Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

prenny-fcnpEach year, Fairfax County publishes a lengthy demographic report that highlights population, housing units, residential and commercial development, market values, and other pertinent information. The data is presented in several profiles – by magisterial district, human services regions, sanitary sewersheds, census tracts, and even ZIP codes! There are lots of numbers, to be sure, but a careful reading of the 2018 report, released in October, reveals some fascinating details.

In 1970, Fairfax County had 454,300 people, living in 130,800 housing units (single family detached, town houses, apartments), with a median age of 25.2 years. By 2000, the population had more than doubled, to 969,700; housing units increased to 328,200, and the median age was 35.9 years. Racial and ethnic population distribution in 2000 was 69.9 percent white, 8.6 percent black, 13.1 percent Asian and Pacific Islander, and 11 percent Hispanic. Today, we are 61.1 percent white, 9.7 percent black, 19.5 Asian and Pacific Islander, and 16.2 percent Hispanic. As the county has grown in age and population, so, too, has its diversity surged.

Household income also has increased. In 2000, median household income was $82,000; today it is $118,279. That income level tags Fairfax County as one of the wealthiest in the nation, but county revenues are based on real estate values, not salaries. Income taxes paid to the state and federal governments do not provide the local services residents and businesses rely on; property taxes do. That fact is not lost on policy makers during budget time. In 2000, an average monthly rent was $989; today it is $1,788. Similarly, the estimated median market value for owned housing units in 2000 was $226,800 (an 18 percent jump from the previous year); today the same measurement is $519,560, just a 2.7 percent increase from 2017. Longtime homeowners may appreciate the escalation in value for their major investment, but first-time buyers may view such increases as barriers to home ownership. Housing units that are affordable for a range of incomes continue to be a challenge, and an opportunity.

Mason District’s profile includes four planning districts (Annandale, Baileys, Jefferson, and Lincolnia), two Human Services Regions (Region 2 and a portion of Region 4), 11 ZIP codes, approximately five sewersheds, and more than 30 census tracts. The 2018 population of Mason District is 116,035, living in 22.21 square miles, for a population density of 5,224 per square mile. By 2045, the forecasting date currently used by planners, Mason District’s population will be 134,500, or about 10 percent growth over 25 years. `An interesting tidbit in the report reveals that more than half (24,980) of existing Mason District homes were built before 1970. Mason District currently has 42,804 housing units, or 17,869 single family detached; 33 duplexes; 5,615 townhouses; and 19,287 apartments and condos. Most of the forecast growth to 2045 is in the Tysons and Reston areas, a byproduct of the extension of the Silver Line to serve these areas with Metrorail, all the way to Dulles International Airport.

The 2018 Demographic Report reflects the measured, methodical approach to planning and development that has been a hallmark of Fairfax County for decades, ensuring that the county remains a great place to live, work, play, learn, worship, and age gracefully. The full report may be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/demographics.

 


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]