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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

BOS Chairman Sharon Bulova Responds on RCA Resolution; RCA Board Member Responds to Chairman Bulova

Below are the texts of two e-mails pertaining to the resolution passed by the RCA Board of Directors, March 28, 2011, regarding the financing of infrastructure development at Tysons Corner.  The first of these is Chairman Bulova's response to RCA concerning financing arrangements there.  The second is RCA Board member Terry Maynard's response to Chairman Bulova. 


From: Chairman Email
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2011 2:34 PM
To: ''; ''; Planning Commission
Subject: FW: RCA Board Resolution Endorsing McLean Citizens Association Financing Proposal for Tysons Corner Urban Center

Dear Ms. Maynard:

Thank you for sharing your resolution regarding financing transportation projects in Tysons Corner. Your resolution references the Route 28 Tax District and the fact commercial property owners paid 75% of road improvements. There are many differences between the two tax districts. The Tysons landowners are paying $400 million for a public transit system; the Dulles Rail Project. Only a small portion of the Route 28 landowners are paying for Dulles Rail.  In addition, the other (non-transportation) public investments the Tysons landowners will be required to make are significantly greater than the Route 28 landowners are making.  Tysons developers are also expected to make significant contributions of very valuable land and substantial contributions to environmental and work force housing needs in Tysons.

Much of the transportation investment that would be paid for by the public would be  required whether or not additional development occurs in Tysons. That transportation infrastructure is required to create access to the Metro stations and to address an already unacceptable level of congestion in and around Tysons. A good example is the widening of Route 7 from the Dulles Toll Road to Reston Avenue. That project is needed now and has been scheduled for improvement through public investment for many years, similar to the widening projects beyond Reston Avenue and into Loudoun County.

When the Board adopted the plan for the transformation of Tysons, it made a series of follow on motions to guide the staff in the implementation of the plan. Several of the follow on motions are policy issues that require a forum within which to address the views of the various stakeholders. The plan and strategy for financing infrastructure, development of a County policy on walking distances in Transit Oriented Development (TOD) areas, options for providing commuter parking on an interim basis at the stations, and affordable housing contributions from non-residential development are the major policy issues from the follow on motions that we need to address.  In order to develop some options for the Board to consider, on March 29th our Board directed the Planning Commission to work with staff to develop an inclusive process to address Follow on Motion #1, related to financing infrastructure. The Planning Commission will return to the Board with its recommendations on how best to address those issues in September of 2011.

I appreciate your taking the time to write and share your thoughts on this important issue. When more detail regarding the transformation of Tysons and the costs for infrastructure comes to the Board I will be sure to keep your comments in mind.


Sharon Bulova


From:Terry Maynard (
Sent:Tue 4/05/11 1:36 PM
Cc: President MCA (; Board FCFCA (; Planning Commission Fairfax County (; Kathleen Driscoll McKee (; Milton Matthews (; Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (
Bcc: RCA Board

Dear Chairman Bulova,

Thank you for your timely response on the resolution recently passed by the Reston Citizens Association Board of Directors endorsing the position of our counterpart organization in McLean that future financing of needed infrastructure improvements at Tysons should be predominantly funded by commercial landowners there.   I have forwarded your comments to the other members of the RCA Board for their consideration.  That said, I (and I suspect most of my RCA Board counterparts) personally would disagree with several points in your e-mail.

First, the difference between applying a 75-25 infrastructure funding ratio to Tysons and the Rt. 28 corridor is not as large as you make it appear.  County staff briefings to the Tysons task force indicate that about $1.7 billion of the roughly $2 billion in infrastructure improvements that will be required at Tysons in the next 20 years are transportation improvements.   That’s 85% of the total cost.  Moreover, over half of the projected transportation costs will be operating and maintenance costs for bus transit serving Tysons—and not the rest of the county—that will continue and likely grow indefinitely.  In short, there is little difference in the application of the infrastructure spending at Tysons and along the Rt. 28 corridor.

Second, you highlight the taxes that Tysons landowners will be paying to support the construction of Dulles rail, but fail to note that Reston commercial property landowners along the route have a similar arrangement.  Moreover, while Loudoun County has yet to decide how to apportion its share of Dulles rail costs—or even definitively agreed to help fund them—it is reasonable to expect that they will create a similar arrangement along their share of the future Dulles rail line.  The key reason these arrangements were made is that these very businesses will be the beneficiaries of Dulles rail by virtue of their new and expanded access to highly profitable major new development and re-development opportunities.  Similarly, landowners and businesses at Tysons will benefit from the road, transit, open space, and other infrastructure improvements that need to be made there.  These benefits are fully reflected in the profit opportunities permitted by a near doubling of density over the next 20 years and the likely quadrupling or more of density in the longer term under the recent Tysons Comprehensive Plan amendment. 

Third, your comments ignore the RCA resolution argument that, aside from the huge profit potential afforded Tysons landowners and developers through redevelopment, they can share their added tax burden with their tenants and those tenants with their customers.  Additions to personal property or other county-wide taxes will fall on households that cannot further share those costs.  These taxes will erode household disposable income while providing no discernible household benefit.  Moreover, the addition of households in Tysons as called for in its new plan should contribute to the county-wide property tax base, further limiting the need to raise residential or other tax rates to serve Tysons landowners' interests.  As stated in the RCA resolution, those who stand to profit from infrastructure investments in Tysons, that is, Tysons landowners and tenants, ought to be the ones who absorb the bulk of the costs of creating the conditions for that economic opportunity.   

The essence of the RCA and MCA resolutions’ argument is, I believe, that it is fundamentally unfair for a few Tysons landowners, developers, and businesses to make huge profits for the indefinite future at the added and continuing expense of the county’s residents. 

I appreciate your personal efforts to have the infrastructure financing for Tysons studied more thoroughly and look forward to the RCA Board participating in the development of financing arrangements for Tysons Corner in the months ahead as your Follow on Motion #1 proceeds.  And thank you again for your time in responding to the Reston Citizens Association concerning its resolution. 

(Mr.) Terry Maynard
Reston Citizens Association
Board of Directors

cc:  Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
      Fairfax County Planning Commission
      Fairfax County Federation of Community Associations Board
      President, McLean Citizens Association
      President, Reston Association
      CEO, Reston Association 

bcc:  RCA Board of Directors

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