minutes. If I learn to try to time myself appropriately in the mornings I can arrange it to arrive at the platform shortly before the arrival of a train. I'd exit a station in Tyson's Corner adjacent to my office.

    I posted my itinerary via bus in the past, but apparently not many saw it so I'll post again.

    4:55 AM: Leave home and walk to RTC transit center.
    5:10 AM: Board bus.
    5:42 AM: Arrive Tyson's
    6:00 AM: Arrive at office after walking from bus stop.

    TOTAL AM COMMUTE: 1 hour, 5 minutes.

    2:30 PM: Exit work.
    2:48 PM: Arrive at bus stop in Tyson's.
    3:24 PM: Board bus.
    4:00 PM: Arrive RTC.
    4:15 PM: Arrive home.

    TOTAL PM COMMUTE: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes

    If I can drive to work in about 25 minutes each way door-to-door (50 minute round-trip commute), then why should I extend my round-trip commute by two hours overall just to say "I'm part of the solution" like many of you always suggest? Do YOU all add two hours or so onto your commutes everyday just to prove a point?

    I'd imagine my rail commute would be like this:

    5:00 AM: Leave home
    5:15 AM: Arrive at subway station.
    5:20 AM: Board train.
    5:45 AM: Arrive at Tyson's.
    5:50 AM: Arrive at office.

    TOTAL AM COMMUTE: 50 minutes

    2:30 PM: Leave office.
    2:35 PM: Arrive at subway station.
    2:40 PM: Board train.
    3:05 PM: Arrive at RTC.
    3:20 PM: Arrive home.

    TOTAL PM COMMUTE: 50 Minutes.

    Would I be willing to turn my 25-minute commute each way via car into 50 minutes each way via rail? Yes. This would add under an hour each day onto my round-trip commute, I'd take one more car off Route 7, and I'd help to reduce my carbon footprint. As I said unless the buses drive more quickly, get their own bus lanes, can zoom through traffic lights, etc., then it just isn't very time-effective right now to bus vs. drive.

  18. Bico, the point is that you are complaining about other people making the very same decision that you are (ie, to drive instead of walking/using mass transit because of convenience.)

  19. The Convict in the GulagJanuary 31, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    There's this thing called "sacrifice", BiCO. I could cut my commute by probably 30-45 minutes every day by getting hybrid for my schlep to work. I could probably save 10-20 minutes by driving to the Wiehle or Herndon Monroe P&R instead of picking up the bus in front of my house.

    It's just like I've said before, just like most people in the country, your convenience comes before the welfare of the community. Sacrifice is something that others do so that your life is more convenient.


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