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Browsing Posts tagged Loudoun County

Dr Charles Murray, in his excellent book “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010” talks about “super zips” where the “cognitive elite” are congregating. These zip codes have both the highest median incomes and the highest amount of college graduates. Earlier this week, the Washington Post published a map with every zip code in the nation, based on Dr. Murray’s information, broken down by income and college education and is an excellent demonstration of our increasing bifurcating society. The DC area of course has the highest cluster of these “super zips”. (We have previously discussed why on this website)

In short, a Zip ranking between 0 and 99 represents the average of a zip code’s percentile ranks in college education and income.  A ranking of 95 and higher qualifies the zip code as a “Super Zip”.

For example, the ranking for 20148 (Brambleton area) is 99.

20197 (Waterford), 20152 (South Riding) ranked 98

20147 (Ashburn/Broadlands area) and 20165 (Cascades area of Sterling) both ranked 97

20105 (Aldie) ranked 96

20132 (Purcellville), 20158 (Hamilton) 20141 (Round Hill) 20166 (Dulles area of Sterling) all ranked 95 (yes, parts of Sterling are “super zips”)

A few Loudoun zip codes just missed “super zip” status:

20175, 20176 (both Leesburg), 20177 (Middleburg) all ranked 94

Now, consider the fact that this is just Loudoun County that we are speaking of (Fairfax County for example has several as well) and that hundreds of other territories across the union don’t even have ONE. Also consider that 20032 (South East DC’s Anancostia area) scored a 13 and 21223 in West Baltimore (of ‘The Wire’ fame) scored a 4 (yes, Four). Some inner city areas in other states scored a flat ZERO.

Click here to see the map and enter a zip code to see how it is broken down.

This is from the Washington Post:

Yet many who live in these rapidly evolving communities do not think of themselves as rich or elite. The cost of living, particularly for housing, eats up a large chunk of the two incomes it typically takes to afford a comfortable home in a good school district.

Life surrounded by affluence can also breed worries that might seem absurd to people who do not live in Super Zips — such as whether to hire a professional tennis coach to help a child make the school team, or get an iPhone for a child in elementary school. Some question whether their children can achieve the same level of comfort as adults they know now.

So do the children themselves.

“My parents set me up with something great,” said Heather Burns, 23, adding that she grew up hearing her Loudoun home town of Ashburn described as “Cashburn” — as in “cash to burn.”

Burns said being raised in an area with good schools gave her a foundation to succeed. Even so, she said she may soon move away: “I can’t afford to keep up their lifestyle.”

Indeed, and when/if the gov’t spigot gets turned down significantly, neither will a lot of other people…

Noticed a couple of articles where a community in Baltimore and another in Oakland have, in light of cuts in police service in those cities, decided to pool resources and give extra money to hire private security to patrol their communities. Communities in Detroit have also considered doing likewise. Least anyone think this is something strange, there are already at least 3 communities here in Loudoun (Creighton Farms, Belmont Country Club and River Creek) that have private security. Some well to do individuals even enjoy what’s called “head of state level” security.

If police departments across the union lose funding and are forced to cut back, this could be the wave of the future and security could become something of a commodity. How long before other communities decide to (or even must) join the upper classes (to the extent they are able) and/or are forced to pool their resources to hire private security? What about stronger neighborhood watch programs? As I said before, when the federal government is forced to cut back at some point in the future, robust communities will be a must.

Not to rehash this old debate (and I realize that I was likely in the minority as more Loudouners probably wanted the metro) but the Washington Post produced a poll and article that I thought everyone would find of interest. The article basically says that the Silver Line may not be worth the cost. The way I see it, going through Tysons, and perhaps even going all the way to Dulles made some sense, but going further into Loudoun made no sense. The cost of driving into DC will be about the same as riding the metro. And more and more citizens of Northern Virginia are actually working there and/or telecommuting more often. Seems that they envision the Silver line as being DC’s version of the Long Island Railroad.

On the other hand, trying to see the bright side, with the new ‘urbanism’ proceeding full speed ahead in Northern Virginia, a future trip to Tysons or Reston during Christmas season would probably make more sense on the Metro given the planned lack of parking and the coming increased tolls on 267. But then again, who wants to haul all those gifts around in a train?

By the way, are they planning to discontinue the bus service after the Silver Line opens in Loudoun? I would think that something has to give, and it certainly won’t be the Silver Line. But then again who knows? The Silver line may make a pretty nice bike trail in 100 years!

The other day I ran across the film trailer for a movie that will be released soon called ‘Elysium‘. It is set around 140 years in the future where the few, very rich live very well on a luxurious satellite that orbits the Earth called ‘Elysium’ while the rest of humanity lives on an extremely overpopulated and desolate Earth suffering from a Malthusian catastrophe.

Today, it seems that most of our science fiction foretells of a future that is awful and horrible: feral zombies roaming the countryside to eat us, oppressive government, and/or going backwards in technology.  (In fact, can anyone tell me a recent film that presents a bright future for humanity?) I believe much of that is a reflection on us because we are much more pessimistic about the future than we used to be. Man walked on the moon exactly 44 years ago on tomorrow (July 20, 1969). How many of you can imagine us going to the moon today? I just wonder how many people believe that some form of Elysium is what the future holds for us.

I thought about my youth and what a difference these films are from when I grew up. I loved science fiction as a child and I especially loved reading Star Trek novels. My little friends and I would pretend to be Starfleet Captains that explored the far reaches of the galaxy or Buck Rogers out in space defending the earth. We figured that in the future there would be flying cars, like on the Jetsons. Much of our science fiction reflected our belief that the future would be filled with wonder as humanity would continue to advance and invent all types of new gadgets, build moon bases, continue to discover new things, travel to the bottom of the sea and even to other parts of the solar system and beyond. Yes, there were some science fiction that was dystopian, but most of it was bright and I believe that reflected our attitudes at the time.

continue reading…

E-gads! Say it isn’t so! This is not one of the terms I would use on York. I was a Stockman guy. It appears our very own Loudoun bully (if this was public school, he would have been expelled–zero tolerance for bullies you know) is yet again throwing his weight around to intimidate others. Not because he HAS to but because he WANTS to. Here is the story about this PW/Loudoun connector road. I find it unnecessary and we have enough roads to handle the traffic between connecting counties. Another boondoggle at best.

But let’s not stop there. How about a park-n-ride that is being stalled going forward. Sterling Supervisor Delgaudio brings to our attention that the bullying of the BOS continues and Sterling residents suffer yet again because of it. But what would you expect from someone who feels that the Park should be bulldozed and raised from the ash in his own image–density packed housing to save the West. After all, it could only help out his primary money making business.

Getting York back in the GOP was a strategy I never understood, just because the guy is useless. Now the self-serving liberal only degrades the Republican brand. What Tullouch and the board did before with taking his powers away was wrong unto itself, but I can certainly understand WHY they did it.

MWAA and WMATA are organizations that do not represent the interests of Northern Virginia. They are run by union interests; 80% of metro employees are union members from Maryland and DC. The boards of these organizations force Fairfax, and the other NVA municipalities to pay more than their fair share for rail service, but these municipalities do not have much of a voice in the decision making processes. Governor McDonnell, in an interview on WMAL, lamented this fact. WMATA and MWAA cater to their DC and Maryland Unions, not to the tax payers of Northern Virginia. This is the political landscape that York is rushing us into. Why?

Currently Loudoun is on the hook for 4.8% of the $6.0B that is the price tag for Silver Line construction. The construction bonds could be in MWAA’s name. MWAA due to its poor historic handling of its finances, has a BBB credit rating. This means that they cannot secure 4% loans; the best they can get is 6%. The life time cost for servicing what would be Loudoun’s $285,000,000.00 share of these bonds is around $605,000,000.00. Lets now consider the Capital Improvement Costs that are in the neighborhood of $13.5B, what if Loudoun were saddled with 4.8% of that mountain of debt? Then add in a yearly operating budget of of around $13M. The operating budget is based on WMATA’s estimate — this organization has a poor record when it comes to all matters fiscal — the real operating budget likely will be far higher. Think about what this will do to our taxes. Now remember that MWAA and WMATA get to pump all this tax money into their general fund before it is put towards its intended use. Think about that.

This is a bad deal for Loudoun. Mr. York should know better, but he apparently does not. We are being set up to pay millions per year in order to restore the badly mismanaged MWAA budget. Even the original loans for metro, still have not been fully retired. We are seen as a cash cow by DC and MD Unions; a cash cow that is to be milked for all it is worth. All this just to get 2.6 miles of rail into one corner of the county. York claims this is needed to reduce traffic congestion, when the studies show it will do no such thing. The plan makes no sense Chairman York, why are you pushing us into this?

Why is Loudoun County considering spending a fortune on rail? Proponents claim it will bring business to our county. But at what cost? What will happen to property taxes? How much debt will Loudoun incur? What is Loudoun’s part in subsidizing WMATA? These questions cannot be answered yet as the needed information, for an informed decision, does not yet exist. The eye-popping figure of $2.5B to $3.5B is the price for a commuter line to Loudoun with stations at Dulles Airport, Old Ox Rd. and Ryan Rd which is only Part II of the program.

Who currently owns properties that will benefit most from these public infrastructure upgrades? Moorefield Station will be zoned for 1500 units without rail. With rail, it will be zoned for 6000 units. The people of Loudoun are being used to finance these capital improvements. Normally a tax district for such public works is established so that those who benefit the most will bear some of the burden directly. York and some on the BOS prefer instead to cut from one program so that he can the throw this venture’s costs onto the back of the Loudoun taxpayer. The figure may grow if union set asides are not rejected. Yet, with all these unanswered questions and no tax district, Chairman York claims this is good for Loudoun?

The debt service for WMATA is currently unknown. Wolf has called for an audit, the report is due in May. York is resolved to give WMATA Loudoun’s buy-in by July despite not knowing what will be our share of this debt burden or its size? The MD-DC-VA Metro system is 35 years old, it is falling apart, the reports of escalators failing and trains breaking down are but the tip of the iceberg. The BOS does not know the overhaul cost of the system. The BOS should not sign on until after the price tag has been explained and the public been given time to determine if the service is worth the price. On April 17th WMATA makes a presentation at 7PM to the BOS to address some, but not all of the issues. Public input follows in May and a vote has to happen by July? The rush is reminiscent of the CBPO boondoggle, where York jumped ship.

If Loudoun has to raise $300M in bonds to pay for its share of the Silver Line costs, it will cost $17M per year to service the bond, assuming a 30-year bond at 5%. Such a bond would lead to a two cent hike in the property tax. The total price tag could be far higher. Currently bond service is divorced from ridership for all of Metro. With a population of 310,000, Loudoun does not have enough potential rail commuter demand to justify all these potential expenses. Currently, Fairfax subsidizes the cost of the rail lines to the tune of $0.58 for every dollar spent. Given Fairfax has 1.1M people, it is likely the Loudoun subsidy will need to be far higher. York, who claims this is a good idea, has not yet exercised proper due diligence in this matter. MD-DC-VA-Metro rail has been a money pit since its inception. How is Loudoun’s joining that failed venture a good idea? How is an increased tax burden going to bring business to Loudoun?

Driving the Dulles Toll road, you can see office buildings on both sides of the road from Tysons to Reston to Herndon. Loudoun has become the bedroom community for Fairfax. The Dulles corridor was built up without the help of a rail line. In Reston town center you will find bus stops, but no train station. Rail is coming to Reston and Herndon. First came the roads, then the office buildings, the town center business parks and the restaurants and shops to service these enterprises. Then comes the rail. This robust development is the result of professional community planning that is logical, has vision, and adds the most expensive elements once there is a business base in place to shoulder the cost.

We are 20 years behind Fairfax because, under Chairman York, the BOS’s engaged in unprofessional and unpredictable community planning. First came the homes without roads. Then came the Democrat-dominated board in 2007, that was actively hostile to business. These Democrats were publicly endorsed by Chairman York. This last board raised business taxes, resulting in a loss of businesses in Loudoun. With the business community collapsing, the York protegees decided that the most pressing business was to enact the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance? Today you can see where the Fairfax County border is on VA28 and US50 very clearly. It is where the office buildings and business parks suddenly end. Such is the legacy of York’s leadership the past 12+ years as Chairman of the BOS.

Will York stop the current rush to Rail? First Loudoun needs some solid community planning, a business friendly climate, and a professional, predictable process for business development. When the Greenway from Dulles to Leesburg begins to resemble the Toll Road corridor between Reston and Herndon, and when VA28 north of Dulles has the office density that one sees in Chantilly, then it will be time to consider Metro rail. Right now, Mr. York, that consideration is still years away.