Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: If You Think F.C. is Great, Show it on Your Plate

By Gary LaPorta

“Show your Little City pride to everyone who sees your ride.” That’s the banter that people at the Falls Church Farmers Market hear as they move past the U.S. Postal Service mailboxes positioned at the City Hall parking lot.

Unless I am mistaken, that is the only drive-up mailbox left in the Little City. Unfortunately, it is located on the passengers’ side if you drive according to the directional arrows on the pavement. For it is at this location that I stand with my clipboard of applications for the latest Little City promotion: our very own license plate, adorned with The Little City logo and room for any combination of six letters, numbers and the special characters dash, space and ampersand.

“If you think Falls Church is great, show it on your license plate” I shout as people go by, many of whom say to me that they don’t live in the City of Falls Church. “You don’t need to, but thank you for coming to our farmer’s market, stay awhile and enjoy the other treasures of our wonderful city.”

Some citizens stop and inquire about our plate. I tell them we are striving to get the required 350 prepaid registrations so that the DMV can begin production. The annual fee is only $10 non-personalized (DMV will pick the numbers), $20 if personalized (you can choose up to six characters and provide at least three choices on the application to increase odds of availability) or $20 to transfer your current plate (must be six characters or fewer). These fees are in addition to your normal license fee.
“Why so cheap?” I’m asked. Unlike some other entities, there is no add-on charge for the plates. It is strictly a way to promote the City of Falls Church.

So what happens if there aren’t 350 prepaid registrations? The Treasurer’s office is keeping a spreadsheet with all the information and if we don’t get the required 350 registrations they will refund your money. I am, however, not planning to fail to reach the 350 goal.

“How do I register?” I gladly hand them a form from my clipboard and tell them they can fill out the required information and not to worry if they don’t know their Vehicle Identification or Title Number; the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office can help fill that out.

If you are requesting a personalized plate, you can submit three choices. I suggest you go to the DMV website where you can try various combinations to see if the one you want is available. You can then bring the form and a check or cash to the Treasurer’s office at room 103 in the East Wing of City Hall. You can mail the completed form to: The Little City License Plate, 300 Park Ave., Suite 103 East, Falls Church, VA 22046. Be sure to include a check (don’t send cash via the mail). Those who are computer savvy can go to www.fallschurchva.gov/plates or can find a link to The Little City License Plates under the “How Do I….” heading of the city’s newly improved website. There you will find the complete instructions for how to apply on-line. There is also a link to frequently asked questions.

In case you were wondering, yes, I applied. I was the first to deliver my application to the Treasurer’s office. I currently have a personalized “Support our Troops” plate and applied for the same combination of letters.

After three Saturday mornings spent at the Farmer’s Market handing out at least a hundred applications, a check with the Treasurer’s office reveals that we are not even one-tenth of the way to our goal.

Okay people, here comes the hard sell. For an extra $10 per year, why doesn’t everyone who loves our city want one?

Unless there is a really compelling reason, every Falls Church elected official should have one. City Council (MAYOR or COUNCL), School Board (SCLBRD). City staff, school staff, teachers, library staff – you don’t have to live in the city to get one. Members of City boards and commissions, how about a plate like FC EDA (for members of the Economic Development Authority) or REC&PK (Recreation and Parks)? City business owners could put personalized plates on their cars (advertising expense?). Express your hobby (QULTER, PUTTER, ARTIST).

And who is going to get CURCH, or FLSCRH?

Gary LaPorta is a City of Falls Church resident and involved citizen.