Commentary

Editorial: F.C.’s Wealth Set Against Obligations

Should the City of Falls Church be proud or ashamed that it has been named this week as the wealthiest jurisdiction in the commonwealth? That is to say, the adults among its 15,000 or so souls have collectively the highest wealth values.

Some argue that being “rich” like this is not a good thing. That argument would hold if the Little City’s people achieved their wealth through ill gotten gains, or even primarily through inheritances. While we cannot rule out that some of this may be involved, so it is with any community one might survey. No, the citizens of Falls Church have proven themselves worthy of their financial status through their own creative and diligent work, and that includes managing their lives with the inclusion of obligations to their children and the elderly alike.

One could say that net worth ought to be measured against the efforts at equity and social compassion, and that is valid. In the case of citizens of Falls Church, their record on this balance is quite laudable. It is at least in terms of the efforts of those it elects to lead the city government. On the City Council, there is a constant concern expressed for equity and compassion, and efforts continue among them for more affordable housing, and now, the biggest challenge being the relation between that and zoning alterations that will enable not only affordable but “missing middle” housing to advance in a meaningful way as well.

It is our bet that the City will embrace progressive housing policies quicker than some of its closest neighbors, even though overall dealing with this issue is recognized as one of the most important challenges we face as a nation. The astonishing homeless situation in this nation now is a terrible blight even as some have sought to get away from it by fleeing to suburbs such as Falls Church. But this problem is not going away. In fact, the burden will be felt more and more acutely as the climate crisis forces people to migrate to find more livable situations, on top of what wars and other natural disasters cause.

Can Falls Church address these issues in the context of its collective wealth? We trust we can and will. The City Council is pressing ahead with new affordable and “missing middle” housing initiatives, and in so doing, we believe, setting a moral example to the wider region, even as there will be push-back and resistance from those resistant to change, as we’ve seen already in neighboring Arlington.

But for our community, we feel there is a sharp commitment to fairness and equality of opportunity that won’t hold for everyone but for a broad consensus sufficient to carry the day. Being relatively well-to-do is not a sin if with it comes a sense of responsibility not to hide from our wider social challenges, but to step up to them in ways that set examples for others.