One thing we know for sure, Fairfax County is about to lose a lot of institutional knowledge on the Board of Supervisors. Here are a few suggestions for areas where those who might find themselves on a fully reconstituted Board of Supervisors should bone up.
Affordable Housing: The market is not going to produce the affordable housing we need on its own. Mixed income apartments and condos that serve workforce housing all the way down through vouchers and supported housing managed local by nonprofits, all in the same building, must be leveraged by subsidizing infrastructure, providing partnerships, land and bonus densities. Move outside the box. Let large employers build housing, next to, on top of, in the parking areas, of their buildings. Let churches make room for housing. Put mixed income housing on top of every government building including libraries, community centers, government centers. Make room for housing in vast county parking lots. Try everything.
Homelessness: While in many ways, Fairfax County has succeeded in reducing homelessness as much as possible, preventing a continuing cycle of homelessness will require more attention. Fairfax County Public Schools counted 2,600 students experiencing homelessness at the end of the school year, most of them Latino. The county’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness counted somewhat fewer, most of them African American. The definition is different, and the differences reveal places for improvement. The board is losing two major advocates for affordable housing and ending homelessness in Chairman Sharon Bulova and Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.
Roads: We are on the cusp of unprecedented innovation in transportation. Overdesigning roads now will continue to divide communities, suburban and urban, in the future even with a decline in vehicles on the road and car ownership. Think ahead. Self-driving cars. Ride sharing. Service for people with disabilities and older residents.
One Fairfax: Data and other efforts related to equity and One Fairfax are already revealing expected and unexpected issues.
Police Reform: While Fairfax County now has two forms of independent oversight of police, consider that the police have chosen to remain silent on recommendations and reports by both the Independent Police Auditor and the Civilian Review Panel. Members of the current Board of Supervisors acknowledge that they assumed the Fairfax County Police Department would make a public response to such oversight, but apparently it will need to be an explicit requirement. Transparency remains a concern.
Criminal Justice Reform: Don’t forget what voters told you on June 11 about the importance of a progressive approach to criminal justice reform. Figure out and heed what leads to racial injustice in the criminal justice system.
Demographics: Residents of Fairfax County are getting older. Schools are getting more diverse. Data will offer many clues about what the county will look like in 10 years.
Change: We are on the cusp of unprecedented innovation. Don’t double down and lock in solutions for yesterday’s problems in a way that precludes more elegant technological solutions later. Transportation is the most obvious of these. But anything that reduces barriers to entry will change the landscape. Better meetings via camera, including medical appointments, therapy, drug treatment, business meetings. You can be face to face with anyone anywhere. Soon it will be seamless and generally available. There are many other examples.