Local Commentary

Editorial: Referendum’s Defeat Will Cost More

It makes no sense to us why opponents to the school bond referendum on the ballot in the City of Falls Church next month argue against the high taxes that they claim will burden them if it passes. There is a wide consensus among the groups that support passage of the bond – now ranging from all the City’s PTAs and PTSAs to civic groups, almost all the City Council candidates and even the Chamber of Commerce – that it holds out the best chance of keeping the real estate tax rate low, and especially relative to what it would be if the referendum fails.

The posture of the anti-referendum protagonists seems to be more anti-government and anti-development than anti-tax, in fact. A handful of those among them who, to their credit, are willing to use their names in blog and other postings, are known for long-standing anti-development stands, for example. For many of them, the issue seems to be against growth, modernization and development of any kind in the Little City, leaning on an idyllic fantasy notion of a quaint little village that became totally nonviable in this world long, long ago.

It is ironic, in fact, that the City’s best shot at maintaining a unique and people-centered identity must come through aggressive economic development. It must be the right kind of economic development, of course, and among the things that have changed for the better for the Little City in recent years has been a qualitative increase in the City’s command of just that factor.

It’s like the City, through years of good decisions in government, has grown from a underappreciated ugly duckling into the belle of the ball. In case no one has been paying attention, the City is now among the most highly desired plots of real estate in the entire wider metropolitan D.C. region. It is for reasons that we’ve always known, including the location – seven miles from downtown D.C., midway between two major airports, on the Beltway, on I-66 and on the Metro line – along with a carefully curated quality of life, outstanding schools and control over its own destiny unburdened by big, indifferent governmental bureaucratic and lobbyist forces.

In fact, if there’s any group that really has a vested interest in undermining the viability of Falls Church as an independent city it would be just those kind of big lobbyist interests who fare far better the further from public scrutiny they can operate. If they already have the formula in place for getting their way in giant Fairfax County, it is understandable they’d be very frustrated at lacking the same level of control over little Falls Church, one percent the size of the county, especially given the City’s new highly-desirable status.

Efforts by such groups to undermine and eliminate the independent city standing of Falls Church would be understandable. But why would any local residents be taking the same posture?