As I mentioned in a previous post, City of Fairfax Citizens for Smarter Growth sent a survey to all city council and mayoral candidates several weeks ago, to gauge their interest and thoughts on smart growth and environmental sustainability in the city. Most of the candidates have responded and a couple others have let us know that they intend to respond. ‘
We would like to thank the candidates for taking the time to fill out this survey. The fact that they took the time to respond even as they are all working on their campaigns (not to mention the incumbents who are also working through the budget process) shows a real commitment from each of these candidates to their citizens.
Following the survey that we sent to the candidates…
Fairfax City Citizens for Smarter Growth
City of Fairfax 2012 Mayoral and Council Candidate Questionnaire
Thank you for taking time out of your busy campaign schedule to complete this questionnaire. We are a group of concerned City of Fairfax residents who support smarter growth and environmental stewardship in and around the City of Fairfax. We respectfully request your responses to the questions below so that we can gauge your commitment to smarter growth and a better environment in the City of Fairfax.
1. The redevelopment of Fairfax Boulevard is critical to the city’s future. In 2007 the Fairfax Boulevard Business Improvement District and the city organized broad public outreach resulting in the Fairfax Boulevard Master Plan, which calls for transforming the Boulevard from an auto-oriented road with strip shopping centers to a mixed-use pedestrian-friendly street with higher densities that are necessary to attract development and create a critical mass of activity. The Master Plan Vision and Summary Document, adopted by the City as a consensus document in 2008, envisions pedestrian-friendly mixed-use environments for the three centers of Kamp Washington, Northfax and Fairfax Circle. The plan also calls for making transportation improvements on Fairfax Boulevard that would make the street easier and safer for pedestrians to cross and walk along, and easier and safer for bicycle travel.
Do you support the Master Plan Vision and Summary?
Do you support modifying the city's zoning code to support the Fairfax Boulevard Master Plan?
Please write below any comments you would like to make about the redevelopment of Fairfax Boulevard.
2. Old Town Fairfax has improved significantly, with the addition of a first-class library and new retail businesses thanks to the Old Town redevelopment projects. However, many new ventures in Old Town have closed and the area is still not a significant destination for residents in or around the City.
How would you work to make Old Town a more attractive destination during the next two years?
3. The land use development process in the City lacks a basis in a strong guiding plan. Under these conditions, the City could easily lose opportunities for redevelopment to other jurisdictions, such as nearby community revitalization areas in Fairfax County, where approvals and financing for redevelopment are expedited.
Would you support a more predictable and consistent process for reviewing development proposals?
Please provide your ideas for how the land use development process in the City could be improved.
4. Stormwater management is becoming a very critical issue for our community as well as others. We will need to devise ways to pay for stormwater management and reduce stormwater runoff.
Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development?
How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?
5. Plastic bags have become a very large pollution problem worldwide. Local creek cleanup groups can attest to the quantity of plastic bags in our streams alone, not to mention the downstream impact on the Potomac and Bay. Very few bags make it into recycling programs, and the reality is the type of plastic used is in low demand by manufacturers. Many jurisdictions have reduced the environmental impact of plastic bags by instituting programs that incentivize the use of reusable bags. The City of Fairfax could be a leader among Virginia municipalities by creating a reusable bag program.
How would you encourage the use of reusable bags?
6. Although much of our land has been developed, the City of Fairfax still has some natural areas including riparian stream areas and forested land that are home to native flora and fauna. The City of Fairfax also has a mature tree canopy. These natural resources, both publicly and privately owned, are vulnerable to degradation and even destruction without active preservation efforts.
How will you protect these important resources?
7. The City of Fairfax has an established recycling program and citizens are able to recycle many products at the Fairfax County facilities. There is an economic and environmental value in improving our rate of recycling and expanding our capability, and a parallel imperative to reduce the amount of garbage produced annually.
How will you improve recycling in the City? In what ways can the City reduce its annual tonnage of waste?
8. Water use and its treatment have many environmental and economic repercussions. According to the projections in the draft Northern Virginia Regional Water Supply Plan, the City's water supply may be insufficient to meet demand by 2038. Except during drought conditions, the City does not currently limit or even encourage reducing home lawn irrigation, car washing, etc, causing significant and harmful runoff into our streams.
Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?
Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?
9. Fairfax City has significant advantages for bicycle and pedestrian travel. Most residential neighborhoods are within walking and bicycling distance of an array of stores and other commercial destinations. But relatively few trips are made by walking and bicycling in the city. Among the reasons are difficulty of crossing streets, the lack of pedestrian-friendly development and poor lighting in commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard. Innovative traffic calming devices, such as bulb-outs and lit crosswalks, have proven effective in many jurisdictions including the City of Fairfax.
Please address how you would work to make the city more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, including the following questions:
- How would you ensure that the city’s trail system is extended to connect with new developments, making it easier for residents to walk and bicycle to these new developments?
- How can we improve public transportation service within Fairfax City and to surrounding destinations, such as the Vienna Metro Station and George Mason University?
- What traffic calming devices would you recommend to make residential areas and commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard safer and more pleasant for walking and bicycling?
- What measures would you like made available to local jurisdictions for improving road safety that require legislative action in Richmond? For example, no hand-held devices of texting while driving.
10. There is a need for more homes that are affordable to the people who work in the City of Fairfax and surrounding areas. Very few residential developments built in Fairfax City during the past five years have been affordable for people earning the average regional income.
Please address how you would work to ensure that new housing is more affordable, including the following questions:
- Would you support increasing the city’s supply of apartments and/or condominiums in key areas, such as the Fairfax Boulevard nodes and Downtown?
- How would you work to ensure the preservation of Fairfax’s existing apartments and neighborhoods that have relatively low housing costs?
11. Please share any additional comments you feel are important for voters to know regarding your ideas and positions on growth/development and environmental issues in and around the City of Fairfax.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting the responses to a question or two every day or so here on Patch. The raw survey responses will also be posted on the City of Fairfax Citizens for Smarter Growth website.
You can also find more information on each of the candidates on their campaign web-sites. Here is a list of web-sites from those who have responded so far…
Michael J. DeMarco
Daniel F. Drummond
Jeffrey C. Greenfield
Catherine S. Read
Eleanor D. “Ellie” Schmidt
Steven C. Stombres
R. Scott Silverthorne