Town Hall Notes


FIVE FOR FRIDAY: A weekly roundup of Public Policy News


Welcome to FIVE FOR FRIDAY: A weekly roundup of public policy issues and headlines from around the Northern Virginia Region, the Commonwealth, and Capitol Hill.

1. FHFA Confirms GSEs' Guidance on IPCs

By KEN FEARS, National Association of REALTORS® Washington Report

The Federal Housing Finance Agency sent a letter to the National Association of REALTORS® confirming that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac published explicit confirmations that buyers whose agent is compensated by the seller will continue to have access to financing through those institutions. Furthermore, so long as it remains "customary" by “local convention” for the seller to pay commissions, those will not be added to the interest party contributions (IPC) and subject to the caps on IPCs.



2. SCC Hearing Examiner Recommends Denial of Greenway Toll Increases


State Corporation Commission Senior Hearing Examiner Michael Thomas on Wednesday released a report recommending denial of a rate increase submitted by Toll Road Investors Partnership II, the company that owns the Dulles Greenway. He ruled the increase in the maximum tolls charged to most drivers because it would “materially discourage use of the Greenway,” in violation of state law. The request, submitted in July of last year, is to increase rates to $8.10 during peak hours, up from the current $5.80; and to $6.40 during off-peak hours, up from $5.25. A hearing on the application was conducted in February, following a public comment period and public hearings.



3. Virginia lawmakers approve bipartisan spending plan


Weeks of Virginia state budget drama ended Monday with pledges of bipartisan goodwill as the General Assembly passed a compromise two-year spending plan that boosts funding for education and other priorities without increasing taxes. Votes in both the Senate and the House of Delegates were nearly unanimous. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who had raised the specter of an unprecedented state government shutdown by vowing not to sign the budget the legislature passed in March, rushed Monday to sign the new document after a special one-day legislative budget session.



4. ‘Zoning for Housing’ heats up Alexandria City Council debate in Del Ray


Sparks flew during Monday night’s City Council Democrat candidate debate in Del Ray. While surrounded by nine of his opponents, candidate Jonathan Huskey said that City Council members should be voted out of office for their support of the citywide Zoning for Housing/Housing for All. City Council Member Sarah Bagley said that the issue is personal for her, and that she would not otherwise be able to find a home for between $250,000 and $600,000. “That is what Zoning for Housing creates,” Bagley said. “This is absolutely personal and it’s absolutely real for anybody who’s earning above the AMI (area median income), but not $300,000, but doesn’t have intergenerational family wealth to buy a home above $700,000. If my four plex in your neighborhood erodes your quality of life, we should have a longer conversation together, because my four plex enhances our city in my neighborhood.”



5. Metro’s new bus system proposal could eliminate more than 600 stops, rename routes


On Tuesday, the Metro’s board of directors approved a resolution to hold a series of public meetings next month so riders can weigh in on a major proposed overhaul of Metro’s bus routes. For well over a year, Metro leaders have been working on a plan to make major changes to the bus system. This week, Metro has finally put out concrete plans for the changes they are proposing.




The Concern Over Arlington’s Empty Office Buildings

By TAMARA LYTLE, Arlington Magazine

What do empty office buildings and over-leveraged commercial developers have to do with Arlington’s parks, libraries and schools? A lot, actually. There’s a storm brewing in the business landscape that has yet to unleash its full fury. In the worst case, fierce economic winds and rain could lash taxpayers and the county services they hold dear, from recreational programs and transit routes to emergency responders. The problem comes down to funding. Arlington has historically derived more of its tax base from the commercial sector than the average suburban municipality does, notes Terry Clower, director of regional analysis at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Doing so has allowed the county to offer high-level services and an enviable quality of life.



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