January 7, 2013

The proposed tax district in Tysons Corner to fund transportation projects [“Start of Tysons retrofit hasn’t quieted skeptics,” front page, Jan. 3] is an opportunity for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to refocus on adding housing, to turn this commercial zone into a livable city. As the article pointed out, the supervisors will decide today whether to apply a new tax to residential space or to apply it only to commercial properties.

A vote to tax both types of property equally would ignore the reduced traffic impact from residents and the shortage of housing in Tysons. Currently, there is five times as much non-residential development in Tysons as residential. The public was told that this planning error would be corrected with the redevelopment of Tysons and the new Metrorail line, and homes would be added to change the commercial character of the city into a bustling mix of uses. That made sense, because residents create much less of the rush-hour traffic than office workers do. But somehow during the planning process, towers that are primarily office space were granted the highest densities around the Metro stations. Those areas are being redeveloped in the early years of the plan, which will perpetuate the office-heavy imbalance that severely impacts traffic.

My hope is that Fairfax supervisors will address this imbalance by exempting residential buildings from this new tax district and not increasing housing costs. Also, why should current residents be forced to pay for infrastructure to support developers’ high-rise projects?

Mark Tipton, Fairfax

The front-page article “Start of Tysons retrofit hasn’t quieted skeptics” reinforced my concern that slick planners have successfully sold us an unworkable utopian plan that Fairfax County is hoping to impose on unsuspecting automobile commuters from Loudoun County and elsewhere. As Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) was quoted as saying: “We’re trying to create utopia through regulation.” There is no question that someday the Tysons area will become the pedestrian-friendly metropolis envisioned by the urban planners. But until the county figures out how to impose a walkable street grid on reluctant property owners without disruptive condemnation procedures, “dreadful road congestion” will reign supreme.

Greenfield” construction of a Brasilia, Dubai or Songdo, South Korea, is quite different from attempting to overlay a new street grid on an established cosmopolitan center composed of multiple, perhaps uncooperative, property owners. Stand by for years of parking hassles, congestion and litigation.

John Lucas, Vienna