News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Citing Lack of Affordable Housing, RCA Asks Hudgins Not to Support Fairway Development

The Reston Citizens Association has put pen to paper and written Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins a fancy letter, complete with block salutations and closing signatures, asking her not to support the awesome Fairway Apartments redevelopment, which would replace the current garden apartments off North Shore Drive with 941 "high-end condominiums" in a 20-story mauvescraper and assorted low-rise units. Here's what they had to say about the project:
While the proposal has undergone some design modifications thanks to the persistent efforts of the Reston Design Review Board, the result can be compared to rearranging deck chairs on the proverbial Titanic. Moving the pieces around a bit, adding some taller buildings and a few trees and bushes does not alter the substance of a large, overly intense development in a medium-density location where it is obviously out of place. After a struggle with the developer, the DRB finally moved them from a position of refusing to include any affordable units to agreeing to the current County minimum standard of 12%, a net loss of about 225 affordable dwelling units for Reston.

This project, as designed, would deliver a shock to a stable residential neighborhood that is vital to the diversity of this area. This stable neighborhood is consistent with Robert Simon’s founding principle of assuring a variety of housing to serve all income levels to provide “the heterogeneity that spells a lively and varied community.” Regrettably, this project would augment the trend of the last decade of wiping out affordable housing in Reston. This trend should be halted and indeed reversed if we are to remain true to our founding principles.

Furthermore, if this project is adopted, we can only assume that affordable apartments and townhouses throughout Reston will similarly be marked for destruction in the not-too-distant future. Thus, the residents of The Sycamores, Chestnut Grove Square, Parkcrest Apartments, Southgate Apartments, Hunters Square, and Winterthur Apartments, for example, will suffer similar fates, unless you act now to avoid setting this bad precedent.
Based on the last-minute maneuvering to change the definition of workforce housing in the massive Tysons redevelopment, this issue seems to be on the backburner for county officials of late. But affordable housing has been one of Hudgins' stated priorities for some time -- to the point of drawing fire from some of her constituents. And it's encouraging that the DRB was sufficiently terrifying effective to force JBG to provide at least some affordable housing in the proposal, along with an earlier compromise to remove planned retail space in an acknowledgement of traffic issues and the struggling retail in Lake Anne Plaza.

Actually, we're somewhat shocked that the initial plan included no affordable housing at all, given the scope of the project, the current buildings on the site, and the familiarity of JBG with development issues in the county. Shame on them.

The Fairway proposal goes before the county planning commission on July 15.


  1. I can think of a dozen reasons NOT to build this, "affordable" housing being waaayyyy down the list. Traffic issues and impact on the neighborhood being on top of the list.

    With that being said, Reston is all about being able to stay within a neighborhood throughout life making lower cost housing part of the original plan . . . I support our diversity in Reston.

    RA sent a Letter to Supervisor Hudgins about traffic concerns.

  2. Fairway is now renting from 1,175 to 1855 depending if you are in Fairway one or two. $1855 is for 3 bedroom. Webpage says some units have washer/dryers. Does not mention if they include utilities. How high end are these condos that replace them? Chestnut Grove, Parkcrest, Southgate Condos are all condos. They are all privately owned by people.

  3. How much affordable housing is included over at Reston Town Center? Diversity is important but it should be INTEGRATED, not segregated. It's such crap, why can't we have a damn upgrade!? What's wrong with wanting your property values to increase? Hell, does this make me a bad person? I want NICE without moving to Reston Town fringing Center!

  4. Fairway Apts has NOT been approved by the DRB. Even if the Planning Commission approves this plan (and they should not without major and significant changes), it cannot be built without DRB approval.

  5. Yes! Time to wake up and realize Section 8 and "affordable" housing are failures that should not be subsidized or worse yet godfathered with tax payer money. You can't afford? Move or look somewhere else. It's a reality. People need to live within their means.

  6. ...and where is Supervisor Hudgins?

    Hiding, silent, out of town, out of touch, and

    out of time!

  7. Ssection 8 and affordable are not failures. What data are you using to support this notion? How can one live within their means if there is no place for them to LIVE within their means? Are you suggesting that a person should live miles away from where they work because the community in which they work in does not have housing at a price in which they can afford? So, i guess you would be willing to spend more money paying for advancements in public transit or deal with more cars on the roads because people have to drive into reston to work at a lower paying job.

  8. Brooklyn Bridge SalesmanJune 29, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    Anon 9:40:

    Sorry, but there's no God-given right to live in a community that's out of your price range. I don't, for example, consider it my God-given right to live in Great Falls. When I was growing up in NYC, it was common for people to commute 50 to 60 miles into town from the suburbs. Some of that was driven by housing affordability, some by a conscious lifestyle choice.

    The simple fact of life is that Fairfax is an expensive place to live in. If you can't afford it, you move to Prince William or Stafford County to find housing within your means. Not ideal, but the real world.

    With its current budgetary shortfall, Fairfax County would be better off concentrating on its core services and not those programs that, although perhaps laudable in an ideal world, are clearly beyond its means.

  9. Besides being "dated", I really can't find much fault with Fairway. Besides, I would rather have the existing Garden Apartments than a tower with hundreds of more occupants. Anything that keeps the number of residents in Reston down is a good thing.

    Besides, since when is $1855/mo affordable? That's more than twice the PITI on my 3 br th, and I still have more than 20 years remaining on my mortgage.

    In my opinion, the least preferable solution is to ghettoize the poor. Blocks of section 8 housing only institutionalizes the poor. Putting aside subsidized units is the second worst, only because those units quickly become identified as low-income and drag down the values of surrounding properties. For those who need them and qualify, I say go with vouchers/subsidy and then let them rent at market rates. At least that way the voucher recipient can pick and choose where they want to live based on their voucher, their income and the availability of units.

    That also has the distinct advantage, as well, as not requiring a county commitment to the builder/owner. The county simply supplies the voucher/subsidy; the recipient finds the home and arranges the lease with owner.

  10. I have to say that I'm weary of this issue. I do believe that there should be a variety of home prices that would support a variety of income levels. I want police and teachers to live in my community. Isn't it possible to have a mix that doesn't support the creation of slum-etts, ala Carter Lake or the oh so ironically named Lofty Heights?

  11. Gee Convict--I think your dead wrong on the whole keeping the number of residents down in Reston being a good thing. Like it or not the future was written the day they broke ground for the Dulles Airport. You should be pushing for influencing development. I for one as a resident of an a joining neighborhood would love to see the ugly, dated Fairway torn down in favor of a beautifully designed mix of townhouses and high rise because it will bump up my values.

    I do agree with you that vouchers are the way to go to support lower income residents get into better housing, ghettos are what you get when you warehouse lower income people. Not to mention the stigma, the erosion of one's belief that things can improve, etc, etc.

  12. Bob Simon's Metallic Alter-EgoJune 29, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    But that's the whole point of setting aside a percentage of large developments like this for workforce housing -- no developer is going to build a sprawling, unattractive ghetto in the same complex as they're hoping to sell $1.1 million condos. And no more than 20 percent of an area would be "poor" or policemen, or teachers, or other undesirables, so you don't have a cluster of housing that others will avoid.

    JBG should have known better, especially given the PR nightmare of bulldozing affordable housing units and trying to get away with replacing none of them.

  13. What is affordable about Fairway? It's 1850/month! You can rent a private condo at Lakeview for less.

  14. The idea of subsidizing housing so the people who work in our area can live in our area is pawning off compensation from the employers on to the tax payer. If the subsidized housing wasn't available, the low income beneficiaries would be more inclined to live and work in cheaper areas. Employers in this area might then be forced to increase salaries to attract employees. Employees would then be able to live closer. Sure, the increased costs would force employers to raise prices, but that is far more efficient, market friendly, and less ghetto producing solution.

  15. So, 11:40, you won't grouse when you can't get out of your driveway because of all of the vehicles from the hundreds of other residents setting adjacent to your property? You won't grouse about all of the extra noise, light, trash, people when they suddenly turn up in your backyard? It's easy to say "bring'em on", but until you experience the reality of it. Unless, of course, you never have any real intention of experiencing that reality. That is, you plan to "cut and run" once Metro and the development arrives. Just out of curiosity, are you planning on giving up your car for either walking, biking or the bus for the majority of your trips. Because if you aren't, then you're going to be part of the traffic nightmare that's coming with all of this Brave, New Development.

    Let's look at some basic economic scenarios. Your property values are going up whether or not they replace Fairway. The housing market is experiencing a modest recovery.

    Let's assume that Metro is going to boost demand in the Reston area. That's a pretty safe bet. Let's also assume that an additional 60K more people will want to come to the area, effectively doubling the population of Reston. This number is consistent with projections bandied about here by people other than myself.

    Now, basic economics teaches us that, when supply is fixed but demand increases, market clearing prices tend to go up. In fact, if supply increases but demand remains constant (in the case where Metro doesn't come here for whatever reason), then prices go down. That being said, the net effect of putting in more housing in your area, especially where there really isn't any extra road capacity, would have the net effect of decreasing (!) your property values, unless you care to make the argument that people would prefer to buy your "dated" townhouse instead of one of those shiny, new TOD apartments. Once the new apartments go in, your home becomes the 40-year-old blight on the block.

  16. Reston's planning principles, put together by Himself back in the day, call for accommodating people of all types in all types of housing--racial, economic, whatever in SFHs, townhouses, condos, apartments, etc.

    If you can't sign up for some form of economic diversity in Reston--such as affordable or workforce or even Section 8 housing in Reston--you shouldn't be a developer or a resident here.

  17. Are you saying that were stuck with 50 or 60 year old idea for the all of eternity? Guidelines are exactly that: guidelines. Strict adherence to such in the face of changing fortunes is folly.

  18. Going a little further than Convict, I'd like to see some kind of voucher/subsidy program that enables the most motivated of the Section 8 housing to start purchasing a home rather than simply renting. Without going back to the stupid-financing deals that got us into this mess, it would be so nice if the programs were designed to teach those who never see themselves as owners the skills to be good owners, and then the incentive to do it. There would obviously have to be restrictions on using the house as an ATM...

    Regardless, going back to the initial responses, the reason the letter from Reston Citizens Assn mentioned Section 8 housing is because it is one of the few issues that Cathy Hudgins is known to respond to...and oh so predictably. But don't blame me, I NEVER vote for her, and those of you who do are reaping what you sow.

  19. Amongst the 'Hoods in Colvin WoodsJune 29, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    Anonymous @ 11:29: I happen to live in Carter Lake, which has since become Colvin Woods under new management several years ago (it might be time for you to re-familiarize yourself with our suburban wasteland at some point). A "slum-ette?" Really? I beg to differ. I've been quite happy here thus far. I pay market rate (not subsidized in any way) for my apartment. I filed a service request yesterday for mice, and right on cue as soon as I got back from the office today a friendly exterminator showed up to take care of the problem. We have a swimming pool, fitness center, tennis courts, dog park, and a very friendly leasing staff (albeit somewhat absent-minded).

    The "slum-ette" would be our neighbor, Cedar Ridge Apartments, which IS subsidized and is home to a lot of not-so-savory types who just wander into the street in front of vehicles, litter, shout, etc. The vast majority of the residents of Colvin Woods are upstanding middle-class professionals such as myself who have been priced out of the rest of Reston as it tilts more and more towards Arlington-like pricing with a fraction of the quality-of-life. Come survey our parking lot, and you'll see mostly newer vehicles and many luxury ones at that.

    Overall I'm quite happy here. I just wish we could walk to more than the barely-breathing Tall Oaks Village Center or the nursing home-like Lake Anne. I can't wait until both are bulldozed and redeveloped. It is awful to have to drive everywhere.

  20. Amongst the 'Hoods in Colvin WoodsJune 29, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Nice to see the NIMBYs are out in full force again, by the way. Where were you all when Tysons Corner was being developed into the festering armpit it is today? Where were you when the "canyon" was being developed along the Toll Road, effectively halving Reston? Where were you when Eastern Loudoun County was turning into an open sewer?

  21. "Amongst the 'Hoods in Colvin Woods said...

    Nice to see the NIMBYs are out in full force again, ..snip.. Where were you all when .."

    I can parody your useless post with a useless post of my own!

    Nice to see the DC residents are all upset with the Nationals recent poor performances. Where were the DC residents when the Pittsburgh Pirates were losing? Where were the DC residents when the Florida Marlins were losing?

  22. Nevermind BiCO, RR. He hates it here so much, yet he can't bring himself to move to his ideal stomping ground. Something about rents being too high there, which is precisely what is going to happen to Reston whether or not we TOD our muave Mecca.

    Can't walk to where you want to go, BiCO? I suggest a Schwinn instead. Unless, of course, The AWOD Bar Scene tends to throw people out who have broken a sweat. In which case, you can take the RIBS 1, 3 or 4.

    Don't Arlingtonize or Bethesdify Reston!

  23. The Tysons Corner buildout is going to be a several decades long process like it was for Arlington. Ballston hadn't really changed all that much in the 30 years after the Metro came. Most of the new high rises came during the r.e. finance bubble of the last 10 years.

    I doubt the redevelopment of Fairway will have anything to do with bumping up your property. You're in that tiny townhouse cluster wedged in between Fairway and North Shore. It'd be tough for someone to come in and redevelop that little parcel and realize a decent profit.

  24. The smallest units are about 850 sf, ranging up to 1375 sf. The developer has said most of the units in the new complex will tend to be the small ones. It should be a nice little swinging singles place across from the elementary school.

  25. Yeah, wait until the new residents get a gander with the traffic backup caused by the out-of-boundary Mamacitas dropping off their out-of-boundary bambinos at the LAES Spanish Immersion program. With the low-rent enclave for the local native Spanish speakers of child-bearing years eradicated, the only way to get los bambinos to the program is by carpool, which is going to further exacerbate an already plugged up piece of road during the morning and afternoon rush.

  26. What's with this 'founding principle' hooey? What pretentious nonsense. And why would anyone want to live the same contrived development in one section of a contiguous metropolitan area for their whole life? It's a big world out there.

  27. "Are you suggesting that a person should live miles away from where they work because the community in which they work in does not have housing at a price in which they can afford?"

    Hell, yes! I have to do that, and I make well over six figures.

    "In my opinion, the least preferable solution is to ghettoize the poor."

    That is the BEST solution because it contains the social pathology and allows the rest of us to avoid it.

    "I do believe that there should be a variety of home prices that would support a variety of income levels."

    There are. It's just some of those houses are further away.

    "I want police and teachers to live in my community."

    LOL, you think these overpaid and arrogant trough-feeders need any more public largesse than they already get? Their salaries and benefits are absurd compared to the private sector.

    "Affordable housing" is NOT about teachers and policemen, although that's how they always sell it to the suckers. How many teachers and policemen you think live on Glade Drive?

    "I'd like to see some kind of voucher/subsidy program that enables the most motivated of the Section 8 housing to start purchasing a home rather than simply renting."

    The pop of the housing bubble and the vast swamp of foreclosures in PWC is testimony to the literal and figurative bankruptcy of such ideas.

    "With the low-rent enclave for the local native Spanish speakers of child-bearing years eradicated, the only way to get los bambinos to the program is by carpool,"

    Better they should commute than live here. I'd rather have a problem at rush hour than a 24/7 problem.

  28. With all the legit reasons to oppose the Fairway redevelopment, it is ridiculous that RCA keeps putting out the propaganda about Fairway being affordable housing. It is market rate housing, and if the redevelopment gets through its hoops, it means that there will more affordable housing in Reston than there is now.
    Fairway has no architectural value IMO, but the additional traffic is certainly an issue, particularly on Temporary Road. That little two block street seems to be at capacity or beyond at rush hour as it is.
    A lot of hate going on in these posts-poor people should be ghettoized? That has been tried and it failed-look at all the high rise ghetto building taken down in urban areas across the U.S. Arrogant trough feeders? Let me guess, you are happy to take your tax write off for your mortgage and have the government subsidize your housing..... Are you taking farm subsidies too? I'm sure it's hard for anon 12:19 to imagine, but there are quite a few people in Reston who like the diversity, both ethnic and socio-economic. It is part of the founding principles, and it should remain as such. It is one of the things that makes Reston stand out from every other suburban community. (It is off topic, but I would also point out that the private sector is what brought us the housing bubble, the current economic situation, and the massive oil leak in the gulf. Why is the boom and bust cycle of the private sector and profit above all else with as little regulation as possible considered a paradigm of behaivior that everyone should aspire to? There are a ton of examples of where it goes wrong-a "literal and figurative bankruptcy of such ideas". Seems to me a balance between the unfettered free market and stifling government regulation is what the target should be, and it was badly out of balance in favor of no regulation in the case of deep water drilling and mortgage derivative speculation. But I diverge off the topic of Fairway apartment redevelopment and why it is OK to hate poor people, fire men, teachers, police, native spanish speakers, parents who take their kids to school for the Spanish Immersion at Lake Anne Elementary, and maybe anon 12:19 can throw in some facts as how Section 8 housing caused the housing bubble and the vast swamp of foreclosures in PWC. I was under the impression it was unregulated free market activity.)

  29. People--
    low income in Fairfax does not mean what you think it does. The median income in Fairfax is over $100,000.

    If you make $65,000 you are getting close to poverty around here.

  30. 3:08, much of the cause of the worst parts of the housing bubble are attributable to two items: lots of money seeking investments after the tech bubble burst, unrealistically low interest rates (caused by the fed's constant reduction of its rates) and the worst part of the housing bubble -- the sub-prime market -- driven by the Community Reinvestment Act, which practically requires anybody in the lending business to make "diverse" loans (in order to avoid allegations of "red-lining") instead of "pragmatic" loans based on a persons likely ability to repay the loan.

    You seem to be reading too much into these posts, 3:08. Nobody is against diversity, as long as it occurs naturally. When you force diversity, you wind up with conflict. My little corner of Reston is diverse and I get along well with my neighbors for the most part. I attribute that mostly to the fact that these people aren't acculturated as "ghetto denizens". However, if you're so into diversity and upholding the dignity of impoverished, I suggest that you live in or adjacent to Stonegate for a few years. That should disabuse you of your ideals of the "Cult of the Noble Savage" (more commonly referred to as by the modern term "Ghetto"). Those areas need extra policing for a reason. That's why there's a sub-station there. And that's precisely why most people don't want to live in or near those neighborhoods.

  31. Convict-
    You are making my point about not ghettoizing poor people, and I don't think you realize it. I've looked at houses near Stonegate, and we couldn't afford them, but that was during the bubble. I do live near subsidized housing, and have for a long time. Just because it is subsidized doesn't mean it has to be a bad neighborhood.
    Also, the reason Reston is diverse is because it was planned that way. It doesn't happen naturally. Those dang pesky founding principals saw to a diverse racial and socio economic foundation. Reston is covered with a broad mix of SFH, townhouses, condos, apartments and subsidized housing that ensures a diverse community. And you really think all that happened naturally?

  32. Palin has fake boobsJune 30, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    Anon 12:19 or should I say douchie republican a-hole?

    Go spank the monkey to your Palin/Bachman 2012 poster!

    Teachers and police "overpaid arrogant trough feeders...?"

    I guess you homeschool your turdlings, and use your gun (I mean compensation for -shall we say short comings?) to defend your McManse in Northpoint?

  33. Monkey spanking is animal abuse and constitutes a felony. Please find some other way to amuse yourself.

  34. Oh my, a scream of chimp rage from 11:50pm.

    Isn't it interesting how these O-bots, who think they are so intelligent, sophisticated, and pro-woman, immediately launch a profanity-laced personal attack on a female politician's physical attributes? What an impressive command of logic and fact you have!

    Guess what, chief -- if I homeschooled my kids, or even if I had no kids at all, I would still have the right to critique teacher salaries, for the simple reason that I pay taxes whether I have kids or not and whether I use the school system or not. The same applies to police: regardless of whether or not I own a gun and plan to defend myself, I still pay taxes to support the police department, and thus I have a right to critique how those taxes are used. If I were relieved from paying county taxes, then I wouldn't care what the arrogant trough-feeders were paid.

    Teachers are overpaid:

    The police pay and retirement plan is equally egregious in comparison to the private sector. That they can retire at age 46 says it all.

  35. Palin's silicone implantJuly 6, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Teaparty retard at 11:30 AM

    So this "report" compiled by your tea party facebook pals has determined that teachers get paid too much because they make more than the average IT professional?

    I doubt the veracity of the stats but even taken at face value: WHO CARES?

    Some overweight Asperger's syndrome suffering misanthrope who's sole social good is achieved by coding programs for a government contractor is compared to that of a teacher who is responsible for the education and welfare of 30+ students all day long?

    One clearly DESERVES more money for their efforts.

    But a stupid anarchist-racist tea bagger like yourself whose literary pursuits extend to the latest Glen Beck thriller novel, and Sarah Palin's "autobiography" would not understand the value in educating the next generation as opposed to a code-jockey whose job will soon be outsourced to a better educated Indian anyways.

  36. I supported my claim with facts.

    You responded with additional stupid, foul-mouthed insults.

    Case closed, you lose.

  37. The facts were that Ffx Co teachers make on average after 20 years more than an IT professional.

    That does not = overpaid.

    But you and your tea bagger friends were never swayed by facts...

  38. How old are you? You have the maturity level of a not particularly intelligent 12 year old. Your idea of argument consists of foul-mouthed insults, attacks on what you imagine my physique must be (which since you have never seen me, makes no sense at all), and attacks on total strangers like Palin and Beck who are completely irrelevant to the discussion (I have not cited them, don't know them, and don't care about them). You seem determined to pack every single possible logical fallacy into each post. I can see you're trying as hard as you can to push what you think are my emotional buttons, but the effort is so crude, inept, and stupid it just makes me laugh. Guess what, genius -- you can abuse Palin all you like, I couldn't care less. All you're doing is advertising how puerile you are.

  39. The truth is Fairfax County has been dumping "affordable" housing and "workforce housing" on Reston because of our open acceptance of it.
    Teh 39 condos the county purchased at ParkReston for "workforce" housing is in fact used for homeless. While I am not necessarily opposed to that it has had an impact. For example, Barnes and Noble has effectively eliminated seating because so much of it was being taken up by homeless people coming over from Parkreston. BN decreased the seating inside by 80% and totally eliminated the outside seating that was once so popular before being taken over by the homeless sleeping at Parkreston.
    And the county rents more than 100 apartments at Fairway for the homeless and a whole apartment complex was purchased in the Lake Anne area for homeless etc.
    This is having a dramatic effect on Lake Anne which is slowly being killed off.
    Developing Fairway Apartments into a first rate community will attract more middle class which would dramatically lift LA as a center and it would change the composition of LA Elementary SChool making all the properties more desirable and lifting their values over time.
    One thing is for sure no owner is going to rebuild Fairway for the lower income and homeless and for "workforce development." And thus it will slowly decline pulling LA into a deeper hole than it is now.
    Reston with 6% of the county's population has more than 17% of all Fairfax County sponsored housing for the "homeless, low income and workforce development."
    And why not. Why would Vienna care just let Reston and Herndon take care of 28% of the need. Clifton doesn't care. Mclean either or Great Falls either. Not much in Fairfax but it is an independent city.
    So before lond Lake Anne will be like Tall Oaks.
    But th eole timers of Reston came here to live the life and it is going to be worse with their nimby ideas.


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