Fairfax: No Cars? No Problem!

Fresh off the intense discussion earlier in the week regarding the “No Car” lifestyle, it seems that Fairfax County planners want you not to have a car in the burbs either:

In a place where cars and growth have always gone together, the county wants to offer incentives to the residents and workers in the planned MetroWest development at the Vienna station to not even own a car — let alone drive one.

They’re working with Pulte Homes (the builder) to reduce the number of car trips from the residents of a new development that we’ve discussed before, Metro West. Included are financial incentives, and penalties, related to the number of car trips. But, this isn’t enough for local anti-growth folks, who consider the community of nearly 6,000 people to be too much for Vienna, a sleepy bedroom community at the end of the Metro line. They want to sink the community before it gets any further along in the development process.

8 Comments so far

  1. Derek (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2005 @ 8:29 am

    Vienna is sleepy?! Obviously, you’ve never been to Jammin’ Java!

  2. Tiff (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2005 @ 9:40 am

    The question is whether Pulte is going to be willing to take the risk that units are going to go unsold because of the policies discouraging car ownership. Will the self-selection of people buying because of the Metro access be enough?

    As the largest homebuilder in the country, Pulte can probably afford the experiment, but at the same time… Fairfax needs Metro West more than Pulte does and Pulte may decide it’s no longer interested in the project, what with all the problems it’s having with the local authorities.

  3. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2005 @ 10:50 am

    I have been to Vienna, Derek, but man, it’s no DC. Jammin’ Java’s in a strip mall for crying out loud!

  4. wayan (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2005 @ 11:58 am

    As much as I love, defend, and encourage a car-free lifestyle, it just ain’t gonna happen in Fairfax. NoVA is too spread out to break itself of car dependency.

    How can they stop folks from driving when the nearest 7-11, Jammin’ Java, or Safeway is more than a mile away? And I’m not talking to the edge of the parking lot, but door to door, and that mile (or more) is filled with phone-talking SUV drivers.

    I might brave DC traffic riding my bike like a fool, but I wouldn’t dare ride Route 123 unless I had a police escort. Hell, they’d probably arrest a cyclist on 123, thinking they must be crazy. Definitely only crazy fools would try and walk, what with the dearth of sidewalks and plethora of clueless drivers.

    If folks can’t get out, you better have good alternatives for them, and not the captive-audience prices and products you find in other physically isolated spots like airports or prisons. Who would want to plop down $500k for a house and then only have an airport food court as a dining option?

    Last but definitely not least, they think all those folks will commute via Metro into DC? We have it direct from Tiffany that this is wishful thinking. Americans love their cars, and folks in NoVA obsess about them to the point of claiming kidnapping if they can’t drive.

    Good luck Fairfax!

  5. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2005 @ 12:17 pm

    The problem here is that they’re right, Wayan. It’s not a mile to the Safeway, it’s 5. It’s not a mile to the barber, it’s 8. It’s not a mile to school, 10. You can bike in Virginia, just don’t expect any ground from the cars. Or any cargo to make it safely. Bikes aren’t practical for carrying a week’s worth of groceries, or a load of children home from school. Some folks will metro to work. If I lived on top of a metro station, I sure would. But I don’t. I live 20 minutes from a metro in rush hour bus traffic.

    It’s not that we don’t like the metro. It’s that it’s less convenient than my car. And the metro sure as hell is less comfy than my car. Ever been in a rush-hour blue line 4 car train headed out of the district? In the summer? With no AC?

    That’s the problem.

  6. Tiff (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2005 @ 3:13 pm

    I think the short version of that statement is:

    “If Metro didn’t SUCK ASS, I would use it more.” ;)

  7. wayan (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2005 @ 1:24 pm

    Cool new drinking game for y’all to play out there: Fairfax Frogger!

    Stand on either side of Route 7 and drink every time a pedestrian makes it across another lane of traffic alive. Guzzle two beers if they make it across in one dash, like this guy apparently did.

  8. Urban_Outfitter (unregistered) on June 27th, 2005 @ 11:04 am

    Come on – Buzz me with SMART GROWTH.

    Less cars, less fat people.

    Less cars, less gas consumption = no energy crisis.

    Less cars, lower cost of insurance.

    Less cars, no more DUIs/DWIs.

    Yes, I agree human behaviour needs to change and in time, it will to some level. Community planners are making an effort and recognize the need to help people make that change (lots of programs to encourage people to take mass transit). I don’t think Pulte will have any problem selling condo units under the conditions Fairfax Co is setting. Who can afford both a condo AND a car (car payment, insurance, maintenance, property tax) anyway?!?!

    Believe me, Vienna is definitely closer to the city still when you see the alternatives that people are looking at when buying a home. If you can save $50K or more buying in Vienna vs. Ballston (and the metro ride is an extra 10 minutes vs. 1 hour in the car along I-66), you’ve got it made, baby. Vienna ain’t so bad – yeh, your amenities are in a strip mall (Whole Foods, Safeway, Giant). Bike path is cool (good ride into DC). Pedestrian friendly. Definitely not DC, but if you want DC, live in DC. People like Vienna b/c it is the closest to urban living as it can be without the huge rats and inefficient DC gov’t.

    BTW, metro is not bad – don’t diss it. It is 30 years old. It works 90% of the time. I am happy with it and I give them props for making small improvements. If you don’t like it, drive.

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