News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, March 28, 2014

Corporations Are People Too, My Friend! Developer Pushed As Write-In Candidate For RA Board Seat Voted On By Developers

Corporations are people tooAs the deadline for voting draws near, this year's contested RA board election has been fairly quiet -- perhaps too quiet. But our BFFs at Reston Now have picked up on an interesting kerfluffle: apparently a JBG employee is being pushed as a write-in candidate for the "apartment owners" seat on the RA Board, a seat which is voted on by--you guessed it--JBG and a small group of other developers and property holders. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

Several members of the Reston Association Board of Directors are concerned that a write-in candidate may be leading the in the votes for the Apartment Owners seat.

Ellen Graves is the official candidate for the spot, but Kimberly Miller, a portfolio manager with developer The JBG Companies has received many votes, RA sources said.

Miller is not a Reston Association member, but RA bylaws allow a non-resident to be in that spot.

While there is nothing in the RA bylaws that prevents a write-in candidate from seeking election, it brings up a question of why Miller did not seek election the standard way — by filing with RA months ago and campaigning for the position. Reston officials said Miller did file, but her application came in late, sources said.

And while there is no rule against having an employee of a major developer on the board, it also brings up the question of potential conflicts of interest as JBG owns several developments in Reston and has filed plans for several more.
In a Q&A, Graves, the non-write-in-candidate who was the only person to actually file for the seat, on time, talked about her goals:
Serve as a liaison between Reston Association and apartment owners; serve as a voice for the voice-less.
Noted without comment.

Meanwhile, the Reston Now article also points out that the turnout for voting for the remaining seats on the board that are actually voted on by insignificant mortgage-slaves RA members is awful, as usual. Some more sweet sweet blockquote, por favor?
RA Elections Chair Ed Robichaud says turnout has been pretty light in the 2014 board election. Ballots must be in by Monday at 5 p.m.

“I take it as an embarrassment that we can only convince 3,000 people to vote,” he said.
True, but this sort of thing doesn't help.


  1. If a seat was created specifically to represent developers, it seems reasonable that it is filled by an actual representative from a developer. Or am I missing something?

  2. The apartment representative is supposed to represent the interests of the TENANTS, not the OWNERS. The tenants are members of RA and, through their rent, pay the owner's RA assessments.
    I doubt seriously that a person who works for a developer who owns her own home which is not in Reston can adequately represent the interests of the many thousands of people who rent their homes in Reston.
    It seems that the RA Board is the living incarnation of Murphy's Law: If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.

    1. The position is called Apartment Owners - that's so owners are represented not tenants...

  3. Wow.. how many reasons must we tally before becoming a town actually makes sense? It is clear that developers own RA and the County's Board of Supervisors. Indeed, the board was recently accused of viewing Special Tax District 5 as their personal checkbook for county spending (in this case, the potential rec center), rather than chipping in county-wide funds.
    Do you think that a Reston town might have had a bigger seat at the table when the Silver Line came through, with jacked tolls for the thoroughfare bisecting us? I do.
    Do you think that a Reston town might have had a better deal cut for residents on density, rather than the force-fed planning written "by developers, for developers"? I do.
    Do you think that a Reston town might have more control over subsidized 8A housing, rather than continued dysfunction (such as Shadowood v. Ffx County) as the perennial underdog? I do.
    DRB conflicts of interest, lack of influence on Village Centers, unusual HOA fee increases.. my fingers grow weary of typing all that could change. A town status is not a panacea, but with the County's desire to create Tyson's West here, the window of opportunity for Reston's self-defense is shrinking, and the counter-argument that "it would be too expensive" loses credibility as we pay for the latest extravagance.

    1. Town? Why think so small? We're large enough that we should go straight to "City".

      Of course, the problem with that is that we need a quite a bit of acreage to set up buildings for all of those municipal services. And does Fairfax County cede the equipment and personnel dedicated to meeting Reston's needs, or do we buy that from scratch?

    2. A fair counterpoint to my comments above, Convict, but the new dense development could come with a higher pricetag for the developers. We are hardly lacking in equipment as an overgrown HOA, and we can ask Vienna how to staff it.. they keep showing up in "best place to live" lists, right? And we get to keep our county fire and police, according to the town proponents.

  4. Bowling for BollardsMarch 28, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    People are not fooled. It is with regret that we must admit that on development issues, RA is a toothless paper tiger, when it is not actually a tool for development interests. The only things it can do, it would appear, is to raise assessments on Reston property owners and hire more public relations personnel. I can hardly wait for the BoS to create another special tax overlay district to pay for the public infrastructure improvements (read, subsidy) needed to accommodate the new "planned smart growth". Damn I wish I could afford to move.

    1. Yes you can. Ask yourself, with all of this nonsense can you afford to stay?

  5. of all the candidates Ellen Graves had the shortest Q&A, definitely a sign of weakness. even though she thought she ran unoppossed she suddenly had competition. Maybe she will revisit the Q&A and get an update from the RA.


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