Today’s WaPo has a story on the front page of the Metro section about population change over the past five years. Virginia is the 7th fastest growing state, several Virginia counties are among the fastest growing in the United States. The story is a landmark in one sense, a continuing disaster in another.

For the first time in memory WaPo focuses on population growth and not on percentage population growth. That is a real and important landmark.

On the other hand WaPo quotes those who reinforce the unfounded myth that more people means more congestion. More population means more transport congestion only if the newcomers are forced to make bad location decisions by government policy and by the distorted, subsidized market that drives “Business-As-Usual.” See “Five Critical Realities That Shape the Future” at

Virginia and the National Capital Subregion need to use the surge in jobs and population to evolve Balanced Communities in sustainable New Urban Regions. Current trends disaggregate settlement patterns and enhance dysfunction in mobility, access and shelter.

The problem is not a lack of space for more people inside the Clear Edge, at least not at the levels projected for the next 50 years. The problem is that when the current binge is over there will be no economic leverage to reconfigure human settlement patterns. Citizens, enterprises and agencies will not be able to afford – economically, socially or physically – the resulting dysfunction.


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  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Maybe, maybe not.

    Much transportation is regional, more local “options” have not been shown to reduce travel very much. Balanced settlements will help a little, eventually.

    So more people in the region, regardless of where they live or work, will result in more travel. More travel on the same roads will result in more congestion.

    The editorial in this weeks Examiner gave a good sysnopsis of the problem and its history.

    Anyway, most of R15 is in Fairfax, and Fairfax already has a land use plan that covers every single acre, including proposed densities, open space, etc. It has taken decades to put the plan together, and it is unlikely to change anytime soon. If you want to have some input to Fairfax policiy, you can always move there and become a voter.

  2. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Meanwhile, out in our neck of the woods, in Fauquier, both Weldon Cooper reports population increase of more than 10%, but Fauquier government plans are based on the supposition that it can be reduced to 1.5% per year.

    Their plans are likely to be out of kilter by more than 25%. The way we get in bad positions is by not planning properly for what we know is likely to happen.

  3. nova_middle_man Avatar

    Yes, the don’t Fairfax Fauquier crowd is going to need to face reality at some point. Growth is going to occur in Fauquier and after the lack of planning and consequences in Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun maybe just maybe Fauquier can show us the proper way to develop.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Can anyone link to the story?

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Thank you, NMM, thank god someone is listening to reason. Fauquier recently fought a protracted battle over where to put a school, came up with a worse solution and wasted millions in the process, and it is now going to cost far more to build than if they had just gone ahead, and the transportation is worse, not better.

    But here is really the dumbest idea I ever heard. Fauquier has bought in to EMR’s ideas about central living. That is fine, there are real benefits to keeping water and sewr lines central. Some claim this will help limit travel and therefore congestion, but you wouldn’t believe it trying to travel in Warrenton, or Marshall for that matter.

    So having established central service districts, what does Fauquier do? They are planning to direct their expenditure of PDR funds, not to maintain farms that have a chance to survive, but to establish greenbelts around the service districts.

    Having established service districts, they are now going to surround them with “farms” so that the service districts can never grow. That is never, as in permanent easements.

    This is completely dumb. It is dumb squared. Not only is it a corruption of the stated pupose of the PDR program, it guarantees that they will one day have to create entirely new towns from scratch. It is a tacit admission that their growth management plan is really a no-growth plan.

    After thirty years of this, and claiming all the while that slow growth would save taxes, we are now faced with talk of a fifty percent tax increase. This idea is bankrupt. If they don’t want to emulate Fairfax, PW, and Loudoun, then why in God’s name are they going down the same old slow growth path that is proven to fail and cause massive infrastructure costs later?

    The county has already conceded that it is not paying enough for PDR’s by raising the price after only a year of the program. This raises doubt in the mind of those who might take the bait: “Should I wait another year?”

    But if you were adjacent to a service district and the county approached you with this deal, you would have to be senile to take it.

    This is so dumb it is beyond dumb. What moron came up with the idea of permanently protected greenbelts?

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