2020 Vienna Town Council Election: Meet David Patariu

Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election this year, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As this week in the order we received the responses. 

Featured here is David Patariu, who is running for a position on the Vienna Town Council. 

Bio: I am an attorney, a Vienna dad with three young children and a Vienna planning commissioner. I’m running to preserve the livability of our neighborhoods and to ensure the residential and commercial zoning code rewrite — foisted upon our town without resident input — does not give away what makes Vienna special.

Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?

Vienna has its own unique identity as a small town and that identity should not change to match Tysons’ growth. Pasha Majdi (for mayor), Chris Wright, Andrea Dahl, and I (for council) are a group of parents with young kids, and we love Vienna’s small-town feel.

Our platform is focused on YOU and we are working together to (1) address cut-through traffic and preserve the livability of our neighborhoods; (2) address problems from poorly planned development like the MAC; (3) restore Beulah Road Park; and (4) make certain the rewrite of our residential and commercial zoning code does not give away what makes Vienna special.

Maple Avenue is at its traffic capacity during peak hours, and this problem will only get more severe as Tysons grows. We should not make congestion worse by pushing giant high-density condo/apartment buildings with nominal retail on Maple Avenue through poorly planned zoning.

What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?

The town must listen to residents when they seek relief from cut-through traffic. At a recent Planning Commission meeting, multiple residents requested mitigation from cut-through traffic on Wade Hampton — requests that were marginalized. Residents were told by the town staff studies would have to be performed and given multiple excuses for why cut-through traffic mitigation would not be possible.

Yet it only took one town staff member “from his desk” to approve the narrowing of Wade Hampton by 4 feet for either traffic calming or parking (never got a straight answer on which it was) for the first 380 Maple MAC building project application — street narrowing that allowed the planned building to be larger. This double standard needs to stop.

We need to give greater deference to residents, eliminate the tedious traffic relief petitions that take years to be processed, and go neighborhood by neighborhood to resolve long-standing traffic problems.

Should Vienna keep its “small town feel”? If so, how? If not, why and what do you propose?

The town’s misguided $250k effort to re-write residential and commercial zoning, without any public hearings or resident input to date, could cost Vienna its “small town feel.” This is a covert effort to make the high-density giant MAC zoning by-right. At a minimum, the current staff and consultant-driven process to rewrite our zoning code needs to be stopped by the new council, or we risk losing what makes Vienna special. We can make better use of this $250k to help Vienna’s residents and small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

The town has been successful with customized redevelopment plans using exceptions called “site plan modifications” that take into account local conditions. This approach was used with the recently opened Bear Branch Tavern — a huge success story and an example of how we can achieve business growth on Maple Avenue while keeping our small-town feel.

Vienna has a long history of being named a “Tree City USA.” What steps would you like to see Vienna take to become greener and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly? 

Restoring Beulah Road Park would be a great first step to help Vienna become greener. I strongly support and have been actively involved in this community driven effort. As a councilmember at our first Town Council meeting in July, I will instruct the staff to eliminate the industrial use of Beulah Road Park as a stinky mulch yard in a residential area; find a new location for mulch processing and storage; amend the Comprehensive Plan and zone this parcel and the 440 Beulah Road property as parkland with a nature center (like Hidden Oaks Nature Center); and work closely with area residents to restore Beulah Road Park.

A second step is prioritizing the purchase of land for use as parks, when those rare opportunities arise.

A third step is developing a comprehensive tree and green space preservation plan for the town.

What do you want to see happen for parking when Parking Henry Library gets moved and rebuilt?

The town’s leadership did not spend enough time talking to people that use the Patrick Henry Library before embarking on its library under a parking garage design. Research shows no other municipality in Northern Virginia has a library built into the first floor of a multi-story parking garage. The focus of this project should be on making a world-class library for Vienna’s children and residents, not on making a giant multi-story parking garage to facilitate overdevelopment on Maple Avenue.

The funding for the garage part of this project also needs evaluation. It has been reported that the town is asking the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) to fund the construction cost of the multi-story parking garage surrounding the first-floor library, with the claim commuters will use spaces in the library-garage. How this use of transportation funds passes muster to build a multi-story parking garage over a library needs examination.

What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance? 

The MAC is a misguided attempt to circumvent the 35-foot height limitation on commercial buildings that define Vienna, allowing upwards of 60+ foot 4-5 story condo/apartment buildings on Maple Avenue. We know Maple Avenue is at its traffic capacity and any excess traffic from high-density Maple Avenue Condo/Apt. projects will wind up on our residential streets as cut-through traffic.

This is a classic case of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”– robbing residents with cut-through traffic from Maple, increasing school crowding and reducing neighborhood livability and the value of our homes. All so that Maple Avenue property owners and developers can harvest greater profits with bigger high-density condo/apartment buildings on Maple.

The MAC should be scrapped. Maple Avenue is at its traffic capacity, which means we must keep new buildings to below 35 feet (1-3 story buildings) and primarily commercial, or risk severely worsening cut-through traffic across our small town.

People interested in learning more about Patariu’s campaign can check out his website

Photo courtesy David Patariu

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