Monthly Newsletter from Chairman Sharon Bulova

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova


In This Issue
Shared Mobility Devices
Stepping Up Innovator County
Suffragist Memorial
Coat and Blanket Drive
Animal Shelter Garden
Design Public Hearing
Channel 16
Winter Activities
Farewell Party

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                   December 2019
Like the rings of a tree, each folder tells a story.

So, this is it.   My last Byline.   

My staff and I have spent the last weeks plowing through mounds of old files, photos and binders trying to decide what to keep, what to archive, and what to pitch.  The folders and files feel like the rings of a tree.  Each one tells a story.

An article in The Washington Post last month described the demise of a giant white oak that stood on the grounds of Mount Vernon for 230 years.  For no apparent reason it just fell over.  Naturalists were able to trace the centuries through the rings of the trunk.  The story reminded me of a similar old tree that was integral to the planning of the Burke Centre Library.  

The library was built on property that was previously owned by the Shortt family, who operated a little farm there.   An enormous oak tree grew next to the farmhouse.   When planning for the library began in 2003, neighbors urged the county to incorporate the tree into the layout of the future library's footprint.   One evening, however, lightning struck the tree.   County staff who examined the damaged trunk found that it was diseased and partly hollow inside.   It wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway.   
A wedge of the old oak tree displayed at the entrance to the Burke Centre Library.
The tree is memorialized at the entrance of the Burke Centre Library, where a sizeable wedge of its huge trunk is mounted.  The display traces Burke's history through the 200 plus rings that represent the oak tree's life: thin rings during periods of drought and thicker ones during good years.  The design and colors of the library's interior reflect the trunk and branches of a tree.

One of the "artifacts" my staff uncovered during our Big Clean Out was a framed copy of my first newsletter, the Annandale Action Line, dated February 1988.   It had been typed, photocopied, and mailed out to every household in the district, back when the Braddock District was still called Annandale.  I had to smile at the opening paragraph:
It is with great pleasure and sincere enthusiasm that I address you in our first Annandale District Newsletter.  It is my belief that a well-informed constituency is a well-served constituency.  During my next four years as your representative on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, I will do my best to listen to your concerns, keep you abreast of issues affecting your community and work toward finding solutions to the problems we share. 
Throughout the years, I have tried to honor that pledge. When I wrote those words, never in a million years did I think I would end up serving for another seven terms.  And yet, here I am, looking back over decades of public hearings, land use decisions, transportation improvements, task forces, town meetings and community dialogues. Good years and difficult ones.  Ah, local government!  I have dearly loved this job. 
I was elected Chairman in February 2009 to fill then-Chairman Gerry Connolly's seat when he was elected to Congress.  Since that time, Fairfax County has:
  • Navigated the financial crises caused by the Great Recession with the County's coveted triple A bond rating by all three rating agencies still intact;
  • Welcomed Metro's Silver Line to Tysons and Reston, with a station at Dulles Airport to open next year;
  • Ushered in new land use plans for Tysons and other aging commercial and industrial areas of the County in need of revitalization;
  • Reengineered our police policies to include more transparency and de-escalation tactics with a focus on the sanctity of life;
  • Created Diversion First, a program for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities experiencing an encounter with law enforcement to receive treatment instead of incarceration;
  • Updated the County's Environmental Vision to include a new focus on Energy Efficiency and Climate;
  • Strengthened collaboration between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board in the areas of budget development, land use planning and joint environmental initiatives;
  • Reduced homelessness by nearly 50% employing a Housing First strategy to put a roof over homeless individuals' heads and connecting them to resources needed to help them get back on their feet;
  • Lastly, and most importantly, our Board, in partnership with the School Board, established One Fairfax, a social and racial equity compact, to ensure that ALL residents of Fairfax County have access to equitable opportunities for success.
I wonder. If Fairfax County was a tree, what stories would future scientists find in its rings-to-be?

Smart Cities exercise in 2018.

Over the years I've had the opportunity to serve with many outstanding colleagues and chairs.  Without exception, they have worked for the interests of their districts and the county in general.  We have been blessed with professional staff and a dedicated workforce that has ensured the exceptional quality of life Fairfax County is known for.  
On December 3rd I chaired my last Board meeting.  It ended with short videos featuring Board Members who will be retiring at the end of this year: Supervisors Cathy Hudgins, Linda Smyth, John Cook and myself. You can view that section of the meeting by visiting this link and going to the 7:51:43 minute mark.

My final Board of Supervisors meeting.
Returning for another four-year term are Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity, Dranesville Supervisor John Foust, Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck and Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith. 
On December 16th at 6 p.m., Fairfax County will host an inauguration ceremony for the newly elected Board of Supervisors.  I'm so pleased to welcome Braddock District Supervisor-elect James Walkinshaw, Lee District Supervisor-elect Rodney Lusk, Providence District Supervisor-elect Dalia Palchik, Hunter Mill District Supervisor-elect Walter Alcorn and Chairman-elect, Jeff McKay.  The ceremony is open to the public and will be televised live on channel 16. 
As I've said in past Bylines, the one thing you can be sure of is change.  In this case, I'm certain the changes on your governing board are good ones. Fairfax County is in great hands. 

Sharon Bulova
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

Shared Mobility Devices Regulations

This information was provided by the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a Shared Mobility Device (SMD) ordinance on Nov. 19 that will govern devices such as e-scooters in Fairfax Coun ty effective January 1, 2020. In February of this year, the General Assembly passed a law permitting shared mobility devices in Virginia and gave local governments authority to establish regulations or a pilot program for these new devices.

Fairfax County's Department of Cable and Consumer Services  will regulate the e-scooter and other SMD operators through a permitting process. Operators will be required to maintain certain fleet sizes with an initial maximum fleet of 300 devices per operator permit that can be increased to 600 devices per operator based on usage. 

Rules of the Road
Like bicycles, e-scooters can be used on roads, sidewalks, shared-use paths, and crosswalks. E-scooters i n Fairfax County cannot be operated above 10 mph. Once riders reach their destination, they should leave the device parked in an area that does not impede normal car or foot traffic. If residents notice an e-scooter parked in an inappropriate place or left on private property, they can contact the device operator listed on the e-scooter and the operator must remove it.

Fairfax County staff will create a process for complaints about e-scooters and SMDs related to improper use or abandonment. Staff will coordinate implementation of the complaint process with bordering jurisdictions and present a summary on the first year of SMDs in early 2021.

To report any issues related to scooters and other shared devices, emails can be sent to

For more information on the SMD ordinance visit or call Fairfax County Department of Cable and Consumer Services at 703-324-5966, TTY 711.
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Fairfax County Named Stepping Up Innovator County

This information was provided by the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs.
Fairfax County has been named a Stepping Up Innovator County for its expertise in collecting baseline data on the number of people in its jail who have mental illnesses. This data is obtained as part of the county's Diversion First program, an award-winning initiative that offers alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system for low-level offenses. Currently, Fairfax County is one of only 17 counties that have been recognized as Innovator Counties. 
What Is Stepping Up? 
The Stepping Up initiative was launched in May 2015 by the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation to mobilize local, state and national leaders to achieve a measurable reduction in the number of people in jail who have mental illnesses.

Fairfax County joined Stepping Up during the program's inaugural year and has taken significant steps toward reducing the number of people in its jail who have mental illnesses by diverting people to treatment as an alternative to arrest; providing intensive community supervision in lieu of incarceration; providing outreach to people who are frequent utilizers of the public safety system; implementing a Veterans Treatment Docket, Drug Court and Mental Health Docket; and providing jail-based programs and re-entry supports for people with behavioral health issues to reduce further criminal justice involvement. 

Innovator Counties Use Three-Step Approach 
Fairfax County was chosen as one of a small group of Innovator Counties who are using the Stepping Up suggested three-step approach to collect and analyze timely data on the prevalence of people in their jails who have serious mental illnesses (SMI). These steps include establishing a shared SMI definition for their Stepping Up efforts across criminal justice and behavioral health systems, ensuring everyone booked into jail is screened for mental illnesses and regular reporting on this population.

Fairfax County Helps Other Counties

As an Innovator County, Fairfax County will help other counties improve their ability to collect accurate and accessible data collection efforts by participating in training sessions, taking part in presentations, sharing information and its experiences through the Stepping Up website, and more. 
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Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Groundbreaking

On November 15, I participated in the groundbreaking for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, a national memorial that will honor the millions of people who fought for women's right to vote. The memorial will be located in Occoquan Regional Park and is expected to open in August 2020.

The groundbreaking corresponded with the 102nd anniversary of the Night of Terror, when suffragists who were arrested after picketing the White House were incarcerated, abused and tortured in the nearby Workhouse Prison. This event was a major turning point for the suffrage movement. 

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial will be the first of its kind in the United States and will recognize the history of the 72-year suffrage movement through 19 informational stations representing the 19th Amendment. The memorial will be open to the public following its dedication in August 2020. More information about the memorial can be found at
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2019 Blanket and Coat Drive for Syrian Refugees

You can h elp provide warmth to Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan by donating to the 2019 Blanket and Coat Drive. Organized by the NOVA Relief Center, this drive runs from November 23 to December 15. Since 2013, Northern Virginia has sent over 300,000 gently used coats and blankets to Syrian refugees abroad, providing warmth and comfort for children and families seeking safety. You can drop off donations in my office at the Fairfax County Government Center, Suite 530, Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Other offices and organizations are accepting donations throughout the region. For the location of donation sites and more information, please visit
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Donate a Brick to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter Garden
This information was provided by Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.
Some exciting news! Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter is constructing a tribute garden at the front entrance of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. 
Friends invites you to be a part of a special limited commemorative opportunity by purchasing a personalized engraved brick. The garden will be an exterior improvement to the shelter.
Shrubs, plants and benches will be added to the area around the brick patio. Upon completion, the area will serve as a place for visitors to rest and reflect, a "thank you" for your contribution, and a garden that you will enjoy visiting. 
Bricks can be inscribed in honor or in memory of an animal or animal lover, a donor's name, family name or business name. Each brick is 4"x8" and will have up to three lines for inscription. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please visit
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Design Public Hearing | December 12
This information was provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will hold a design public hearing on plans to widen the Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286) from four to six lanes between Route 29 (Lee Highway) and Route 123 (Ox Road). The proposed project design also includes an interchange at Popes Head road and the future Shirley Gate Road extension, improvements to the existing trail in the Fairfax County Parkway right of way, and construction of a new shared-use path to make the trail continuous within the project limits. The public is invited to review the proposed plans and provide input on the project. This project will involve the modification of limited access control along the Fairfax County Parkway and the establishment of limited access control for the proposed Popes Head Road interchange and its ramps, which will replace the existing at-grade signalized intersection.

The hearing will take place on Thursday, December 12th from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., at James W. Robinson, Jr. Secondary School, Cafeteria (5035 Sideburn Road, Fairfax, VA  22032) with a formal presentation beginning at 7:00 p.m. It will include an open house, a formal presentation and a public comment period.

The public will be invited to submit oral and/or written comments at the hearing. Written comments may be mailed to Sitaram Kodali, Project Manager, at the VDOT Northern Virginia District Office (4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 22030) or emailed to Please reference "Fairfax County Parkway Widening" in the subject line. Comments must be postmarked, emailed or delivered to VDOT by December 23rd, 2019 to be included in the public hearing record.

For additional information, please visit the project website.
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McKay Messenger and Other Newsletters
If you are interested in continuing to receive information from the Chairman's office, sign up for the McKay Messenger.

For news and events specific to your district, consider signing up for your Supervisor's newsletter. 
If your district has a new Supervisor, check their Board of Supervisors webpage at the beginning of 2020 to become an inaugural subscriber.
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What to Watch on Channel 16

Board of Supervisors Inauguration Live
Board of Supervisor Shows
  • Join Supervisor Hudgins and Supervisor Cook as they look back and discuss highlights of their many years of public service. 
  • The final episode of Connecting with Supervisor Hudgins premiers Sunday, December 1st at 4:00 p.m. and the last episode of Braddock Neighborhood News premiers Sunday, December 1st at 5:00 p.m. Both series air throughout the month on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and can be found online here. 
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Winter Activities
There are many ways to enjoy the winter season in Fairfax County! Here are just a few activities and events for you and your family.
  • Winter Wonderland at Burke Lake Park 
    • December 14 & 15, 2019
    • Take a spin on the Carolers Carousel, play Gingerbread Man Golf, or warm yourself by the fire and cook s'mores as you usher in your holidays. Visit with Santa, enjoy hot chocolate and candy canes.
  • Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
    • November 8, 2019 - January 5, 2020
    • Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk - and look for new displays each year. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire.
  • Bull Run Festival of Lights at Bull Run Regional Park
    • November 22, 2019 - January 5, 2020
    • Experience the Bull Run Festival of Lights, 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. Drive the festival route from the comfort of your car; turn out your headlights and just follow the magical glow.  
Ice Skating in Fairfax County:
Performances in Fairfax County:
Save the Date! Farewell Party | December 9
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