Tysons, VA

Fairfax County plans to roll into the new year with regulations for motorized scooters.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance for shared mobility devices on Tuesday (Nov. 19) after the General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year allowing localities to regulate scooters and motorized skateboards.

The county’s Department of Cable and Consumer Services will regulate the operators of the shared mobility devices. The operators will be required to submit permits and keep their fleets at certain sizes.

At first, operators can have fleets with up to 300 devices, with the possibility of going up to 600 devices if they can demonstrate the demand for the higher limit.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that he supports having operators start with a lower number of devices that can then be raised.

Starting Jan. 1, people riding scooters in Fairfax County won’t be able to go above 10 miles per hour.

During a public hearing on Tuesday before the board voted, two people testified in support of motorized scooters.

Ronit Dancis, speaking on behalf of the Tysons Partnership, told the board that motorized scooters can help solve the first-to-last mile commuter problem and

Dancis said that Tysons Partnership is worried that the absolute maximum of 600 scooters “will not be sufficient to meet Tysons’ needs” and that the 10 mph speed will be overly restrictive.

Dancis added that county staff said Fairfax County is working with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to create scooter parking docks at the Metro stations.

Paymon Hadjiesmaeiloo, one of the co-owners of the Tysons Biergarten, told the board that motorized scooters are a cost-efficient transportation option for a rapidly growing part of the county. He added that increased mobility from scooters will benefit local retailers and businesses.

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook also summarized feedback from a constituent who said that — while useful devices — motorized scooters have become a nuisance from being abandoned around the Braddock District.

In addition to the shared mobility device regulations, Fairfax County plans to create a complaints process for improper use and abandonment of the devices, according to the county.

“Staff will coordinate [the] implementation of the complaint process with bordering jurisdictions and present a summary in the first year of SMDs in early 2021.”

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Families may have noticed that the playground at Tysons Pimmit Park isn’t open.

Located in Pimmit Hills just off of Leesburg Pike, the temporary closure at 7584 Leesburg Pike will allow for the replacement of the existing picnic shelter, according to Fairfax County.

“Work on the installation of a picnic shelter with new metal roofing is scheduled to begin Nov. 7 and continue through Feb. 28, 2020,” according to the county.

The project costs $120,000 and is being funded by the 2019 Park Bond, according to the county.

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Monday is Veterans Day — a chance to celebrate the servicemen and women who currently or previously served in the United States Armed Forces.

Certain businesses or offices are altering hours in remembrance or even offering perks for veterans.

The City of Falls Church is hosting a Veterans Day Ceremony at the Veterans Memorial in front of the Community Center (223 Little Falls Street) beginning at 11 a.m. on Monday. A wreath will be laid for those missing in action and attendees can listen to a performance by the Falls Church Concert Band.

Founding Farmers (1800 Tysons Blvd) is offering a 50% discount on brunch, lunch and dinner for those who bring along a military ID or wear their uniform. The Department of Veterans Affairs compiled a list of other chain locations offering discounts or free things for servicewomen and men.

The Fairfax County government offices and Fairfax County Public Libraries will be closed in remembrance.

Fairfax County Public Schools will be open and teachers are encouraged to lead students in Veterans Day oriented activities.

Across the county, all of the neighborhood and community service centers will be closed.

In Falls Church, the senior center and Mary Riley Styles Public Library will be closed, while the community center will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.

The Vienna Community Center will have reduced hours from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Over in McLean, the McLean Community Center and the Old Firehouse Center will be closed on Monday.

Trash collection from the county will run on a normal schedule, although the offices will be closed, according to the website. Locals are advised to put their trash and recycling out by 6 a.m. for timely collection.

Fairfax County animal shelters are closed on Mondays, the website said.

Some Fairfax Connector routes will operate regular weekday service, while others won’t run at all. For Metro, buses and trains will run on a Saturday schedule on Monday.

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Editor’s Note — Tysons Reporter is running Q&As with the candidates running for the Dranesville and Providence District seats on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week. The stories have been condensed and edited for clarity. 

Featured here is Republican Eric Anthony Jones, who is running against Democrat Dalia Palchik for the Providence District Board of Supervisors seat, which represents Tysons, Merrifield, Oakton and parts of Falls Church.

After the previous Republican candidate for the Providence Supervisor seat died, Eric Anthony Jones decided to run to give voters a stark choice between him and his competitor, Dalia Palchik.

He previously served as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, with a focus on cybersecurity and energy policy, according to his website. His work took him around the world, letting him live in India, China, Russia, Bulgaria and Afghanistan.

Jones said at a recent candidate debate that he does not believe in sanctuary cities because they harm immigrants who became citizens or legal permanent residents through governmental processes. During his time as a U.S. Consular Officer in China, he interviewed more than 20,000 people and approved half of them to come to the United Staes, he told Tysons Reporter.

Jones also formerly taught as a college professor and now has two daughters in college and a son in high-school. If elected, Jones said education will be one of his top priorities.

Now retired, Jones has lived in Fairfax County for the last 27 years. Earlier this month, he jumped into the race for the Providence District seat and faces Democrat Dalia Palchik in the general election next week. (Current Supervisor Linda Smyth is retiring.)

Tysons Reporter met up with Jones to learn more about how he would want to improve capacity issues at schools and manage the county’s budget, along with other topics, if elected.

Tysons Reporter: How do you plan on tackling affordable housing in Fairfax County? 

Jones: I am in favor of affordable housing. I’m in favor of market-based but non-subsidized measures for housing. One of the things we have to face is that we live in Fairfax County, 400 square miles, 1.1 million people, 3,000 people per square mile. The fact of the matter, the reality is that the land here, the ground is very expensive.

I’m not for subsidized housing here, using tax money for that. I do believe, for example, that if there is an impoverished family of four that it’s better given a certain amount of money to help them in terms of welfare for the truly needy. I think it is better to — with the given amount of money — to be able to support three families instead of one family. That’s done by living in areas that are not so expensive.

What’s happening is that a lot of areas are getting new buildup, such as here in Mosaic, there was basically an open, unused lot or areas where they had large older styles malls. Those can be transformed into units. 

I think a creative way mentioned by several people is that there are many elderly residents that are living in the houses where their children grew up in. Elderly residents are a large population who want to stay in Fairfax County. They have relatively large houses and I think the county can help facilitate ways in which elderly people with room in their houses can work out rentals. Elderly people can find reliable renters that they feel safe with. They want someone around, someone to call in case they fall on the floor.

TR: The county is currently looking at adding a new school to Tysons. Is that enough to address capacity issues? What should be done for all the incoming students?

Jones: We have to look at the facts of increased population and demand for schools. I am for expanded school facilities. Overcrowding has resulted in a lot of trailers.

I’m fully in support of salaries and benefits, expansions for teachers and also supporting teachers in terms of discipline regulation that are favorable to teachers, students and maintaining a proper learning atmosphere.

In addition, I believe we should look at charter schools, which offer students and parents a choice. Charter schools are not an attack on teachers or anything like that. I see it as a creative way of giving parents and students public choice while also helping to relieve the burden of overcrowding.

I support teachers and their potential to attract and maintain quality. I think we need to address the issues of pensions.

Pensions are a ticking time bomb anywhere. Expanded school facilities of both existing schools and new school construction to help alleviate overcrowding. I want to reduce the use of trailers and the solution to that is more school construction.

TR: What are your top three priorities when it comes to transportation?

Jones: One is the expansion and improvement of roads, large and small. There is a certain reality we bump up against that the terrain is such in a lot of these places that you can’t expand the roads, you’d wipe out a lot of, not just the trees, but the way the terrain goes.

We have these watersheds, we have these beautiful parks as a result and deer in an urban setting. We need to protect those. It’s a constraint on how we can expand our roads.

Number two is providing expansions for public transportation, reliable public transportation so people can get to work and back. The density of the area helps us there because it means you don’t have to worry about going as long of a distance and connectors for people go farther out.

I think there is some potential for expansion, for example, working with Maryland and Virginia, to figure out the modern era. We need to have another way of crossing the Potomac [River]. That will relieve a lot of the congestion you get.

TR: What are your top three plans to tackle climate change?

Jones: There is a stark choice between me, Dalia Palchik and the current Board of Supervisors. I am for energy policy here. It should be consumer-oriented, based on cost-benefit analysis and be affordable energy, reliable energy and clean energy.

I see the Green New Deal policies as unrealistic, coercive [and] expensive. Those proposals would be job-killing, net-job killing and bet against economic prosperity.

I have a fundamentally different way of looking at it.  There is not a good analysis and convincing evidence of how much role is being played by natural forces and fluctuations and the factor of CO2 concentration increases as a result of fossil fuels.

I’m against the Green New Deal and the fundamental things behind it. People should realize electricity does not start with a wall socket.

TR: How will you manage the budget? 

Jones: The budget is $8 million per year. The budget itself needs continued scrutiny. I think we should have more competitive bidding and more transparency. It’s important to keep our budget under control. 

If you look at the last 20 years, our taxes paid per capita have gone up three times faster than the inflation rate and three times faster than the earnings rate and salary rate. 

Transparency of all transactions, more public input on transactions, more competitive bidding and much more scrutiny for our budgets.

On the flip side, I think its priorities should go especially to the school system and teachers and maintaining and improving the quality of education.

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set to hold a public hearing about a real estate tax exemption involving disability income tomorrow (Tuesday).

Fairfax County currently provides income-based real estate tax relief to homeowners based on income and disability.

A revision to the Virginia Code in July now allows localities to exclude the disability income of disabled relatives living in a taxpayer’s home from the total combined income calculation.

The proposal before the Board of Supervisors would codify that exemption for taxpayers in Fairfax County.

County staff has said the tax change could “potentially [expand] the number of properties that qualify for tax relief.”

More from Fairfax County:

The total amount of relief resulting from this amendment is difficult to estimate because the Department of Tax Administration cannot precisely determine how many individuals will apply and qualify under the revised calculation. It is anticipated that the fiscal impact will be minor.

The public hearings start at 3 p.m. and the tax one is set to start around 4 p.m.

If approved, the change would go into effect on Jan. 1.

Photo via Fairfax County/Facebook

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Plans to regulate motorized scooters are zooming ahead in Fairfax County ahead of the end of the year deadline for creating regulations.

Staff from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and the Department of Cable and Consumer Services presented the proposed ordinance during the Transportation Committee on Tuesday (Oct. 29).

The county has until Jan. 1, 2020 to implement regulations on motorized scooters, skateboards and bicycles. After that date, the scooter companies can zoom around however they please.

Scooters are an increasingly popular alternative transportation option and are already in use in the county. (The City of Falls Church and the Town of Vienna are also in the process of creating their own pilot programs.)

The proposed ordinance would create a new chapter in the code that would exclude Capital Bikeshare. The ordinance would allow for an initial fleet size of 300 shared mobility devices — and up to a maximum of 600 after the company’s meet certain requirements, according to the presentation.

Scooters would be allowed on highways and sidewalks — unless signs say otherwise, according to the presentation.

Rebecca Makely, from the Department of Cable and Consumer Services, said that county staff knocked down the proposed speed limit from 15 to 10 miles per hour.

“We do believe that this is a conservative approach,” Makely said, adding that the county is considering pedestrian safety along with the proposal.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who has expressed concern about a 15 mph speed limit, said that Tysons Partnership wants to see higher speed limits and larger numbers of vehicles allowed.

Next Tuesday (Oct. 29), the Board of Supervisors is set to vote on whether or not to authorize a public hearing about the proposal on Nov. 19.

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Attendees of an upcoming event will have a chance to sneak a peek at the future Tysons.

Tysons 2050 will allow people to explore what community leaders have in mind for Tysons for the year 2050 through numerous keynote speakers divided into three categories — work, play and live.

The event will take place at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner (920 Jones Branch Drive) from 4-7 p.m. on (Thursday) Oct. 24.

Speakers and moderators include guests from Leadership FairfaxIndustriousFairfax County Park Authority and several developers invested in the area.

“Through their lenses, panelists will share the challenges, opportunities, and exciting developments that are on the immediate and distant horizon,” the event page said.

General admission tickets are $95 if participants register online beforehand, but will increase to $115 for walk-ins.

Sponsorships for the event are still available and start at $500.

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Work to fix cracked sidewalks and replace old benches in McLean is slated to happen by the end of the fiscal year 2020.

The improvements are apart of Fairfax County’s efforts for five community revitalization district (CRDs). The Department of Public Works and Environmental Service runs the CRD maintenance program.

A six-month-long study identified 28,000 features, including benches, bike racks and bus shelters within the CRDs that the county could maintain.

“The CRD program is responsible for slightly more than half of the features, with the other half maintained by utilities or the private sector,” according to the county.

PJ Tierno, one of the CRD program managers, told the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday (Oct. 8) that people will see old benches replaced and cracked sidewalks fixed in McLean within the upcoming fiscal year.

So far, the program has made 1,113 repairs in FY 2019 to trip hazards up to 2 inches deep in McLean through a company called Precision Safe Sidewalks, Tierno said.

Coming in FY 2020, 13,350 square feet of sidewalks in McLean are set to be repaired, Tierno said.

“That is the largest [square footage] of any of the CRDs,” Tierno said.

Old wooden benches in McLean will also be replaced, added.

“This is an awesome program,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said at the meeting, saying that he likes that the county is maintaining VDOT’s sidewalks.

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(Updated 10/16/19) Two weeks ago, Fairfax County announced that glass bottles and jars would no longer be recycled via curbside collection.

Instead, the county wants residents to toss those items in one of the purple, glass-only recycling containers located around the county or throw them in the trash.

Following in the footsteps of Arlington, Fairfax County said the change was spurred by China’s decision to stop accepting some recycling materials, along with growing concerns about the dangers of broken glass items in curbside recycling bins.

(The City of Falls Church and the Town of Vienna still allow glass bottles in curbside recycling bins.)

Earlier today (Tuesday), two members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors pushed to declare Nov. 15 “Fairfax County Recycles Day” to promote the county’s recent messaging around glass recycling.

The board matter by Springfield District Supervisor John Herrity and Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross also wants the director of the Solid Waste Division and members of the recycling team to get recognized for their efforts with glass recycling on Oct. 29 by the county board.

The closest purple containers for glass recycling in the Tysons area are at the Providence Community Center (3001 Vaden Drive), Dolley Madison Library (1244 Oak Ridge Avenue) and the Lee Community Center (5722 Lee Hwy).

Map via Fairfax County

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Columbus Day — also known as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in some areas — is coming up on Monday (Oct. 14).

For people staying in the Tysons area, some government facilities will be closed and public transit options will be operating on modified schedules.

Tysons Reporter has rounded up a list of public services that will be affected by the upcoming holiday on Monday.

County-wide

  • All county offices, schools and libraries will be closed.
  • The Circuit and General District Courts will be closed.
  • The Fairfax Connector will operate on a Holiday Weekday Service where certain routes will run every 12-15 minutes.
  • United States Postal Service offices will be closed.

Vienna

  • The Vienna Community Center will have reduced hours from 10 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.
  • The Town of Vienna’s government offices will be closed.

McLean

Falls Church

The City of Falls Church and the Town of Vienna recognize Oct. 14, 2019 as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

“Celebrating the two holidays on the same day is a way to inform our understanding of each group’s contributions to our national fabric without demeaning the significance of either,” according to a Falls Church press release.

Speaking of closures, Tysons Reporter will be taking a break as well on Monday.

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