In presenting the Award to the Civic Association, the Chairman of the Civic Federation's Executive Committee cited the quality of the BVSCA's excellent newsletter, the consistent and active representation of the BVSCA at the meetings and on many of the committees of the Civic Federation, and the well informed and recognized forceful participation of BVSCA members in the public policy debate on County issues ranging from land use planning and zoning, to budget and education matters. In closing, the Chairman stated, "In short, they (the BVSCA) are the model of participation for our other members."
On behalf of the BVSCA's over 210 dues paid members, former Association President, Rohan Samaraweera accepted the Award at the Civic Federation's Annual Banquet. See page 19 for a copy of the Certificate. The Officers and the Executive Committee of the Association express the thanks of our membership to the Civic Federation.
Because the written survey results reflected significant concern about street traffic levels, the May Question of the Month is: "Tell us your view of the best method or approach to controlling the potentially significant increase in traffic volume on our neighborhood streets given the development projects planned for the near future."
By May 15th, call the Member Information Line 528-1887, select menu option one, and record your survey response. When recording your survey response, identify yourself by name and home street address. Without disclosing personal identification information, we shall publish the results in the next issue of the Newsletter.
As background for this question, at our March 30th Membership meeting, several members expressed concern to our invited guests, Arlington County Board Supervisors, Mary Margaret Whipple, Chairman, and Benjamin Winslow, Member, about street traffic and on-street parking and the potential for these problem areas to become more critical in the near future due to upcoming projects in our neighborhood. These projects include the George Mason University Arlington Campus expansion (as reported in last month's Newsletter); the Quincy Street extension between Wilson Boulevard and North Glebe Road; and the consolidation of the Department of Human Services at one of three approved sites, two of which are located on Fairfax Drive in Ballston. Concern was also expressed about the potential spillover effect from Disney's America theme park to be located in Prince William County off of I-66. Details follow on the Disney project and some indications of traffic effects further away.
According to Arlington's Director of Public Works, R. S. Kem, in his Inter-Departmental Memorandum of March 17, 1994 to John Mausert-Mooney, Assistant to the County Manager, Disney's America is not just a theme park. The memorandum describes the County Staff's analysis of Disney's America's traffic consultant's report. The total plan as analyzed for the site is to construct, in three phases, a resort community that would include the theme park, 1340 hotel rooms, 300 campsites, a golf course, about 2300 homes, and about 1.9 million square feet of commercial space of which about 70% would be in retail. Because it is planned as a mixed-use project, Disney's America can be expected to exhibit a variety of trip patterns. The traffic consultant projected the total vehicular trips at 115,000 on an average day; however, the memorandum suggests that the figure is less in terms of traffic volume on streets outside the site because it is a mixed-use project. To provide a sense of scale of what this magnitude of traffic volume can mean, a 1993 draft airport ground access study estimated 67,500 vehicle trips a day in 1987 at National Airport.
The County memorandum states that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has programmed improvements to I-66 between U.S. 50 in Fairfax County and Route 234 at Manassas, to the east of the site, with much of the funding for the $160 million project already allocated. The project would continue the cross-section that has recently been constructed between U.S. 50 and the Capital Beltway (i.e., a total of eight lanes, with three in each direction plus one for high occupancy vehicle ("HOV") traffic during peak periods). Staff reports, however, that I-66 inside the beltway is not planned for expansion although it has fewer lanes than the segment west of the beltway. Also, staff reports that Disney's America traffic, whether great or, as in staff's judgment, "not very substantial here," is not going to help I-66 inside the Beltway nor will traffic from planned development anywhere along the I-66 corridor, from the District of Columbia on out. The staff report concludes that: "more extensive HOV management (more extensive hours) are about the only method to substantially reduce congestion, absent widening the road. Of course, traffic using I-66 generally means less use of other Arlington streets so unless the hours and number (HOV-2, HOV-3, HOV-4, etc.) are such that they draw extensive use, the advantage of an uncongested I-66 can be more than offset by the disadvantage of higher traffic volumes on other Arlington streets."
The current ordinance allows restaurants (and some commercial enterprises) not to have to make off-street parking available for any of their patrons. The standard County parking requirement for restaurants is 1 off-street space for every 6 seats. However, for restaurants that are located within 1,000 feet of a Metro station, they do not have to provide any off-street parking. This "no parking" ordinance was implemented because it had been thought that customers would either walk from the surrounding neighborhoods and/or take Metro to the site, therefore, parking spaces for patrons would not be necessary.
However, over the past few years, this assumption has proven to be incorrect. The on-street parking in many of the residential neighborhoods in the Rosslyn/Ballston Corridor is currently being used not by residents, but by patrons of nearby restaurants, creating congestion, noise problems and trash problems for the residents. In the last few years, the number of restaurants in the Clarendon and Court House areas has increased greatly. Because of the number and popularity of these establishments, the supply of on-street parking in the commercial area is quickly exhausted. Patrons then park on the residential streets.
In the Colonial Village complex in the Court House area, the Bardo Rodeo, which has over 800 seats provides only a minimal amount of off-street parking. The lions share of its patrons park on the streets, and on the streets in Colonial Village, which, because of its age, has a parking ratio of less than one space per residential unit. Residential parking was already at a premium in this neighborhood and, with the advent of Bardo, it has become a nightmare. The County has acknowledged that restaurants in Metro areas do need to provide some parking for the patrons. The question is, how much? After 5 months of discussion, the working group is considering 3 options to address this question.
The working group members representing restaurant owners would like to have an ordinance with a threshold of 250 seats per restaurant before off-street parking would be required to be provided. Under that approach, a restaurant may have up to 250 seats, and still not have to make provision for any off-street parking. When a business would have more than 250 seats, it would only have to make provision for off-street parking, at the current County ratio of 1 space per 6 seats, for that number of seats over 250. County staff has proposed a threshold of 150 seats, with parking being provided for only the seats over the 150 threshold.
The citizens in the working group are advocating a threshold of 6 seats. That is, the ordinance would require any establishment with more than 6 seats to have to apply for a special use permit. To obtain this special permit, a restaurant would have to demonstrate that there is either a sufficient amount of on-street parking in the vicinity of their establishment for the use of their customers and/or they have enough off-street spaces to accommodate their patrons. The off-street spaces could be in a lot that the restaurant has contracted for the use of, or some other arrangement.
By having a threshold of 6 seats, and requiring a use permit, the County and affected neighborhood(s) could evaluate the impact of a restaurant on the community. This would help in areas that have little availability of on-street commercial parking and/or a clustering of businesses. If there is a good supply of on-street parking, and the restaurant is not competing with a large number of businesses for these spaces, a use permit could easily be granted. If the on-street supply is limited, the use permit would not be approved until sufficient off-street parking for the establishment could be guaranteed.
In addition to these three options for ordinance revision, the working group has discussed requiring site planned buildings to provide parking for any retail business in their building during the hours of operation of that business. Currently, the parking garage of Stafford Place (the building that houses the NSF) remains open in the evening, thus providing parking for the patrons of its two restaurants -- Pizzaria Uno and Kramerbooks. Also, there is garage parking available in the building that houses the Rio Grande Restaurant and D'Angelo's. By having these garage spaces available, the impacts on the adjacent residential neighborhoods may be somewhat mitigated. However, the full impact of the availability of these garages is as yet unclear because of the temporary availability of a large empty already site plan approved surface lot, on the block adjacent to Rio Grande and D'Angelo's, that is used at night for parking without charge.
Arlington County Planning Division staff will be at our April 27th meeting to discuss this proposal.
The 1994 General Assembly enacted legislation to: (1) lower the presumption of "driving under the influence" (DUI) from 1.0 to .08 blood alcohol; (2) establishes "zero tolerance" for DUI by a person under 21; and (3) permits both the revocation of a driver's license and impoundment of an automobile through a speedy administrative process. The Conference Committee Report in support of Disney America creating the I-66 Economic Development Program and transportation improvement bonds (with an estimated total value of $140 million) to fund certain roads, in and out of the Disney project was adopted on March 12, 1994.
Two significant resolutions on initiative and referendum and aggressive panhandling were carried over to the 1995 General Assembly. Due to our members previously expressed interest in those issues, the resolutions are discussed in detail in the accompanying article.
Since that meeting, the Arlington County Civic Federation voted on December 6, 1993 to adopt their 1994 Legislative Package, which states under Section 8, General Government, (D) Initiative and Referendum, [that] "The Federation requests a constitutional amendment reserving power to the people, in addition to the legislative power vested in the General Assembly, to propose laws and amendments to the Constitution, and to adopt or reject the same at the polls independent of the General Assembly, and further reserving to the people, at their own option, to adopt or reject any law or section of a law enacted by the General Assembly. Required percentages to put items to a referendum would be 5% of the total vote cast for Governor in the last proceeding gubernatorial election for statutory initiatives and referendums, and 8% for constitutional amendments."
At the end of the 1994 Virginia General Assembly, two resolutions were offered for state constitutional amendments permitting voters to exercise initiative and referendum. Both resolutions were tabled for consideration next year when proposed constitutional amendments will be considered. The patrons came from both sides of the aisle and included Senator Charles L. Waddell (D-Fairfax) and Delegate Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Mclean, Great Falls, and Herndon). Co-patrons included Senator Janet D. Howell (D- Arlington, Mclean, Reston, and Vienna), Senator Robert L. Calhoun (R-Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax County), Delegate Kenneth R. Plum (D- Reston), Delegate Robert E. Harris (R-Burke and Fairfax), and others. Also, supporting I & R are Governor George Allen (R) and Lt. Governor Donald S. Beyer Jr (D).
In response to the proposed bill, Delegate Darner indicated opposition for several reasons. She stated the concept of "aggressive panhandling" is open to many interpretations. Having lived in a country for two years that had many panhandlers/beggars everywhere, she indicated that her definition would be markedly different from most other people In addition, Delegate Darner indicated that she had a great deal of difficulty with the way Senate Bill 113 is drafted. Delegate Darner added the whole concept of "hearsay" is the foundation of the bill. She also believes that it can lead to many falsely founded charges, perhaps because someone looks, acts, or talks differently.
Because the crime issue ranked as the highest issue area in terms of concern or critical problem responses, in our prior written survey (which had been distributed through the October 1993 Newsletter), with several respondents indicating concern about the homeless and panhandling, the Civic Association's officers researched this area further to provide additional perspective. According to Ellen Perlman in her article entitled "Getting Tough on the Down and Out," in the Governing periodical dated April 1994, she indicates it's a troubling sight in cities across America -- the homeless, unable or unwilling to conduct their daily activities in the privacy of a home or shelter, use the city's streets, parks and benches. They sprawl in the business district with bedrolls and bags of belongings. They urinate in public, and they frighten people with aggressive panhandling. The article describes a number of cities from the West Coast to the East Coast, such as San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., which have passed or are enforcing existing nuisance laws to disperse street people, or prohibit public drunkenness, and/or prohibit aggressive panhandling. Also, it should be noted that Richmond, Virginia has also adopted an ordinance against aggressive panhandling.
The following is an example of an aggressive panhandling ordinance adopted by the Sacramento City Council on November 30, 1993 and a summary of background information provided by the staff of the Office of the City Manager on April 14, 1994 to the Association's Vice-President.
Police officials have stated that court rulings have reduced their ability to effectively address aggressive panhandling. The police can take enforcement action when the behavior crosses the line into the criminal realm such as battery or obstruction. However, these laws often cannot protect citizens from the fear caused by individuals who harass them for money or refuse to take "no" for an answer and continue to persistently demand money. The above ordinance adopted by the City of Sacramento attempts to remedy the local enforcement problem by specifically stating that coercing, threatening, intimidating, and hounding people for the purpose of collecting money or other things of value, is a violation of law. This part of the ordinance is patterned after ordinances adopted by the City of Beverly Hills in March 1993 and the City and County of San Francisco in November 1992.
In conclusion, the Civic Association's Officers researched the aggressive panhandling proposed Virginia bill and existing ordinances in response to our members request for additional information about reducing the effect of the day-time homeless drop in shelter that Arlington County staff have indicated, in the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy ("CHAS"), they would like to see placed in the Clarendon or Virginia Square areas. If you have any comments or questions about the aggressive panhandling bill or the problem of homeless street people in Arlington, we invite you to bring them to the April 27th Membership meeting for discussion with Arlington County Board of Supervisors Member, Jim Hunter.
SSCA representatives gave a presentation on their proposal to the BVSCA Membership on January 26, 1994. At that time, the representatives stated that they wished to increase the livable space of each unit in order to keep and attract more young families. (The units currently only have two bedrooms.) However, of the 60 townhouses, only 17 are currently owner- occupied. It was thought that if another bedroom were to be added to each unit, instead of getting a family, the neighborhood would instead get another adult sharing a unit with two other adults. And, it was felt, this new adult would have another car needing to be parked. Currently, Stafford Square has 69 off-street spaces. This is a ratio of 1.15 spaces per unit, and was the zoning requirement at the time the development was built. However, in 1986, the zoning requirements for the R15-30T area were changed to require two on-site spaces per townhouse unit. After the presentation, the BVSCA Membership voted to oppose Stafford Square's request unless they could increase their on-site parking to meet the current zoning requirement of two off-street spaces per unit.
The Planning Commission heard the application at their March 28th meeting. At that time, a motion to recommend approval of the request, only if Stafford Square could increase the parking to two on-site spaces per unit was defeated. A motion to recommend denial of the application was also defeated, as was a motion to defer the application. The motion to recommend the County staff report, which supported permitting the dormers, was also defeated.
The County Board, taking into account the Civic Association's concern about parking and the precedent setting nature of this application, and the Planning Commission's inability to recommend either approval or denial of the application, considered the item for an hour and a half. At the conclusion, the Board voted, 4-1, for a compromise that allows only 25% of the complex (15 units) to add the requested dormers before a review of the impact the additions are making on the parking situation in the neighborhood. The compromise also includes a provision that requires any household in Stafford Square with more than three cars to provide proof that the third car is being parked in a private lot. This proof is to be presented to the Stafford Square Community Association and will be monitored by their parking subcommittee. The Board instructed the SSCA representative to keep the BVSCA informed about the compliance with the parking provisions.
The sources of information for the Committee's report were the following: GMU/Arlington County Community Forums, sponsored by the County's Higher Education Advisory Committee and held on 12/14/93 and 2/2/94) = "Forum"; Expanding the GMU-Arlington Campus: A Program for an Educating Community, (jointly published by Arlington County and GMU, February 20, 1992) = "GMU-Arlington Campus, 1992"; and, A Parking Study for the GMU-Arlington Campus, (Prepared for George Mason University by JHK & Associates, June 1992) = "JHK & Associates". The following is the report that was presented to the Membership.
At the Newsletter's production deadline, members of the Association's GMU Expansion Committee learned that GMU's Revised Parking Study is in draft form, and that Arlington County staff have helped GMU rewrite at least "two drafts" of the Revised Study. When the County staff representative who made that statement was asked to provide copies of GMU's draft Revised Parking Study, which Arlington staff were helping GMU rewrite, the Arlington County staff member refused to do so on the basis that the materials were "(I)nternal working documents." The question still remains why County staff are revising GMU's documents without review and input from the affected neighborhood.
Regarding the Virginia state statutory obligation for GMU to prepare and submit an environmental impact report of its expansion project to the state Department of Environmental Quality ("DEQ"), GMU's Vice-President for Institutional Planning and Research, Edward L. Delaney, was quoted in the April 14, 1994, Arlington Journal, as stating that, "Since this is a fully developed site ... I'm not aware of that need." Following-up on the Association members' action, the Executive Committee has written to the State DEQ requesting a hearing, in Northern Virginia, on GMU's expansion project.
Please remember, we need our members to attend and speak-out on this matter during the next phases of the County's GMU process which takes place before the County's Site Plan Review Subcommittee, the Planning Commission, and ultimately before the County Board. Check our Member Information Line, 528-1887, for dates, etc. If you would like to write a letter or call one of your elected representatives, or would like to help the Association in some other way call Hayden Bryan, at (703) 243-6070, or Nancy Iacomini, at (703) 525-7125, for ideas or suggestions, or with questions.
In response, several BVSCA members contacted Lewis Hilder, senior geologist with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and inquired about the locations of the effected area. During the conversation, he stated that "there was no risk to health or safety to anyone located south of Fairfax Drive and west of Monroe Street," which would include the Wentworth Place Condominium building located at 3515 North Washington Boulevard and the townhouses located across the street on North Monroe Street.
Finally, the article indicated that Virginia officials expect a report from Exxon in the middle of May regarding their plans to prevent this problem from worsening. We will keep our members informed about any remedial actions in cleaning up the contamination.
To review the proposed amendment, the Executive Committee formed a By-Law Amendment Review Committee consisting of Association President, Robert Sherretta; Vice-President, Ernie Ragland; and Executive Committee Member, Rohan Samaraweera. Based on the rationale provided by the Association's Treasurer in proposing the amendment, the By-Law Amendment Review Committee recommends to the Association Membership in favor of adoption of the above proposed amendments. The effect of the amendments would be that any one who renews their membership more than 12 months after it has expired would have to wait thirty days to regain their voting privileges as they would be in the same category as new members. As we now have over 200 dues paying members, this would considerably ease the burden on the Treasurer of the record keeping needs.
The proposed By-Law amendment will be considered by the Membership at the Annual Meeting in May.
The Survey was run from March 26th through April 16th. Thirty-four (34) call-in responses were received during that period of which 30 members left the requisite identification verification information so as to be included in the results. The identified members' responses are summarized below.
All 100% of the respondents indicated that they felt that GMU's proposed expansion to a registration of 12,700 students with only 1,100 on-site parking spaces would be a severe strain on the neighborhood. Eighty percent (24) of the members responding to the telephone survey had not been in attendance at the Association's March 26th Membership meeting, but indicated that they had reviewed the detailed information about GMU's expansion in the Association's March/April 1994 Newsletter.
Two-thirds (20) of the respondents stated the number of parking spaces that GMU should put on-site as a percentage of the number of students that GMU expected to have on site at the time of peak occupancy. As more than 85% of the students drive to the GMU Campus, and there are about 40% of the enrollment on-campus during peak occupancy, the percentage response most frequently stated by this group was that GMU should have on-site spaces equal in number to 85% of their peak period occupancy of 40% of their expected student enrollment of 12,700. Taking into consideration faculty, staff and other growth needs, four respondents indicated that GMU should have spaces on-site for 100% of their expected arrivals by car.
A third (10) of the respondents stated their view of the necessary on-site parking in terms of a specific number of spaces. The low end of the numeric range stated by this group was 4,000 on site spaces. The high end of the range was 5,000 on site spaces. A majority (6) of those stating their responses as a specific number of spaces, expressed the view that the minimum number of required spaces is 4,500.
It appears to your Executive Committee that there is very minimal division of view among our Membership about the need for GMU to put at least a total of 4,500 spaces on the site of their 750,000 square foot project. The official position of the Association, as adopted at the March 26th Membership meeting, is that GMU should have a total of 4,749 parking spaces on the site of its Virginia Square Campus.
Using a touch-tone telephone, the information voice bulletin board may be called at your convenience, 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week. When you call the Member Information Line, you first hear a brief announcement that tells you what the menu selections are. If you know which menu selection you want, you may select that option at any time. You may access one menu selection per telephone call.
To promote ease of access to the information and message capabilities of the MILTN, the Executive Committee has standardized the menu selections and they are listed below.
Menu selection: 1) is the Question Of The Month survey where the Association members may listen to a question and leave a recorded message to respond to the survey; 2) is an announcement only of upcoming Association Membership and Executive Committee meetings, agenda items, etc. Check this selection for postings on last minute updates and changes to Association meeting agendas; 3) is an announcement only summarizing significant actions taken at recent Executive Committee and Membership meetings; 4) is an announcement only of upcoming County-wide group meetings that affect our neighborhood; 5) is an announcement only of actions taken at recent County-wide group meetings that affect our neighborhood; 6) is the message box for the Neighborhood Crime Watch. Leave a message in this box if you would like to start a crime watch on your block and the Association will match you up with other members on your block; 7) is the George Mason University Campus Expansion announcement and message box. You may listen to a message about the most recent information we have on George Mason's expansion plans and leave a message for the Association's George Mason Expansion Committee; and, 8) is a miscellaneous announcement and message box about a particular topical matter that will need its own menu option for a limited period of time.