BVSCA Newsletter May/June 1994
GMU ISSUES REVISED JHK & ASSOCIATES APRIL 1994 PARKING REPORT; COUNTY BOARD TO HEAR EXPANSION PLANS ON JUNE 4, 1994
In April 1994, George Mason University re-issued its parking consultant, JHK & Associates' June 1992 parking report. Previously, GMU had relied on a strategy of on-street curb-side parking in the surrounding neighborhoods to meet the parking needs, of its students, and faculty and staff, at its expanded Virginia Square Campus.
A detailed summary, and separate analysis, of GMU's JHK & Associates' June 1992 Virginia Square Campus Parking study is contained in the BVSCA's March/April 1994 Newsletter copies of which may be requested from Hayden Bryan at telephone (703) 243-6070. Copies of both the June 1992 JHK Parking Study, and the April 1994 re-issue of their report may be obtained from Arlington County staff member, David Dantzler, at telephone (703) 358-3562.
At its March 30, 1994 meeting, the BVSCA's Membership considered the issues associated with the GMU expansion and overwhelmingly adopted the following position:
1) The access and egress points to the campus should be on Fairfax Drive and/or Kirkwood Road, not onto Washington Boulevard;
2) The buildings should taper toward the proposed central courtyard, which should open onto and face Fairfax Drive. The highest building points should be placed up against the FDIC building to the west and the adjacent office building currently to the north of the building site;
3) On-site parking spaces should be equal in number to the maximum percentage of students who are expected to drive to campus (as shown in GMU's own JHK and Associates, June 1992 Arlington Campus Parking Study, 85%) and be present at peak occupancy (40%) after complete expansion, plus 10% of that number to meet faculty, staff and community visitor needs. Based on current data of an expected enrollment of 12,700 students after full expansion (as published at page 34 in Expanding the GMU-Arlington Campus: A Program for an Educating Community, jointly published by Arlington County and GMU, February 20, 1992), the number of required on-site spaces would be 4,749. If the maximum number of students to be registered ("enrollment cap"), after full expansion, is reduced to 10,000, then based on the percentage computations, the required number of on-site parking spaces would become 3,740;
4) If site constraints preclude additional on-site parking to meet the need identified in JHK and Associates's June 1992 study, GMU should downsize its planned 750,000 square foot expansion to fit available on-site parking; and,
5) The project must have a State Environmental Review that should include: a hearing in the Northern Virginia area; a site visit by State Environmental officials; and presentation of site specific mitigation measures.
The following is a summary of the April 1994 JHK & Associates Parking Report which is titled GMU - Arlington Campus Future Parking Strategies, ("the April 1994 Report").
The April 1994 Report, although not a GMU publication, for the first time notes that after full expansion, the Virginia Square Campus is expected to have a student enrollment headcount of 10,000, not the 12,700 enrollment headcount number previously published by GMU.
No new parking survey or parking lot occupancy counts were done to prepare the April 1994 Report. The information about arrival modes, parking needs, on-site parking occupancy, neighborhood parking spillover, etc., that is presented in the April 1994 Report is stated, at page 1, as being taken from the 1992 JHK Study. Although there is no explanation in the April 1994 Report of the discrepancies, a close examination and comparison of the two Reports by the BVSCA's GMU Expansion Committee indicates that there are variations between the two Reports in the statement, for instance, of the "auto driver mode share for students." The 1992 JHK Report indicated that the student auto driver mode share is 86.7%. The April 1994 Report states that the student auto driver mode share is 84.4%. The significance of the difference is that, although no new survey was conducted, if one believes the April 1994 Report, 230 more students would arrive at the expanded site by a mode other than single occupancy automobile.
In a July 29, 1992 summary of its own analysis of JHK & Associates 1992 Parking Study, GMU's Office of Institutional Planning and Research indicated that "at any one time the most students ever present on campus was ... approximately 40% of the headcount." In the April 1994 Report, however, JHK indicates that it expects that after the campus is fully built out, 26.5% of the student headcount will be on campus during evening peak occupancy, estimated to occur between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., and that 15.0% of the student headcount would be on campus during the daytime peak occupancy, estimated to occur between 9:00 and 10:30 a.m.
The April 1994 Report then goes on to list GMU's strategies for dealing with the on-site parking shortage. Key among those strategies are:
GMU will create a carpool data base and appoint an Arlington Campus Commuter Coordinator, provide reduced parking rates for carpools and disseminate information on various transportation options including a rideshare program. The June 1992 JHK Parking study indicated that 2.6% of all of the survey respondents (22 of 856 respondents) arrived by carpool. The April 1994 Report concludes that car pool arrival at the expanded campus will become 12% for students, 5% for faculty, and 10% for staff.
GMU's Parking Services Office will work with "parking operators" of other parking facilities in the vicinity of the campus to "ensure" adequate off-site parking is available at nearby sites. It will implement an escort service for the parking garage and other off-site parking facilities. The April 1994 Report relies on an Arlington County staff memorandum from Freida Wray to David Dantzler, dated August 24, 1992, which suggests that currently there are 2,703 parking spaces in already approved commercial site plans in the Virginia Square area, and that the total number of such parking spaces will reach 4,138. The June 1992 JHK Report indicated that 80.6% of the students and 86.4% of the faculty and 93.8% of the staff parked in the Law School parking lot. A review, by the BVSCA's GMU Expansion Committee, of the possibly available private parking garages in the vicinity of the Campus indicates that many of them are not now, and will not be, available in the future. For instance, 1,235 spaces in the FDIC's garages are included in the April 1994 Report, based on the County staff's August 24, 1992 memorandum. The FDIC had its site plan amended in 1992 to prevent lobby access to other than its employees and authorized visitors based on the need for security measures to protect its national computer which is housed in the basement of its facilities at Virginia Square. The FDIC also refused the request of the BVSCA to provide shared access to its parking garage for the overflow of the customers at the Giant Food store which is located next door. Many of the other spaces are also on sites which have not yet been built, and which are zoned R-C and would hence have mainly a residential component to the development.
Please remember, we need our members to attend and speak-out on this matter during the next phases of the County's GMU process. The Planning Commission hearing takes place at 7:30 p.m. on May 25th, in room 307, at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, and the County Board's hearing on this matter takes place on Saturday, June 4th, at the same location. If you would like to write a letter or call one of your elected representatives, or would like to help the Association in some other way call Hayden Bryan, at (703) 243-6070, or Nancy Iacomini, at (703) 525-7125, for ideas or suggestions, or with questions.
SHOULD THE ARLINGTON COUNTY BOARD CONSIDER IMPLEMENTING BASIC CABLE SERVICE REGULATION?
At the May 4, 1994 Executive Committee meeting and the May 7, 1994 Arlington County Board Meeting, Allen Sinsheimer, a County resident of over 24 years and a Certified Public Accountant, presented information showing that Arlington County cable subscribers are paying the highest basic rates for Cable TV of any major jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C. area. Briefly, Mr. Sinsheimer presented to the Arlington County Board and to Arlington County's Cable Television Advisory Committee ("CTAC") an analysis comparing Arlington County rates to other major jurisdictions in the Washington, D.C. area. His analysis reflects, that on average, Arlington Cable TV rates are 10% to 30% higher, or an average of $60 to $65 per year more than the rates charged in other neighboring jurisdictions. Mr. Sinsheimer estimated that Arlington Cable TV subscribers are due a refund of at least $4 million based on the Cable TV refund experience recently reported in Montgomery County, which has the same Cable TV operator--Southwestern Bell.
In order for the maximum refund to be guaranteed to consumers, the Arlington County Board must seek regulatory certification with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by September 1, 1994. This is necessary because under the 1992 Cable Act, a portion of the rate, "the basic service tier," must be regulated at the local level, if there is going to be any regulation at all. It should be noted that Arlington County's authority to order a refund is dependent on the County seeking regulatory authority and approval from the Federal Communications Commission. To date, every major jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C. area has been certified by the FCC to regulate the basic tier with the exception of Arlington County.
For additional perspective, the Executive Committee contacted the CTAC for information on whether the County should regulate Arlington Cable TV. In response, at its April 25 meeting, CTAC voted 8-0 on a motion to (1) recommend that the County Board conduct a public hearing and consider whether or not to seek certification from the FCC to regulate rates, (2) to hold a CTAC public hearing for public comment regarding whether or not the Committee should recommend to the Board to seek certification and regulate rates, and (3) to request that County staff be authorized to research the availability of software and other tools that could be used to facilitate regulation in the event that the County Board decides the County should regulate cable rates.
Also, the CTAC presented information in support of reasons for and against regulation by the County. Without regulation, the CTAC states that the cable system which undoubtedly has some monopoly pricing power will be free to set rates at levels higher than those which would prevail under competition. If the County decides to regulate, the CTAC states that costs associated with that effort could be substantial in terms of impact on County staff or the hiring of consultants to perform the required rate analysis.
In conclusion, the Executive Committee has presented information to help provide additional insight into whether or not Arlington County should regulate the basic tier of Cable TV service. At the June 1, 1994 Membership meeting, tell us your views on whether or not Arlington County should regulate Arlington Cable TV rates.
The Executive Committee understands that CTAC has recommended that the County Board schedule a public hearing at an early July County Board meeting (tentatively July 9th) to decide whether or not to seek certification from the FCC to regulate cable TV prices. Further, at the time of publication of this Newsletter, the Advisory Committee was in the process of planning its own public hearing during the last week in June (tentatively June 23rd) on the feasibility of Arlington County establishing Cable TV regulation. The exact date, location, and time of these meetings will be announced on the Member Information Line 528-1887, menu selection 4.
NOMINATING COMMITTEE REPORT & ELECTIONS FOR 1994-1995
At our April meeting, we elected a Nominating Committee consisting of the following three members, Laura Holmes, Rohan Samaraweera, and Giocanda Vallarino.
Committee Chair, Laura Holmes reports the Committee's nominees for the Association's 1994-'95 officerships and other representative positions, as follows:
President: Robert Sherretta
Vice-President: Deem Gillmore
Treasurer & Secretary of Member Records: Richard Ellis
Recording & Corresponding Secretary: Ernest Ragland
Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee ("NCAC") Representative: Nancy Iacomini
Alternate NCAC Representative: Hayden Bryan
Executive Committee: Jules Edlow, New Member; Rohan Samaraweera, Past President; Dorothy Sticken, New Member; and the Officers and the NCAC and Alternate Representatives
Arlington County Civic Federation Delegates: Richard Ellis; Ernest Ragland; Rohan Samaraweera; and, Robert Sherretta
Arlington County Civic Federation Alternate Delegates: Adrian Cronauer; Deem Gillmore; Nancy Iacomini; and, Dorothy Sticken.
As the 1994-'95 Association year begins in June, the elected officers and other representatives will assume their responsibilities beginning after the conclusion of the June 1, 1994 Special Annual Membership Meeting. The elected Arlington County Civic Federation Delegates and Alternate Delegates will assume their responsibilities at the beginning of the Civic Federation's new membership year which commences in September 1994.
PROPOSED BY-LAW AMENDMENT
The Association's By-Laws require consideration of properly proposed amendments, once a year, at our Annual Meeting. Any dues paid member is eligible to timely submit proposed amendments for consideration. The By-Laws require that the Executive Committee review proposed amendments and provide a report to the Members.
Current By-Laws, Article III, Section 4, reads as follows:
Section 4. Dues
The amount of the annual dues for each member shall be specified by the membership at the annual meeting.
a) Dues are payable when first joining, and are renewable each year on or before the annual anniversary of that date.
b) Any member who has not paid his or her dues on or before their anniversary date shall be dropped from membership and may not vote.
c) Former members, who have been members in good standing within any of the three immediately preceding Association years, may be reinstated as voting members by paying their dues for that year.
d) New members, and members who have not paid their dues within the three preceding Association years, must pay their dues 30 days before they receive voting privileges.
A member, who also maintains the Association's membership records, has proposed that Section 4. c) and 4. d) be amended to read as follows:
"c) Former members, who have been members in good standing within the preceding 12 months, may be reinstated as voting members by paying their dues."
"d) New members, and members who have not paid their dues within the last 12 months, must pay their dues 30 days before they receive voting privileges."
The explanation for the amendments, provided by the proposer, is that currently the Association runs on a fiscal year which begins on June 1st and runs to the following May 31st. However, to provide twelve months of membership for a dues payment, membership expires at the end of the twelfth month in which the anniversary date of dues payment falls. This has resulted in cumbersome record keeping requirements for the Association's Treasurer to maintain and research an expired membership list which spans 48 months.
To review the proposed amendment, the Executive Committee formed a By-Law Amendment Review Committee consisting of Association President, Robert Sherretta; Vice-President, Ernie Ragland; and Executive Committee Member, Rohan Samaraweera. Based on the rationale provided by the Association's Treasurer in proposing the amendment, the By-Law Amendment Review Committee recommended to the Executive Committee in favor of adoption of the proposed amendment.
Having reviewed the proposal at its most recent meeting, the full Executive Committee recommends to the Association Membership in favor of adoption of the above proposed amendments. The effect of the amendments would be that any one who renews their membership more than 12 months after it has expired would have to wait thirty days to regain their voting privileges as they would be in the same category as new members. As we now have over 200 dues paying members, this would considerably ease the burden on the Treasurer of the record keeping needs.
The proposed By-Law amendment will be considered and voted on by the Membership at the June 1st Special Annual Meeting. Because of the publication requirement, members vote to either adopt or reject the proposed By-Law amendment in total. Amendments are not accepted from the floor.
MAJOR SITE PLAN AMENDMENT FOR RICHMOND SQUARE
The Dittmar Company has purchased the residential portion of the development now known as Jefferson Square, and has filed a Site Plan Amendment. The Jefferson Square site is the block bounded, on the north by Fairfax Drive, on the south by 9th Street North, on the east by North Randolph Street, and on the west by North Stafford Street. It is the C-O-A zoned block that is immediately to the east of the Ballston Metro Station and includes on it the International House of Pancakes.
The residential portion of this site is in a U-shape fronting onto 9th Street North, with the sides being along N. Stafford and N. Randolph Streets. The Dittmar Company has also indicated that they have contracts to purchase the lots in that block that are currently occupied by the small dental building and the IHOP. There is an already approved site plan for a 13 story 249,000 square foot commercial office building fronting onto Fairfax Drive and N. Randolph Street. That portion of the block is owned by the Evans Company.
The Site Plan Amendment being proposed by the Dittmar Company is two-fold. First, they wish to increase the size of the residential building from the approved 264,000 square feet to 364,000 square feet. The building is to remain 216 feet high (20 stories), but it will have a larger "footprint." It will have 324 units, 198 one-bedroom units and 126 two-bedroom units for a total of 450 bedrooms. It is unclear at this time whether the building will be rental or condo, and they have renamed the project "Richmond Square." This additional square footage would come from the density connected with the dental building and IHOP sites.
Second, the remaining gross floor area ("g.f.a.") from the dental building and IHOP would be consolidated into a 100,000 square foot g.f.a. office building of eight stories. Hence, the block, if this site plan amendment is approved, will have one large residential building, a slightly less large office building, and a small office building.
The Dittmar Company is proposing a new parking ratio for the residential building of 1.35 on-site spaces per unit. This is an increase from the 1:1 ratio that is already approved. This new ratio would give the residential building 437 parking spaces. However, even though the building will have some first floor retail space, there is no provision in the current amendment to provide on-site parking for this retail space. Also, it is currently planned with only 5 street level surface short-term visitor parking spaces for access to the front of the residential building.
The proposed 8 story office building will have 230 parking spaces. It is unclear at this time whether Dittmar will develop this commercial building themselves, or perhaps sell the site to someone else. It is also possible that the site could be combined with the already-approved Evans Company's 13 story office building, thus giving the site a 349,000 square foot office building and a 364,000 square foot residential building.
This major Site Plan Amendment will be reviewed for a second time by the County Planning Commission's Site Plan Review Subcommittee on May 31, 1994, in Rooms C&D of Court House Plaza. It is scheduled to go before the full Planning Commission, for a hearing, on June 28, 1994, and to the County Board on July 9, 1994. Representatives from the Dittmar Company will make a presentation at our June 1st Special Membership Meeting.
COUNTY BOARD MEMBER RESPONDS TO BVSCA'S INTEREST IN USING THE CENTRAL LIBRARY FOR ITS MEETINGS
At the March 30th Membership meeting, our former Association President, Rohan Samaraweera, and several other members expressed interest in the BVSCA using the Auditorium or one of the rooms at the Central Library for its Membership meetings to our invited guests, Arlington County Board Supervisors, Mary Margaret Whipple, Chairman, and Benjamin Winslow, Member. Mr. Samaraweera explained why the BVSCA would like to use the Central Library for our Membership meetings. Also, he noted the difficulty our association has had in finding a regular meeting place for our Membership meetings and the convenience of this location in our neighborhood to our 219 dues paid members and its abundance of surface parking. It was also pointed out that this is our neighborhood library and that our Association had taken a leading role in the Citizen Committee that helped plan and promote the expansion in the late 1980s.
At the April 27th Membership meeting, President Sherretta stated that he had received a response letter from Mary Margaret Whipple dated April 15th and read the letter to the members present. In her letter, Mrs. Whipple expressed appreciation for inviting her to our meeting and included information received from the Central Library concerning our inquiry.
This information states that in the first quarter of 1994, 92 public programs and 65 non-public County or Library meetings were scheduled in the two meeting rooms at the Central Library. Since the rooms have proved so popular and been in such demand, the Library has established fairly strict guidelines for their use. Given that there are 63 civic organizations and many other clubs, groups, and businesses who might like to use the Library facilities, it has been decided that it did not seem fair to grant an exception to one specific group. The Central Library's room reservation instructions specify that the "meeting rooms are not available for on-going weekly or monthly use by community civic or social organizations and special interest groups." Mary Margaret Whipple concludes, however, that she is told, that the rooms are open for groups who wish to present an educational, cultural, and/or informational public program in conjunction with the Library at which time a brief business meeting could be conducted.
In the future, BVSCA will continue to search for the use of a County public facility to help establish a permanent site for our Membership meetings for the 1994-'95 Membership year, since we understand that other civic associations have access to County public facilities free of charge.
The BVSCA thanks the Arlington Renaissance Hotel, located above the Ballston Metro Station, and The Jefferson, a senior living condominium community, located at 900 N. Taylor Street, for their providing meeting rooms and support for our Membership meetings during the 1993-'94 Membership year. Also, the BVSCA expresses appreciation to the Arlington Blue Top Cab, located at 1008 N. Randolph Street, Suite 105, for providing a meeting room for our Executive Committee meetings during the 1993-'94 Membership year.
ARLINTONIANS FOR A BETTER COUNTY (ABC) SCHOOL BOARD ENDORSEMENT CONVENTION
On May 23rd, Arlingtonians for a Better County, a political organization, is conducting a school board endorsement convention at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center gymnasium located at 3501 South 2nd Street, near the corner of Glebe Road and U.S. Route 50. Any registered voter in Arlington County or an ABC member who is at least 17 years of age and resides in Arlington may participate in the convention to endorse either the current School Board Chairwoman Conchita S. Mitchell or schools activist Mary Haynes, who headed the Futures Planning team last year. According to ABC, as is common with many political organizations, ABC requires that candidates seeking the ABC endorsement agree to not oppose the winning candidate. Therefore, whoever does not receive the endorsement must drop out of the race for November's election.
The Arlington County School Board has voted to waive the $1,100 rental fees for non-partisan school activities for Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Arlingtonians for a Better County will pay about $1,000 in custodial costs for the event. According to ABC, registration for the endorsement convention will begin at 5:30 pm and continues to 8:30 pm. Convention rules will be adopted at approximately 6:30 pm (after which the convention and voting begin). Voting will occur from approximately 6:30 until 8:30 pm (anybody in line at 8:30 will be permitted to vote). Results will be announced at approximately 9:00 pm.
Also, two other candidates are running but are not seeking the endorsement of ABC. These candidates include Dr. John Lavery and Ricardo Roca, both independent candidates for the Arlington County School Board. Dr. Lavery is a member of Friends of Neighborhood Schools (FONS) and has taught in high school, in a community college, and in four universities located in the United States, Taiwan, and Germany. Mr. Roca is an independent engineering consultant who taught in Arlington schools from 1990 to 1992.