Salvaging Tysons Corner: The Macerich Project

The Macerich Corporation laid out its vision last week to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for transforming Tysons Corner into a walkable community built around high-rises and condos near a proposed Metro station. The expansion, which Macerich has been planning since 2004, would change Tysons Corner Center into a “downtown” of 3.5 million square feet, comparable to Reston Town Center, reports the Times Community newspapers.

The main concern was one familiar to readers of this blog: What would be the impact of the increased density upon traffic congestion? Tysons Corner is already a nightmare. Wouldn’t more offices, more people and more cars just make it worse?

Writes Monty Tayloe:

Macerich’s proposal would attack the traffic problem by improving and widening several roads in the vicinity of the shopping mall, including routes 7 and 123, constructing additional facilities for Metro and shuttle buses, and emphasizing pedestrian movement throughout the area. Macerich has also agreed to pay large financial penalties if specific transportation goals are not met.

Here’s the way I see it. Macerich will be rolling out its project in four phases. If it fails to deliver on its promises, and if gridlock only intensifies, it will lose its shirt. Who will want to lease office space or buy a condo constipated with congestion? Throw in the penalties for failing to meet county transportation goals, and Macerich has every incentive to deliver the goods.

Here’s the question that local homeowners — and our friend TooManyTaxes — are not asking. What’s the alternative? Are things going to get any better under the status quo?

If growth doesn’t go into Tysons Corner, where will it go? Will that growth take the form of even more scattered, disonnected, low-density development that is plaguing communities across the region? Will people be forced to live farther out? Will they be driving greater distances, clogging ever more miles of arterial Interstate, and congesting the arterials to reach the jobs being created in Tysons?

I don’t know enough to comment upon the specifics of the Macerich proposal. All I’m saying is that the reasons for opposing the proposal don’t add up.

(Rendering credit: Macerich Corporation.)


Share this article



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)


Comments

31 responses to “Salvaging Tysons Corner: The Macerich Project”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    If it is comparable to Reston Town Center, then why not compare it to Reston Town Center and see what the result would be?

    Besides, didn’t Reston Town center start out as a scattered, disconnected development, in the middle of nowhere, using enormous tracts of undeveloped land?

    I think you second to last paragraph is hype and conjecture. No one is being forced to live farther out, and no one should be forced to live closer in, either. If the problem is too many jobs in Tyson’s, haven’t you answered your own question?

    The question isn’t will they be driving greater distances, it is whether they will be free to find their own measure of lowest net cost inclusing cost/quality of housing and commute. So far, the answer is pretty obvious.

    Existing residents shouldn’t be forced to pay for growth, any more than they should be forced to pay for No-growth.When we find a fir and equitable answer to that conundrum, THEN your argument about a free market choosing the results it wants will come into play on a level field.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    “Will people be forced to live farther out? Will they be driving greater distances, clogging ever more miles of arterial Interstate, and congesting the arterials to reach the jobs being created in Tysons?”

    No….they will take METRO, duh.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I did some quick math based on information provided in this link under “Project Highlights”;

    http://www.tysonsfuture.com/keyfacts/index.jsp

    It states that, “Just under 200,000 square feet of service-oriented retail, such as grocers and dry cleaners, and street-level restaurants that encourage the pedestrian-oriented theme of the project” will be built.

    This is just under 10% (in terms of Sq. Ft.)of all the new building that’s going up.

    Is this enough?

    In other words, will Tysons Corner have enough grocery stores, dry-cleaners, barber shops, etc.? Or, will people still have to drive to receive these types of services?

  4. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    I’d like to know the price of the housing within walking distance. If you can include the 20 and 30 somethings working their way up in the world and their generally modest incomes – within walking distance of work, it may truly cut down on commuting traffic.

    If it has bus and rail links out, that may help internodal commutes.

    If a private firm is willing to spend gazillions of their own money on it, then it might just work.

  5. Toomanytaxes Avatar
    Toomanytaxes

    Many questions to answer. First, it is important for all to understand that the proposal is for rezoning and is not a by-right project. It does NOT conform to the existing Comprehensive Plan. It seeks densities that are much higher than what the Plan allows. Given the existing infrastructure, the owners are very closed to being built out. They could add only a little more retail.

    Moreover, the Comprehensive Plan assumes that significant transportation enhancements would be in place before density is added. These improvements are generally not in place. For example, the existing Plan contemplated “the complete build out of the planned transportation system in and around the Tysons corner area,” including site-specific locations, such as:

    * “approximately 18 additional lanes of freeway and arterial roadway capacity” and widening the Capital Beltway to at least 10 lanes including an HOV facility,”

    * widening of the Capital Beltway, the Dulles Toll Road, Route 7, Route 123, Gallows Road, Spring Hill Road, International Drive, and Magarity Road,

    * constructing new grade-separated interchanges at (i) Route 7, Westpark Drive, and Magarity Road, (ii) Route 7, Gallows Road, and International Drive, and (iii) Route 123 and International Drive,

    * constructing improvements to interchanges at (i) the Capital Beltway, Dulles Toll Road, and the Airport Access Road, (ii) the Capital Beltway and Route 123, (iii) the Capital Beltway and Route 7, (iv) Route 7 and Route 123, (v) Route 7 and the Dulles Toll Road, and (vi) Route 123 and the Dulles Airport Access Road;

    The existing Plan for Tysons also includes the following conclusions: “if the planned [transportation] capacity improvements are not implemented in a timely manner, failing traffic conditions could be manifest throughout the area” and

    “if development occurs in accordance with the land use recommendations of the Plan and if transportation recommendations remain unfulfilled, it will be impossible to preserve Level of Service E on the roads of Tysons Corner.”

    Moreover, the Comprehensive Plan took no look at the impact of added people and vehicles on nearby neighborhoods in McLean, Vienna and Falls Church. As Tysons gridlock increases, traffic will spill over to other communities. These issues need to be addresed before any zoning changes are made.

    Moreover, several community organizations have reviewed the proffers and generally believe them to be inadequate. I don’t have the specifics at hand right now.

    More important, this proposal is attempting to bypass the ongoing review of Tysons Corner by a BoS-appointed group of citizens, which includes not only community activists, but also representatives of the development community. The BoS has hired consultants to assist the Task Force to the tune of $1.2 M. The Task Force has been charged with developing a vision for Tysons that would be presented to the citizens, the Planning Commission and the BoS, probably sometime early next year. Why should this proposal not be a part of that review effort? Macerich is trying an end run on the public.

    Also, the BoS and Planning Commission have established a working task force to help define Transit Oriented Development for Fairfax County. That work is not complete. If Tysons purports to be TOD, should the County first define TOD before it decides whether Tysons fits the definition?

    In sum, the public has generally been not a part of the discussions for the rezoning of the Tysons Corner Mall.

    More to come.

  6. Toomanytaxes Avatar
    Toomanytaxes

    What are the alternatives? Tysons Corner has an imbalance of workers and residents. So why would Fairfax County support more office buildings at Tysons if we already have too many workers and their vehicles? These office buildings could be built outside Fairfax County where many of the workers and potential workers exist. What about Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford Counties? If those areas are exporting workers to Fairfax, why not put more good-paying jobs outside Fairfax?

    Who will live at Tysons? Clearly, there is a market for upper bracket condos. Less than there was a few months ago, but a market nevertheless. But not everyone can afford a Tysons Corner condo and not everyone wants to live in a condo. As I recall, the plan proposes around 1600-1700 condos. The builder has proffered 8% affordable housing units. That 136 units on a 1700 base. Hardly a solution to affordable housing. People who cannot afford the market-priced units would need to live elsewhere. (Note that I’m not trashing the developer on this issue. Building high rises is very expensive and building them at Tysons is even more expensive.)

    But the bottom line is that adding density will not create a mixed economic community. Those who cannot afford to live at Tysons will need to commute. More cars, more traffic. Keep in mind that Macerich has proposed to add more than 9000 new parking spaces for the condos and offices. These are not for Metro riders or mall shoppers.

    Moreover, a large number of people still like living in detached homes. Those will not be built at Tysons. Macerich could not afford to build this type of housing. But this also means that more people would be commuting to Tysons.

    The Commonwealth of Virginia confirms this. Even with building the Silver Line, the State submits that there will be no traffic congestion reduction. I’ve posted the evidence on my blog for September 2006.

    As with most every rezoning proposal made in Fairfax County, this one is constructed with smoke and mirrors. Adding density to Tysons will not result in anything like the owners are suggesting.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Just came acroos this article;

    http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2006/3339bubble_grdzero.html

    Scroll down the page and read “The Numbers Don’t Lie—For a Change” segment and what it says about NOVA, in particular.

    The Tysons Project may be even more risky than previously thought.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Excellent article in WaPo this morning:

    Headline: A Cheaper House May Cost You
    Longer Commutes Outweigh Savings of Living in Outer Suburbs, Study Shows

    I don’t want to steal Jim’s thunder on this.. he probably will make it a Blog Article… but take a look at who do this study…”Center for Housing Policy” and then take a look at their mission and credentials.

    http://www.nhc.org/housing/chp-about/

    These guys are all about affordable housing located WHERE the jobs are located because when folks commute – there are undesireable outcomes both individually and publically.

    My question to TMT and others in this BLOG is: “Whose responsibility is it to ensure that there is an adequate supply of affordable housing”?

    and then before . folks say .. that it is nobody’s or that it’s up to the marketplace… let me also ask .. that if we DO support government efforts with respect to better mobility…

    .. isnt’ the affordable housing issue truly interconnected with mobility especially in terms of the direct result of people using the transportation network as essentially a subsidized way to find more affordable housing?

    In other words – mobility costs money and isn’t there an honest question about who should pay and why?

  9. Jim Bacon Avatar

    TMT, Fair enough. There still seems to be a piece missing from Fairfax County’s work on Tysons Corner, and that’s a transportation impact analysis of all the proposed development there. If Metro were built, and if all the rezonings were granted, and if all the pedestrian-friendly zones were created, and if “x” number of condos were built by people (rich or poor) who could walk to work, and “y” roads were improved through Macerich-like proffers, and “z” shuttles and buses were added… what would the traffic impact be?

    The Kainiacs ran the numbers for the Dulles South project in Loudoun County. Let’s see if they’re willing to run the numbers for Tysons Corner.

  10. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Larry, Thanks for the reference. I’ll definitely follow up on the Post article.

  11. Toomanytaxes Avatar
    Toomanytaxes

    Jim, I fully agree with you that a traffic study for Tysons similar to the one done for Loudoun County should be done and publicized. I believe that there has been a move a foot among some citizens groups to ask the Governor for such a study. This would be another good test of Kaine’s sincerity as a “reformer.” The study would show that reform is important regardless of which party controls county boards of supervisors and because both Kaine and Connolly have received big bucks from West Group and the other Tysons Corner landowners.

    Larry – I am not a big proponent of government programs for increasing affordable housing. These programs tend to take on a life of their own and their costs explode.

    My point here is to rebut the glitz and fluff being tossed by Macerich and others touting the rebuilding of Tysons as a solution to community problems instead of their business plan that will negatively impact their neighbors and force taxes even higher.

    If we are truly going to get people out from their cars at Tysons, not just the executives and professionals need to live within walking distance of work or take the train. A reasonable number of store clerks, staff assistants, etc. would need to be living there too. Most of these people will not be able to afford to live nearby, even if they wanted to do so. The developers’ arguments ring hollow one more time.

    What government should do, IMHO, vis a vis affordable housing is not destroy it. Very close to Tysons is a community known as Pimmit Hills. It has smaller houses built after WWII, with some teardowns and McMansions. The area has had problems in the past, but seems to be a very strong community that is well-cared for generally. According to the HOA, there are more than 1450 homes there, which have sold for prices between $400 K and $1.6 M (replacement homes). I suspect prices have softened some. This community provide close-in affordable housing by NoVA standards. It should not be rezoned.

    Needless to say, the sharks are circling. Developers want to buy larger sections to raze affordable housing and to replace it with more costly condos and townhouses. Fortunately, Supervisor Joan DuBois has taken the position that these proposals, beyond a tear-down on a single lot, are inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan. She has indicated that, without community support, she will not agree to an out-of-turn Plan amendment. But the Plan can be revisited in 2008. If Fairfax County truly cares about affordable housing, it will not rezone Pimmit Hills.

    Also, within the Tysons district there are a number of existing apartment buildings — low rise, three or four stories — that will likely be torn down at some point to redevelop the area. While I have no data on existing rents, I’ll still submit that what exists today provides a great deal more affordable housing without taxpayer support than what would replace it.

    Most proposals from the so-called Fairfax County Business Community look good on the surface. But they are generally hollow and self-serving. I have no problem with anyone seeking to promote their own best interests, unless it is on the backs of taxpayers or requires sacrifices from others. I hope this helps clarify the waters.

  12. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: If growth doesn’t go into Tysons Corner, where will it go?

    + affordable housing + Fairfax jobs

    We need to distinquish what kind of growth”

    Job Growth – okay. Why would Fairfax want more Job Growth?

    Well.. because Businesses use less services than Residential – in theory.

    Businesses actually will generate more net taxes than “affordable housing” will.

    So. it’s a no-brainer for Fairfax – right?

    The more commercial/retail – the more taxes and the less (costly) residential services – right?

    So – someone (TMT?) who is going to argue AGAINST more jobs… and instead .. more residential..and worse than that – lower value (lower taxes) residential.. has a steep uphill.. unless they can show that such a path actually is more costly to Fairfax.. than the “retain affordable housing” path.

    Where am I wrong on this?

  13. Toomanytaxes Avatar
    Toomanytaxes

    Larry, I’m not arguing for more housing or for more office buildings. I am arguing that any growth in Fairfax County must pay for itself. Bringing jobs and more buildings to Fairfax County has done nothing for local citizens. The percentage of real estate taxes paid by commercial buildings has declined from the upper 20s to the high teens. Meanwhile, the business community argues at every chance that we need higher taxes to attract more growth. So what’s in it for the majority of county residents?

  14. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    TMT –

    The conventional wisdom is that more businesses and less residential will result in lower costs and higher net tax revenue.

    If you are Fairfax County – would you argue that you do NOT want more jobs because … (name the reasons).

    As with Ray.. I’m not arguing the right or wrong of it.. but I’m trying to understand the “why” behind .. why this is the outcome.

    Until someone can come along and convince Fairfax that more jobs is NOT in it’s best interest – I don’t see them turning away new jobs.

    Whether or not this is “fair” to the existing/current residents in terms of “quality of life” – I’d say.. that the only way that view makes one spec of difference is if the pro (job) growth BOS is tossed out and replaced with a BOS that holds views that for Fairfax – enough is enough both for jobs and residential.

    Jim asked the relevant question at the front:

    Where will growth go?

    I’ll expand it.

    Where does growth want to go?

    and…

    Who doesn’t want those new jobs?

    I think.. until we understand the answers to these questions.. at least enough .. to lay down a different path – that momentum will continue for the status-quo.

    Perhaps.. one question.. is .. would infill mixed-use – help move things back in the other direction?

    sorta like arguing that while transit wont’ rollback congestion.. will it keep it from getting much worse much more quickly?

    ick

  15. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: the cost of new jobs to Fairfax

    New jobs don’t cost Fairfax one penny for the I-95/I-495 commuting infrastructure.

    They get the jobs.. the taxes .. boot the lower-tax residential and don’t have to pay a penny for the roads that exurban commuters use to get to their jobs in Fairfax.

    Why would Fairfax want to change this equation?

  16. Toomanytaxes Avatar
    Toomanytaxes

    Larry, I’m confused. Fairfax County residents pay taxes that support 1-95 & I-495. Moreover, some of our friends want to raise those taxes we pay to fund commuting improvements on those and other roads. To the extent that more people drive to Fairfax from Spotsylvania or Stafford Counties, for example, there is a need to add capacity to those roads. Senator Chichester and Governor Kaine, for example, want to increase taxes for transportation.

    On the other hand, if some of those new jobs had been located in Spotsylvania or Stafford Counties, traffic volumes up and down I-95 would be less during the work week. Am I missing something?

    What taxes does Fairfax County receive when new jobs are added that are taken to a large degree by non-County residents? A little more sales tax revenue and some commercial real estate taxes are, by and large, all we get. We don’t receive the added income taxes generated by the salaries. Those go directly to Richmond and we get pennies back in return.

    Moreover, as I’ve pointed out on several occasions, despite all of the job growth and new commercial buildings in Fairfax County, the percentage of the total real estate taxes paid by commercial buildings is sustantially less today than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Most county residents are paying real estate taxes that are 80-90% higher than they were six or seven years ago. Where’s the benefit?

    If this were Alaska, I’d receive a check from the State each year as a rebate from taxes on oil production. Gerry Connolly doesn’t send us rebate checks for all the new commercial buildings or the increased commercial rental income in the county. He just sends higher real estate bills.

    Keep in mind that NoVA is different than most places in the U.S. In most areas, the majority of people working do so in the local economy. At least in theory, adding new people or new jobs provides existing residents with the chance to make more sales or provide services. Because of the federal presence, that doesn’t happen here. George Mason University has documented that more than 57% of the residents of Metro Washington have no employment or business connection to the local ecomomy.

    Thus, adding new businesses or jobs to Fairfax County, for example, does NOT provide a majority of the area’s residents with any opportunity to make more sales, etc. Some people, of course, do benefit, but the majority do not. I believe that some of the opposition to development stems from these facts. For many people, development is a cost that provides little or no offsetting benefits.

  17. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: road costs

    yes.. everyone pays taxes but all of the cars end up in Fairfax/No Va where those jobs are …

    .. and most 100-mile per day commuters pay about 1.75 for that trip.

    Add it up.. there’s not near enough money to maintain.. much less build new capacity for NoVa roads nor the commuting roads to NoVa.

    If you build more commuting roads – to get people to more jobs in NoVa/Fairfax is that what you want?

    Or do you want those with new jobs to NOT commute from the exurbs to NoVa.

    I suspect the answer is No and No.

    Correct?

    But unless.. Fairfax and NoVa actually tell companies that they cannot locate their businesses in Fairfax and NoVA.. and that is not going to happen…

    ..which is true … thought

    an acre of land in Fairfax with Commercial on it or Residential on it.

    You say that the percentage of taxes from commercial has gone down.

    It’s been my impression that one acre of commercial will generate more in taxes than an acre of commercial – after services are subtracted.

    Is this not True?

    If that is a fact – then why would Fairfax want more jobs?

  18. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Wow.. was my last post messed up!

    I need to do a better preview before I hit the “send” button.

    Basically I was asking if Fairfax gets more net taxes from an acre of commercial/retail/industrial than it gets from an acre of residential?

    Because.. if it gets more from commercial – then I’m puzzled as to why the percentage share of tax revenue has gone down for commercial.

    It would seem to argue that residential produces more net tax revenue…

    .. and further .. that even more commercial would make the disparity even worse.

    My impression was the opposite and that it actually benefits Fairfax financially every time a residential parcel is converted to (new jobs) commercial.

    All things considered – under that scenario.. Fairfax would then be contributing LESS state income taxes also.

    Further.. Fairfax.. only get’s road money based on … factors.. unrelated to home many people “in-commute” to jobs in Fairfax.

    That’s where my statement came from – that whether people live and work locally in Fairfax or “in-commute” it makes no difference to Fairfax in terms of roads because neither scenario materially affects the money they get for roads.

    Again.. my approach is not to think of what is right or wrong or logical or illogical but rather.. what are the driving forces behind what is happening to Fairfax.

    Fairfax has an explicit vision that they are following – and they’re following it because they perceive it to be in their own self-interests.

    What are those factors that cause them to believe that their path is the path that best benefits them?

    I’m presumming that they are NOT pursuing a path that they perceive to be harmful to their interests.

  19. Toomanytaxes Avatar
    Toomanytaxes

    Larry, IMO the following factors are material. At least since the days of Jack Herrity, there has been a belief that adding commercial properties to Fairfax County would reduce the real estate tax burden on residences. In theory, this makes sense.

    However, I don’t think anyone took the cost of infrastructure into the equation. Moreover, both Herrity and his successor, Audrey Moore, were quite aggressive in obtaining proffers for infrastructure. During lunch, Jack told me that a well-known developer got so angry at Herrity’s demands that he took off his suit coat, tossed it on the floor and then stomped on it. But he made the contribution.

    Tom Davis was not chairman of the BoS for very long. Kate Hanley was much less aggressive in obtaining proffers than her predecessors were. Gerry Connolly’s idea of a developer’s contribution is one made to Connolly’s campaign fund.

    At the very same time, the costs for adding infrastructure have skyrocketed. Thus, we have less coming in and higher costs. Sounds like VDOT doesn’t it?

    There are, of course, a number of people who do benefit financially from growth and development. They support it. Why wouldn’t they?

    I suspect that a large number of people are just too busy to think about what’s going on, such less to take the time to become active in the community. Been there, done that myself.

    Moreover, Fairfax County tends to have a tradition of excluding true citizen input because it would likely upset a lot of the special deals. For example, the county used to have a citizens committee on budget priorities. The group would review and comment on county spending and taxes. But it’s been abolished for years and the BoS turn a deaf ear to requests to reconstitute it.

    For years, land use decisions were worked between the developer and the staff. Toss in a few golf outings and campaign contributions and bingo. Now, given the out-of-control tax increases and ever-declining quality of life, a much greater number of people of all political beliefs have said “enough.” They want more say in land use decisions and will not defer to the staff or elected officials. The 2007 election will be about development.

  20. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    TMT –

    Looking at Fairfax.. acknowledging some unique characteristics such as the presence of the Feds..

    .. still Fairfax.. is not unlike many other urbanizing places in Va and other states.. all things being equal or not – including the warm relationships of developers with respect to elected leaders.

    Still – all in all – one would think that elected reps act with what they think is in the best interests of citizens and voters.

    I think it’s very hard for an elected leader to tell business to go away and that a locality does not want nor need jobs.

    I think also.. that there is a perception that more business is better .. than more residential… unless it’s very high end residential that contributes hefty (higher than average) taxes.

    If that is NOT true.. if, instead, it can be demonstrated that business actually deliveries LESS than residential in terms of net dollars.. then wouldn’t than convince many folks including elected leaders that more business is NOT a good path?

    When someone shows up with a new commercial business proposal.. treat them like Dralacula… cross the arms and hmmm nah nah nah..

    Mixed-Use? ahh.. get rid of the commercial part.. and keep the condos and we’ll approve it…

    I’m quite sure.. by the way..that if Fairfax said “go away” to business prospects… they’d find somewhere else in the Region.. and if most of NoVa said “go away”.. they come down to Fredericksburg.. which… unless I’m wrong.. our folks would dance with joy.

    Again.. I’m truly trying to understand both the agnst.. and what a proper alternative path might be for Fairfax because.. without that alternative path – the likelihood is very high that the status quo will continue.

    I see EMR’s vision.

    I don’t know how we get there either.

    It’s used to be New Urbanist Communities but now I notice the phrase is New Urbanist REGIONS.. a subtle but mega difference.

    It’s one thing to get Fredericksburg to build mixed-use New Urbanists villiages (which they are)..

    .. it’s a whole nother ball of wax for Fredericksburg’s development practices to be done in concert with a Regional Strategy.

    HOLY MOLY… EMR and company must LOVE challenges like climbing Mt. Everest in their bare feet and similiar.

    🙂

  21. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “Tysons Corner has an imbalance of workers and residents. So why would Fairfax County support more office buildings at Tysons if we already have too many workers and their vehicles? These office buildings could be built outside Fairfax County where many of the workers and potential workers exist. What about Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford Counties? If those areas are exporting workers to Fairfax, why not put more good-paying jobs outside Fairfax? “

    🙂

    I may not even have to build a fire tonight. This has warmed my soul enough.

  22. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “They get the jobs.. the taxes .. boot the lower-tax residential and don’t have to pay a penny for the roads that exurban commuters use to get to their jobs in Fairfax.

    Why would Fairfax want to change this equation?”

    Right.

    And what have I been saying about fairly allocating costs? I could be wrong, but my opinion is that if you actually did that, Fairfax and the urban core would shut down tomorrow.

  23. Ray Hyde Avatar

    ‘…one would think that elected reps act with what they think is in the best interests of citizens and voters.”

    I don’t think that. Not at all. Not even close.

    What I think is that voters have by and large given up. They understaand the realtionship between money and power. EVENTUALLY, votes will win out. It typically seems to take gross mis-judgements, and/or many years of cumulative inequities for that to happen. Think of civil rights.

    The problem is, how many lives will be destroyed or minimized, in the meantime.

  24. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “It’s used to be New Urbanist Communities but now I notice the phrase is New Urbanist REGIONS.. a subtle but mega difference.”

    At last you are catching on. Mixed use, balanced communities means everybody, not just Fairfax. What mixed use are you willing to allow next door?

    I can think of a half dozen businesses that I have the skill, money, and space to start, but I’m prohibited by zoning. Which one of them are YOU willing to put next door, in order to preserve my farm and open space?

  25. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    but if I understand … NUC (new urbanist communities) will not yield the desired benefits unless they are developed in concert as components of a NUR (New Urbanist Region).

    In other words – density in Fairfax and Loudoun… ditto .. other communities will not deal with the issue of where people live and where people work if they choose to live in one NUC and work in another NUC.

    or will it? Is the answer to connect the NUC with congestion priced roads, transit and light rail and THEN you have a NUR?

    the older I get.. the more I realize just how dang igorant I am .. used to be .. answers were easy… 🙂

    what WOULD be funny though.. would be for EMR to interview .. say someone like Chichester .. on the subject of New Urbanism and Transportation funding – or for that matter, and perhaps more revealing.. Bill Howell and some of the anti-Chichester guys.

    That would be worth .. recording for replay I bet..

  26. Toomanytaxes Avatar
    Toomanytaxes

    Larry, this sounds like company towns. If you work in mines, you must live in the mining company’s town, buy from the company store, etc. This will date me, but didn’t Tennessee Ernie Ford have a song about this in the early 60s?

    Since both my wife and I work in D.C., does that mean we need to move there too?

  27. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “Since both my wife and I work in D.C., does that mean we need to move there too?”

    NO.. I don’t think so for two reasons: 1. – moral and 2. practical

    I’m not in favor of forcing people .. NOR businesses to locate somewhere other than where they want to locate – as long as both pay the full locational costs. When we have these costs paid by taxpayers then there is no economic incentive for individuals to be financially prudent or frugal. We must tie the financial consequences to those that cause the financial impacts and then let ordinary economics guide the outcome.

    I see huge harm from collecting taxes from everyone to pay for transportation for everyone – because we all know what happens if costs are not directly assigned.

    As such, I firmly believe that when one chooses to commute – that they need to pay the full costs of that commute – in other words – the actual costs of maintaining and improving the roads and I do support congestion pricing as a fair way to do this.

    But I think EMR and those that advocate NUC and NUR to explain why this concept is NOT reversion back to company towns.

    I sense that the New Urbanist philosophy is .. in fact.. about inefficient settlement patterns that result in harmful outcomes – especially with regard to infrastructure costs … but I have trouble drilling down on the HOW behind … why NUC/NUR will turn us in a better direction.

    At the heart of it with regard to home and work – I don’t think we should force people to do anything even those things we think are “right” but I do think – that in NOT assessing them the actual costs of their own personal decisions that we breed harmful and inefficient practices that work against the best interests of everyone.

    And my simple (minded?) proposition is that if we handle all infrastructure issues like water/sewer or electricity is handled, we make huge inroads into solving the fundamental problem.

    Until we link the true cost of a service to the person using that service – there is little incentive for them to be frugal nor prudent… because someone else is paying for their wasteful habits.

    Once we assign the costs as they should be – we’ll start to get the infrastructure that is needed AND people will not be making decisions that result in …. in essence.. unfunded infrastructure impacts.

  28. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “I’m not in favor of forcing people .. NOR businesses to locate somewhere other than where they want to locate – as long as both pay the full locational costs.”

    Well, that’s a good one. How do you propose separating the chicken form the egg?

    Are the locational costs of residents related to their distance from their employers, or to the jurisdiction the live in?

    Are the locational costs of employers due to the fact thay they wish to be located in the center of residences, or due to the fact that this preference creates a need for enormous transportaion expenses.

    ???

    Who gets the power associated with calulating locational expenses? Surely You are not going to suggest it should be The American Farmland Trust, which seems to have a monopoly on COCS studies now.

  29. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “I firmly believe that when one chooses to commute – that they need to pay the full costs of that commute – in other words – the actual costs of maintaining and improving the roads and I do support congestion pricing as a fair way to do this.”

    So do I. Our only difference is that I think this also applies to transit, and I think that transit ought to be required to provide a seat. It is part and parcel of paying full costs.

    If both of those things happened, then much of tht cost would necessarily trnasfer to those providing the jobs, and they would re-think their location.

    In that case, transit would probably be not cost effective, and unnecessary.

  30. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “And my simple (minded?) proposition is that if we handle all infrastructure issues like water/sewer or electricity is handled, we make huge inroads into solving the fundamental problem.”

    OK, what about green infrastructure? Why should I be paying 3X what I cost (county numbers, not mine), in order to provide green infrastructure and other benefits to those that don’t pay?

  31. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “Are the locational costs of residents related to their distance from their employers, or to the jurisdiction the live in?”

    Well.. for one.. the roads they commute on. You know.. the ones that we can’t improve because we don’t take in enough tax money to do so? Each person .. should pay.. what it costs for them to commute to work. That alone would result in each person deciding if they really do need to commute SOLO in an SUV every day at rush hour. The ones that decide that they don’t need to – reduce the demand for more roads. The ones that do decide they need to – pay for the new roads.

    This is a simple concept that removes the twin complaints of – not enough money and not enough roads.

    re: “So do I. Our only difference is that I think this also applies to transit, and I think that transit ought to be required to provide a seat. It is part and parcel of paying full costs.”

    I’m not sure what happens to transit under this scenario but I cannot disagree with the basic premise. It would seem that if air quality budgets will however, impact what KIND of rail/road can be built regardless of locational costs.

    re: “OK, what about green infrastructure? Why should I be paying 3X what I cost (county numbers, not mine), in order to provide green infrastructure and other benefits to those that don’t pay?”

    hmmm.. are you calling “Green Infrastructure” … undeveloped parcels of land?

    First.. I think the 3X is a questionable way of posing the issue.

    You’re not paying 3times as much as developed land.

    You’re, instead, relying on the unproven calculation of undeveloped land “in theory” paying back 3 times in taxes than it consumes in services – whereas .. developed land does not pay back at all.. it consumes more services that it provides in tax revenue – correct?

    Before I agree with you – and I might – you need to tell me what services your undeveloped land DO USE and how much those services cost. The reason I ask this question is because I suspect that you’re paying property taxes for things that you don’t agree with in the first place – correct?

    For instance, I probably pay more in taxes on an unbuilt 5 acre building lot than you might in land-use taxes on substantially more acreage and I could.. make an even better argument than you do because I too, could argue, that – that unbuilt lot does not use county services at all… NADA.. and so I should not pay any taxes on it because it is – as you say – GREEN infrastructure.

    So.. you need to admit that taking away ALL taxes on undeveloped land is what you are truly proposing.

    I’m not necessarily opposed to your argument but I do think – you have a responsibility to admit – that if we followed your logic.. a LOT more land would be involved and huge tax increases needed to make up for no longer taxing undeveloped land.

    correct?

Leave a Reply