Commentary, Local Commentary

Editorial: Not ‘Boxes,’ It’s the People They Bring

As the discourse in the City of Falls Church angles toward a final vote from the City Council over proposed changes in the City’s zoning codes to permit modest residential development in its so-called “Transitional Zones,” the arguments of the citizens who are wildly opposed to the idea, mostly on grounds it may infringe on some of their views, continue to frame the issue in ways that this City rejected repeatedly in recent decades that allowed it to break away from the pack, in terms of regional growth factors, to set the context for its current remarkable commercial and residential growth and the impacts of that on its ability to vastly improve the quality of public education here, as well as the community’s overall quality of life.

It is hard to fathom how some, including in leadership positions in this community, seek to frame the debate in terms of citizens versus greedy developers.This was the framework for an adamant opposition to the proposed changes as recently as this Monday’s Falls Church City Council work session.

In the past 30 years in Falls Church, however, a more enlightened perspective has prevailed here that frames the issue in a radically different, and far more constructive way, in terms of pressures against development versus the benefits of reasonable development.

The previous concept presents the issues in terms of little citizens hoping to hold onto their old expectations for the world around them against the abject greed of “developers” who want to suck all the uniqueness out of their former little communities to exploit the profits coming their way from wanton construction of more and more boxes infringing on the little people’s quality of life and former dominion over their little neighborhoods.

The false concept of rich, greedy developers versus little villagers has continued to be the lens through which some in this, and most other communities, view the world, and what is happening to their little places.

But, truth be told, the City of Falls Church moved beyond this feudal concept years before most other of the smaller jurisdictions in this region did. Happily for Falls Church, the “developer” was not deemed a dirty word here, because leaders in the community came to see the merits of smart development’s ability to contribute to the City’s tax base, and to fund the development of its school system into one of the world’s best.

These enlightened people were able to see how smart development helped the education they valued for their children and many other aspects of a quality of life for the Little City  Happily, beginning in the early 1990s, this newspaper and the local Chamber of Commerce were able to spear this approach,

So, more properly, it is not “the people versus the developer boxes” that defines this community, but the growing numbers of people who live in those boxes that matter here.

These new people bring their resources, revenues and talents to help this overall renaissance community thrive.