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Five Minutes With Cathy Hudgins

Hunter Mill Supervisor on the campaign trail, even without an opponent.

Cathy Hudgins has served as Hunter Mill's representative to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors since 1999 and is now serving her third term. She is running unopposed for re-election.

Hunter Mill is one of the largest magisterial districts in the county with a growing diverse population and changing land use development, particularly in Reston, where Hudgins resides.

Hudgins serves as the chair of the Board's Human Services and Housing and Community Development Committees. She also serves as Chair of Washington Area Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) board of directors.

Patch spent five minutes with Hudgins recently to talk about her future and the future of the Hunter Mill District:

Patch: You had an opponent in your last re-election race. Is it different running unopposed?

Cathy Hudgins: One thing I have learned about elections is that we have things to do and need to get out and do them. You still have to run vigorously. One of my biggest [objectives] for Hunter Mill is to continue the progress we have made in becoming a community in transition from suburban to a more urban environment.

This is a very diverse district. We have Herndon, Vienna, Reston. Some of those places, such as in the Town of Vienna, are not going to change, ever. But Reston and the tip of Tysons, those areas are changing. The question is, how do we make the transition? We have to provide the infrastructure that is needed to support rail here? To not bring it to Dulles compromises all the work we have done.

Patch: Some people criticize the plans, both for infrastructure and for development related to a transit-oriented Reston. How do you respond to them?

Hudgins: Reston will change anyway. There is all sorts of entitlements left for development in Reston. The question is, how can we maintain the quality of community that [founder] Bob Simon envisioned?

I think we have maintained Bob Simon's principals. There will always be some concerns such as the diversity of housing and bus service. But we remain connected to our environmental stewardship. We are connected across income and diversity.

Patch: How high-density does this new, transit-oriented Reston need to be? When you look at projects planned near the Wiehle Metro and along Reston Parkway, from the Metro station to Baron Cameron, it is going to be a very different, and perhaps very crowded place.

Hudgins: [area on Reston Parkway that is slated to go from basic strip mall to high-density, mixed use], it was always planned to be high density. What I hope we can do, whether the density comes to be in the high end or not, is to have more workforce housing.

I hope we can get it under our policy guidelines so that Spectrum will come into the right mix.

Patch: Current recommendations are for 12 percent workforce housing. Is that the right mix?

Hudgins: In  Tysons, which will have a great deal of density, there will be 20 percent workforce housing. We really do have room for a little more. We have to make some of these decisions very carefully.

Patch: VDOT announced it will get started on Soapstone - redoing it, adding sidewalks, getting a Toll Road crossing bridge - has been a project of yours for years. Are VDOT's plans the right solution?

Hudgins: Soapstone has been a difficult project, getting the right mix in there. We had been looking for the money for a long time. This is a road that has a lot of density around it, and is a very unsafe area with a pedestrian fatality, injuries and crashes.

When we got congestion mitigation money, we thought we had a solution, but do all of what we wanted with sidewalks and gutters, we needed  more money.

After recommendations from [county] staff and a lot of community input, we needed to bite the bullet. The money is going now to improve what is there. It isn't perfect, but hopefully was can identify more money and keep it going.

A sidewalk will be built on one side. Ideally, we would have wanted it on the side by the condos, but that requires a lot more roadwork than we have funds. However, we can bring some safety to that road and try and continue to get the sidewalk on the other side as well.

There needs to be another toll road crossing. There are plans for a Soapstone crossing study in 2012. With three [future] Metro stations. We can't rely on Reston Parkway and Wiehle as the only ways to get there.

Treva Johnson September 30, 2011 at 06:28 PM
I do not favor your projects for Soapstone. However, I would favor a over-head bridge at the end of the path that connects to the 7-11 because the children have no protection against the cars driving down the street. Before you make any other changes regarding projects to reduce your traffic on Reston Parkway you should send a letter to each household stating what your proposal and letter us vote yes or no.
Richard Holmquist September 30, 2011 at 07:23 PM
What's wrong with the underground crossing at the 7-11?
Kathy September 30, 2011 at 07:40 PM
What's wrong with a stop sign at the 7-11? I mean, if you actually care about people being hit by cars. Kathy Kaplan
John Farrell September 30, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Most of the foot traffic to the 7-11 comes and goes to the north. The tunnel is on the wrong side of the 7-11 for these pedestrians. I wouldn't be surprised if many didn't know it was there.
Friends of the Reston Regional Library October 01, 2011 at 11:11 AM
What's wrong with re-painting and illuminating the cross walk at the 7-11?
Rod's Sharpening Service October 01, 2011 at 11:36 AM
Why can't we do more to make our sidewalks more useful and pleasant? The brush is allowed to grow right into the pathway of pedestrians where only pedestrian traffic prunes them. One side of Glade is almost abandoned because of this. (Saying nothing about the poison ivy which makes many miserable.) Will the new Soapstone sidewalk just be overgrown too? Neither RA, the county, or VDOT seem to care. I know one man in a wheelchair who dosen't dare go out on the sidewalks of Reston.
John Rosner October 01, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Supervisor Hudgins - A Soapstone crossing over the Toll Rd needs to be formally studied before planning. Adding a crossing here is going to vector traffic through streets that aren't planned for this kind of congestion. Also, will put more cars on roads close to South Lakes HS, Lanston Hughes MS and Terraset ES during rush hour and school arrival/dismissal.
Kathy October 01, 2011 at 01:54 PM
From Fairfax County: The Phase II Reston Master Plan Study COMMUNITY MEETING will be held on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. South Lakes High School Cafeteria, 11400 South Lakes Blvd, Reston Put it on your calendar. Phase 2 will address rezoning of Reston's residential neighborhoods and reconfiguration of our village centers. Kathy Kaplan
Harry Locock October 01, 2011 at 04:42 PM
What precisely is "workforce housing"?
John Farrell October 01, 2011 at 05:27 PM
It is housing that's affordable to teachers, firefighters, police, nurses, administrative assistants. It's sometimes expressed as being priced for person making a certain percentage of the poverty level income for an area or a percentage of the average wages for an area. For 50 years Fairfax engage in exclusionary land use practices which forced the families of people working in Fairfax to travel long distances to find affordable housing. Some of the people who work in my office commute from West Virginia and Front Royal in order to find a home. A coworker of my wife commutes from Harrisburg PA to Ashburn. This adds to the commuter congestion and air pollution. We need to provide housing that is closer to the jobs. Average house price in FFX is $425,000. Normal loan underwriting would expect a family income of $170,000 to support that loan. A family headed by two FFX teachers would not make enough to carry a loan for the average house. The workforce housing initiative is an attempt, though a very modest one, to correct for the 50 years of zoning laws that forced our middle income employees, private and public, to live far from their jobs. A better approach would be to rezone some of the 2/3rds of the county that's zone for large lot sprawl - 1, 3, 5, and 10 acre minimum lots sizes - to smaller, more affordable and efficient house lots. Then let the market satisfy this need. Another would be "linkage" requiring commercial developers to provide cont.
John Farrell October 01, 2011 at 05:32 PM
One single family house for every two jobs and one multi-family dwelling unit for every 8 jobs. Either program would be better to have housing supply met the demand create by the jobs we generate in Fairfax than the tiny workforce housing effort of the County which is better than nothing but not by much.
Harry Locock October 01, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Thank you, John, for your lucid and illuminating reply. A couple more questions, though: Is "workforce" housing available to candlestick makers or are some occupations deemed worthier than others? Who are the "we" that "need" to provide housing that is closer to the jobs? Surely, no one is "forced" to live "far" from his job. He has opted to work where he has found employment. A market is unlikely ultimately to "satisfy a need" when the prescriptions for this putative market have already been set.
John Farrell October 01, 2011 at 07:51 PM
I'm not aware of specific occupational preferences in any workforce housing program though some may exist somewhere. The regulatory regime adopted over the last 50 years artificially constraint housing supply while continuing to accomodate and attract employment. The jobs were coming and did come. At the individual level, there certianly some choice is involved but, at the aggregate county wide level, the jobs were coming, are coming and will continue to come. The issue is where will those jobs go at night. One of several perversities of current arrangement is that when these jobs go home to WV, MD & Pa, their income tax payments go with them. Thus, by attracting jobs and but forbidding proximate housing for those jobs, the intended positive tax impact is substantially lost. Though admittedly difficult, nothing is craved in granite. I'd rather correct the wrongs done over the last 50 years by reducing the distortive regulation rather than overlaying it with yet more distorting regulation.
Tammi Petrine October 02, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Road Diets: The only people who support them are the people who don't live in the area where this has been implemented. I have lived in Reston off Lawyers Road and Soapstone for 35 years so use BOTH constantly. I know what the conditions are. Lawyers is now "skinny." The only problem area of Lawyers was the section between Steeplechase and St.John Newman Catholic Church. The grading of the curve there has always been incorrectly banked and no turning lanes were available for the massive amounts of traffic attracked by parishioners. Grade correctly and add a LONG turn lane and voila, no problems. Regarding Soapstone, lack of sidewalks and lighting are totally responsible for the accidents and fatality there. Sending kids to school in the pitch black with neither is the crime. The 7/11 shopping stop also needs a southbound turn lane, yet now we are slated for a road diet! Boo! Reston has been denied our deserved funding from the state of VA for years. The excess tolls alone from the Dulles Toll Road have provided hundred's of MILLIONS for which we have NO accounting. We sure could've used those funds to fix our roads vs. giving a denser community LESS capacity. I drive Lawyers and it is fine unless you get a snail in front of you; then the traffic backs up 20 cars deep and you want to pull your hair out. C'mon, Supervisor Hudgins, give us a break. Both Lawyers and Soapstone are vital arterial roads in Reston. This is cruel and unusual punishment.
Chris October 02, 2011 at 03:15 AM
Boring comments
Kathy October 03, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Oh Chris, don't be a wet blanket. So many interesting things in this thread. Look, John Farrell on the Democratic side and Harry Locock on the Republican side danced a little circle around each other about the county's affordable housing policy. The Republicans could have put up a candidate for Hudgins' seat and then we could have had a proper discussion about county policy. Wonder why they didn't? I will mention it again, the county responsible for the zoning along Route 1 wants to rezone Reston. Community meeting November 16, 7 pm, South Lakes High School Cafeteria.
Rob Whitfield October 04, 2011 at 11:06 PM
At the Georgelas plan public hearing in Tysons Corner last week, I asked the Fairfax BOS to define the provisions of "affordable" and "workforce" housing. As often occurs when I testify, Chairman Bulova ignored my request and did not require County staff to provide any public information appropriate to Tysons. Corner. I found this explanation in a Wash Post article from March 2010: "The guidelines say that new developments should set aside 20 percent of units for buyers or renters with household incomes of $51,350 to $123,240, or 50 to 120 percent of Fairfax's median household income of $102,700. In exchange, developers would be allowed to build 20 percent more units." Also: "Nonresidential developers would also be asked to contribute $3 per square foot to a trust fund that would go toward the creation of affordable housing." The County relies on 99.99% of the public to remain silent and stupid when they pass project plans for which the fiscal impact on taxpayers is unknown. The same happened in approving Dulles Rail Phase 1 in 2007 and is happening on Phase 2. When I met Supervisor Hudgins in 2007 at a Tysons Corner meeting she went on about devoting 1 cent of the property taxes for County employees. I suggested to her then that a far greater priority exists to provide financial assistance to the growing number of elderly with modest incomes in our communities. It seems that County workers are more important in the minds of most Supervisors.
Kathy October 05, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Someone who makes $123,240 a year qualifies for affordable housing? Hmmm. That's a whole lot more than my yearly household income. How is this paid for? Higher taxes for those pay property tax in Fairfax County? So young couples who elected to NOT have the $28,000 wedding (American average) and NOT to buy two brand new, swanky status cars have to subsidize the housing for couples who made BAD financial decisions? I know a young college graduate who lived at home the first year after college, got a job, saved every penny, got married, rented an apartment for a year, continued saving every penny, and the next year put 20% down on a townhouse in Reston. And how do I know that her parents didn't give her the down payment? I'm her skinflint mother who told her all the time she was growing up that the fastest way to get poor was to spend money like you were rich. Poor child. Well, poor child with her own home in Reston. I am very sad there is no political dialogue this year. Democracy depends on political dialogue. And there is so much to discuss. Kathy Kaplan
Rob Whitfield October 05, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Just found the "dwelling unit" administrative policy guidelines for Tysons. Workforce Dwelling Unit Administrative Policy Guidelines Page 2 of 13 Efficiency Unit: 450 square feet 1-Bedroom Unit: 600 square feet 2-Bedroom Unit: 750 square feet 3-Bedroom Unit 900 square feet 4-Bedroom Unit 1,050 square feet A typical two bedroom apartment unit contains between 1,000 square feet and 1,200 square feet. I don't see any minimum sizes stipulated for kitchens, bathrooms and living room areas - or are those considered optional "amenities" by the County? If four bedrooms are each average 150 square feet, that would leave 450 square feet for a bathroom or two, a kitchen and living room. Looks like real estate tycoons from Hong Kong or Mumbai will find new development opportunities in Tysons!!
Richard Holmquist October 05, 2011 at 04:51 PM
Mrs. K, Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but I don't see this as a hand-out to anybody. Are you equating affordable housing with subsidized housing? My understanding is that affordable housing is meant to ensure that a sufficient percentage of housing is built on small lots or with smaller square footage so it remains affordable to those with family incomes <$123k. "Starter homes" in some cases. Am I wrong? Your daughter's first townhouse in Reston might be an example. My first Reston condo probably was. I think that Reston's commitment to diverse housing options allowed for sufficient inventory of homes within my price range, and I'd like things to stay that way as Reston grows. I think we hurt ourselves as a community if we don't have a sufficient inventory in affordable price ranges, and perhaps government has a role to ensure that's the case. I don't support government subsidies to people who make $120k per year, but having a sufficient number of small condos intermixed with high-end real estate is important. Developers may otherwise drive all but the most wealthy out of the area in their chase for higher margins as they build out Reston, and I'm not sure that's in our interest as a community.
Kathy October 05, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Mr. Holmquist, I am not opposed to work force housing. As a nurse in Palo Alto, my mother would not have been able to live in the town she worked in without it. Without work force condos in Santa Barbara, friends there would never have been able to buy their own home. I do understand there is a difference between affordable and subsidized or Section 8 housing. But if the affordable units continue to be under the jurisdiction of the county, there is cost to the county which gets referred back to taxpayers, no? Perhaps you could enlighten me on that point. I don't think the people who live in my daughter's cluster think of their places as "starter" homes. At the time she bought her place, it was about the average cost of a townhouse in Reston. I agree with much of what you have to say. We definitely do not want developers to redevelop our garden apartments and condominium complexes and replace them with nothing but high-end units. But taking down units which are essentially affordable now and replacing them with a smaller number of county-monitored units (12%), Reston will be left with less housing for middle income people than is here now. The county did get a committment of 19% affordable from Comstock for their development at Wiehle, but let's see what actually gets built. Kathy Kaplan
Richard Holmquist October 05, 2011 at 06:18 PM
OK. Maybe we're on the same page here. Is there a cost in terms of property tax revenue to the county? I'm not knowledgeable enough about the process to say. I suspect there is, but I'm willing to sacrifice some of that revenue for a more diverse community. It might also make Reston a more desireable commercial location if a company's employees can find local housing, thereby raising commercial real estate values. Keep in mind, I'm focusing on Reston, not Tysons Corner. I think the same principles should be used in Tysons, but I'm not going to speculate how Tysons could become an appealing place to live.
JAK October 07, 2011 at 03:52 AM
Richard Holmquist, "Affordable Housing" is in fact just a sly wordplay on subsidized housing. Reston already has too much of this garbage, and it along with the Mt. Vernon/Springfield area of the county are the two locations that have taken in ALL such development. I understand your idea of affordable, as there is nothing wrong with Reston not becoming the next Great Falls, but one must read between the lines in order to understand what is meant by our politicians. Also, I would just like to add that Reston was NEVER meant to be high-density. Hudgins is simply attempting to add onto her voting base, and the developer based financial backing, nothing more. In fact, if she had any true concern for Reston at all, she'd join the movement for us to become a town. Then again, do you really believe she'd be willing to take a chance with her already held position in order to do what is right for us, her constituents?
Richard Holmquist October 07, 2011 at 04:59 AM
No, JAK, I'm quite sure that "affordable" housing and Section 8 housing are completely different animals. I believe that both have a place in the Reston community and that government has a limited role in ensuring sufficient diversity of housing for all income levels. Regarding density, I'm a firm believer in smart growth and transit oriented development. I believe we developed a Reston Town Center without breaking Reston. I was skeptical, but I find that Reston is a better place with it here. I'm not pleased with the development designs that were approved around the Wiehle metro, but I think concentrated development restricted to the local area around those stops is a good idea for the region. Traffic issues will need to be managed, but that's nothing new. I'm open to the Reston town idea, but not sold on it. It sounds like a lot of duplication of services and inefficiencies to me. And be careful what you ask for. You might just find that it concentrates some of Virginia's most liberal voting precincts into a town government that it sounds like you might not appreciate. In any case, I'm sure Cathy Hudgins would explain her Reston town position to you if you asked her. She's freely available, but you might be better off trying to win over the public. I find that politicians are normally servants of public opinion rather than flag bearers for radical new ideas.
Richard Holmquist October 07, 2011 at 05:38 AM
Better that you pull hair from your head than hair from your grill. Before the road diet, I saw two major accidents at the Soapstone & Lawyers intersection. I also saw a bad commuter bike vs. car accident at Gold Cup. Those experiences have a pretty strong impact on you growing up. Add in all of the other accidents and a high school student's fatality, and I think there was plenty of reason to modify the lanes on Lawyers Rd. Four lanes were never necessary - only a dangerous convenience.
Kathy October 07, 2011 at 05:37 PM
If we had a candidate running in opposition to our county supervisor, I would ask that candidate to explain why when Fairfax County is the second richest county in the country (per capita) our libraries are closed two weekday mornings a week and two to three evenings a week. Public libraries are an essential service in my view. When will normal library hours resume? When will the library staff laid off be rehired? Kathy Kaplan

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