Jim Bacon raises a lot of good points in his recent article “The Devolution Solution” but “devolution” is not a “solution” by any stretch.

It will be an important part of the “solution” only when there is Fundamental Change in governance structure. Any devolution (or assection) of power and responsibilty must go to a level of governance that matches the level of impact of its decisions, programs and actions.

Equally important, there must be enough levels of governance so that they match all the organic components of human settlement patterns.

Without this Fundamental Change, large municipal governments will continue to make the “beggar thy neighbor” decision that are making settlement patterns more dysfunctional.

These are decisions like the Occquan Life Style Five Acre Lot action in Fairfax that has had the same impact as the Montgomery County TDR program that we noted in our post “MORE ON TRANSFER OF PROPERTY RIGHTS” 10 Oct 2006.

We noted with interest that in the September 2006 New Urban News the practice of creating more than just homes associations is now back in vogue to protect the intent, uniqueness and quality of Traditional Neighborhood Developments. We did this in the 70s to provide the residents of Burke Centre (an Alpha Village scale agglomeration) and Franklin Farm (an Alpha Neighborhood scale agglomeration) against some of the unfortunate homogenizing impacts of the mega-municipality of Fairfax County which is a multi-Alpha Community scale agglomeration.

By the way if you think Jim has only recently started pointing out why we need Fundamental Change, I borrowed the phrase “beggar thy neighbor” from a cover story in Virginia Business
when Jim was editor / publisher. Too bad the current staff there only publish things that make the advertisers happy.

Back to “solutions.” The same problem exists with other “solutions” such as granting the power to create traffic special service districts on a jurisdictional basis rather than an area of impact basis.

There are no “solutions” to the Mobility and Access Crisis or the Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis Fundamental Change in human settlement patterns and that requires Fundamental Change in governance structure.


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27 responses to “THE DEVOLUTION TACTIC”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    EMR and others talked earlier in this blog and other writings about Home Rule vs Dillon Rule… Maryland vs Virginia and to a certain extent.. at least in my mind…

    I’m not quite sure if EMR is talking about a more centralized or less centralized govermment .. or something very different – something so different that we have no current examples of it in the US… or perhaps the world?

    My thought has been that we have economic inequities and disincentives that reward people for wasteful behaviors associated with working living, and commuting between the two.

    If I understand EMR.. money alone such as removing subsidies and incentives for waste.. won’t result in more efficient settlement patterns.

    If .. the idea is that it must be imposed by a central government.. I think it’s “too far” because as long as we have one vote for one guy – I don’t see folks supporting such a centralized approach.

    More than that.. the average person who “thinks” they believe in Smarter Growth, indeed the average politician oriented to better coordination of land-use and transporation .. probably have no clue about the advocacy for a different kind of governance structure so .. it’s not even on their radar screens… it appears to me.

  2. E M Risse Avatar


    Just leveling the playing field and fairly allocating all location variable costs will go a long ways toward creating functional settlement patterns and thus mobility and access as well as affordable and accessible housing.

    In fact an understanding of the benefits of functional settlement patterns will drive citizen interest in Fundamental Change is governance structure.

    There are no good examples in the USofA. There are some baby steps we have discussed in prior work.

    We suggest the process to achieve the alternative in our “The Shape of Richmond’s Future” column. We authored / drafted the three level governace structure that redistributed authority in the Adirondack Urban Support Region in the 70s and protected the wilderness from the feared impact of the 1980 Olympics, etc.

    There are some better examples in the European Union. Some are so captivated by governmental sillyness at the nation-state level that they miss the Fundamental Change at the Regional, subregional, Community, Village and Neighborhood level in Italy.


  3. E M Risse Avatar


    One other thought:

    Your are absolutely right that “central” government or “regional” government has no chance and should have no chance.

    When active in Fairfax policies (not politics) I often made the point that no one in Fairfax would vote to shift real power to any “regional” authority. The reason is that the County Government was already far to remote. Give citizens real say at the Alpha Cluster, Alpha Neighborhood, Alpha Village, Alpha Community scales and then the will see a role for subregional and Regional governance.

    As we ourline in The Shape of the Future, and will further articulate in TRILOGY, the United States needs more levels of governance and many more citizens involved as volunteer in governance and fewer “professional” governance pratitioners.


  4. Ray Hyde Avatar

    If there is anything worse than a central government it is a level of government for every level of community.

    Imagine, each higher level would want oversight of the lower levels. It is a guaranteed recipe for never being able to get approval to do anything. Which is exactly what conservationsis would like to see.

    No thank you.

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Let’s take something simple like laws and the enforcement of them.

    Specifically – how many laws do we want?

    Do you want, for instance, different speeding laws for Fairfax and all jurisdictions?

    Do you want something to be illegal in Fairfax, illegal in Loudoun, legal in Clarke, illegal in Facquier?

    Do you want Fairfax to have different requirements for a marriage certificate than Spotsylvania?

    I think we already have a strong central government in many respects and I’d bet that most people want it that way and do not want each locality to have it’s own independent and conflicting laws.

    Va establishes “enabling” legislation that permits localities to have laws but only within a framework established by the State.

    Similarily, Regional Authorities exist everywhere across Va – governed by appointed folks who answer to elected officials.

    So, it’s not like these entitites don’t already exist.

    The comment I made had to do with my own view of whether Virginian’s across the state would support fairly rigorous land-use rules that would, in essence, require cross-jurisdictional and cross-regional coordination with respect to where jobs and people could locate – e.g. New Urbanist Regions.

    I’m doubtful of this if the implementation of it is via centralized control from Richmond – but if enabling laws are passed that incentivize cross jurisdictional and cross regional planning and localties then enter into such alliances willinging and with the support of their respective voting constituencies – as they already do now on some issues.. like Regional Jails and even Regional Transportation – like VRE .. then things CAN HAPPEN.

    But let me ask:
    Isn’t the RANT of “no unelected and unaccountable government” a bit simplistic to start with and further, what is to be said of folks who espouse such a philosophy but still support an unelected and unaccountable VDOT in the drivers seat with respect to Transportation decisions?

    Can’t have it both ways. Which is it?

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    In WaPo this morning:

    “FBI’s Fairfax Agents Packing For Pr. William”

    exerpt: “The FBI is joining the exodus to the outer suburbs” … “officials who fear investigations will be slowed because many of the 150 Northern Virginia-based agents will be stuck in endless traffic on Interstate 66.”

    hmmm I-66 ??? did they mean I-95?

    then these thoughts:

    “If you look at the data for where is the growth of the economic corridor today, and where is it going to be three to five years from now, it’s Prince William,”

    “This is a business decision, and travel is a cost of doing business,” …Prince William land cost $2.6 million compared with $12 million to $15 million for similar plots in Fairfax.”

    So .. has the exodus REALLY begun?

    Is this also what drove AOLs location decision?

    What things could “accelerate” this trend?

    Could their be land-use and/or transportation legislation in the Va GA that would incentivize such decisions?

    I think the answer is yes.

    For instance, the VA GA could grant Prince William incentives to designating higher-density land near existing or planned transportation corridors.

    Putting congestion pricing tolls on I-95 would – in effect – incentivize businesses locating in the outer suburbs where their employees would live locally and… if they needed to travel to NoVa – they’d be doing so in non-peak hours… and/or might use a combo of VRE/Metro.

    More VRE/METRO would incentivize businesses locating in the outer surburbs also I believe.

    url for WaPo article:

  7. Ray Hyde Avatar

    I guess “worse” is a matter of perspective.

    Case officers are a small percentage of FBI employees, the vast majority are more like clerks or data analysts, and it doesn’t matter where they work. Certainly there is no public benefit in putting them in class A office space in DC.

    But an FBI office in Manassas or Loudoun is a good opportunity for me, the security, money, health benefits, and flex hours would go a long way toward helping support the farm, and I wouldn’t lose all my farm time in the commute.

    The feds are giving your example a car not for the commute, but for his other work. Making him drive one place to pick up his tools for the day and another place to go to work doesn’t save anybody anything, and the cost of the car is figured as part of his compensation anyway.

    You can sputter about speculationall you like, but your FBI friend was right. If you have a 2500 sq ft home in Fairfax valued at $700k and one in Manassas valued at $400k, which one do you suppose has more upside? Which one has more downside? How much did your Fairfax home contribute towards your Warrenton home?

    You can argue about fair allocation of location decisions, but no one knows haw to actually do it, and because everything else changes over time, what was once fair may not be now. The market is the only way to decide what is fair, prvided you don;t screw around with the market.

  8. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Larry has a point about accountable government and appointed regional boards. If it is at all possible those boards should be elected directly.

    It is too easy for elected officials to point at the board they appointed and say, “Hey, this wasn’t my idea, talk to the board.” This is exactly what happened with the Marshall water supply.

    So even if the board is technically accountable, it is still less responsive. It is the same with rotating elections and stggered terms. The kind of flip flopping governments we have seen in Loudoun is divisive and inefficient, but at least it is responsive. So, from initial extreme positions, both sides are now moving towards some kinds of compromises that may stick for a while.

  9. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    EMR – If we have too many people living far from Tysons Corner so that they need to drive in every day, couldn’t this help? Isn’t there a reasonable likelihood that a number of FBI employees live closer to the new office than to the old one? Moreover, I suspect that many employees would not want to live in Tysons Corner in a condo even if they could afford it.

    Further, even if one assumes that some number of FBI employees live farther away from the old building, we would probably see more people “reverse commuting” on I-66 (going west versus east in the morning) or a reduction in their drive time for those who drive east in the morning.

    This sounds like more places and a balance of jobs and residences.

  10. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    yes.. I’m puzzled by EMRs response also.

    Let’s assume the FBI needs to expand.

    Now… where should they do it.. in terms of what EMR advocates …. work/settlement patterns.. et al?

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Now here’s a headline that folks should like:

    “Homebuilder Centex has finally pulled the plug on the high-end subdivision proposal near Warrenton.”

    .. ah.. the heartwarming story of a developer who thought they had figured out a way to evade paying proffers for infrastructure.. and took their ball and left when they found out they would have to pay proffers just like other developers…

    Now.. where is that fella from the Richmond Homebuilders that opposes APF?

  12. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Actually, the plan called for some of the highest proffers ever, $77,000 per unit, which the company agreed to. But every time they agreed to something the planners came back with more requests, including design control over the structures, even though the structures would be hidden from view. The other proffers included repairing the towns existing sewage treatment facility, you know, the one that has not been adequately maintained by the existing taxpayers. And enough money to pay off the towns new rec center and pool, which probably would not be used by the senior citzens in the complex. The senior citizen designation itself was a concession to town planners.

    The complex would have used only one quarter of the land, the rest being held as open space to preserve the view entering town and to create a “hard edge” between the developed and less developed areas. In other words a line in the sand. Even that wasn;t enough. The supervisors wanted a say in the layout of the development and uses of the open spaces as well.

    All of this eventually drove the cost for a dwelling for a couple of retired people north of $900,000 – for a place on the edge of nowhere.

    I don’t know all the details, but it looks like Centex eventually came to the conclusion that the town/county was not bargaining in good faith.

    The land owner is an elderly woman whose husband already passed away after years of unfruitful negotiation over what she can do with her land. They already gave the town land for a new school, among their many other generous activities.

    This wasn’t about infrastructure or proffers. At least one of the supervisors stated publicly that he would prefer to see nothing there.

    For now, that is what everybody gets out of this: nothing.

    Of course, another factor was the softening market and higher interest rates. While the town and county were asking for more and more and quibbling over this and that, the oppoertunity to get the proffers they said they wanted slipped away.

  13. E M Risse Avatar

    TMT: I am not defending the present location of the FBI in Tysons Corner.

    In fact I would say any agency that has multi-community (aka subregional or regional) responsibilities should:

    One be located in a Village served by the region wide shared-vehicle system, and

    Two have sartelite offices in most Alpha Communities.

    The crime data I have seen — except for drunk driving — largely correlates with population denisty not just bedrooms but where people work and where the gather at night. All those places are within the Core of any Region. For the National Capital Subregion that means within R=10.

    The FBI car was used for errands, groc shopping, everything except dates (as far as I knew) not just for FBI work because everywhere was on the way home from work.

    The move is a bad decision for the general public and everyone who does not make, or hope to make, money from Business As Usual and scattered urban land uses.


  14. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “The FBI car was used for errands, groc shopping, everything except dates (as far as I knew) not just for FBI work because everywhere was on the way home from work.”

    If everywhere is on the way home from work, then what is the point of going home and then retracing the route with a different car? Surely you aren’t suggesting that the FBI limit itself to transit oriented crime and that it travel only by Metro?

    The FBI knows about federal car use, and the cost of the car is included in calculating the employee’s cost of compensation. This is common for private businesses that supply cars to emplyees as well.

    Whether the personal value of the car is reported as income is another matter.

    In Fairfax, the county moved to remove cars from county employees that did not use them enough: the idea being that if they were not used sufficiently, then they were not necessary.

    The employees saw this as a loss of status and income, since they would have to replace the vehicle with one of their own.

    It didn’t take long for the resourceful public employee to find a solution. They quickly teamed up for ride sharing. In this case low mileage users would swap cars with high mileage users to run up the usage, and enable them to keep the cars.

  15. Ray Hyde Avatar

    You may think that the move is a bad decision, but apparently we have been making bad decsions for a very long time. And there must be a very large number of people who make or hope to make money from what you call scattered urban uses.

    In “The Emergence of the Galactic City: Population and Employment Growth in American Metropolitan Areas, 1970-2000” Alexander von Hoffman describes the dispersal of jobs away from the core areas, beginning as early as 1800, with particular data on the period from 1970 to 2000. He chronicles how Boston and New York started shedding population in the central zones as early as 1850. A study published in 1925 reported that the percentage of industrial wage earners in industrial and mixed residential and industrial suburbs frequently equaled or exceeded the percentage in central cities.

    “The great outward dispersion of people and jobs reflects the transformation of metropolitan areas. The extensive and varied development of suburbs and the penetration of urban life deep into the countryside have created a new kind of urban region. This new type of region, vast in scale and diverse in landscape, may be called the galactic city.”

    In this view of things, what is pejoratively called sprawl is recognized as a galaxy of interconnected places, which is a city in itself, and one that no urban area could support. My contention is, and has been, that we should recognize things for what they are and make the best of them, rather than wishfully providing some reactionary plans for turning them back into what they never were in the first place.

    “…..between 1970 and 2000 the kind of jobs traditionally associated with central cities also dispersed. As these kinds of jobs declined in relative terms in the core counties that contained the central cities, they flourished in two different areas within the metropolitan regions. They grew most dramatically in first-ring suburban counties, the home to edge cities, shopping malls, and other dense concentrations of economic activities. Less noticed but nevertheless significant was the increase of urban jobs into
    second-ring and third-ring counties, which were largely rural in landscape, had low population
    densities, and were remote from the central city.”

    About the DC area he has this to say

    “The great rivals of the core in urban employment were the high-density counties of 2000: the first-ring suburban growth counties of Fairfax in Virginia and Montgomery (a mediumdensity
    county in 1970) and Prince eorge’s in Maryland, and the somewhat anomalously remote Spotsylvania County, Virginia. These four counties, for example, boosted their share of the metropolitan area’s FIRE jobs from 26 percent to 40 percent, of services from 23 percent to 38 percent, and of government from 22 percent to 28 percent. At the same time, a group of nine counties that had low and very low population densities in 1970 also grabbed a significant share of urban employment. Led by booming Prince William and Loudon ounties, both in Virginia, these remote (third-ring and beyond) counties had moved into the medium and low-density category in 2000. In that year, these nine counties held 15 percent of retail, 10 percent of wholesale and transportation, and 8 percent of FIRE jobs in the region. At the same time, they commanded large share of agricultural and blue-collar industrial employment: 14 percent of manufacturing and 35 percent of farming jobs in the metropolitan area. In all cases, their employment percentages were much higher than the combined share of all 13 low and very-low-density counties of 1970.

    I suppose Ed will still try to find some way to show that this isn’t really happening, even if the crime data he cites suggests at least one reason why it is.

  16. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: Centex

    Let’s keep the record accurate:

    “Centex offered Fauquier $20 million, contingent upon the supervisors approving almost 700 homes for the site”

    That’s 28.5K per unit.

    Further –

    “Foote presented Arrington Knolls as a “by-right” proposal, which would be developed according to the site’s existing density. Proffers only apply to rezoning applications.”

    Finally – it’s not the Town’s responsibility to upgrade the sewage treatment plant – by increasing taxes on existing users – to pay for new capacity for new development.

    That would be the responsibility of new development as well as the other costs that Centex refused to do.

    Centex wanted a deal where the land would be designated as “by-right” and the proffers and water/sewer upgrades would not apply.

    This is back to the same old same old which is developers who want to sell new homes but don’t want to pay the infrastructure costs associated with those new home and their basic argument is that those costs are “too high” and that they want taxpayers to pick up some of the costs.

    This is, in fact, the deal that many developers seek.. in their proposals and that developer-friendly BOS folks will agree to – at taxpayers detriment.

  17. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think the basic premise that jobs have moved outward is incorrect.

    If you want to talk about jobs associated with serving the goods and services needs of people – yes.

    But this is not what drives commuting.

    People don’t commute 50 miles to a job where they cut hair. Those jobs, and a host of other jobs are LOCAL jobs.

    The Jobs that people COMMMUTE to are jobs that involved the selling of goods and services on a regional or national basis.

    They would include things like auto plants, software companies, etc, etc, but not local eateries, doctors, vets, etc that serve a local population.

    Again – most folks do not commute to these local jobs – they live there already.

    Thousands of these places already exist in the USA – they’re called towns and the DOT the rural areas across our landscape.

    Most of self sufficient.. and if they don’t have a local employment center – they are not wealthy but very modest.

    You have the guy that works at the supermarket, the lady who teaches, and the guy who delivers mail or the lady who gives parking tickets and NONE of them commute ANYWHERE other than the few miles from their house to work – which is many case could be walked.

    What we have in the urban areas is Employment Centers which are NOT jobs such as cutting hair, delivering mail, teaching school.

    Jobs are provided for folks who produce goods and services EXTERNAL to where the employment center is located.

    This is what I do not understand about what EMR is saying with respect to where employment centers should exist in a New Urbanist Region.

    The FBI is an employment center – not one or two agents but a region-wide enterprise providing services to a region-wide area.

    WHERE should they locate and where should their workers live in a New Urbanist Region?

  18. Ray Hyde Avatar

    I think that was a starting offer. The way the paper reported it, by the time they got close to agreement it worked out to $77,000 per home,which the builder said was the highest ever offered in the state. That might have been OK but for the housing market decline, which was something the officials didn’t consider: the builders risk.

    Once the builder finally got the town to put all the cards on the table, they decided the cost was too high and walked. I’ve done the same thing to car dealers that kept adding undisclosed costs. One actually brought the truck around with no rear bumper, that’s extra cost, he said!

    It is not the towns responsibility to provde new capacity for any one builder, but prudent planning would include a plan for upgrading replacement and new capacity over time, not sticking it to whoever comes in the door first.

    In this case it wasn’t a case of new capacity but providing repairs to the existing system which were wasting capacity.

    Wouldn’t you say that adequate maintenance IS the responsibility of existing residents?

    There are still by-right development allowances for that land, and in all likeliehood that is what will happen now. All of the land will be used instead of concentrating the structures at the back, and the town will get NO proffers.

    Nobody comes out ahead on that deal when both parties could ahve got some of what they wanted.

    The fact remains that the developers made offers and the officals wanted more. In the end Centex decided either that they couldn’t afford it, or they didn’t want to do business with people they couldn’t trust.

    I can understand that, after what happened to me (more than once) I will never believe anything a county official tells me. I think we deserve better than a government that is a liar, a skinflint, and a cheat, and that you have to bring a lawyer and z tape recorder to talk to.

  19. Ray Hyde Avatar

    If the county thinks that land is so important in its vacant state, then the county can buy it, and I will support raising the taxes enough to do that. If the county thinks that a certain level of development is best, and that development requires some county participation, I’ll support that to the same extent as I would to keep it empty.

    If it is going to cost me more to support the development than it would cost me to keep it empty honestly, then I would move to your side of the table.

    I can’t believe the existing by-right density was anything like 700 homes, but if it was then what’s the problem? Centex was making offers not required in that case. They had no need to crowd the structures onto a small area to pleas the officials.

    Centex walked away from a tentative agreement, but i’m pretty sure the whoe story isn’t out and there ore other bad actors in this play.

  20. Ray Hyde Avatar

    I think this is oversimplified. There is plenty of real activity in Manassas besides hair salons, and more every day. The airport is a regional service center for airlines that don’t otherwise fly to Manassas. There are major defense activities there.

    One of the points that von Hoffman makes is exactly that real businesses are locating in such places and farther, ike American Woodmark and other Valley manufacturers.

    But you have to start somewhere. When a town like Marshall consistently rejects or discourages new businesses, how do you ever get the next Manassas? Or is it that Manassas is already too much and should have been dispersed more, sooner, before it gets Fairfaxed?

  21. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “There is plenty of real activity in Manassas besides hair salons, and more every day. The airport is a regional service center for airlines that don’t otherwise fly to Manassas. There are major defense activities there.”

    my contention is that you have to distinquish between local service jobs serving local residents and jobs that provide goods and services external to that jurisdiction.

    No matter what size jurisdiction might be – a certain number of jobs are basically “in house” jobs for people who live and work locally.

    You’ve got to deduct them from total jobs to get to the number of jobs that are there NOT to serve local residents.

    These are the jobs that are termed as economic development and prized and competed for by localities – whether they be Fairfax or Norton.

    But along with those jobs.. come the need for those employees to have a place to live.

    If it’s way out in the middle of nowhere , it’s easy.. in terms of price.

    If it’s in the absolute center of an urban area – affordable housing is a problem.

    and .. I think it is THAT dynamic that is behind people taking that job but being unable to afford to live where their job is.

    and it’s in THAT context that I don’t understand how EMR’s New Urbanist REgions “work”.

    You could pass a law – that requires workers to live where their job is.

    We’ve actually tried those kinds of laws for law enforcement and fire/rescue/ems in Urban Areas like DC and NYC but the end result is the jobs won’t get filled.

    That’s what would happen to Companies that choose to be physically in Fairfax if Fairfax govt passed a similiar law.

    Would it drive such companies further out?

    Suppose it did… would that start to be in the direction that EMR is advocating for New Urbanist Regions?

    I don’t have a clue.. on this. It gives me a headache just thinking about it.

  22. E M Risse Avatar


    Just a quick note:

    New Urbanist sometimes talk about “regions” but have not defined what they are other than that they are bigger than a breadbox. Usually they mean Metro Stat Area. Each New Urbanist has their own view.

    New Urban Region is a term we coined, defined in the 90s. At one point we trademarked “New Urban Region Studies” the trademark ran out and we did not renew it.

    New Urban Region is defined in terms of economic, social and physical parameters, is almost always larger than the MSA or CMSA. Just think of it as the real region that has a Balance of Jobs / Housing / Services / Recreation / Amenities. If it does not have Balance you have left out something.


  23. Ray Hyde Avatar

    We’ve actually tried those kinds of laws for law enforcement and fire/rescue/ems in Urban Areas like DC and NYC but the end result is the jobs won’t get filled.

    QED. No matter what you do, it will drive people farther out. I sent Jim an article that postulates that the more you make an area attractive, the more people will want to come, and ruin it. The converse is also true. Congestion pricing, higher density, more crime, and worse schools will allow your current residents to continue to live in peace, sort of.

    EMR can define this or that to suit his needs, but they have no jurisdictional teeth. I can’t see anothe six levels of government. Eventually the governments we have will need to cooperate.

    Right now this isn’t happening between Loudoun and Fairfax or PW and Fairfax.

    I’d go evcen farther. Fairfax deliberately set high density limits in Centereville, near the PW border. The effect was to set up a congestion tool botth for anyone who wanted to live farther west.

    PW has followed a similar policy by creating high density around Manassas Gainesville.

    Am I dreaming,or is this an accurate observation?

  24. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I’m starting to get a clearer picture of what EMR is advocating…

    but I’m not sure it is achievable in terms of changing governance – if at the end of the day – voters are not convinced. (I’m very skeptical of any plan that presumes that you must “get your guy(s) in office” to succeed).

    Can you spell b-a-c-k-l-a-s-h ?

    So.. the first hurdle will be to convince average folks that the current governance model “doesn’t work”.

    Very steep hill.. in my view.

    I actually think major changes are possible with “small” changes in laws.

    One example is the “simple” law that requires VDOT to study Comp Plans for build-out traffic scenarios.

    A few dozen words – a sea change for localities.

    Another – I’m completely convinced is to tie land-use decisions with transportation consequences.

    Make localities responsible for both and let them stew in their own juices if they want to make stupid land-use decisions.

    The way we have it right now.. the stupider they are.. the more broke VDOT becomes and the higher taxes have to be for folks who ARE responsible about growth.

    The “disincentive” should be on those who make dumb decisions – not on folks who make good decisions.

  25. Ray Hyde Avatar

    You mean like those people who failed to buy their homes before it was decided that any new land use is a dumb land use?

  26. E M Risse Avatar


    Steep hill indeed.

    That is why we need all the help we can get on PROPERTY DYNAMICS.

    Keep up the good work…

  27. Ray Hyde Avatar

    maybe we have reached a tipping point. This is in the Policy soup blog post entitled

    Speed Limits Rising, but Commutes getting Longer?

    “While the Chamber should be commended for attempting to address housing issues, we simply need to steer some significant amount of commercial construction and job growth to areas outside Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church. Smart growth and mixed use can work in areas such as Fredericksburg, Warrenton, Culpeper and the like. It would be foolish from both the political and economic perspectives to attempt to keep all growth in the core suburbs. “

    There were other entries of this type all stating that it was infeasible to create affordable housing in Fairfax, and that attempting to do so would either bankrupt the developers or create a tax revolt.

    When the chamber of commerce blog in Fairfax is supporting the idea of moving jobs west, then maybe you can get the idea that some people think there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

    Maybe there is an optimum mix of street density, jobs density, and housing density after all. They even came out against the Merrifield town center project because it was too far from the station to qualify as TOD. Not in the best interests of the business community, they said.

    What? Development that is not in the interest of the business community? Is this the end of construction in Fairfax that is NOT TOD?

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