Letters to the Editor: June 3 – 9, 2010

Sour Welcome for New Residents on Memorial Day


We have recently moved to Falls Church and are so pleased with the small-town, “Mayberry”-feel, of the City. However, at Monday’s Memorial Day parade, I was left with a big, Oh-yeah-we’re-in-D.C.-metro nausea in my stomach.

We walked to the parade from our home on Hillwood and left our 14-year-old son at home. He recently tore a ligament in his knee and so cannot walk for the next six weeks. He also is our major history/military buff and was really looking forward to attending the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial but due to his injury, we stayed in Falls Church for the holiday.

We loved the parade but midway through, my husband decided to run back home and bring my son to the parade in the car. He decided to park next to Starbuck’s in what he thought was free parking because he didn’t see any signs close to the spaces (we’re new). Within the half-hour, our van was towed.

We discovered it after the parade when my husband went with my son on his crutches to the car. We had to leave my son there and walk home (with our other four kids) to get the other car to pick him and the van up. We understood about teaching people lessons about parking there. But when we picked up the van, they informed us that it would be $100. Mayberry, yeah right.

My husband is a former Marine and to be stuck with this on Memorial Day was sour, to say the least. We will be taking our business elsewhere (and I’m a coffee-holic) because that was low. I only hope all that money that was made off of people like us went to worthy causes, maybe like the VA? Yeah, right.

Lisa Martinez

Falls Church


Is Community Development Idea a Good One?


The recent article on the Community Development Authority (CDA) being considered to finance the McKeever building displays a lack of journalistic curiosity and engages in needless editorializing. First, Mr. Benton describes the CDA as “novel and effective”. Putting aside whether a journalist should prejudge these things to its readers, a CDA is only novel if you are unfamiliar with Virginia code, which specifies the state laws regulating these entities. Whether a CDA is effective or not depends, of course, on the purpose for which a CDA is being founded. If, as seems the case, the News-Press views layering the liability for additional tax-financed debt over unconsenting residents, then a CDA can be very effective.

The News-Press seems enthused about obtaining financing, without worrying about how that debt is financed or where the burden for that debt falls. The operations of the CDA are financed by revenue bonds issued by the authority. The obligation to repay the proceeds of this bond offerings falls on the owners of property within the boundary of the CDA, defined by the petition filed.

Mr. Benton accurately notes part of the statutory requirement for filing a CDA petition – 51% of the land owners. However, an alternative requirement is that owners of 51% of the assessed value of land within the CDA boundary may initiate the petition. Where developers are involved, this critical threshold can be met by one or very few parties. Essentially, a minority of developers, representing 51% of the assessed value of the properties within the boundaries, can impose the cost of financing their projects on the other 49% within the CDA.

It gets worse, as Virginia code provides that, once established, the locality (in this case Falls Church) can specify additional projects for the CDA to undertake. Mr. Benton is also incorrect to state that the CDA only exists “as long as it take to complete the mission”. The provisions of the code state that an Authority survives as a corporation for 50 years. It may elect to terminate once it has achieved its purpose, but there is no requirement that it do so. Given the coziness between the city and its favored developers it is difficult to imagine the City exercising restraint and moderation.

Matt Haaga

Falls Church


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