Manassas leaders will ask the General Assembly for permission to limit residential crowding, saying that current law allows as many as 25 people to live in a standard home.
The city's proposal would not allow living rooms, dining rooms and other non-bedroom areas to be considered when calculating occupancy limits. The change would apply to jurisdictions with a population of more than 30,000 that also offer low-income housing programs and alternatives that encourage home ownership. That would include Manassas.
The crowding proposal is part of the city's legislative priorities for the General Assembly session that begins next month. Other items on the wish list include funding for education and transportation projects and opposition to a plan to consolidate social service departments. The city is also looking for continued state support for a 200-bed expansion of the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center.
Manassas building officials told the City Council on Monday that crowding is unhealthy and that current law, based solely on total square footage, doesn't take into account infrastructure, neighborhood design, parking, schools and public services.
Similar legislation was proposed in 2000 and 2001 but failed leave committee. Proponents hope that adding the provision about low-income housing alternatives will boost the bill's prospects this session.
Del. Harry J. Parrish (R-Manassas) said Tuesday that he will introduce the bill before the General Assembly's deadline for new legislation. He said he was more confident of the measure's prospects this year because the problems associated with residential crowding have spread beyond Northern Virginia.
In addition, Manassas is asking its state delegation to again support cameras to catch red-light runners at city intersections. The measure has failed repeatedly. Parrish said he didn't rule out success this time.
"The art of politics is negotiations," Parrish said. "It takes a number of years to get things through. It only took 18 years to get an elected School Board."
In a year when Virginia is struggling to close a $1.1 billion budget gap, Manassas is asking for continued state support of its planned Route 28 overpass at the Norfolk Southern railroad and to restore funding for a similar overpass on Wellington Road. The Wellington project was taken out of the state's six-year plan because of budget problems.
The city also wants state help in financing a 316-space parking garage in Old Town Manassas that would serve Virginia Railway Express commuters and downtown shoppers. The city needs $2.8 million to complete the $5.5 million project.
Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) is scheduled to deliver his proposed budget to lawmakers Dec. 20.