News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reston Real Estate: We're #1, Just Not In Real Estate Tax Bill Reductions, As County Budget Craters


Amidst a cheerful story about Fairfax County's ongoing budget meltdown in today's "news paper," we saw this nifty graphic showing the changes in average real estate tax bills by district. And Reston has the smallest decline in the county, presumably because our real estate values have held up better than those in other parts of Fairfax, like fancy "Great" Falls, where the average decline was more than double that of our beloved beige community. Suck it, McMansion owners!

So that's good news for the Reston real estate market, yay, it's always a great time to buy, etc. The bad news, of course, is that our tax bills, on average, won't fall as much as in other parts of the county.

With a proposed 5-cent tax increase, the average homeowner's bill will be just $48.50 less next fiscal year, though, so don't go running out to buy one of those fancy flat screen TVs just yet.

Meanwhile, Fairfax's proposed budget is a big pile of sad, actually reducing money for schools, which could spell the end of language immersion and other programs at Lake Anne and elsewhere, plus the elimination of funding for the Adolescent Day Treatment Program, an in-house school facility for troubled youth in Reston we've never heard of but we're sure delights its NIMBY neighbors. It also calls for the elimination of the county's fancy bicycle program, which builds bike lanes throughout the county. Which is OK, since Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook told us all that bikes aren't for transportation, but rather for fancy people holding parasols while they perambulate along the boardwalk. Okay then!
"I don't believe a bicycle is a transportation device," Supervisor John Cook, R-Braddock District, said during a transportation committee meeting. "I think it's a recreation device. The big problem is people don't want to ride their bike in the rain or get sweaty before work."

Transportation officials have identified $12.7 million in pedestrian and bicycle projects for the Reston area -- intended to improve accessibility to the planned Wiehle Avenue and Reston Parkway Metro stations, part of the transit extension to Washington Dulles International Airport.
So what little open space will be involved with the Wiehle Metro project won't have any pesky bike paths to mar the crappy ornamental bushes "hiding" the massive, partially exposed parking garage. Nice!


  1. And some say that the Reston way of life is not worth protecting.

    Let's elect a board that will. Not just for house prices but for a way of living that we value (and apparently others do also).

  2. I think we should elect a board that will help shepherd and influence the changes that are coming whether we want them or not… to think that we can somehow just dig in and say NO is na├»ve at best and dangerous at worst.

  3. Just bought a condo in RTC and the county assessment value went up nearly $20K from 2009 to 2010. Seems bittersweet. It means higher taxes, but it's also apparently instantly worth more than we bought it for last week since we bought it for the 2009 assessment value.

  4. If you've spent much time in the rest of Fairfax County the Reston difference is quickly recognizable. In the rest of FC every inch of space is used with no plan in sight -- for the purpose of maximizing tax revenue. Older neighborhoods are replaced with mcmansions on tiny lots. Luckily RA owns common land that ensures some green space and trees in our community. It's not just big parks, they own small pieces of land throughout the community. That is one of the reasons that Reston homes hold their value better. FC would like nothing more than to get their hands on our land. We need a board that is committed to keeping open space and clearly the status quo is not.

  5. Real estate prices in the closer suburbs, such as Alexandria, Arlington, and McLean, didn't peak until 2007. The market typically tops out in the far out suburbs first because that's where the most new construction occurred.

  6. That's one case for the covenants they've kept the Mc Mansions out which is as you've said unique to Reston. I have a friend in Vienna who's neighbor built a Mc Mansion but then couldn't sell it and so moved in himself. I guess if he'd sold it he would of made a bundle then maybe he could of moved to .....Reston.

    I was fortunate to see this morning a "Varied Rush," a colorful little bird which is very rare in this area that some avid birders had spotted in their back yard (near Reston but not in Reston) and have opened up their house as a kind of morning mecca for fellow birders. Your arrive between 7 and 9 just walking in the door and then looking out their back window. It won't be here long as it's the mating season and will probably fly up to Ohio where there are more of them. Email me if you want the address at

  7. As for bicycles, someone should've thought to place a path to connect Tysons Corner to Reston in the rail extension project. It's a short 30-minute commute that many would be interested in taking.

  8. Despite, or perhaps because of 60+years I like to bike to work. I have done so for all of my in or near Reston gigs.

    I don't get sweaty on the way to work in the cool of the morning. If I break a sweat, I'm pedaling too hard. Anyway, my office has a gym and a shower if needed.

    Alas, the direct route to my current office is through Siren City. I have no wish to become the object of the orbiting helicopters over southwest Reston.

  9. John Cook is an idiot.

  10. I agree with Cook. People aren't going to ride their bikes to work, especially when so many people (like me) work for uptight employers who require a suit and tie, and especially when the weather is often bad.

    If we lived in California, we'd have California weather and a California dress code, and bikes would be viable. But we don't, so they're not.

  11. Every time I've had a gig in Reston, I've rode my bike to work. Yeah, sometimes I get to work a little sweaty but it's all good. I've never had anybody complain about my funk co I figure they're okay with it.

    Sure, there are days when it's not really optimal for biking. On those days, I take the car. Although I've never had to do so for any of my Reston gigs, I would take the bus if that were possible.

    I just wish that I could find another good job here in Reston or in our Neighbor To The West. I'd rather walk or ride my bike or take the local bus to work than schlep into the District everyday.

  12. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonFebruary 24, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    Rod, some friendly advice if I may: someone else already suggested to you in another post that you proofread your comments before sending them. Your bird sighting led me to believe you had discovered some previously unknown species, a "varied rush", that wasn't even listed in my Peterson's field guide. It took me a minute or two to figure out you actually meant to say a "varied thrush". But as an amateur birder, it nevertheless was interesting to hear this news.

    And yes, please send us the bird's address up in Ohio! ;-)

  13. Assessments for commercial land have started falling. I just checked some properties out in Herndon and Reston, some with 10-15 story offices and some undeveloped. The tax value seems to be about 30-35 percent.

  14. I proofread posts and comments at social networking sites and blogs. Rod's comments become grammatically incorrect and unreadable over time. Restoring these comments to read like English saves time and sanity for the discriminating Restonian reader or potential voter for the upcoming RA Board of Directors election. If elected, I will bring this spirit of proofreading and efficiency to the Restonian comment section. I want Rod to campaign to Restonian blog readers with fewer misspellings and more complete sentences, to continue fulfilling the Restonian’s vision of this blog as the best place on the internet to read, comment, and play!

  15. Dress Code: never had to wear anything other than "business casual" and at some jobs jeans and even shorts were fine. It's all based on your industry and the company.

    Biking: I used to bike from Vienna to Reston along the W&OD when I worked in Reston. As fate would have it, after moving here I left my job in Reston within a few months to one in Tysons. I don't bike there right now as I have to drop off my daughter at preschool halfway between home and work anyway, but I certainly could take the same W&OD, then residential streets to Tysons. It would take me about 50 minutes before, so I'm thinking it would take maybe an hour max the other way. Who knows, when my daughter goes off to Kindergarten in September I may just have to try it if I'm still at that location. It's an awesome ride especially early in the early morning and the evening right before dusk.

  16. Who is smoking crack here?

    RA protecting common assets? HELLO? Did you forget about the Brown's Chapel rape and pillage?

    Virtually EVERY significant meeting and decision being made behind closed doors in so-called "executive" session?

    The hew HQ despite an sound defeat from the dues payers?

    The arrogant RA board members who refuse to acknowledge their constituents, trespass on others' property and fail to exercise any sense due diligence?

    And let's not forget that Reston Town Center is not part of Reston (at all). Fortunately, RTC has its own, smart forward-looking board with business people leading it rather than ignorant Pollyanna idiots as are on the current RA Board.

    Thank God that symers cannot possibly be re-elected. She's the worst RA president and director in its history and her sad and pathetic legacy will last far too long.

    I pray that the new board will quickly fire matthews and get a competent manager in place who understands the duty and limits of what the RA is. It is NOT a government and it must be retracted back to what it is set up and funded to do.

    Stop the madness and elect smart, focused leaders.

  17. Every time I've had a gig in Reston, I've rode my bike to work. Yeah, sometimes I get to work a little sweaty but it's all good. I've never had anybody complain about my funk co I figure they're okay with it.

    You've RODE your bike to work ---

    There you go, folks, proof positive that we need language "immersion" IN ENGLISH!

    CUT the budget fat, close the libraries, make the teachers TEACH instead of using school time to "plan" to not teach and do what they did in Rhode Island --- fire the teachers, one at a time, name by name, all if they won't teach.

    And, how about a novel idea --- FLUNK the students who don't pass! Imagine that!

    Oh -- and how about combining bus fleets? Why we need school and public buses never made any sense since they often follow each other down the same pot-holed streets.

    better yet --- students can walk to school --- we are spending hundreds of thousands (millions!) on sidewalks no one wants or uses, so there you go!

  18. They have something in the 2020 VDOT plan (on page 9) that calls for a bikeway to run alongside Route 7 from Dranesville Rd to Tysons Corner. Although a nice idea, far more people live closer to the paths that currently feed the W&OD trail than live near Leesburg Pike.

  19. A couple of years ago our cluster president mentioned that RA was in the process of deeding some of it's common land to the clusters. It seems that RA no longer wanted to pay the cost of maintaining the land so that came up with the plan of giving the land to the clusters. While most of the parcels are not large, they are the green space that gives Reston it's unique character. Drive anywhere in Reston and you will always see trees and green space.

    If RA can't afford to maintain common land why are they considering spending millions on indoor tennis. Ra shouldn't be giving away common land -- even to clusters. While it might not seem like a bad policy now. What happens a few years from now when redevelopers are taking over older clusters?

  20. Anon 11:56

    RA cannot deed common land to anyone by sale or swap or whatever without a vote of the homeowners. Was this occurence you mention before the by-laws were rewritten? Because they are very clear about common lands.

    Your story sets off whistles and bells of alarm. How old is your cluster? Maybe RA wanted to give the common land to a developer as part of a redevelopment package. Which cluster is it?

    You did not mention whether or not your cluster actually got the common land.

  21. Anon 12:32

    "Close the libraries..." I like your plan to send us back to the stone age.

    Maybe they should stop calling it 'drink the kool aid' and call it 'drinking the tea'.

    You teabagger anarchists are a menace.
    BTW tea bagging is the most apt name for you maniacs.

  22. 6:12- Those durned kids don't need no fancy book-larnin'! Muh parents learned me rul guhd with the old switch, and look how grate I turnd out!

  23. Rumor is Smyers is selling her house and moving back to Texas... reminds me of another recent president making his getaway and leaving a legacy of failure.

  24. Smyers is moving back to Texas? Smyers is from Reston as I remember.

  25. She grew up in Reston and also New York and Texas. She has family in Texas and is moving back there. I have this from a reliable source. I believe her house is already listed for sale. She is apparently counting the days until she can get out of here.

  26. "She is apparently counting the days until she can get out of here" -- and we are, too! Don't let the proverbial screen door hit you on the way out...

  27. I have wanted to go to the RA Board meeting with a question for Robin. "When the people of Reston find out the extent to which you cooperated with Fairfax County and Cathy Hudgins to keep them in the dark about the county's plans to redevelop Reston, just where will you live? Nobody here will be willing to speak to you."

    Nobody in Texas will know she sold us out. Probably a good move.

    No matter who wins the election for her seat, I will do a happy dance.

  28. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)March 2, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    How is welcoming the Silver Line a bad thing? I don't get it. If I could walk from Charter Oak a mile to a Metrorail station and take that right into the District (transferring at the Orange Line) as opposed to having to walk to a bus stop and take a bus to West Falls Church and then a train into the District wouldn't that be an improvement? Why does everything inside the Beltway scare people in Reston so much?

  29. Call me Balance.

    A new visitor to the discussions here. Wildly entertaining. Perhaps 10% informative, 10% uniquely interesting, and 80% tiring (thanks to the unending rants of a few and the incessant misinformation-couched-as-fact.) But, hey, I'll take the 20% with gratitude. In return, I will gladly provide what I hope will be "balance." So, when you read a post that is excessively negative or makes a claim that you find shocking, call for "Balance" and I'll post - if, and only if, I have facts to back up my claims.

    Thanks, again, to the 20 percenters.


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