If at First You Don’t Succeed…

House Republicans have re-introduced land use-reform legislation they submitted during the ill-fated September special session of the General Assembly. The three-bill package is sure to generate controversy among home builders and local governments, but preliminary indications are that the proposals will have a lot more traction this time around.

Critical differences in the political environment: (1) Gov. Timothy M. Kaine indicated that he approved of the general thrust of the package even though he was planning his own legislative priorities; (2) Representatives of the environmental/conservation community applauded the House leadership for “proposing reforms that advance efforts to adopt successful, long-term solutions to our sprawl and traffic problems”; and (3) the capitol press corps acknowledged the existence of the legislation with full-length feature articles instead of relegating the bills to throw-away paragraphs buried deep in their stories.

The aim of the legislation is to tame “suburban sprawl” — the scattered, disconnected, low-density development patterns implicated in aggravating traffic congestion. As Del. Clifford Athey, R-Front Royal, one of the key architects of the package, put it: “Our existing laws in this area were adopted during the Great Depression. They aren’t just woefully outdated, they’re truly obsolete. For localities dealing with rapid residential growth and sprawl, this comprehensive and forward-looking plan is the most significant advance since zoning became commonplace over 40 years ago.”

The House hand-out summarizing the legislation frames this issue this way:

Transportation cannot be addressed and its challenges cannot be solved if we continue to adhere to the outdated approach of just three elements: Tax. Spend. Build. … Any legislative plan to improve transportation that ignores one of the root causes of clogged roads and highways – Virginia’s 70-plus-year-old government land use policies – is inherently inadequate, shortsighted and flawed.

The legislation has three main parts:

  • Require counties to create urban development areas large enough to accommodate 20 years of population growth. These areas would incorporate principles of New Urbanism design to include “open space, mass transit, walking trails, denser development and a commercially zoned component – reducing the need to use the transportation system.”
  • Invite counties to participate in pilot projects to take over responsibility for secondary roads within urban transportation service districts. As financial inducement, the state would give counties a share of state revenue and allow them to impose impact fees on development.
  • Require the Virginia Department of Transportation to define “neighborhood” roads and then prohibit the state from accepting any more such roads into the state system for maintenance purposes. Either counties or homeowners associations would have to take over responsibility for maintaining the roads.

Bacon’s Rebellion has described the logic behind the original versions of these bills in previous columns. They include:

Seventy-Five Years. Virginia’s system for building and maintaining roads has changed little in three quarters of a century. Some people think it needs more money. Others think it needs an overhaul.

The Devolution Solution. Any meaningful transportation reform would make fast-growth counties responsible for their secondary roads. The trick is coaxing them into going along.

Focused Growth. To tame scattered development and the ills it creates, Frederick County concentrates growth in an Urban Development Area. The idea works so well that House Republicans want to take it statewide.

(Please note: The authors of the three bills may have changed aspects of the legislation since September. My columns do not provide an up-to-date explanation of what the current bills would do. The articles do provide history and background to help you understand what they are designed to accomplish.)

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30 responses to “If at First You Don’t Succeed…”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim:

    The problem with the House package is it simply
    tries to shift burden from state government to
    Virginia’s local governments for our growth and
    and transportation problems.

    The package is very political given that all 140
    members of the GA are up for election in 2007.

    The House does not want to face up to the fact
    we need new money to resolve our congestion
    problems, to rebuild our interstate system, to
    add capacity to METRO and VRE and to handle the
    increased cargo movement being generated out of
    Hampton Roads.

    Job growth in a state with low unemployment, thus
    attracting new residents, needing homes and the
    use of our transportation system is the cause of
    our needs. Not failing local governments or the
    greedy real estate industry.

    This package does little to steer growth into
    rebuilding our cities and our older suburbs. It
    means little to mature communities like Fairfax
    County, Henrico, James City County and Virginia

    I think the 2007 GA will make little progress in
    finding true solutions to our growth and trans-
    portation issues.


    Rodger Provo

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim:

    Urban growth boundaries work in some of the less developed
    communities around the state. But the package fails to
    meet the pressing needs for regions that have had massive
    new growth over the last 20 years.


    Rodger Provo

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Sorry Roger , we part company on this.

    The reason why VDOT is broke is in no small part due to subdivision roads that they are required to take over.

    Localities approve rezones willy-nilly and just like in Spotsylvania where one long-time supervisor states publically, over and over.. that Spotsylvania only needs to worry about the rezone – not the roads that will be needed – because that is “VDOT’s Responsibility”.

    Yes.. I am a very vocal critic of VDOT but this is a case where VDOT is the victim – and, in turn, where all of us are being victimized – because local officials are acting fiscally irresponsibly.

    It is WRONG to think that people in Farmville Virginia are going to pay to build roads in Spotsylvania but that is exactly what is advocated when we say that it is the State’s responsibility.

    The “State” … is not Daddy Warbucks… the “STATE” is other Virginia Taxpayers and while I DO agree that we need money for Statewide Roads – that money needs to be treated separately from local and regional roads.

    We have – right now – a totally unaccountable system for making land-use decisions and building roads.

    We take money from everyone and we let folks in a VDOT building – unelected and unaccountable .. make decisions according to VDOT priorities – which are not documented in terms of criteria or process – as detailed in the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts reports.

    JLARC makes this same point – and recommends that transportation decisions and funding be divided into three areas:

    1. Roads of Statewide Significance (VDOT)
    2. Regional Roads (MPOs)
    3. Local Roads – local jurisdictions

    When you collect statewide taxes for 2 and 3 – that’s where the trouble begins and it does not end.. it just gets worse.

    People WANT to hold their local elected Supervisors ACCOUNTABLE for both land-use and transportation decisions – and what we have instead is a way for local officials to evade responsibility for their actions.

    This is what is wrong with Virginia… We don’t need no UTAH visioning process to figure this part out – it’s right smack in front of us.

  4. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    All of these concepts sound to me to be good steps towrds finding solutions for fixing the root causes of traffic congestion we suffer from from roads ending up with more cars on them then they were designed to carry. Hopefully some of these improvements in our land use process will survive the next session and become law.

    These do nothing to deal with traffic congestion due to accidents – or due to VDOT or local governments failing to beter coordinate road maintenance or construction.

    But … they are a good start.

    Plug the leaks in the hull of the sinking boat while you bail out the water to avoid going under.

    Two thoughts to consider/ponder in the efforts to force new residential “growth” into high-density urban jungles; Quality of Life.

    (1) Living in high cost,crowded urban jungles is clearly a lower Quality of Life then living in a nice, quiet, upscale suburban neighborhood. A place where home owners have their own private “Open Spaces” – called back yards. Instead of rowdy “community pools”, they have control over who is allowed to swim with their children – and the option of sitting in their own bak yard to watch their children – and their friemds that behave themselves – swim. Ever notice what tiny apartments and condos COST in major urban centers? Far more than nice LARGE homes in the ‘burbs. Face it, the Quality of Life is better in the ‘burbs – for families anyway. Often with better schools too.

    (2) Our rights tend to go away when we are forced to ride “public transportation”. Clearly law enforcement does a poor job proptecting commuters riding urban mass transit systems. Commuter become future tagets for robbery, rape, and other crimes. The need for law abiding citizens to carry hand guns is often greater when riding “mass transit” (especially late at night) then riding in the safety and comfort of our privte automobiles and plush SUVs. Will we be free to arm ourselves so that we can protect ourselves when riding “public transportation”? Do we have the same “expectations of privacy” riding “public transportation” as we do when we travel in our cars? (No) – why not? Can the push to force citizens to surrender our cars also have the consequence of depriving us of our right to “bear arms” to protect ourselves?

    These two consequences of living in the urban jungle and rining “public transit” seldom seem to see the light of day.

    Why is that?

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Rodger, I quite agree that the House legislative package does not offer a comprehensive solution to Virginia’s transportation problems. But it’s a step in the right direction, bringing new ideas to the table and changing the tenor of the debate. The most important thing this initiative does is recognize that we cannot continue doing business as usual: that pumping more money into a dysfunctional transportation system will not make things any better.

    Further, I would submit that the House initiative does address a very real problem: the disconnect between transportation and land use planning. Is this the ideal solution for linking land use and transportation planning? I don’t know. Is is better than anything else on the table? Without question.

    Will passage of this bill end the need for fundamental change? Not by a long shot. As I have made the point repeatedly on this blog, we need to totally restructure the funding for transportation so that there is a direct connection between using the system and paying for the system. As far as land use reform, this bill barely scratches the surface. We have to re-think our entire system of zoning codes built around segregated land uses, low densities and pod subdivisions. We need to do a better job of building balanced communities, with a mix of jobs, housing, offices, retail, entertainment, amenities and civic functions.

    And that’s just for starters. We also need to prioritize road spending to address congestion bottlenecks, not open up new land for development. We need to implement more Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies. We need to re-think the role of parking, creating market pricing mechanisms in urban areas. We need more flex cars. We need to encourage more shared ridership — not through more goverment subsidies but less government control… encouraging entrepreneurs to devise innovative solutions. And that list is far from comprehensive.

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Let me make an argument for statewide roads.

    Take I-95, I-64, I-81, I-73, I-77 those corridors and possibly other corridors and set up 20-30 year planning horizons for them.

    Develop realistic ways to upgrade them incrementally over time using capital-market fiscal approaches to funding. Let the GA consider PPTA approaches and fill in the gaps with one-time outlays for specific projects – as money is available AND perhaps a way to designate these corridors as eligible for gas tax increases that would garner much of it from out-of-state drivers.

    For Regional – let MPOs put sales taxes on gasoline and let that money go for regional projects.
    The rest of this is already in place because, by law, MPOs must maintain separate build and planning lists and both must be financially constrained – i.e. not contain any more projects than they have identified funding for.

    For Local – let localities use impact fees, CDAs and HOAs. HOAs for subdivision roads and Impact Fees for roads that function as local arterials and collectors. CDAs for commercial development.

    I think the problem is a lack of a rational process that is caused by an attitude of having a big pot of transportation money .. and then to let unaccountable players make decisions on how to spend it .. using allocation and prioritization processes that are at best murky and not understood and at worst political and arbitrary.

  7. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Reid, I’m not sure where you get the idea that the House legislation would force people to live in crowded, expensive “urban jungles.” The authors of the legislation have New Urbanism-style development in mind — New Urbanism is traditionally associated with small town-scale development. Name me one, just one, New Urbanism-inspired development anywhere that can be equated with an “urban jungle.”

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I agree we have made a major step in the state to have the
    House start discussions about our land use concepts.

    But a part of our problem relates to vested rights property
    owners enjoy in Virginia supported by case law. The House
    package may encourage development to take place on those
    parcels with such rights, thus discouraging more interesting,
    more functional land use concepts that can be achieved via
    zoning cases, with proffers, etc.

    The small and medium size cities and surrounding counties
    that have yet to be hit with major growth could use the
    House concept to manage their increases in population over
    the next 20 years (Culpeper, Winchester, etc.), but this
    package fails to lay out a program relative to how do we
    take growth pressures in more mature communities, Hampton
    Roads, Northern Virginia, Roanoke Valley, etc. to rebuild
    our cities and older suburbs.

    Nor does it address our need to rebuild our interestate system,
    upgrade our rail lines and other major projects that we need to
    make the state function for our residents, businesses and visitors.

    We need all of these programs. The latter programs are important
    for our mature regions could use new light rail systems and street-
    car lines as alternative transportation means (Arlington’s METRO
    success case and what is planned in Arlingto-Fairfax counties along
    Columbia Pike and going to be built in Norfolk, for example) to build
    a better Virginia.

    This task requires a collective effort by the state government,
    local governments, the business community and smart growth forces
    to get us on the right, less congested road for Virginia. It is
    also going to take funds we do not have to get us out of the mess
    we are struggling to resolve. I do not think we close to being
    on the right road.


    Rodger Provo

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    There is substantial non-agreement about the difference between theory and actual use of urban growth boundaries – especially those where the boundaries are drawn somewhat arbitrarily and I would suggest further – that they really make no sense from a locality perspective when the entire region around it is growing.

    I don’t buy the strident property rights attitudes about UGB but what is frustrating to me is what I view as a blind adherence to them even when there are serious practical obstacles to them.

    To me .. advocating UGBs without laying out a realistic framework for them to work is as bad as environmentalists screaming about conservation without advocating practical approaches but rather government-enforced sanctions.

    or to bring this closer to home.. blind confidence to transportation “wish lists” without funding nor prioritization.

    It’s almost like one believes so strongly in a concept.. that they think the rest of it will “somehow” work out.

    So .. I’ll end this with a question…. to those who do believe in UGBs

    Would you draw a UGB around the NoVa MSA?

    Would you draw a UGB around every incorporated city?

    … or .. just tell me.. what your criteria would be for setting up UGBs…

    and if you ask me to support setting up an unaccountable state-level agency (like VDOT) to determine UGBs, count me as opposed to that as I am to any other agency with a mission to decide no matter what voters think.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Re: Vested Rights. Rodger Provo argues that little or nothing can be done about land use since Virginia law protects development rights. Not true. Virginia law protects landowners from arbitrary actions by local governments and parcel-by-parcel downzoning. But the state supreme court has held that local government CAN lawfully downzone through amendments to the comprehensive plan for a locality or a reasonable portion thereof. If, for example, a county board found that building to existing zoning would cause a negative impact on the public health, welfare and safety, the supervisors have the authority to reduce density.

    Downzoning, like upzoning, should not be done in a willy-nilly fashion, but only after a proper record is developed and analyzed. The problem in Virginia is that local government refuses to take responsible actions and prefers to blame “property rights” and the Dillon Rule.

    IMO, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors could develop an adequate record that would support the downzoning of Tysons Corner, for example. But when the Chairman of that board works for one of the major landowners in Tysons Corner, has worked for the largest one in the past, and takes campaign contributions from them all, this will never happen.

    Similarly, Fairfax County has no cash target proffer for transportation. It has the right to do so and can, according to the state supreme court, reject a rezoning request when the applicant refuses to pay such cash proffer or otherwise address the burdens on public facilities that would be created by the new development if permitted by the rezoning.

    Fairfax County government operates on campaign contributions and influence peddling.

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: property rights

    Sorry, I don’t buy this in toto.

    If we’re talking about “by right” development – it’s usually 10 times or more less dense than most rezones that require approval.

    People in favor of “NO Growth” or “Managed Growth” will point out that “by right” growth will come no where close to overwhelming facilities as fast as growth supported by rezones.

    In fact, they say that if there is going to be no reform with regard to land-use and transportation that citizens are actually better off with the lowest growth rate that is possible – i.e. “by-right” growth.

    These folks are basically saying.. that if there is no reform – there is no deal on “better” planning – because they don’t trust the process (and rightly so in my opinion).

    When voters actually see meaningful measures being implemented, only then will they will engage the larger “planning” issue but I think anyone who believes that the only path to better planning is to impose on those unwilling or unsuspecting … is so wrong. The internet has totally changed that method of doing business… it’s gone and it’s time to accept the fact that change has to be agreed to. You simply cannot impose VISIONS on folks.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Mr. Bacon I believe that you may be incorrect; only one of the three bills have undergone any significant revision since September; the transportation service district bill and the no subdivision streets in the state system bill have not.

    Again, I will quote H.L. Mencken: “There is always an easy solution to every human problem – neat, plausable and wrong.”

    Again, I will reiterate that you need to look at what VDOT has spent on the maintenance of subdivison streets over the past five years; the dollars in both absolute and percentage terms have gone down. VDOT will admit that it waits on average 13 years before it performs any maintenance on local subdivision streets (other than snow removal). So, where are the savings if every county in this state took over the maintenance of subdivison streets?

    I hope that Mr. Bacon and the other who think well of this legislation will show up on Wednesday, January 9 at 3 p.m. in House Room C.

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I would invite you to outline for us on this blog how this
    House package is going to help the Fredericksburg region:

    -solve the traffic congestion problems on I-95, Rt. 3, Rt.
    17, Rt. 1, Blue-Gray Parkway, etc.

    -find more capacity on VRE trains from here to Union Station;

    -curb the growth being generated by job growth in the Greater
    Washington DC Metropolitan Area;

    -and help us deal with the build out in the region that will
    easily take our population from 300,000 residents to more than
    500,000 residents over the next 20 years, given the vested
    property rights via approved building lots and existing zoning.

    Guys, go take a cold shower. These are hard problems to solve
    needing complex answers, not just disregard by interested civic
    minded citizens.


    Rodger Provo

  14. “Require counties to create urban development areas large enough to accommodate 20 years of population growth. These areas would incorporate principles of New Urbanism design to include “open space, mass transit, walking trails, denser development and a commercially zoned component – reducing the need to use the transportation system.”

    Total, complete, and utter nonsense. This amounts to reducing the need to use the transportation system by making it impossible to do so.

    This is going to create more problems, more inequity, and more unrest than it will ever solve.

    We are going to tell you not only where you can and can’t build, we are going to tell you how to build it. Why not just have the government take over all the land and provide housing and transportation for free?

    From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs. We salute you komrade.

  15. Jim, here is where Reid gets the idea that people will be forced to live in urban jungles. Following is a quote from the commnets section of today’s Post article on this topic.

    “Eminent domain n. the power of a governmental entity to take private real estate for public use, with or without the permission of the owner. _ _ Serious plan…take all single family homes in NOVA, raze them, build affordable, multi-family housing. Its close to the jobs so less car travel. More people, more tax revenue. Good for the environment. Good for people. We should start with Old Town.”

    There are real nut cases out there that revel in the idea of the urban growth districts because they believe it will lead exactly to this. Go look at the “Plan for a Better Region” and see what it advocates. There are even people who think we should build giant concrete platforms over the Metro stations and live there.

  16. nova_middle_man Avatar

    Would anyone have a problem with me commenting over at Raising Kaine invitng them to come discuss the transportation/land settlement issue with us?

    This is mainly to Jim since it is his blog.

  17. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Thank you Ray.

    Yes, the hearts of many Elites that push the concept of unaccountable “regional” dictatorships DO plan/hope to restrict new “growth” such that the only “option” for new-comers is to live in urban, vice sub-urban – multi-use, high density development. – — and ride the bus – or, light rail if they are foolish enough to wate precious tax dollars subsidizing fixed transit instead of more flexible, less expensive BRT.


    Jim asks implores that I; Show me one “New” Urbanism project that is a slum …

    Give them 30 years and I’ll show you a whole lot of them.

    Okay, okay not fair? – how about all the old failed “urbanism” neighborhoods that are now slums???

    They are everywhere – look around.

    Take a walk through West Norfolk VA for example. The residential and commercial development there – are now slums – the urban design of the slums are identical to the ULI concepts of “New Urbanism” – walkable cities, mass transit-centric – once offering trolley cars, buses, and light rail. Community “open spaces” (now a great place to buy drugs, a hooker, or get killed). Rows of single and double family frame houses with large front porches and narrow allyways between each structure. Single family homes located near neighborhood 3 & 4 story urban shops/stor fronts with apartments upstairs and “human scale” street scapes. What are they now??? Slums.

    Old “New Urbanism” urban jungles.

    Urban crime-infested jungles – if you walk around these neighborhoods – you better do it in broad daylight – and you would be wise to wear a bullet proof vest. last week a young man was shot while sitting in his car at a drive through window of the local fast food restaurant. He’ll live the news reports.


    Ahhhh, the “glamor” of “upscale” trendy “New Urbanism” – no cars required – “cultural centers” – Section 8 housing subsidized diversity of socio-economic classes; all mingling in perfect harmony as the affluent whites learn just how grand the cultures of hyphenated-Americans really are – and how “socially unjust” the so-called bigoted “American Suburban culture” really is – the dreaded ‘burbs’ – evil “Sprawl” – home of those nasty REPUBLICANS!!! – – the horror, LOL!!!


    All that aside, I agree that without better land use planning and without intelligent decisions to guide new “growth” (development). Transportation infrastructure will almost aways be overwhelmed due to too many people using roads – or mass transit – then it was designed to handle.

    Like I said, BEFORE politicians line up to start raising my taxes I’d sure like to know what they are planning to do with my money.

    If the “plan” is to fund new regional Authorities that seek the “power” to force people to live in so-called utopian “New Urbanist” villages – no thanks. I don’t want those Socialists folks to have any more of MY money.

    But of course, getting back to the 2007 GA session – there isn’t any PLAN, just discussions about spending more tax funds.

    Government should exist to protect our rights. be they our property rights – or our right to bear arms – or our rights to avoid unreasonable search & siezure – and our right to be secure in ourselves, our homes, and our property. This extends to our cars – but … NOT to “public transportation”.

    Ever notice that Karl Marx was all about urban planning?

  18. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “I would invite you to outline for us on this blog how this
    House package is going to help the Fredericksburg region:

    Roger – you asked – here goes:

    First of all.. Local BOS are going to be a lot more careful about approving rezones. They’re going to be paying a lot more attention to the traffic that will be generated.

    “-solve the traffic congestion problems on I-95, Rt. 3, Rt.
    17, Rt. 1, Blue-Gray Parkway, etc.”

    Using the word “Solve” is a non-starter in my mind. Congestion is, for the most part, “normal” and expected.

    But for I-95… Electronic Tolled/Congestion Priced – with the excess revenues going to widen it and help expand VRE.

    Blue Grey, Route 3, Route 1, et al –

    First a question to you – WHO do you think will pay to fix these roads besides the people in the Fredericksburg Area? Do you think NoVa is going to pay? How about the folks in Charlottesville? Do you think they will pay?

    So my answer is that the people in the Fredericksburg Area will have to pay quite a bit of it and we ARE allowed to levy different kinds of taxes to do so. Fixing these roads is OUR responsibility not others.

    To tell people in the Fredericksburg Area that their roads will be fixed if they support raising statewide taxes is verging on lieing if there is an implicating that Fredericksburg will receive more money than we ourselves contribute towards fixing our roads.

    This is THE problem with folks who cannot understand reality. There is no Daddy Warbucks and people in Fredericksburg have no right to believe that folks in NoVa, Charlottesville or HR are going to pay taxes to fix our roads but that is exactly what they are being told when we tell them that we need to raise taxes statewide for transportation.

    -find more capacity on VRE trains from here to Union Station;

    VRE is the responsibility of the member jurisdictions – who already charge all drivers 2% on their gas tax purchases…

    “-curb the growth being generated by job growth in the Greater
    Washington DC Metropolitan Area;”

    I don’t think we curb the growth in Wash Metro or in Fredericksburg. It’s inevitable and I think foolish to believe we can stop it.

    We need to reconcile ourselves to reality and the reality is these folks ARE coming (as you say) and that all of us will have to pay for the infrastructure that will be needed.

    Let VDOT handle the Interstates using electronic tolling and congestion pricing and indexing the gas tax.

    Let the MPOs handle the Regional Roads with Transportation Authorities

    Let the localities handle the local roads with impact fees, CDAs and HOAs..

    So .. if you think these are too “simplistic” .. then you need to come back with something “more” than a general statement that it is “complicated” and will take “a lot of folks working together to solve”.

    Roger – this is blather. Get some stuff on the table … to discuss on the merits…

  19. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I don’t disagree with Roger (or anyone else) that more money is needed for transportation in Virginia – with or without transportation reforms.

    What the disagreement is about is WHERE to get the money.

    So again, I will post the following:

    “In a telephone poll of 2,394 adults nationwide from Nov. 16-20, AAA reported that 71 percent of American motorists who responded believe it is time to pump more money into a transportation network that is not keeping pace with the nation’s population growth.

    When asked where they would get the money, by far the most popular response was tolling.

    Yup, 52 percent prefer new toll roads and new lanes. They made it clear, however, they do not favor charging a fee for driving on lanes that already exist.

    On the other hand, higher taxes would not appear to be an option.

    Just 21 percent favor boosting taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. Even fewer, 19 percent, like the idea of replacing fuel taxes with a vehicle tax based on how many miles one drives.

    Fewer still — 15 percent — embrace the notion of boosting nonfuel taxes, such as those on sales, income and property, to fund road projects.”


    I would add that a recent POLL in Spotsylvania County – mirrored the national results. More than 60% favored HOT (high occupancy toll) Lanes.

    So… if I were a Republican Delegate – opposed on General Principles to higher taxes .. I’d take some comfort in those polls and if I really wanted to be righteous – I’d suggest TOLLs as an alternative to higher taxes.

    More to the point, if I were Kaine (or a supporter)… I would be paying attention to the part of the POLL that said 21% support higher taxes. Those .. sound like really bad odds for the 2007 elections if you’re gonna run against someone who is going to take every opportunity to point out their opponents pro-tax stance.

    I think .. the HD guys can out flank Kaine on this… Kaine .. in essence has to convince over 30% of the voters to change their mind on taxes… good luck!!!

  20. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Nova Middle Man, Feel more than welcome to invite readers of other blogs to participate in Bacon’s Rebellion discussions. Likewise, I have no problem with you referring B.R. readers to interesting discussion threads on other blogs.

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Larry Gross:

    Bather!!!!! None of your comments offer a means to solve the
    traffic jams in the Fredericksburg region. Man it is going
    to take money. I would urge you to read the Washington Post
    editorial this morning about this subject. Brother they have
    it right on the money. There is no way to solve such major
    problems as the bottleneck in Falmouth and on Rt. 17 west of
    I-95 without some new funds being invested. Larry, you do
    not give a rip about the pain others suffer while you sit at
    your computer rambling on about these matters. I never hope
    you or a member of your family has to depend on a local rescue
    squad taking you across the Falmouth Bridge on Rt. 1 in one
    of those awful traffic jams.


    Rodger Provo

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Larry Gross:

    Your word is blather, not bather !!!!!!!

    Larry when Mills Godwin proposed to build our
    community college system and got the GA to
    support a sales tax he showed leadership. I
    doubt he went out and took a poll. If you
    and some of your partners in crime on this
    blog and the House GOP Caucus had been there,
    the system would not have been built, nor
    would the sales tax been approved.

    Guys like you belong on an island ….Blather
    my foot !!!!!!


    Rodger Provo

  23. “VRE is the responsibility of the member jurisdictions – who already charge all drivers 2% on their gas tax purchases… “

    Auto drivers don’t pay their full costs.

    Well, which is it? How much of VRE and Metro costs, and Ride On, etc are motorists supposed to pay in addition to their own costs, income tax, real estate, business tax, etc. just to subsidise those people that want to live in expensive Metro accessible real estate —- and sitll have their own cars?

  24. Hey, easy on us island guys, and rocket scientists too boot.

    One thing I learned about traffic on an island has always served me well: no matter where you are going you eventually come back, so what is your rush?

    It is true in the larger world too, you just don’t have the water to reinforce the idea.


    “Yup, 52 percent prefer new toll roads and new lanes. They made it clear, however, they do not favor charging a fee for driving on lanes that already exist.”

    Well, of course. They all drive on an existing road, which they don’t want tolled. They think by tolling only new roads, the new guys will pay and they won’t be affected.

    It is pure and sheer idiocy. Whatever we spend on roads is going to come back and haunt us all more or less eqully, no matter waht we do. The economy guarantees it.

    We think that businesses subsidize residential real estate taxes, but what really happens is those business chrage us the same taxes, and add profit on too boot.

    It is utterly ridiculous, and we let the politicians get away with it.

    We need X amount of money, for A, B, and C projects and programs. A, B, and C, may very well have the usual collosal government waste tied up in them, but government takes on those jobs precisesly because there is no profit in them.

    A far bigger waste is going on under our nose and we dont even see it. It is the waste involved in collecting taxes fifteen ways, four of which are on the same money!

    This push for tolls is a prime example. In London, the cost of collecting the congestion toll is 60% of the take, plus.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    All the money comes form one place: your wallet. Get used to it.

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry, Ray and Others:

    The Fredericksburg Free Lance Star (fredericksburg.com) has an article
    this morning about the failure of the GOP land use proposals to meet
    the needs of the counties in PDC-16 (some of the fastest growing counties
    in the state and our country surrounding Fredericksburg). I would invite
    you and your readers to study that article.

    We are a long way from finding solutions to our growth and transportation
    problems. I am away until January 2, 2007 so if you are going to take me
    to the wood shed between now and then I hope you will not be disappointed
    if I do not reply to your unkind words.

    Happy New Year, folks !!!!!!!!!!


    Rodger Provo

  26. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry, Ray and Others:

    The Washington Post (washingtonpost.com) has an article
    this morning about efforts to get the GOP General Assembly
    members to agree on a transportation plan for Virginia.
    According to GOP State Sen. John Chichester, R-Richmond
    County, the House and Senate are still miles apart … the
    Senate sees need for more funds, the House still opposes
    new taxes. The GOP Attorney General’s pollster has found
    the GOP may loose control of the General Assembly, if they
    do not find solutions these problems. Larry, Ray and others
    on this blog who are doing GOP Speaker Bill Howell’s work
    relative to this issue are not doing well by Virginia … guys
    we need additional money to solve problem’s in Stafford County,
    Howell’s home. Money, money, money is needed to fix that mess
    on Rt. 17 west of I-95, on I-95 and at the Falmouth Bridge
    intersection near Bill Howell’s office. Get on the right side
    of these issues …. stop peddling blather for Howell !!!!!!!


    Rodger Provo

  27. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Hmmm.. I think I know how Roger feels about the word “blather”. 🙂

    I don’t think we disagree about the need for money.

    The fiscal landscape is pretty clear. Without change, all the money currently being collected for transportation at the State level will have to be used for maintenance by somewhere around 2010.

    What I object to is the play on words and what I feel is intellectual dishonestly with respect to where the money will come from.

    Raising taxes at the state level – should not bring any more money into the Fredericksburg Area than if you raise them locally.

    Yet – those that advocate raising state level taxes for local transportation projects frame the issue as the State “abdicating it’s responsibilities”.

    What I suggest – and have continued to suggest – is that each locality for Fredericksburg “owns” their problem because local officials DID, in fact choose to rezone property without preparing for the inevitable fiscal impact of provisioning more infrastructure to support the development.

    Why should Fredericksburg believe that in raising statewide taxes that they would receive any more money than their residents actually spend on gasoline and sales taxes?

    Here’s the Reality. Look at the number of licensed cars in the Fredericksburg Area. Assume each one of them travels about 15,000 miles a year and gets 20 mpg. Let’s guess high – like there are 300,000 vehicles that do this.

    Now … let’s raise the gas tax by a dime. My math gets me 30 million dollars.

    Now this is not chump change but it ain’t going to buy a whole heck of a lot of new infrastructure either.

    And what got us here – was a FAILURE to properly rank and prioritize our expenditures in the first place and NOW, we have No Choice but to rank and prioritize what needs to be done most urgently.

    I think we FAILED to be fiscally responsible in our approach to roads and that is what led us to this point. We are so deep in a hole that more money alone … is not going to rescue us.

    So.. when I say the word “blather” … it’s an impolite way of asking… what is being advocated BEYOND perhaps raising the gas tax a dime – either statewide or locally?

    It took 20-30 years to get to this point… we were running on empty LONG before we finally ran out of gas – and unless someone has some earth-shaking approach to generating a whole bunch more than 30million dollars a year for Fredericksburg – … give some ideas to this blog.

    To be honest.. though .. I don’t think I know what is being advocated…. to deal with the issue.

    I’ve been pretty clear and up front… put my ideas “out there” for discussion…

    My view is that raising the gas tax – is not going to do it. I’ve suggested electronic tolling and raising the sales tax on gasoline 2% for jurisdictions that agree to band together with Regional Approaches.

    p.s. We had to get a new car the other day. $700.00 dollars in taxes… WOW! I have no clue who gets this money or what they spend it for… but I know we don’t have it anymore.

  28. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Roger – Stafford County CHOSE to spend 60 million dollars on an interchange Knowing FULL WELL that – that money would NOT be spent on Route 17, Route 610 and Falmouth.

    They made a CHOICE with respect to economic development and addressing existing congestion in the county.

    They did the same thing with the Chatham Intersection. They spent 35 million dollar on that project instead of spending that money to fix the Falmouth Intersection about 2 miles away.

    NOW.. you’re saying that We need a LOT of money (MORE MONEY) to “fix” Route 17.

    Roger, I ask you – assume they get the money. What makes you believe that they will spend it on the projects that you cite when they had the opportunity before and chose not to?

    Roger, why would I believe that more money for the Fredericksburg Area as a whole would actually be spent on improving the existing network and instead on MORE NEW ROADS?

    If you want to know why people are OPPOSED to higher taxes for roads – THIS IS THE REASON.

    When people are presented with SPECIFIC PROJECTS on Referenda they are much more likely to support higher taxes if they know ahead of time what the money will be spent on.

    What you’re advocating in my view is more of the same… more money…no accountability to taxpayers for how the money will be spent.

    People have lost trust in the process. How do you propose to fix that? Because unless you do.. I don’t think you’re going to have the public support for more money.

  29. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “stop peddling blather for Howell”

    For the record – Howell did not get my vote – neither did his party.

    I’m not opposed to taxes. I’m opposed tax dollars being expended without using budget prioritization, measures of effectiveness and accountability.

    I think it is irresponsible to approach any fiscal issue with the idea of stating what we need first (without regard to costs) and then go look for the money no matter how much – as opposed to looking at what money we have ..then spending only what we can afford.

    I have YET to see – for the Fredericksburg Area a realistic Transportation Financial Plan – and instead ONLY an open-ended advocacy for more money.

    When I see a ranked and prioritized list of projects – and their costs – and a financial plan I will do MORE.

    But I will NOT sign on to more money for unspecified projects and to be honest – I think it is irresponsible for anyone to sign on to this kind of monkey business.

  30. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Larry – a breath of common sense – hits the nail squarly on the head:

    – – – “Roger, I ask you – assume they get the money. What makes you believe that they will spend it on the projects that you cite when they had the opportunity before and chose not to?”


    – – – – “I have YET to see – for the Fredericksburg Area a realistic Transportation Financial Plan – and instead ONLY an open-ended advocacy for more money.

    When I see a ranked and prioritized list of projects – and their costs – and a financial plan I will do MORE.

    But I will NOT sign on to more money for unspecified projects and to be honest – I think it is irresponsible for anyone to sign on to this kind of monkey business.

    Exactly. To join the band wagon seeking to hand over billions for – whatever, that’s nuts!

    A fool and his money are soon parted.

    BEFORE I can support raising taxes I need to have a commitment on HOW – and when whatever is purchased using mu money – it to be delivered/ready for my use.

    Anyone not jumping on the “must raise taxes FIRST” band wagon is not automatically “not seeking solutions” or “anti-tax” or “anti-civic”; they are showing good judgment and advocating responsible stewardship of the citizen’s money.

    We have a whole lot of tax & spenders screaming “Show me the Money!!!”

    I say, I will – AFTER you “Show me the plan to spend it”.

    IF it is a good plan, I’ll support it.

    I don’t sign a blank contract with a salesman. I don’t recommend anyone else do that either.

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