Tysons, VA

One of the many problems highlighted by the pandemic is the lack of affordable housing, with even short-term job loss leaving many residents unable to pay their rent. As local governments grapple with how to support more housing, one of the options proposed in Falls Church has been a meals tax increase.

The obvious response, presented even by the consultants in Falls Church proposing the increase, is that local restaurants are already in dire straits and many are struggling to make ends meet. The Falls Church City Council quickly dismissed the idea of implementing a meals tax during the pandemic and favored other options presented, like trying to tap into an Amazon-related affordable housing fund.

While the restaurant industry is slowly recovering, stability could be a year away. But the affordable housing crisis is unlikely to be solved before then, and the question of the meals tax could resurface.

Meals taxes can be controversial even under non-pandemic circumstances. In 2016, Fairfax County voters rejected a referendum to implement a meals tax which would have predominately gone to support schools. In 2018, the City of Alexandria increased the meals tax by 1% to support affordable housing.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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There’s been some progress on plans to start an autonomous shuttle service between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station and the Mosaic District, but a large percentage of Americans still have concerns about autonomous vehicles.

The shuttle, operated in a partnership between Fairfax County and Dominion Energy, would be the first driverless public transportation in the region and the first state-funded autonomous transportation project in Virginia. The shuttle would be free to ride.

“The shuttle travel between the Dunn Loring Metrorail station and Mosaic in Merrifield,” Fairfax County said on the project website. “Signage has been installed along the testing route. At the conclusion of testing, the route should remain the same.”

The shuttle started testing in July and word on the grapevine is a new announcement about the shuttle is incoming within the next week.

While autonomous vehicles are generally safe, the few incidents of crashes have been high profile cases.

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Fairfax County is seeing record numbers of locals turning out to vote early, in some cases leading to long lines at polls.

The County is planning to open more locations starting Wednesday, Oct. 14, as millions of Americans nationwide vote early in the election.

Upcoming voting facilities in the Tysons area include:

  • McLean Governmental Center (1437 Balls Hill Road)
  • Providence Community Center (3001 Vaden Drive)
  • Tysons Pimmit Library (7584 Leesburg Pike)
  • Thomas Jefferson Library (7415 Arlington Blvd.)

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The arrival of October usually means the beginning of a month full of fall and Halloween festivities. However, in pandemic times, the seasonal celebration might look a little bit different — trick-or-treating in particular.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a list of guidelines to take when planning for fall and winter holidays, including Halloween at the end of this month. Festivities were ranked low-risk to high-risk, allowing people to gauge what level of risk they are comfortable taking when participating in the holiday.

Some low-risk Halloween ideas include carving pumpkins with family, having a virtual costume contest or holding a trick-or-treat style scavenger hunt around your home.

One-way trick-or-treating with pre-wrapped goodie bags was recommended by the CDC as a moderate-risk activity. Traditional trick-or-treating, however, was listed as a higher-risk activity.

Considering recommendations regarding pandemic trick-or-treating and the likelihood of children hunting for candy, will you be handing out goodies this year? Will you be doing so traditionally, modifying the candy giveaway, or skipping the activity altogether?

Photo by NeONBRAND/Unsplash

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In a presentation to the School Board earlier this week, Superintendent Scott Brabrand announced that some students could begin returning to classes in schools in late October.

By late October, administrators estimate that 653 teachers can teach 6,707 students in school buildings for anywhere between one half-day to four full days a week.

The district is targeting students who receive special education services, attend preschool, are English-language learners, newcomers to U.S. schools or have limited formal education. High school students can also come for certain technical-education courses.

The move was heavily criticized by members of the School Board, who said Brabrand’s plan lacked important data that parents and teachers need when planning to start heading back to school.

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Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors voted in favor of changing the name from the McLean Metro station to McLean-Capital One Hall Metro station.

The decision still has to go to WMATA’s Board of Directors for approval, but it seems likely station could take on the name of the planned performance hall under construction nearby.

Naming a Metro station for a nearby company is an unusual move — something the Board of Supervisors opposed Metro doing November. Supervisors were quick to say the station is not named after banking giant Capital One, which is headquartered adjacent to the Metro station, but for the performance hall.

This is a very particular situation in which we do have an agreement between the county and Capital One Hall to provide a minimum of 100 days of use,” said Supervisor Dalia Palchik, representing the Providence District. “It’s going to be our very own Strathmore. It’s a very specific request to have this name put on the Metro station so people know we have this asset here in Fairfax County.”

How do you feel about the proposed name change?

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Labor Day is almost here — and the end of pool season.

While swimming in the pool or lounging nearby are popular summer activities, the coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on swimsuit season, unless you have a private pool or know someone who does.

Fairfax County didn’t allow public indoor and outdoor swimming pools to reopen until mid-June only for lap swimming, diving, exercise and instruction.

Then when Phase 3 guidelines went into effect on July 1, public pools could allow up to 75% occupancy with 10 feet of physical distance between users who are not from the same household. Public hot tubs, spas, saunas and spray pools are still closed though.

“This guidance applies to all community pools, including those operated by apartment and condominium complexes, recreation centers, homeowner’s associations and swim clubs,” according to Fairfax County’s website.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they don’t have evidence that the novel coronavirus can be spread in the water.

“Plus, proper operation of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds (such as at an apartment complex or owned by a community) and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus,” according to the CDC.

When we asked readers in June how they felt about using public pools, roughly 40% said they wouldn’t because of COVID-19 concerns, while 36% said they would.

With Labor Day soon marking the unofficial end to summer, we want to know if you have been to the pool. Let us know in the poll below and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by Toni Cuenca/Unsplash

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Labor Day is fast approaching. And while summer may look very different this year due to COVID-19, we’re curious to know how the pandemic will impact your plans.

The federal holiday — which was first marked in the late 19th century —  is celebrated on the first Monday in September. It aims to honor the American labor movement.

Some health officials are bracing for a spike in COVID-19 cases following Labor Day weekend, as parks and other venues become popular spots for celebrations.

For some, the weekend may mark a return to a new normal.  Fairfax County Public Schools will reopen on Sept. 8 with a virtual start. Many companies are planning to reopen offices after the weekend. Other employers are in the midst of rethinking plans for the return to work, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Let us know what your plans for Labor Day weekend are in the poll below.

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After delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, several new films are hitting the screens at newly-reopened movie theaters.

“Tenet,” “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Bill & Ted Face The Music” are some of the films poised to hit theaters soon.

In the Tysons area, ShowPlace Icon in The Boro and AMC Theatre in Tysons Corner Center recently reopened. Angelika Film Center’s website says the Mosaic District location is “coming soon.”

Gov. Ralph Northam forced movie theaters to close in the spring, but under Phase Three, which started July 1, movie theaters can open at 50% capacity.

Let us know in the poll and comments below if you are comfortable heading to movie theaters again.

Photo by Corina Rainer/Unsplash

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“Shop local” has become a popular refrain during the pandemic as small businesses struggle with the economic fall-out and health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

Several small businesses have permanently closed during the pandemic, but many have found ways to keep their doors from shutting. Owners have told Tysons Reporter over the last few months that affluent residents, loyal customers and community support give Tysons-area businesses advantages.

Fundraisers to support businesses’ operations and employees, social media efforts by residents to promote local eateries and loans and grants from the government also aim to keep small businesses alive.

Even as businesses grapple with the pandemic, many are giving back to the community.

Lebanese restaurants and shops are fundraising for relief efforts in Beirut. A Mosaic District dry cleaners turned into a mask factory. Local eateries are donating meals to help food-insecure people in Vienna. Falls Church Distillers switched to making hand sanitizer when there was a shortage in March.

Let Tysons Reporter know in the poll and comments below how much you have been spending at small businesses during the pandemic.

Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos/Unsplash

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