The 28 December WaPo headline on the “land use / transportation” issue in Virginia reads:
“Va House Puts Onus on Counties for Road Crisis.”

After 50 years of negligent failure to provide the constitutionally required framework to preserve the health, safety and welfare of the Commonwealth’s citizens, some members of the General Assembly want to cover their tracks by giving the elected and appointed leadership of municipal and County governments a Winter Solstice Holiday lump of coal.

The only thing sillier than this “solution” to the mobility and access crisis is that WaPo follows up its Page One story with an editorial suggesting that what is needed to solve the is more money. Further WaPo says that some of the General Assembly’s Elephant Clan members are villains for withholding the money. (“The Snooker Strategy: Don’t be fooled: Virginia Republicans are the ones starving the state’s transportation network.”)


Let us give all the credit that is due to the drafters of the current House package for finally acknowledging that there is, after all, a relationship between land use and transportation.
Welcome to the party! You are about fifty years late and, sadly, the cake is gone.

During the period from 1958 to 1967 such ideas to relate transport systems and land use pattern travel demand were part of the official strategy for the evolution of the National Capital Subregion’s human settlement patterns. Action on this issue was needed then. Modest proposals would have helped 50 years ago. Now Fundamental Change is necessary.


The crisis is an “access and mobility crisis,” not a “roads crisis.” While the “leadership” dithers, the “access and mobility crisis” is morphing into “an economic prosperity / social stability / environmental sustainability crisis.”


All the “Better late than never” and “This is a first step” rhetoric just excuses past action / inaction and encourages further delay in a general recognition that Fundamental Change in governance structure and Fundamental Change in settlement patterns is a prerequisite to prosperity, stability and sustainability in the Commonwealth and in the US of A.

Beating on the electeds and the appointeds in municipalities and Counties in 2007 is a useless exercise which will not even achieve the “hidden” agenda of putting off any action on reals solutions until after the Fall 2007 elections.

Why is beating on the municipal and County “leadership” a counterproductive idea?

For starters, the mobility and access crisis is a New Urban Region-scale and in some cases a subregional-scale problem, not a municipal / County one. Any effective legislation must include a new, elected subregional and regional governance structure. See “The Shape of Richmond’s Future” at for a step by step sketch of how to start the process.

Using the northern part of Virginia as a point of reference, even if beating on Loudoun and Prince William County has an impact it would only induce these jurisdictions to work harder to displace the location of change and growth. The changes in settlement patterns that should evolve mainly inside R=20 and totally inside R=30 will be forced out beyond R=40.

That means more scattered urban land uses in Clarke, Fauquier, Warren, Rappahannock, Page, Culpeper, Madison, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline, Orange, and – you get the idea. At S/PI we have no problem with new urban development in these places or in the Shenandoah so long as all new urban development evolves into new Balanced (Alpha) Communities whether inside the Clear Edge around New Urban Region Cores or in Balanced (but disaggregated) Communities in the Countryside.

If the General Assembly wants to beat on council members and supervisors, they should start with Arlington County which covers most of the territory of two Beta Communities in the Core of the National Capital Subregion. These Beta Communities are not Balanced (Alpha) Communities because they have a gross imbalance of jobs over housing, services, recreation and amenity.

If the General Assembly really wants to address the problem of dysfunctional human settlement patterns which underlies the mobility and access crisis in the northern part of Virginia, they need to look to Fairfax County. [Similar locational dysfunction can be found in the other two New Urban Regions that fall (all or in part) in the Commonwealth.]

Fairfax County occupies most of the R=6 to R=20 Radius Band in the Virginia portion of the National Capital Subregion. Fairfax County covers part or all of 10 Beta Communities. If the projected 2020 population of Fairfax County were distributed in Balanced (Alpha) Communities there would be 100,000 plus acres of open space in the County.

Further the pattern and density of land use in these Alpha Communities would be exactly what the market demonstrates throughout the First World (including the market in the Commonwealth and in Fairfax County) to be the places which are the most desirable to live, work and play for the full spectrum of citizens.

The reasons why the “the American Dream” / “suburban” landscape is in fact the cumulative American Nightmare is the subject of The Shape of the Future and the forthcoming book TRILO-G. The market documents that only a small percentage of citizens really prefer this settlement pattern if they have a choice. It is also clear that “suburban patterns” (what Jim Bacons calls the home of the Pod People) it would not exist if those who benefit from these patterns were required to pay the full cost of their location decisions.

There was a strategy for creating a sustainable, efficient, functional settlement pattern in the National Capital Subregion in the late 50s and it was still an easily obtainable option in the mid-60s. Functional settlement patterns are still the only viable option for the future but it will cost $ billions more to retrofit human habitation now than it would have cost to do it right in the first place.

Instead of preserving 100,000 acres plus of openspace, Fairfax County has created:

Two large preserves of subsidized, 5 / 10 / 20 acre, pseudo “rural” life-style residential areas,

Vast areas of dysfunctionally scattered urban land uses,

And no Balanced (Alpha) Communities.

Had Arlington and Fairfax created Balanced (Alpha) Communities from 1955 to 2005 there would have been little need for Loudoun and Prince William to approve any “subdivisions.”

These jurisdictions could have focused on helping the private sector evolve six Balanced Communities between R=20 (about the Fairfax County border) and R=30. These new places would have also been great places to live, work and play (aka, Balanced (Alpha) Communities).

The data to support these settlement pattern distributions can be found in “Five Critical Realities That Shape the Future,” a Backgrounder at

Why has the settlement pattern that has evolved over the past 50 years been the antithesis of what was needed and desired if the long-term collective self-interest citizens were understood?
Functional human settlement patterns help everyone in the long term from the perspective of economic prosperity, social stability and environmental sustainability.

Dysfunctional human settlement patterns make a few very rich in the short term and it also causes a large number to fantasize that they will get richer at some point if the current trends continue.

From a broader perspective, very few make small profits from conservation, a great many make a lot of money from consumption and over-consumption.

In a society with short term economic profit in the driver’s seat, it is clear what settlement pattern will evolve without aggressive, effective citizen participation in governance. It is also clear why conservation loses out to over-consumption.

The current political process runs on political contributions. Those who make profit from dysfunction human settlement patterns make sure that politics, parties, governance and conservation does not get in the way of their profit personal and corporate motives.

The best use citizens can make of the current “land use / transportation debate” and of the discussion of the mobility and access issue is to point out the moral and ideological bankruptcy of the current proposals and as, we suggest in our recent columns and Backgrounder, vote all incumbents in both parties out of office come November.

That is the only language that they understand.


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21 responses to “BAD, BAD BOYS AND GIRLS”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    EMR – This is the most clear explanation of your position that I’ve read. Even though I’m not totally on board wiht all of your proposals, I commend your post. You did a great job of setting forth your argument.

    Why not send a version of this to the Post for an Op-Ed piece? If your ideas are to be a part of the debate, you need to be in the Post.

    Well done!

  2. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Perhaps this is flawed logic???

    The reasons why the “the American Dream” / “suburban” landscape is in fact the cumulative American Nightmare is the subject of The Shape of the Future and the forthcoming book TRILO-G. The market documents that only a small percentage of citizens really prefer this settlement pattern if they have a choice. It is also clear that “suburban patterns” (what Jim Bacons calls the home of the Pod People) it would not exist if those who benefit from these patterns were required to pay the full cost of their location decisions.

    Folks, many people would like to live in grand mansions on a HUGE estate, servants, grounds keepers, private gold course, stables with horses, helipad with a nice helicopter sitting there, down on the bay, their yacht is moored, waiting to take them on a pleasurable cruise.

    The fact that we all do not live this way because we cannot afford it does not mean:

    • It is not an excellent Quality of Life
    • We don’t want to live this way
    • It is not superior to the way we do live

    Nope. Just because we cannot AFFORD the cost is no reflection on our desire to live that way.

    Now about this:

    . ”The market documents that only a small percentage of citizens really prefer this settlement pattern if they have a choice.”

    Oh, so they don’t have a choice? Huh? Gosh, I guess everyone is fleeing from the suburbs and not trying their best to move into them. Suburban property values are crashing! Meanwhile – the demand for high density family homes is off the chart – compared to the sales of single family homes in rural or suburban America!

    Maybe the “market” is showing the signs of the reality that prices are so high now – that many that want to live in suburban homes cannot AFFORD to – and they are seeking alternatives.

    Not because they want to – but because they have no choice – economically.

    .Let’s look at this: ”The market documents that only a small percentage of citizens really prefer this settlement pattern if they have a choice.”

    Okay. And if they can afford to live in a 4-bedroom, 3 bath, 2,500 square-foot home with an in-ground pool and large back yard in a very nice suburban neighborhood with good schools – and they have school-aged children – what is it that the ‘large’ percentage of citizens “really” prefers instead???

    And … how was this determined?

  3. First, It doesn’t matter what we did or didn’t do fifty years ago. We can only look forward from here. Probably, fifty years from now, someone else will look back at what we did or didn’t do and they will say the same thing: “What were they thinking? Why didn’t they DO something?”

    Second, we don’t have a roads crisis. You can drive pretty near anywhere in the state without a problem most of the time. We don’t have an access and mobility problem, either, unless you are talking about access to government officials. Just about any building or venue has some kind of access, and some have access of several kinds. What we have is a congestion and timing problem: too many people trying to go to the same place at the same time. It matters not what you do with land use anyplace else: as long as those places exist you will have congestion.

    You can use Metro to take more people to those places, but why would you? Why not let those places pay their full loactional costs and buy their own Metro. Who is the real customer here, anyway?

    Third, we are not going to have fundamental changes in governance structure any time soon. We can’t even pass a budget we can agree on. Fundamental changes in settlement pattern will take even longer.

    What do we do in the meantime, wait for fifty more years to pass so we can look back and say “Gee, modest changes back then might have helped.” ???

    I’ll give you this, at least you make the point that if we ever get regional government, it should be elected.

    Right now PW and Loudoun are putting the squeez on growth. But you say this will “force” people to move beyond r-40. I don’t see any such force. Some people who otherwise might have chosen PW or Loudoun will wind up someplace else that doesn’t want growth either. If what you say about the market is true, aren’t they more likely to choose to move closer in than they are to move out?

    Or is the force you are talking about really the force they feel to get what they want, meaning something other than a townhouse and a train ride?

    So let’s say that there are two directions to move, there being more space and lower prices in the outward direction, let’s guess that two thirds of those displaced from PW and Loudoun move out, and one third move in.

    Apparently you dona’t have any problem with this as long as they move to balanced communities. I take balanced to mean communites that that have the proper ratios of
    homes, jobs, schools, transportation, and open space. I gather you would still prefer those places to be reasonably dense. In other words it is OK to move outside of r-40 as long as you live like you were in the city.

    I don’t think that roads, schools, and homes are too much of a problem out there. As you point out, there is a lot of space and a lot of towns, those displaced PW-Loudouners will get swallowed up pretty quickly. But the problem is jobs.

    Strangely enough, we have a congestion problem that is caused by too many jobs someplace else. Surely, if PW and Loudoun can displace people and houses, the Fairfax and Arlington can displace some jobs. It isn’t as if it is impossible. All we have to do is apply the emptying cities criteria.

    Voila, we have solved the congestion problem in Arlington/Fairfax, the jobs problem in Warrenton/Winchester, and the growth problem in PW/Loudoun. No fundamental changes needed: all we have to do is start planning for what is happening anyway.

    But, I think you are all wet on that full cost of location thing. If cities had to pay their full costs they would cease to exist. The proposed Dominion Power line is just the latest example of the urban areas exporting their true costs, and paying less than the market rate for what they are taking by force.

    Those people displaced from PW-Loudoun will have choices: Bid up the prices in PW-Loudoun until they get what they want, move closer in, or move farther out. You claim they would prefer to live in whatever your Alpha communites are, but you fear they will be “forced” out. I notice you don’t fear that some existing residents in PW-Loudoun will be “forced” to hold and pay taxes on excess and near worthless land, in order to move, not prevent, growth. This is land they are perfectly willing to sell and which others are perfectly willing to buy. So much for free market.

    Anyway, those displaced will have choices: lets just watch for fifty years and see what they pick. Then we can look back and say, “If only we had made some modest changes.”


    Finally we get down to money. You are right, at present ther is no profit in conservation. We will have a lot more conservation when we fix that. PW-Loudoun have enforced conservation on some landowners, because they feel it is to the benefit of the larger community. Maybe the larger community should take some of that benefit and contribute it to those doing the conservation.

    If the benefit is all that important that we are going to take it by force, it ought to be important enough to pay for.

    Instead, the government looks at open space like free money. Hey, we’ll force them to keep open space and then we’ll tax them for having it. Whoopeee, Free Money! Open space keeps our taxes low because we tax it three times what it costs us.

    Then we wonder why we don’t have more conservation.


    You keep saying that dysfuntional settlement makes a few very rich. Why are you advertizing for the opposition? People like to get rich. They like to play the lottery.

    And they are not stupid, either. Compare a $450,000 townhouse in Annadale with a $450,000 home in say Snow Hill. Which one has more upside, which one ore downside risk?

    What I hear you saying is that we should aggressively get govenment to take away the chance to get rich. You say you are opposed to short term profits, but you don’t say what we are supposed to live on until the long term profits arrive. It doesn’t sound like a good sales pitch to me.

    Explain how a functional living pattern will makes people rich, and maybe they will listen, especially when you can show some real live new urbanist Horatio Alger’s.

    As for political contributions, why do we have them? To try to help elect those that will do what we want done. Why not just write down what we want done on the back of our tax bill, and let that be the case? It would eliminate the arueing over what people want done in the GA, and political contributions would have no meaning. Those that make them would now have to use it to convince the people to change what they put on the back of the form. That should be fun to watch.


    The reason conservation loses out to over consumption is because of the confiscatory nature of conservation. We put people in the position of use it or lose it. The recent flurry of building in Western Loudoun before the land rules changed again is one example.

  4. nova_middle_man Avatar

    Since my last post was verbose this one will be short and sweet.

    Most people get married and have kids. The number one concern for where to live is SCHOOLS.

    Schools cost money so counties seek to have more business which provides a tax base without draining resources for school or many services (parks, library etc)services in general

    So you have less housing which increases costs which moves people out to the next county. Same problem reaccurs next town over.

    So I agree better regional planning would be a start. However echoing the post above IMHO, the only people that want to live in high-density are single people or retirees. Now High Density single family homes could work but we all know the problem with that is high land value costs which makes buidling anything other than a condo tower in the inner core financially unfeasible

    A possible partial solution is to improve the school system(s) (imagine that another Bacon topic 🙂 funny how they are all interconnected) Imagine what would happen if families had an incentive to move to Alexandria and Washington DC again.

    Happy New Year

  5. I can’t even imagine what it would cost to fix the DC schools.

    Talk about paying your full locational costs.

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Just wanted to make a comment on the concept of attracting more business to help supplement taxes for infrastructure – of which schools are a significant cost.

    Businesses do not pay taxes out of their profits.

    They pas that cost directly to purchasers and it works just like a second sales tax.

    My point is that citizens pay these taxes. Businesses collect them and then give them to the counties.

    In reality it’s a tax on top of the sales tax.

    I’m not opposed to sales taxes. I actually favor consumption taxes over other kinds of taxes but I think the concept of trying to attain… say a 70-30 “mix” is very misleading because at the end of the day – no matter how many businesses are attracted to any area – it is ultimately the same citizens paying property taxes who are paying taxes on the goods and services that businesses sell.

    This is more. If a locality can build more businesses to attract residents from adjacent jurisdictions – they get “free” tax revenue because they get the sales tax but they don’t have to provide homes and infrastructure to serve those homes.

    This, in turn, causes many localities to roll over to attract businesses. For instance, they’ll allow businesses to line transportation corridors with multiple curb cuts and median cross-overs… which.. in the long run… destroy
    the utility of those corridors and foster efforts to build bypasses and beltways…. to “get around the congestion”.

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think I understand what EMR is advocating but I see NO PATH to get there. Even if all the elected reps were thrown out of office (as he suggests) – what next?

    I don’t understand how we get there.

    is there a path?

  8. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    EMR’s plan can be found here and in his book.'s_future.htm

    My less visionary path is creating MPO’s with elected leaders representing their areas which would represent all or part of their electorate. Use one man one vote rules with proportional votes from the members. Assign these three basic powers to the MPO.

    Regional Plans. Create a regional land-use plan and a compatible regional transportation plan.

    Balanced Communities. Implement the evolution of a system of Balanced Communities within the New Urban Region. Each community would have a relative balance of jobs/housing/services/recreation/amenity. The population and job location necessary to achieve this balance would determine the size of the communities.

    Allocation of Costs. Ensure a fair allocation of all the location-based public and essential utility services costs. The agency would also make citizens aware of the location-based cost of all private services.

    The link provides more information and the references even more information. I recognize that my approach does not solve the 1000 pound gorilla problem that occurs when some representatives on an MPO represent small blocks of voters and others large blocks. Because each member only represents their electorate, direct election of MPO members from MPO districts may be required. This is the practice for Alexandria School Board members where City Council members are elected at large.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Some comments on business taxes, prices, the federal government and Ramsey Pricing. I will be short, however, since my spouse has a long list of errands for me to run.

    I would generally agree that, when permitted by market conditions, businesses pass along taxes paid to their customers. There is, however, no guarantee that customers will buy in the same quantities. Remember, for example, the Democrats’ luxury tax on big boats. The boat-builders raised their prices, and customers stopped buying. The businesses and their workers were hurting. As I recall, the GOP eliminated or reduced the tax.

    The key factors are market conditions and the shape of the demand curve.

    NoVA is close to Washington, D.C. and, hence, the federal government. Many businesses want to sell to, or, at least, influence the federal government. So they come to D.C., NoVA and Maryland. IMO, the demand curve for commerical real estate in metro Washington is much more inelastic than it is in many other parts of the country.

    As I’m sure most know, Ramsey Pricing suggests that, in order to maximize yield, monopolists (or quasi-monopolists) attempt to recover their fixed costs on the products or services with the least elastic demand. IMO, the commercial real estate industry in metro Washington is in a quasi-monopoly position. While they compete with each other, they all are located close to D.C. A landlord, in Houston simply cannot offer the proximatey to the federal government that a landlord in Herndon, Reston, Falls Church can offer.

    Therefore, Ramsey Pricing theory would suggest that we place surcharges on commercial real estate to recover revenues sufficient to support the transportation infrastructure needed — in large part by these very same landlords. Also, to the extent these businesses (the tenants) can pass along their higher costs, many of them will pass along their costs to the federal government and/or their other customers around the world.

    Florida exports much of its operating costs to tourists. Why doesn’t NoVA begin exporting many of its transportation costs to the U.S. taxpayers and customers around the world?

  10. Jim Bacon Avatar

    When I say that Ed and I agree on 90 percent of what we write, we agree overwhelmingly on where we need to go and how the Commonwealth would function in an ideal world. The 10 percent where we don’t agree is on how we get there. Ed writes correctly that nothing in a democracy will change until the citizenry properly understands the issues. I agree. How the citizenry will ever come to understand the issues in all their complexity — in a world where the communication of ideas are dominated by a superficial Mainstream Media and powerful special interests — is the big question. In the face of resistance by the forces of Business As Usual, blogs, books, seminars and and grassroots citizen action can take us only so far.

    How, then, do we achieve Fundamental Change? In a democratic system with checks and balances, it is impossible to achieve it except incrementally over the course of a generation… or maybe two generations. It will be a messy process, two steps forward, one step backwards. Ed will never live to see it achieved (unless someone invents cryogenic freezing). I’m 20 years younger than Ed, and I doubt I will either.

    Still, I praise the House of Delegates for grappling with the linkage between transportation and land use — a historic breakthrough in thinking. I agree with Ed that the problems could have been solved far more easily if we’d addressed them properly 40 years ago… But we didn’t. The situation at the close of 2006 is what it is. What do we do about it today? We start by taking the first halting steps, like those the House is proposing.

    In the process of implementing those modest changes, we will debate issues that were never debated before and we will educate the citizenry to a degree it had never been educated before. The radical ideas that we advance become a little less alien and threatening than they seem to many now.

    If the House of Delegates succeeds in passing this one wave of land use proposals, wipes its hands, congratulates itself on a job well done and then moves onto other issues, thinking that it has solved the problem, it will be deceiving itself. Then it will be our job to agitate for them to take the next step… and the next… and the next… until we finally achieve fundamental change.

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I’m still awaiting the 600lb slumbering (or pretending to slumber) gorilla to emerge beating it’s breasts.

    Who is that? Well.. it’s the development community of course.

    I want to see all of this brave HD “talk” survive to become legislation on Kaine’s desk.

    oh you say… “not this time”… 🙂 we’ll see… politicians love to strut… and hurump …but let Til Hazel and company show up with fire in their eyes and they all drop to their knees begging for pentnace.

    I know… I am so BAD for uttering these terrible thoughts…

  12. “My point is that citizens pay these taxes. Businesses collect them and then give them to the counties.”

    Exactly right, and yet we insist on making the argument that residential growth does not pay, that drivers don’t pay.

    As you point out citizens pay those taxes. Citizens live in houses and most of them drive on the roads.

    What’s the problem? figure out how big a bill to send them, and send it.

  13. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think the point is that according to most folks including you Ray… we don’t have “enough” infrastructure for the number of folks that we have… right?

    I think figuring out the size of the bill is for those who advocate MORE infrastructure – not those that are opposed to more taxes until we do know how much is needed.

    The pro-taxers want an open-ended tax increases without specifying how the money will be spent to essentially create a giant slush fund for VDOT – to continue to do business as usual – which includes building roads to support new development and precious little on improving and optimizing the existing network.

    And you can figure out whose interests are involved by looking at who is allied with whom.

    The pro-taxers … VOILA are the business community… and especially those who benefit from land speculation and growth and development. They want to OPTIMIZE their wealth-gathering activities – at the expense of ordinary folks trying to make a living by raising their taxes and diverting the money for infrastructure that will benefit the business community. And then they “sell” the idea by telling the public that MORE ROADS make life better for everyone.

    The average guy in the street does not want higher taxes and also is willing to pay tolls and approve transportation referenda for specific new roads and is in favor of impact fees – as long as they can see these things as offering THEM benefits.

  14. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    This last post was excellent.

    I would perhaps modify the last paragraph to read thus:

    The average guy in the street does not want higher taxes and also is willing to pay tolls and approve transportation referenda for specific new roads and is in favor of impact fees – as long as they can see these things as offering THEM benefits. But this also requires that before more new transportation taxes are levied, the TTF is protected.

    In addition, the average guy on the street would very much appreciate it if government spending is better prioritized and nice-to-have out-of-control non-essential government spending is significantly reduced.

    Many aveage taxpayers understand that the state’s bugdet has growth far more rapidly then their wages and realizes that the state is collecting far more taxes then they need, and the strategy for paying for much of our transportation needs should come out of the General Fund – in addition to the TTF.

  15. Actually, I think we have plenty of roads, roads that are seldom used to even a fraction of capacity. 90% of our roads are uncongested 95% of the time. 10% of our roads are congested 20 or 30% of the time.

    I think we have too many jobs colocated in too few places. If the local problem is the federal government, then we should either disperse it or send the feds the bill for fixing it.

    The feds and the contractors that serve the feds are causing the congestion problem in NOVA, not the people scattered around the countryside.

    There is NO WAY to economically build more road infrastructure in Arlington. They are built out, and they will always have congestion, no matter what they do or what the spend until they move some people out, a la Pittsburgh.

    Even Arlington Cemetary is getting full. Are we going to double deck that? Build up and not out? I don’t think so. I think we will find some new place.

    Can we build places better than we have? Of course, but I don’t think we should use either Arlington or Atlanta as a model. I just don’t think there is a lot of payback in sending an infinite number of bills for an infinite number of user fees, just to satisfy a few people who are lucky enough to work from home. Who instead of enjoying their good fortune, worry that they are getting screwed because they don’t use the roads they are paying for.

  16. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “I think we have too many jobs colocated in too few places. If the local problem is the federal government, then we should either disperse it or send the feds the bill for fixing it.”

    Ray – I’m glad that you acknowledge that enterprises that bring jobs – bring infrastructure impacts.

    You cite the Feds but the reality is that ANY business that has employees put the same burden on localities.

    Why would you treat the Feds any different than say… Fed Ex or AOL , etc?

    Are you counting on the idea that you could charge the Feds and get away with it but if you tried to charge AOL – they’ leave?

    Or perhaps that is exactly what you mean. Do you really mean that ONLY those companies that are willing to pay for infrastructure would be permitted to move into the NoVa Area and set up shop would be those who would pay an infrastructure fee for each employee?

    You KNOW that this is, in fact, what they do in NYC. The “cost of business” is much higher in NYC that in outlying jurisdictions and some companies choose not to be there because of the expense.

    Others pay it – and NYC uses the money to provide infrastructure – much of it – mobility infrastructure – like bus and subway.

    Note also – in this mix – are cabs – the “shared” people movers that EMR alludes to the need for.

    So – Ray – are you in favor of charging each business in the NoVa area an infrastructure fee like you advocate for the Feds?

    Bonus question: if you did that – do you think companies would pass that cost on to consumers?

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Yikes – I see that the Richmond area is listed as the first target. I live there. EMR does not. I find the idea of consolidating regional governments absolutely horrifying – might be good for transit, but would reek for pretty much everything else.

    I would like to see more voluntary (note choice of words) places built in a more traditional style – but the idea of lumping my county government in with the city and the inner counties is something I could not stomach.

    Also, BTW, why is Richmond a target? We have some traffic, but it’s pretty moderate, and certainly nothing on the scale of NoVa, which I visit regularly. Unless you’re going downtown (and that’s not where most of the jobs are unless you’re a banker or a state worker) commute times are pretty reasonable.

    Seems like a drastic, and ill-conceived, solution to a non-problem.

  18. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I found this interesting: (excerpt of an editorial in the Roanoke Times talking about Martinsville trying to “undo” city status):

    “The culprit is the independent cities concept — and Henry County is not the only place that unique Virginia institution forces local officials into cross purposes.

    The independent cities rule fosters competition within regions, creating a zero-sum mentality that makes true cooperation nearly impossible.”

    I’d say the same thing can happen with regard to adjacent counties within a region.

    So.. 8:20 am anon is apparently opposed to Regional Approaches to governance… or do I misunderstand?

    Can folks who don’t care for regionalism make clear whether they oppose any/all Regionalism or just ones that are appointed?

    In other words – are you opposed to Regionalism – period?

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    It would depend on how you define regionalism.

    I am opposed to “fundamental change in our government boundaries” (paraphrase of an EMR statement) because I feel that the needs, desires, and wants of people who live in the urban core are fundamentally different – and often at odds – with the needs, desires, and wants of people in rural areas.

    It’s enough of a shock to rural residents to have the normal conflict between new and old residents – the come here and the born heres – but to be ruled entirely by people who have never lived in the country and who appear to have no respect for or understanding of rural living – that’s genuinely horrifying.

    If I wanted to live in a city, I would. I do not. I do not want the city forced down my throat.

    OTOH, I think the idea of limited and defined regional cooperation is a good idea, specifically re the major issues of roads and planning (versus getting into the trivia of zoning where you’re gettng into where you can put an outbuilding and how many dogs can you keep on 10 acres.)

    I also, personally, think blanket opposition to the Dillon rule is shortsighted – Dillon is a major contributor to why Virginia has so few “bright idea” laws at the local level. I’m not talking about planning and transport, but I really don’t want to live someplace like Illinois, where you can suddenly find yourself with any sort of means-well law from foie gras bans to smoking bans to declaring yourself a nuclear free zone.

    Dillon puts the brakes on that sort of nonsense. Any changes to Dillon need to be small and focused on planning and transportation – not generic and all-inclusive – or we will have a mess that looks a good bit more like Chicago than the Virginia I grew up in.

  20. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Interesting response to the Regional issue.

    actually… very interesting….

    am curious to see what EMR and others might feel especially with regard to citizens voting FOR Regionalism.

    Having lived in a rural area and watched it be completely changed by the “come-heres” who wanted the rural “look” but also their 24hr 911… full-blown libraries on every street corner .. and 5 minute fire/rescue response times, etc.
    I KNOW where you are coming from. Now that the area resembles where the came from – they proclaim it “ruined” and threaten to move on to more rural locales .. never suspecting that some of them view them like we would hordes of locusts. 🙂

    But I’ve also seen two adjacent jurisdictions BOTH totally crap up their transportation networks in futile attempts to get a leg up on commercial retail sales tax receipts……

    There was NO reason for all the curb cuts and median cross-overs on the main roads EXCEPT the Retailers told each jurisdiction that they’d locate in their rival’s jurisdiction if they wouldn’t relent on the curb cuts and median crossovers.

    Of course know .. the same business are crying that “something” must be done about the congestion mess.

    METHINKs if the two jurisdictions were working TOGETHER for a better Region that the Retailers would have more trouble playing them off against each other and that in the end – the retailer would want the store so bad – that they abide by good-sense traffic requirements as a condition of locating there.

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Ed and Others:

    Ed, I am sure you would agree every 10,000 jobs created
    in the closer in suburbs in all of those major office
    and industrial parks in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax
    and Loudoun counties generates housing demands as far
    50 miles out into the outer suburbs for employees are
    either seeking more house for the money, affordable
    housing, more modern housing or housing with land that
    is not available near their job sites. This is the
    driving force that is complicating our transportation
    problems, thus the mess we have today.

    Rodger Provo

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