BVSCA Newsletter March/April 1994
QUESTION OF THE MONTH
In the November/December 1993 Newsletter, the Executive Committee reported the results of the written survey responses to eight issue areas of potential concern to the Ballston-Virginia Square neighborhoods. The total of 64 responses indicated that the need for additional off-street parking in our neighborhood was one of the top ten concerns of our members.
In a series of community forums, George Mason University has announced plans to expand, in three phases, its Virginia Square Campus at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Kirkwood Road, to a total built out size of 750,000 square feet. In its presentations at those forums, GMU has indicated that it plans to have a total of 1,100 on-site parking spaces, in an underground garage. In its Joint Report with Arlington County titled Expanding the GMU-Arlington Campus: A Program for an Educating Community (February 20, 1992), GMU indicated that, when fully built-out, the Arlington Campus will have a total enrollment headcount of 12,700 students. GMU had its traffic and parking consultant JHK & Associates prepare a parking needs study titled A Parking Study for the GMU-Arlington Campus (June 1992). The study showed that over 80% of the students drive to the campus currently. GMU's own office of Institutional Research and Planing prepared an analysis of the JHK study, and in a July 29, 1992 summary of its analysis states, "Past research indicates that at any one time the most students ever present on the campus was ... approximately 40% of the headcount." In discussing how many students would be present on campus after completion of the expansion construction, GMU's Office of Institutional Planning and Research, consistent with the 40% calculation, concludes that, "... no more than 5,000 ..." would be present on campus during peak occupancy after complete build out.
Because the written survey results reflected the need for off-street parking in our neighborhood as one of the members' top ten concerns, the April Question of the Month is: Tell us the amount of off-street, on-site, parking that you believe would be adequate and responsible for GMU to provide as part of its expansion project.
By April 20th, call the Member Information Line 528-1887, select menu option one, and record your survey response. When recording your survey response, identify yourself by name and home street address. Without disclosing personal identification information, we shall publish the results in the next issue of the Newsletter.
SUMMARY OF JHK & ASSOCIATES GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY -- ARLINGTON CAMPUSPARKING STUDY
In preparation for expansion of its Virginia Square Campus, George Mason University had JHK & Associates perform a parking needs survey and study of its Arlington operations. As stated by GMU's Office of Institutional Planning and Research, in a July 29, 1992 release describing the study, the survey was conducted "On a peak attendance day toward the end of the spring semester," on April 21, 1992. JHK published its report titled A Parking Study for the GMU - Arlington Campus, in June 1992.
This article is a straight factual summary of the contents of JHK's June 1992 report.
JHK's report states the purpose of its study as "To quantify the existing parking usage at the GMU Arlington Campus and to expand that information to future conditions at the campus." The methodology used by JHK was to distribute a questionnaire to all faculty, staff and students at GMU's Arlington Campus and also at GMU's N. Quincy Street facility as those programs will be consolidated into the expanded facility. The two page questionnaire, a sample of which is provided in the report, elicited information on mode of travel to campus, parking location, number of persons in each arriving vehicle, arrival time on and departure time from campus and attitude toward paying higher rates for parking. In addition, on the survey date, a parking occupancy count was conducted on an hourly basis at the Law School lot from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The report, at its Appendix Exhibit 10, indicates that the total existing population for all of GMU's Arlington programs (Law School and Quincy Street) is 1,787. The report states that a total of 856 survey response forms were received for an overall sample size, relative to the existing universe, of 47.9%. A total of 595 (82.6%) main Arlington Campus students, and a total of 61 (44.9%) of the Quincy Street facility's students responded to the questionnaire.
The report indicates that there are 332 marked spaces in GMU's Law School lot. The report indicates that currently, at peak parking usage which occurs at 7:00 p.m., there were 375 vehicles parked in the Law School's lot, with the 43 (13%) above available lot capacity using loading dock and drive aisle spaces. Other parking usage peaks occur at 8:00 p.m. with 106% of parking lot capacity occupied, at 11:00 a.m. with 98.2% of lot capacity occupied, and at 2:00 p.m. with 101% of lot capacity occupied.
The mode of arrival to the Law School facility is detailed in Table 3 of the report. The survey breaks down the arriving groups into the following categories: training classes; students; faculty; and, staff. Over all of the groups, 585 (81.5%) responded that they drove and parked. Responses from training class members indicated that 17 (27.9%) drove and parked. Responses from students indicated that 514 (86.7%) drove and parked. Responses from faculty members indicated that 22 (84.6%) drove and parked. In the staff group, 32 (84.2%) responded that they drove and parked. Over all of the groups, 16 (2.2%) responded that they carpooled and arrived at the campus with someone else. Over all of the groups, 89 (12.4%) responded that they arrived at the campus by Metro rail. Students arrival at campus by Metro rail amounted 48 (8.1%).
The mode of arrival to the Quincy Street facility is detailed in Table 7 of the report. Again, the survey breaks down the arriving groups into the following categories: training classes; students; faculty; and, staff. Over all of the groups, 75 (55.1%) responded that they drove and parked. Responses from training class members indicated that 24 (35.8%) drove and parked. Responses from students indicated that 44 (72.1%) drove and parked. Responses from faculty members indicated that 2 (66.7%) drove and parked. In the staff group, 5 (100%) responded that they drove and parked. Over all of the groups, only 6 (4.4%) responded that they carpooled and arrived at the facility with someone else. Over all of the groups, 43 (31.6%) responded that they arrived at the facility by Metro rail. Student arrivals at the Quincy Street facility by Metro rail amounted 12 (19.7%).
The parking locations for those attending the main Arlington Campus facility are detailed in Table 4 of the report. Over all of the four previously categorized groups, 466 (80.2%) responded that they parked in the Law School lot. Responses from training class members indicated that 5 (31.3%) parked in the Law School lot and that 7 (43.8%) parked at curb-side on-street. Responses from students indicated that 412 (80.6%) parked in the Law School lot and that 87 (17.0%) parked at curb-side on-street. Responses from faculty members indicated that 19 (86.4%) parked in the Law School lot and that 1 (4.5%) parked on-street. In the staff group, 30 (93.8%) responded that they parked in the Law School lot and that 1 (3.1%) parked on-street. Over all of the groups, 19 (3.3%) responded that they used other off-street parking locations.
The parking locations for those attending the Quincy Street facility are detailed in Table 8 of the report. Over all of the four previously categorized groups, 34 (45.9%) responded that they parked in the Quincy Street garage. Responses from training class members indicated that 16 (66.7%) parked in the Quincy Street garage and that 5 (20.8%) parked at curb-side on-street. Responses from students indicated that 11 (25.6%) parked in the Quincy Street garage and that 30 (69.8%) parked at curb-side on-street. Responses from faculty members indicated that 2 (100%) parked in the Quincy Street garage. In the staff group, 5 (100%) responded that they parked in the Quincy Street garage. Over all of the groups, 5 (6.8%) responded that they used other off-street parking locations.
The attitude of parkers to paying higher rates for parking at the Law School was probed in the survey questionnaire. Specifically, respondents were asked if they would pay a commercial market rate of $5.00 per day or seek some alternative to paying the increased rate. The report notes that parkers currently pay $90.00 per year to park in the Law School lot and that the lot is not supposed to be available for training class attendees.
The attitude toward paying higher parking fees is detailed in Table 5 of the report. Over all of the four previously categorized groups, 66 (15.2%) responded that they would be willing to pay higher parking fees to park on-campus. Responses from training class members indicated that 0 (0.0%) would be willing to pay higher on-campus parking fees, and that 1 (50%) would seek parking elsewhere. Responses from students indicated that 53 (13.8%) would be willing to pay higher on-campus parking fees, and that 158 (41.0%) would seek parking elsewhere. Responses from faculty members indicated that 7 (36.8%) would be willing to pay higher on-campus parking fees, and that 3 (15.8%) would seek parking elsewhere. In the staff group, 6 (21.4%) responded that they would be willing to pay higher on-campus parking fees, and that 6 (21.4%) would seek parking elsewhere. Overall of the groups, 57 (13.1%) responded that they would switch arrival mode to Metro. The report, at page 19, concluded that a change in parking pricing will not cause an appreciable shift in the arrival mode to Metro because Metro will be inconvenient or unavailable to a large portion of the Campus population. The report, at page 5, concluded that there would be considerable resistance to the large rate increase, as only one in seven students indicated that they would be willing to pay the higher rate.
In great detail, under three different parking pricing scenarios, the report estimates future parking demand at the expanded Arlington Campus. In order to prepare those estimates, the JHK report relies on student headcount data as contained in the joint GMU-Arlington County Report Expanding the GMU-Arlington Campus (February 20, 1992). The JHK report concludes that each campus population category will grow by a factor of 4.1 times its present size. Using the joint GMU-Arlington County Report, the JHK report states in its Appendix 10 that the future campus population, at the end of expansion Phase I, will be 7,360 consisting of 6,450 students, 650 in training classes, 140 faculty members, and 120 staff.
In the best case scenario presented in the JHK report, they compute the parking demand and need for the expanded Arlington Campus based on assuming that the parking charges are kept constant. Under this scenario, the future daytime parking space demand is 1,859 of which 1,397 spaces would be used by students, and the future evening parking space demand is 2,785 of which 2,666 would be used by students. Under this scenario, during the daytime, 506 off-campus predominantly curb-side parking spaces would be used by the Campus population of which students are estimated to use 271. In the evenings, 532 off-campus predominantly curb-side spaces would be used by the Campus population of which students are estimated to use 517. The other two scenarios in JHK's report indicate that much more of the Campus related parking takes place on neighborhood streets.
ANALYSIS OF GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY'S ARLINGTON CAMPUS PARKING STUDY
[Editor's Note: This Analysis was prepared by Dan Donahoe who is an alumnus of GMU. Dan received his undergraduate degree and a MBA in accounting from GMU. On a professional basis, he regularly prepares statistical analyses. He is a BVSCA member.]
This is an analysis of the data and conclusions in the JHK and Associates parking study of the GMU Arlington Campus and associated programs, which was conducted in April 1992 and published in June 1992. The JHK report was prepared for GMU. The data used in some of the tables, in this analysis, is taken directly from the JHK report. When data is presented, in this analysis, that is not from the JHK report, it is noted.
The JHK report does not directly state the breakdown between the GMU population in the day as opposed to that in the evening. However, in the report's
Appendix Exhibit 10, it indicates that the existing total population of the Arlington Campus programs is 1,787. The report's Table 11 indicates that the daytime parking need, as expanded from the survey sample to the entire current daytime population, is for 469 spaces on site. Thus, it can be computed that the ratio is about two evening campus occupants to every one occupant during the daytime (2:1). For the future expanded Arlington Campus, the joint Arlington County-GMU Report Expanding the GMU-Arlington Campus (February 20, 1992), at page 34, specifically indicates in a table on projected enrollment, that there will be twice the number of students attending evening classes as there will be attending daytime classes. This 2:1 ratio is a significant factor in this analysis.
According to the JHK report's Tables 3, 4, 7, & 8 (summarized below as Exhibits 1 & 2), 81.5% of the surveyed GMU Arlington Campus population drive and park. Furthermore, 80.2 % park in the lot provided by GMU. Also, 16.5% park on the street and 3.3% have off street parking. The number that use public transportation is represented as 12.4% of the total population, and 6.1% find some other mode of transportation.
Arrival Mode - Combined Ballston Virginia Square Sites
Drove & Parked 77.3% (660)
Metro Rail/Bus 15.6% (133)
Auto Passenger 2.6% (22)
Walk from Home 2.9% (25)
Other 1.6% (14)
Parking Location - Combined Ballston Virginia Square Sites
Law School Lot 76.3% (500)
On-Street 20.0% (131)
Other Off-Street 3.7% (24)
Total 100.0% (655)
Notes: 1) The difference between the two totals is due, in all probability, to some people not answering all questions. In any event, the figures are taken directly from the JHK report.
2) The two Arlington location's statistics are combined here because they will be consolidated into one location in the future.
The survey questionnaire used by JHK, for the study, provided a question (16) that solicited the attitude of those who park in a GMU lot to an increase in the parking charge. The report indicates that parkers currently pay $90.00 per year to park in the GMU Law School lot. The question sought responses to a $5.00 per day parking fee. The response was detailed in the report's Tables 5&9, and is summarized here.
Attitude Toward Paying Higher Parking Rates
Ballston Virginia Square Sites Combined
Pay Higher Rate 14.8% (67)
Seek Parking Elsewhere 39.5% (179)
Switch to Metro 13.5% (61)
Carpool 3.5% (16)
Take Classes Elsewhere 4.4% (20)
Other 24.3% (110)
Total 100.0% (453)
JHK concluded from the above that the question was answered in a visceral manner and that the results were in error by a factor of between 2 and 3. A different analysis indicates that the visceral reaction is represented in the 110 responses that chose the "other" category as their answer, and the 47 who did not even respond to the question. In fact, the sample questionnaire response form, provided with the report, had an answer of "I'd sue you." The real question then is, how will these 157 people really react?
The only statistically valid method of estimating the answer to this question is to use empirical data and extrapolate. This is standard procedure when data is available, and a sample of 343 is statistically valid. If the 343 who answered the question are representative of how the others will really act in the final analysis, we need only develop percentages for each category of answers and apply those percentages to the 157 in question. We then add the two figures together in each category of answer and develop percentages relative to the total universe of 500.
The results, depicted in Exhibit 4 below, reflect a wholly different view than that concluded by JHK.
Attitude Toward Higher Parking Rates
Ballston Virginia Square Revised
Pay Higher Rates 19.5% (98)
Seek Parking Elsewhere 52.1% (260)
Switch to Metro 17.8% (89)
Carpool 4.7% (24)
Take Classes Elsewhere 5.8% (29)
Total 100.0% (500)
Now that we have valid percentages that depict the choices of the current GMU population, it is possible to devise Tables, similar to those in Exhibits 1 & 2 above, to reflect the habits of the population if GMU were to provide parking at a rate of $5.00 per day. In order to do that, the results of Exhibit 4 (those who presently park on the GMU lot) and the remainder of the population, that was not included in survey question 16, are added together. Exhibits 5 and 6 reflect the attitudes of the total population if a $5.00 parking charge were to be levied.
If GMU Were to Charge $5.00 per Day for Parking
Drive & Park 60.2% (514)
Metro Rail/Bus 26.1% (223)
Auto Passenger 5.7% (49)
Walk from Home 2.9% (25)
Other 1.7% (14)
Total 96.4% (823)
Seek Education Elsewhere 3.4% (29)
If GMU Were to Charge $5.00 per Day for Parking
GMU Lot 19.3% (99)
On-street 68.3% (351)
Off-Street 12.4% (64)
Total 100.0% (514)
This is a best case scenario if GMU's daily parking rate is raised to $5.00. It is highly questionable that an additional 40 people will be able to impose on friends in the Virginia Square area to allow them to park off-street. With the higher parking charges, at page 19 of its report, JHK concluded that the relatively small increase in Metro ridership is due to the inaccessibility and/or inconvenience of the Metro system to the University's population.
Now, we can extrapolate the above figures to analyze the actual impact on the surrounding neighborhoods if GMU provides parking as it does today, at $90.00 per year, and if the University were to provide parking at the $5.00 per day figure used in the JHK survey. Those are two scenarios that approach the extreme ends of the parking pricing spectrum. At the two ends of the spectrum, we would have 100% on-site subsidized parking, and no provision for on-site parking at all.
Using the increased size of the school that JHK analyzed, the projected total Arlington Campus population, at the end of Phase I of expansion, will be 7,360. Going back to the beginning of this analysis (that 2/3 of the total population will be in attendance at night) and applying the 66% night time population as the maximum for whom parking will need to be provided, we have a total parking population of 4858. Exhibit 7, below, shows the results if GMU provides parking as it does today, and Exhibit 8 reflects the effect of a $5.00 per day parking charge.
77.3% of Expanded GMU Arlington Population Drive and Park
(see Exhibit 2 for percentages)
GMU Lot 2865 (76.3%)
On-Street 751 (20.0%)
Off-street 139 ( 3.7%)
Total 3755 100.0%
60.2% of Expanded GMU Arlington Population Drive and Park
(see Exhibit 6 for percentages)
GMU Lot 725 (19.3%)
On-Street 2565 (68.3%)
Off-Street 465 (12.4%)
Total 3755 100.0%
It is readily apparent, to anyone who knows the neighborhood street network in the vicinity of GMU's Virginia Square Campus, that the surrounding community cannot support 2,565 additional people parking at curb-side on the streets. In fact, it is difficult to park the 131 vehicles, from GMU's current Campus population, that presently park on-street. It is also highly improbable that even the 751 additional on-street parkers, if current parking rates were continued, could be accommodated on the community's streets.
STATE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW OF GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY EXPANSION
As defined in the Code of Virginia, the expansion of George Mason University, in Arlington, constitutes a major state project. As such, the major state project is subject to the environmental review process of the Commonwealth's Department of Environmental Quality ("the DEQ"). At the February 2, 1994, community forum on GMU expansion, in response to a question, an official of the University indicated that GMU's Environmental Impact Report was then expected to be filed by the end of February or during early March.
The purpose of the Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") is to inform relevant state agencies and other decision-makers of the environmental consequences of development activities by state entities, so as to be able to ensure that development is executed in an environmentally sound manner. Following the filing of the EIR, the DEQ advertises for the submission of comments by other interested state agencies, planning districts and localities. The DEQ must complete its review and submit its report with the Governor within 60 days from the date of the filing of the EIR. As of the Association's mid-March contact with the DEQ, GMU's EIR had not yet been filed. Public review is included to the extent that, in its analysis and recommendations to the Governor, DEQ may consider any information it receives regarding the environmental effects of a proposed project.
In order to provide a comprehensive analysis for DEQ of the potential environmental impacts inherent in GMU's plans, the BVSCA Executive Committee has asked that, the Co-Chairs of the Association's GMU Expansion Committee, Hayden Bryan and Nancy Iacomini, and their Committee review GMU's EIR and provide a set of comments for the Association to transmit to the DEQ. The Executive Committee is seeking to get DEQ to do a site visit which is a fact-finding action recognized by the DEQ as a complement to the usual process of reviewing written comments from agencies and localities. The Association's GMU Committee has already identified the following issues for comment: neighborhood parking impacts, traffic congestion, and air pollution. Any Civic Association member who wishes to participate in our GMU Expansion Committee, or have their comments considered for inclusion in the submission to the state DEQ, should contact Hayden Bryan at (703) 243-6070.
UPDATE ON CLOSING OF N. UTAH AND N.& TAYLOR STREETS AT 11TH STREET NORTH
On February 17, 1994, a County Public Works Department sponsored Community Forum was held in the Auditorium of the Central Library to discuss the proposed closings of N. Utah and N. Taylor Streets at 11th Street North. After the distribution of 400 fliers announcing the meeting, 21 Ballston residents and business people attended the meeting. Presentations were given by David Robinson from the Public Works Planning Division, Kathy Freshley, one of the original authors of the Ballston Transportation Plan, and Rohan Samaraweera, a former President of the BVSCA.
After much discussion, the prevailing sentiment of the group (14 people) appeared to be for allowing both intersections to remain open until more of the area had been built out. That would have meant deferring the original, already-approved plan of closing both intersections. Three residents present were for closing both intersections, and two were in favor of closing Taylor Street and allowing Utah to remain open.
After considering the views from the Forum, and having some preliminary traffic count data, staff prepared a report suggesting that the intersection at North Taylor Street be closed, but that the intersection at North Utah Street remain open.
The matter was heard by the Planning Commission on February 28, 1994. At that hearing, testimony was presented by a representative of the Civic Association, and by townhouse residents and a business owner on North Utah Street. The Civic Association asked again that the closings be deferred until more of the area was built-out and occupied, and until more traffic counts could be done. The concern was expressed that traffic that could no longer use North Utah and/or North Taylor, would go onto parallel residential streets, such as North Stafford and North Randolph. Public Works Department traffic counts taken in late February showed that, in a 24-hour period, the car count on North Stafford Street was 2,207, while it was 838 for North Taylor, and only 688 for North Utah Street. Even taking into consideration that North Taylor and North Utah streets are one-way, North Stafford had much more traffic than the other two combined. After hearing testimony, and much debate among the Commissioners, the Commission voted 8-6 to recommend to the County Board that they keep the approved plan, i.e. to close both intersections.
The County Board considered the street closings at their meeting on March 5, 1994. Again, testimony was heard from the Civic Association (citing concerns about traffic on all neighborhood streets), homeowners on North Utah (concerned about traffic on their street), and a businessman on North Utah (concerned about suppliers' access to his shop). After discussing the matter, the Board decided to take "no action." This means that the original Ballston Transportation Plan stands, and that both of the intersections will be closed by the builder of Windsor Plaza.
BALLSTON DENSITY TRANSFER AND USE SWAP TO BE RECONSIDERED BY COUNTY BOARD
On February 26, 1994, the Arlington County Board held a work session with County Planning Division staff to discuss possible changes in the C-O-A District in Ballston.
In November, 1993, the Civic Association had opposed and the County Board had voted to deny the request of a developer, The Evans Company, to swap the density between, and change the uses of, two non-contiguous parcels of land in Ballston's C-O-A Zoning district. That exchange would have made the block known as Jefferson Square (the current I-HOP block) all residential and the Stuart Park block (currently the vacant lot on the west of the Ballston metro station) all commercial. Also, the applicant wished to combine all of the commercial density into one 600,000 square foot building that would have fronted on N. Fairfax Drive. That change would have moved the park, now planned for residential access in the middle of that block, to Wilson Boulevard. The mid-block placement of the park, was a design element that the Civic Association had given a lot of attention to during the initial approvals of the Stuart Park site plan during the late 1980s. The mid-block placement of the park is part of what is known as the 9th Street greenway which is a mini-park and greenway system, along 9th Street North, that stretches from the Virginia Square metro station all the way to the Ellipse site in Ballston, which is the contiguous block to the west of Stuart Park.
Although they denied the November 1993 application by The Evans Company, the Board expressed an interest in possibly considering some non-site specific changes to the C-O-A Zoning Ordinance. In developments that are to have commercial office space, C-O-A requires that no more than 50% of it may be commercial. That results in either all residential developments or developments that are 50% commercial and 50% residential. Residential buildings may be taller than commercial, and the size of buildings is determined by the size of the lot on which they are to be built -- the larger the lot size, the bigger the building.
Although no public testimony was taken, several of the Civic Association's Executive Committee members attended the Board's February 26th work session. What was particularly disturbing about the work session was that, although comprehensive planning work sessions are supposed to be non-site or application specific, the developer's plans were the only alternatives presented by the staff to the Board. The entire staff presentation was directed toward getting a signal from the Board of its members' willingness to approve a change in the C-O-A zoning category's requirement that commercial developments have a 50% residential component. At the conclusion of the work session, the Board asked that staff continue to examine ideas connected with C-O-A changes.
Any changes in the zoning ordinance is a very serious issue -- especially when it is a change to something that had been carefully planned only 10-15 years ago. It is unclear at this time what the next steps in this discussion will be. Although staff readily admitted that their urban design review for purposes of a Concept Plan Amendment to the Ballston Sector Plan had been going on for two years already, they have not once approached the Association for neighborhood input. Stay tuned for further developments.
UPDATE ON STAFFORD SQUARE SITE PLAN AMENDMENT
On January 8, 1994 the County Board had considered the Site Plan Amendment submitted by the Owners' Association of Stafford Square. The Board seemed to be concerned that the expansion of each of the units could have a profound impact on parking in the area and so deferred a decision on the amendment until their April 9th meeting. The Board requested that the Planning Commission, who had not previously been given the opportunity to hear Stafford Square's request, consider the matter prior to the Board's reconsideration of the application.
The amendment seeks approval to construct dormers in a third floor loft area, thus creating an additional bedroom, bath, and storage space for each unit. Currently, Stafford Square, located between N. Stafford Street, on the west, and N. Randolph Street, on the east, and Washington Boulevard to the north, has 60, mostly two-bedroom units.
The development was constructed in 1984, when the parking ratio was 1.15 off-street spaces per unit. In recognition of the parking shortage in the area, in 1986, the R15-30T zoning was changed to require 2 off-street spaces per unit. Stafford Square has 69 spaces -- appropriate under the old zoning, but 51 spaces short under the new zoning. With only 17 of the 60 units being owner-occupied, it was felt that the addition of another bedroom to each structure would mean another tenant for each unit, and hence another 60 cars needing to parked in an already congested area.
During the January 26, 1994 Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association general membership meeting, the Stafford Square Site Plan Amendment was considered by the membership. The membership heard a detailed presentation by Mr. Michael Chircop, the President of the Stafford Square Homeowner's Association. The presentation included current parking numbers, current number of residents, etc. Mr. Chircop stated that they believed that the addition of a third bedroom would enable young families to either stay and/or locate into these townhouses.
It was pointed out, by Civic Association members, that while the intent may be for small families to occupy the townhouses, it was an equally real possibility that a house could be shared by three adults, each having a car, and hence creating an overflow of parking.
The membership voted to not support the site plan amendment unless the applicant could comply with the current zoning requirement of having two off-street parking spaces per unit.
The Planning Commission will consider the site plan amendment at their meeting of March 28th, and the County Board will reconsider the matter on April 9th.
INSTRUCTIONS AND MENU FOR MEMBER INFORMATION LINE TELEPHONE NUMBER
The Association's Member Information Line Telephone Number, a.k.a. MILTN, is (703) 528-1887.
Using a touch-tone telephone, the information voice bulletin board may be called at your convenience, 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week. When you call the Member Information Line, you first hear a brief announcement that tells you what the menu selections are. If you know which menu selection you want, you may select that option at any time. You may access one menu selection per telephone call.
To promote ease of access to the information and message capabilities of the MILTN, the Executive Committee has standardized the menu selections and they are listed below.
Menu selection: 1) is the Question Of The Month survey where the Association members may listen to a question and leave a recorded message to respond to the survey; 2) is an announcement only of upcoming Association Membership and Executive Committee meetings, agenda items, etc. Check this selection for postings on last minute updates and changes to Association meeting agendas; 3) is an announcement only summarizing significant actions taken at recent Executive Committee and Membership meetings; 4) is an announcement only of upcoming County-wide group meetings that affect our neighborhood; 5) is an announcement only of actions taken at recent County-wide group meetings that affect our neighborhood; 6) is the message box for the Neighborhood Crime Watch. Leave a message in this box if you would like to start a crime watch on your block and the Association will match you up with other members on your block; 7) is the George Mason University Campus Expansion announcement and message box. You may listen to a message about the most recent information we have on George Mason's expansion plans and leave a message for the Association's George Mason Expansion Committee; and, 8) is a miscellaneous announcement and message box about a particular topical matter that will need its own menu option for a limited period of time.
FEBRUARY QUESTION OF THE MONTH RESPONSE SUMMARY -- POLICE RESPONSIVENESS
Because the overall results of the Association's October 1993 written survey showed that the neighborhood crime issue area received the highest level of concern, the February 1994 Question of the Month asked: "During the past three years, have you experienced a crime against yourself, your family, or your property in Arlington County? If so, were you satisfied with the response time and follow-up by the Arlington County Police in investigating the crime? Why, or why not?"
The Survey was run from February 1st through February 15th. During that period, too few calls were received with the requisite member identification information for the Executive Committee to be able to draw any representative conclusions about members' views. Nonetheless, the responses are summarized below.
Three callers indicated that neither they, nor their families, had been crime victims. Therefore they could not comment about the responsiveness of the Arlington
County Police Department.
One caller, from the 1100 block of N. Randolph Street, whose car had been parked on the street and vandalized on a Friday night in early February, when three teenagers smashed 15 car windshields and side-windows, expressed satisfaction with the Police Department's response. He explained that the Police seemed to have arrived on the scene late at night that Friday or early Saturday morning. He further explained that the Police set-up a mobile communications unit in that locality so that they could take reports from the vandalism victims throughout the next day.
One caller expressed dissatisfaction about the local Commonwealth Attorney's handling of a complaint about a female stalker. The caller indicated that he had initially asked the Police to investigate the stalking but that he did not intend for the female stalker to be prosecuted. He indicated that despite his desire not to pursue the case, the prosecutors office proceeded against the alleged stalker.
NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME REPORT
1) 1300 Block North Glebe Road -- Brandishing of Firearm. A man driving a car cut off another man several times and then displayed a handgun to the man at about 1:30 p.m., Thursday, January 27th.
2) 4400 Block 11th Street North -- Robbery. A man held his hand in his pocket as if he had a gun and took cash from another man at about 9:10 p.m., Tuesday, January 25th.
3) 3500 Block Wilson Boulevard -- Break-In. A bay door at an auto sales business was forced open. Nothing was reported missing. The incident occurred between 7:45 p.m., Saturday, January 22nd to 8:30 a.m., Monday, January 24th.
4) 900 Block North Glebe Road -- Break-In. Plexiglass was kicked out of the front door of a cleaners. Nothing was reported missing. The incident occurred between 6:00 p.m., Saturday, January 29th to 2:00 p.m., Monday, January 31.
5) 3400 Block North Fairfax Drive -- Break-In. A door was forced open at an audio equipment business. Nothing was reported missing. The incident occurred between 9:10 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., Monday, February 21.
6) 4000 North 10th Street -- Indecent Exposure. A man wearing a dark blue baseball cap and a dark blue nylon sweatsuit exposed himself to a 25-year-old woman in the parking lot of the North Quincy Street library at 7:55 p.m., Monday, February 28th.
7) 3550 Wilson Boulevard -- Burglary. A burglar stole a television set and compact disc player from a suite at the Arlington Arts Center about 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, March 2nd.
8) 3550 Wilson Boulevard -- Burglary. A burglar stole seven cases of beer from a suite at the Arlington Arts Center between January 3rd and March 1.
9) 3803 North Fairfax Drive -- Burglary. A thief stole drugs from Galley's Prescription Center between 2:00 p.m., Saturday, March 5th and 6:30 p.m., Sunday, March 6th.
10) 3277 North Washington Boulevard -- Break-In. Someone entered Midas Muffler by forcing open the overhead door between 5:30 p.m. and 8:25 p.m., Monday, March 7th.
COUNTY BOARD INCREASES REAL ESTATE TAX RATE TO $0.897 PER $100.00
In the January/February 1994 Newsletter, we reported the results of the Association's December 1993 "Question of the Month" telephone survey on the issue of "What would you like the County's real estate tax rate raised to?" That survey was run from December 4th through December 18th on the Member Information Line Telephone Number (703) 528-1887. The majority (8 of 12) members, who responded with the requisite identification verification information, expressed a strong view that they did not want the real estate tax rate raised above the $.86 per $100.00 of assessed valuation. The most often provided reasons were that: (1) the rate is high enough already; and, (2) the County's expenditures are too high and they should be cut in order to keep the rate the same.
Also, in the January/February 1994 Newsletter, we reported the Top Ten concerns expressed by our members in our written survey, which had been
distributed through the October 1993 Newsletter. For those who may have missed that Newsletter, the survey issue areas receiving the highest level of concern and the percentage of respondents indicating concern or that the issue was a critical problem included: (1) crime (76.6%), (2) traffic (71.9%), (3) on-street parking (67.2%), (4) County governmental expenditures (67.2%), (5) County governmental size (59.4%), (6) real estate taxes (57.9%), (7) personal property tax (57.8%), (8) clean air (57.8%), (9) meals tax (57.8%), and (10)
off-street parking (56.3%).
In the narrative comments under the survey questions dealing with size of County government, County expenditures and taxes, many respondents expressed interest in the Association researching these issues and providing comparative information. The Association's President and Vice-President recently conducted research into these areas by reviewing: (1) the "Property Tax Sourcebook," Volume 2 (dated December 1993), prepared for the National Association of Realtors by Price Waterhouse; and, (2) the Arlington County Department of Management and Finance's "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1993."
To provide like type comparative data, the Property Tax Sourcebook analyzed counties with populations exceeding 100,000. The information in the Sourcebook is for fiscal years 1990 and 1991. In a section titled "Which Counties Had the Most Burdensome Property Taxes," the Sourcebook indicated that the highest property tax as a percent of personal income in fiscal 1991 was in Arlington, Virginia (3.3%). Massachusetts and Vermont had the lowest county property taxes as a percent of personal income, with less than 0.05% in each of their counties. Further, the Sourcebook showed that the property tax per capita in fiscal 1990 ranged from a low of $0.70 in Worcester County, Massachusetts to a high of $1,264.97 in Fairfax County, Virginia. The property tax per capita in Arlington County for fiscal 1990 was $1,124.03, or $140.94 less than Fairfax County. However, this data precedes the 17.3% increase in property tax for Arlington County since calendar year 1992 (from $0.765 to $0.897 per $100 of assessed value for calendar 1994, as adopted by the Arlington County Board on March 19, 1994).
To provide additional insight into this troubling trend of significant property tax increases during the past three years, along with the County's establishment of the regressive 4% local meals tax, we reviewed Arlington County's general governmental expenditures by functional category as reported in the most recent issue of the County Department of Management and Finance's "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1993."
The Annual Financial Report showed that, during the past ten fiscal years, the County's base level of expenditures increased 99.7%, nearly doubling from $200.7 million in fiscal year 1984 to $400.8 million in fiscal year 1993 -- even though the County's population only grew 14.7% (from 157,000 to 180,100 = 23,100). To put this in further perspective, the rate of increase in County expenditures exceeded the rate of increase in Arlington County per capita income (of 43.5%) and inflation (of 40.8%) by over 56%. The graph and table on page 19 of the Newsletter (not shown on the html version of the Newsletter) illustrate the County's much faster growth in governmental expenditures than the rate of growth in per capita income and inflation. The review also showed that the expenditure increases in particular governmental functional categories did not increase at the same rate as the base level percentage increase. The level of spending for five functional areas increased at a rate greater than the 99.7% base level increase; and the level of spending for five other functional areas increased at a rate less than the base level rate increase. For example, Welfare expenditures increased at a rate of 263.5%, or an increase of $27.2 million from $10.3 million in fiscal 1984 to $37.5 million in fiscal 1993; and General Government expenditures increased by a rate of 156.5%, or an increase of $26.4 million from $16.9 million in fiscal 1984 to $43.3 million in fiscal 1993. Two functional areas, in which the expenditure levels increased at a rate less than the base level rate, included Public Safety expenditures with an increase of 79.8%, or an increase of $21.9 million from $27.4 million in fiscal 1984 to $49.3 million in fiscal 1993; and Public Works expenditures with an increase of 44.9%, or an increase of $7.1 million from $15.7 million in fiscal 1984 to $22.8 million in fiscal 1993.
Additionally, it should be noted that the function with the greatest amount of spending, Education, had only a .6% increase in percentage value in relation to total expenditures between fiscal years 1984 and 1993, despite the school population increasing by 8.4% (from 14,805 to 16,051) during the same fiscal years. Compared with spending increases in welfare and general governmental spending, education suffered. Specifically, the level of spending for Education increased from 34.3% ($68.8 million) of total expenditures in fiscal 1984 to 34.9% ($140.0 million) of total expenditures in fiscal 1993.
In conclusion, we researched these issues in response to our members request for additional information. At the time of publication of this Newsletter, the Arlington County Board had unanimously voted Saturday, March 19, 1994 to raise the real estate tax rate to $0.897 per $100 of assessed value from $0.86, which according to County Manager Anton S. Gardner should bring in about $10 million in additional revenue and raise the average homeowner's tax bill by about $60. If you have any questions about these issues, we invite you to bring them to the March 30th membership meeting for discussion with the Arlington County Board Chairman, Mary Margaret Whipple and County Board Member, Benjamin Winslow.