OUTSIDE THE BOX: The Rediscovery That There’s No Free Lunch

OUTSIDE THE BOX: The Rediscovery That There’s No Free Lunch

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
January 26, 2015

It’s a famous expression in economics theory: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

For those unfamiliar with the phrase and the theory, it was popularized by economist Milton Friedman, who published a book by that name in 1975. What he meant, and what the phrase is generally understood to mean, is that you can’t get something for nothing. If something is offered for free, there’s still a cost somewhere.

If the band at a nightclub is playing for free, the drink prices are probably going to be high, certainly higher than they would need to be if there was a cover charge for the music. The cost for the “free” music is the expensive beverages.

And so it is in Falls Church City, where one of the free “concessions” the City requests from developers of the new mixed-use projects is that some of the new residential units be set aside for people who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

It’s a simple approach to affordable housing, and it seems like it’s virtually free, especially compared to the cost of building or subsidizing a free... [Read more...]


OUTSIDE THE BOX: Will be Published Monday

Outside the Box, the Times’ regular Sunday column, will be published Monday. Thank you for your interest.

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Water Main Break Closes Broad Street To Traffic

By FALLS CHURCH CITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
January 21, 2015

Busy Broad Street is closed in both directions at the intersection with Fairfax Street and will remain closed until tonight, officials say.

The cause is a water main break in the 300 block of East Broad.

There is heavy traffic in both directions, and vehicles are being detoured. Eastbound vehicles are being sent down Annandale Road to Hillwood Avenue, while westbound drivers are being sent on Hillwood.

Fairfax Water is working on the problem, but a fix is expected to take all day.

Customers may call Fairfax Water at 703-698-5800 during business hours, 703-698-5613 after hours.

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OUTSIDE THE BOX: Proof That My Street is a Hazard

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Proof That My Street is a Hazard

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
January 19, 2015

I knew that my street was a traffic incident waiting to happen. And now we have proof.

As I mentioned in a previous column, City officials in the fall offered to remove the curious no parking signs along my side of the street in an effort to narrow the road and thereby discourage speeding.

It was never clear why the parking restriction was there to begin with, but their presence made the wide street more dangerous, as drivers saw an unencumbered piece of pavement that seemed to invite everyone to channel their inner Mario Andretti.

Workers removed the signs just before Christmas. And within a month of their removal, the car I began parking out there to help with traffic calming became a casualty.

It was 7:45 am a week ago Sunday, which would make the date January 11, if memory serves. I had just gotten out of bed and opened the blinds, revealing the brilliant blue skies of a crisp January morning.

As I walked into the bathroom, I suddenly heard a loud noise from outside: “Bang!” But it wasn’t a “bang” like a gunshot, or fireworks, or even one... [Read more...]

Around Town









OUTSIDE THE BOX: Will be Published Monday

Outside the Box, the Times’ regular Sunday column, will be published Monday. Rumor has it that the viewing of two championship football games took precedence over writing this weekend. Thank you for your interest.

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Explosion Causes $1 Million Damage to Eden Center

By FALLS CHURCH CITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
January 15, 2015

Wednesday’s explosion at an Eden Center business caused more than $1 million damage to the building, but the cause has been ruled an accident.

Falls Church City Fire Marshal Tom Polera said the explosion and related fire was caused by improper use of propane and oxygen.

The explosion occurred at Princess Diamonds Jewelry, 6757 Wilson Blvd., at about 2:30 pm Wednesday. The impact of the explosion also caused significant damage to numerous adjacent businesses. Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the City of Falls Church Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the scene.

Three people with non-life-threatening burns and lacerations were transported to local hospitals.

The investigation was led by Mr. Polera and assisted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the City of Falls Church Police Department.

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City Seeks Opinions on Capital Expenditure Priorities

By FALLS CHURCH CITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS and FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
January 14, 2015

In the wake of the heated debate over the Mt. Daniel referendum and school expenditures generally, Falls Church City officials are seeking input from residents regarding their opinions on how money should be allocated for big ticket items in the upcoming 2016 budget.

Staffers have created an informal survey to help gather community thoughts on the type and priority of capital infrastructure projects to fund in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Survey results will be presented to the Planning Commission and City Council during budget meetings from February through April; they also will be posted to the City website at the address www.fallschurchva.gov/CIP.

The five-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) identifies capital infrastructure needs of the community and indicates how these needs will be funded over the five-year period. In general, only projects that cost more than $150,000 and have a useful life in excess of 5 to 10 years qualify for funding in the CIP.

Projects can be mandatory, like police emergency radios, but many others... [Read more...]


OUTSIDE THE BOX: On Schools, Can a Bundle Even Be Saved?

OUTSIDE THE BOX: On Schools, Can a Bundle Even Be Saved?

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
January 11, 2015

Last week’s Outside the Box generated some interesting discussion from some residents concerned about the tax rate and the possibility that school spending is crowding out other priorities. So I thought I would delve into that topic some more.

I would like to begin by noting that I am not generally a fan of government spending. I do think, and have written previously, that governments at many levels spend the public’s money poorly, and with little accountability. It’s certainly possible that the same could be true in Falls Church City.

But is it?

One could make the case that there was some questionable choices during the flush and halcyon days of 2000 to 2005, when area real estate was appreciating at a prodigious rate of roughly 20 percent per year.

Others may disagree, but I would single out the dearly departed George bus as an example of wasteful spending. Most City residents live within one-quarter mile of a Metro bus line, and two train stations are at the City borders. Sending a bus through low-density single family home neighborhoods already convenient... [Read more...]


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