Supervisors look to fund pay raises for county, school employees - Former Baltimore police commissioner named Fairfax County chief

School Board presses Brabrand to ditch concurrent learning - Friends of Lake Accotink Park raises funds for new memorial bench

Welcome to Braddock Buzz, where we’d like to congratulate Michael Hill of Mantua and Darlene Spinelli of Annandale for having the fastest trivia draws this side of the Accotink. Michael and Darlene were the first two readers to send the correct response to last week’s trivia question: Who was the first female mayor in the United States? Answer: Susanna Madora Salter, who was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas, in 1887. Michael and Darlene are getting free copies of Braddock Buzz author Austin Wright’s new novel, “The Sheriff,” co-written with Robert Dwyer. The book is now available on Amazon.

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Realtor Jennifer Mack, whose column this week says we’re not in another housing bubble like 2008—and that prices may continue rising for the foreseeable future. Reach out to Jennifer with column suggestions or real estate questions at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com

  • WorkAway Solutions, your neighborhood coworking space in Ravensworth, off Braddock Road and 495. WorkAway offers long-term and short-term co-working space for individuals and teams—along with meeting rooms, business mail service, and more. Book a tour today!

  • The Wakefield Chapel Recreation Association. Are you looking for a neighborhood swim club that offers premier swim and dive programs, youth and adult tennis instruction, and an awesome social calendar that has something for every member of your family? Visit wakefieldchapelrec.org to reserve your spot on the waiting list!

County News

Supervisors look to fund pay raises for county, school employees: Tomorrow, the Board of Supervisors will consider an updated FY22 budget that avoids the pay freezes contemplated in earlier drafts. More optimistic revenue projections have enabled the board to give county employees a 1% pay raise, rather than holding pay flat for the second straight year. The revised budget also includes a 2% boost for FCPS employees, funded in part with state dollars.

The updated proposal reduces the property tax rate by one cent per $100 in assessed value, to $1.14. The board had previously given itself the option to hold the tax rate steady at $1.15. Even at the reduced rate, the average homeowner’s tax bill will increase by $224 because real estate assessments are up 4.24% from last year.

A more in-depth explanation of the updated budget is here. Final adoption is scheduled for May 4.

Public Safety

Former Baltimore police commissioner named Fairfax County chief: Three years after being fired as Baltimore’s police commissioner, Kevin Davis has been named chief of the Fairfax County Police Department, effective May 3. Davis steps into the role at a fraught time, amid nationwide calls for police reform and with the Fairfax department continuing to face morale issues, as the Sun Gazette reports. Davis’ predecessor, former Chief Edwin Roessler, stepped down in February after an eight-year stint that had won him praise from the county’s political leaders but criticism and no-confidence votes from the police unions. 

Davis was ousted as Baltimore’s police commissioner in 2018, two years into a five-year term, because the mayor had become “impatient” with his failure to reduce a surging crime rate, according to The Baltimore Sun. But Davis had also earned acclaim in Baltimore for leading the department through a federal civil rights investigation and instituting major reforms, including a body-worn camera program.

Davis had previously served as chief of police in Anne Arundel County and assistant chief in Prince George’s County. His annual salary will be $215,000, according to a Fairfax County news release.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw hailed the selection in a statement.

“Many law enforcement leaders have learned to talk the talk of police and criminal justice reform, but very few have actually done it,” Walkinshaw said. “In Kevin Davis, we have selected someone with a proven track record of implementing meaningful reforms in the face of fierce resistance. That's why the Open Society Foundation—an organization working to develop policing systems that treat everyone equally—asked him to write the book on consent decrees and police reform. With Chief Kevin Davis, Fairfax County is poised to build on the accountability measures already in place here and lead the nation in ensuring that the law is employed as an instrument of justice."

Police have increased their presence on Little River to deter drag racing: In our March 8 edition, we reported that Fairfax County police were seeking to deter drag racing on Little River Turnpike, which had become an almost nightly frustration for those who live nearby. We followed up with the police last week to see if they felt they had made progress.

“Officers have increased presence and proactive patrols to deter this activity while taking the appropriate enforcement actions pursuant to the driving behavior,” said Sergeant Greg Bedor of the Public Affairs Bureau.

Bedor pointed to the example below, recently published in the county’s crime log, of an enforcement action that originated on Little River Turnpike in Annandale:

VEHICLE PURSUIT/WEAPONS VIOLATION/CHILD ENDANGERMENT: Backlick Road at Braddock Road, 4/12/21, 2:34 a.m. An officer saw a 1996 Honda Accord driving recklessly and attempted a traffic stop, but the driver refused, resulting in a pursuit. After several miles the car was stopped by officers and the driver, a convicted felon, was taken into custody. A gun and ammunition were located inside the car. Tyson Rascher, 23, of Springfield, was charged with felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, eluding and reckless driving. Three juveniles were in the car during the pursuit, subsequently, Rascher was charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Sponsor Messages

WorkAway Solutions offers flexible co-working space in Ravensworth

A message from owner Susan King Glosby

For many of us, working from home during the pandemic has been a mixed bag. We’ve saved money on gas and might even be getting more sleep and exercise. At the same time, some of us are feeling more stressed than ever. With the kids home from school, we’re juggling snacktime, virtual school, and sibling quarrels—all while managing our own Zoom calls.

If you’re ready to ditch the distractions, co-working might be for you. At WorkAway Solutions, we have flexible offerings to serve both our long-term members and those who just need a space away from home every once in a while. 

Book a tour with WorkAway solutions today, or contact me with any questions you might have about co-working.

Reserve your spot on the Wakefield Chapel Recreation Association waiting list

Schools

School Board presses Brabrand to ditch concurrent learning: In a presentation to the School Board last week, FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand reiterated his pledge for a fall return to five days a week of in-person learning. Nearly all teachers will return to the classroom full-time, and the “classroom monitor” program will end.

One point of contention is what to offer the small minority of students who are expected to continue with full-time virtual learning because they have a documented medical or social-emotional need. As The Washington Post reports, the School Board is urging Brabrand to ditch “concurrent learning,” which requires teachers to instruct students virtually and in-person at the same time—a model that has proven unpopular with teachers and students alike. 

Instead, the board is pushing Brabrand to consider the use of “Virtual Virginia,” a state-run virtual school. But the program comes with many drawbacks, including a high cost and limited course offerings, as you can see in the slide below from Brabrand’s presentation:

Parks

Friends of Lake Accotink Park raises funds for new memorial bench: Friends of Lake Accotink Park (FLAP) is raising money for a new memorial bench in honor of Dick and Martha Sargent, who passed away in 2020 and 2016, respectively. The Sargents were extremely active in the Ravensworth Farm community and were longtime volunteers at Lake Accotink Park, according to FLAP President Mary Keeser.

“All residents received ‘that call’ from Dick encouraging them to volunteer to better our community,” Keeser said in an email. “We recall our fond memories of reporting to Dick in the early morning hours at the shores of Lake Accotink with trash bags in hand for clean-up duty.”

The memorial bench will be placed along the trail and will have a plaque with the Sargents’ names. FLAP is accepting donations to help pay for the bench on the organization’s website or by mail at this address: FLAP P.O. Box 1203 Springfield, VA 22151.

News in Brief

  • FCPS has released the graduation dates for high schools. Here are the dates for schools in the Braddock District: Woodson on June 2 at the Woodson stadium, Lake Braddock on June 10 at Jiffy Lube Live, and Robinson on June 11, also at Jiffy Lube Live.

  • Early voting began Friday in the June 8 Democratic primary for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and six House of Delegates districts. Details on how to vote are here.

  • Gov. Ralph Northam has announced the further easing of pandemic restrictions, effective May 15. The cap on social gatherings will increase to 100 indoors and 250 outdoors. The caps are also increasing for entertainment and sporting events. And restaurants will be able to serve alcohol after midnight. 

  • The ice cream parlor at Burke Lake has been renovated with new equipment, flooring, paint, and a countertop—and now has a locomotive-themed look that features a miniature train doing laps around the ceiling, the Park Authority said.

Real Estate

Sponsored Content

Jennifer Mack column: No, we’re not in a housing bubble like 2008

Many people are hearing about the temperature of the housing market and asking if we’re in another bubble like 2008. And, if we are, when will it burst?

My answer is that the conditions now are nothing like in 2008. My main reason is that today’s buyers are extremely well-qualified. We’re seeing buyers with strong debt-to-income ratios, good credit, and healthy cash reserves.

Underwriting guidelines are strict and only well-qualified borrowers are being approved for loans. Substantial loan documentation and a strong job history is required by most banks. Borrowers can truly afford the monthly mortgage costs they are committing to over the loan term. Also, many buyers are putting down substantial amounts of money—which protects them from being “underwater” if values drop. Our financial system is much better capitalized and just doesn't offer the higher-risk products we used to see.

Another concern I hear is that we will soon be seeing a flood of foreclosures when the federal government’s forbearance program ends. I do not see this happening, especially in the D.C. area. While it is true that roughly 5% (or 2.6 million) of U.S. homeowners are enrolled in some type of forbearance program, about 95% of these properties are actually worth more than the loans. Homeowners have more equity than ever before. Owners will be able to sell their homes rather than surrender the keys to the bank.

There is no end in sight to the rising demand for housing. As more millennials enter the market, and seniors stay in their homes longer, our ratio of supply to demand is expected to remain unbalanced. If you’re considering making a move in the next several years, now is the time to prepare yourself for what you may be facing to secure your next home. 

Jennifer Mack has more than 16 years of experience in the real estate industry, with her team servicing Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Contact her at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com or by calling 703-672-0038.

Select New Listings

4709 Declaration Ct, Annandale | 5 beds, 5.5 baths, 4,874 sf | $1,699,000

11309 Megan Dr, Fairfax | 5 beds, 4.5 baths, 4,487 sf | $825,000

10845 Burr Oak Way, Burke | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,896 sf | $799,000

8612 Sinon St, Annandale | 5 beds, 3 baths, 2,585 sf | $774,888

4525 Braeburn Dr, Fairfax | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 1,848 sf | $760,000

Top Sales

6990 Meadowforest Ct, Springfield | 5 beds, 4.5 baths, 3,960 sf | 5  days on market | $1,110,000

5918 Oakland Park Dr, Burke | 5 beds, 3.5 baths, 3,702 sf | 1 day on market | $963,400

5404 Sideburn Rd, Fairfax | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,992 sf | 3 days on market | $912,500

8308 Fox Harrow Ln, Annandale | 4 beds, 3 baths, 2,755 sf | 1 day on market | $874,900

9724 Loch Linden Ct, Fairfax | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 3,186 sf | 4 days on market | $855,000