Mount Vernon Letter: Save Taxes, Re-think Systems

Mount Vernon Letter: Save Taxes, Re-think Systems

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Every year in Fairfax County, we hear from our Board of Supervisors (BOS) that programs must be cut and taxes must be raised to balance the budget. Perhaps a more appropriate approach would be to closely examine county operations and eliminate wasteful practices.

The county operates a Residential Traffic Administration Program (RTAP). The RTAP assists communities in addressing traffic issues. Among the ways community traffic issues are addressed by the RTAP are traffic-calming measures, cut-through restrictions, through-truck restrictions, and posting of signs concerning fines for speeding and to encourage watching for children. The Fairfax County website explains the procedures that must be undertaken to initiate review by the bureaucrats in the RTAP. Looking at those procedures, they can involve a request from a homeowners' association (HOA) or in the absence of an HOA a letter signed by 10 residents.

Interestingly, the guidelines consider a civic association to have the same standing as an HOA. An HOA is mandatory and their bylaws and regulations are recorded in the land records of each property within their jurisdiction. An HOA is empowered to enact and enforce rules and regulations such as architectural covenants, parking restrictions, limitations on flag display, and many others. By contrast, a civic association is voluntary and can only suggest community policies, it cannot impose them. It is my understanding that to convert a voluntary civic association to an HOA, every property within the proposed jurisdiction must approve. One dissenter can veto the proposal. Thus, giving a voluntary civic association the same standing as an HOA is inappropriate.

In the Stratford Landing community adjacent my home, the Stratford Landing Citizens Association (SLCA) is a voluntary civic association. Several residents have lodged appropriate complaints concerning an epidemic of speeders. The SLCA Board has now voted to request the RTAP begin examination of imposition of traffic-calming infrastructure. Since the SLCA is not an HOA, it is ridiculous that it should be able to set the bureaucratic wheels in motion with no input from residents at large. It would be equally ludicrous for 10 residents (fewer than 2 percent of the homes) to be able to start the process as well.

According to the RTAP procedures, when a request is received the bureaucratic machinery goes into action and after they have decided what they think ought to be done, they request a vote of the entire community to approve or disapprove. Perhaps we could save a lot of money if the community as a whole were first asked whether they generally want the county to assess traffic-calming options before the bureaucracy commences work. If the community opposes, there is no need to proceed. For example, perhaps the community would prefer requesting increased police presence and speed traps.

This is but one example of putting the cart before the horse, spending a lot of time and money creating a plan for traffic calming before even knowing if the majority of the community would consent to installation of speed bumps, speed humps, speed tables, raised pedestrian crosswalks, median islands, etc. The BOS should restore the position of the cart behind the horse.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon