Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Meeting Report: Reston Transportation Service District Advisory Board - 3/29/2018

As a member of the RestonTransportation Service District Advisory Board (RTSDAB), I attended its March 29 meeting. RTSDAB’s role is to review and advise Fairfax County on the tax rate for the new Transit Service Area (TSA) tax that residents start paying in 2018. This was a public meeting, and I can share the details.
The County provided and elaborated on a handout on Reston Development and Transportation Projects. We were informed that the handout will be posted on a Fairfax government site soon, but I thought to inform the community about some highlights:
The country reported major (high-rise) “construction deliveries” of 1,616 rental residential units between 2015 and 2017, capable of housing about 3,000 new Reston residents.  These numbers do not include the 531 rental units (and expected 1,000 new residents) that recently came online with the opening of the Signature complex.  In addition, the County reported that there are another 1,600 residential rental units (Signature included?) in the construction pipeline. This could mean as many as 7000 new residents.
However, these new units are not filling up very fast: The county stated that Reston’s residential rental vacancy rate is currently 45%. (Some in our group questioned this figure, but the county confirmed their estimate.) Such a high vacancy rate can have a serious impact on the marketability of condominiums and HOA townhouses, depressing prices and increasing time-on-market. It also implies that the increase demand on our infrastructure, roads, schools, libraries, parks… has yet to be felt.
We also heard that the pedestrian skywalk from Reston Town Center to the new Reston Station will not be in place when the station opens. It is currently planned to be included in Phase II of the Reston Gateway project. Those of us living in and around Town Center will have to either walk along Reston Parkway or Fairfax County Parkway, across the toll road, and then along Sunrise Valley Drive to the station. This will be almost as far as walking to the Wiehle station. I’m awaiting a response to my request for the status of the overpass construction and a projected implementation date.
A presentation slide provided a summary of both approved and pending Development Totals. I found this slide difficult to parse. It seems to indicate that the county projects a 61% increase in both total square footage and units (residential and commercial combined) after the in-process rezoning applications are approved and a 294% increase in both total square footage and units if all pending applications are approved. I suspect that these percentage increases are only for the TSA area. Nevertheless, this is a staggering increase and further explanations are necessary. The slide will be available when the county posts the presentation on their website.   I’ve included an image of the summary slide below. Many of us attended a more detailed county briefing on the projected increases about six months ago, where similar increases were projected.
There was some good news: The county hasn’t recommended an increase in the 2.1 cent TSA residential tax rate. The county also provided an update on the status of transportation projects. Significant project delays were not apparent or highlighted. Interested parties should look at the presentation when it is uploaded. When the County link becomes available, we'll add it here and say "updated on x date. "
On the traffic analysis front, someone asked if the county has begun studying the actual traffic impact of the new construction. The county responded that a study is being considered.
The next meeting of the RTSDAB is scheduled for Thursday, April 5 at the Lake Anne Community Center at 7:00 PM. The RTSDAB will formally vote on a TSA tax rate recommendation for the County.

Hank Schonzeit
RCA Board Member

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