How Much Have We Lost?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hollin Hall Automotive's 50th Anniversary!

Today, the General Assembly passed legislation commending Hollin Hall Automotive sponsored by myself and Senator Puller. The text is at the bottom of this post.

Hollin Hall Automotive is a family run community institution in our community. The Harvey Family has run the station since 1961 at the corner of Fort Hunt Road and Shenandoah Road. They've employed hundreds of kids, sponsored hundreds of youth league teams, funded Mount Vernon's charities and simply run a top notch operation.

I blogged about it here about a year ago after Snowmageddon:



Hollin Hall Automotive is having a 50th Anniversary celebration this weekend. Here are the details:


Saturday, April 30, 2011
11 AM to 3 PM
7926 Fort Hunt Road



Stop by if you can.
Hollin Hall Auto 50th Anniversary Commending Resolution






Monday, April 25, 2011

Possible Kings Crossing Intersection Improvements

Ever since the new Walmart opened at Kings Crossing, there have been daily backups at the intersection of South Kings Highway and North Kings Highway due to southbound traffic queing down the hill in the short left hand turn lane for Walmart. The intersection is pictured below (click on the image to enlarge).


Unfortunately, the County could not require any significant traffic improvements as part of the Walmart development because it was a "by right" development and could be accomplished within the existing zoning classification.

About six months ago, I contacted VDOT to talk to them about the problem and whether it could be fixed. Before I called, they had adjusted light timing in order to fix the problem, but it had not solved the problem. Unfortunately, there is not much room in the current right of way to fix the problem. Since then, I have continued to receive emails from constituents unhappy about the traffic situation.

Recently, the owner of the property JBG has begun the process of trying to redevelop the front of the property. To achieve their objectives, this time they need the County's approval and the County can require transportation improvements as part of the redevelopment process.

Last week, I received the following email from VDOT regarding traffic improvements on the site.


[W]e had just completed a meeting with JBG Companies who want to develop pad sites in front of the WalMart store. The meeting proved to be very fruitful. Agreement was reached that the developer would commit to the following with their By-Right Site Plan entitled Kings Crossing Phase 2 parcels 1&2, Fairfax County Plan No. 16636-SP-001, pending concurrence with WalMart regarding impacts to their property.

1. Extend the existing left-turn lane into the site by reducing the dual left-turn lanes onto North Kings Highway. Our Traffic Engineering Section did not feel that this would have any serious impact on the existing left-turn movements onto North Kings Highway, but would certainly help the situation regarding the PM Movement into the WalMart site.


2. Provide alternative right-turn movement into the site by eliminating the service drive across the frontage of the property. This would reduce congestion and safety issues at the signal, and might even add a few more seconds of precious green-time by moving the outbound stop bar forward.

Obviously it may take some time for the plans to be prepared, submitted and approved. Unfortunately these changes would also increase congestion during the construction process, but the end result should provide a marked improvement.

As you have stated, the ultimate solution would be to rebuild the entire roadway, including realignment and/or closure of the connection to North King/South King Highway at this intersection.

If these improvements are required and accomplished, this will provide some relief. I am not confident that it will completely fix the problem, but it will certainly improve the situtation.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 Voting Record ***UPDATED***

The 2011 Regular Session is now concluded and the Clerk has compiled each of our respective voting records. I have posted it below. We took 1478 recorded votes. If you would like further clarification on the bills or votes below, you can look up individual bills here:
Legislative Information System
My 2010 Voting Record was previously posted here:

Thanks to legislation introduced by Delegates Jim Lemunyon and Mark Keam co-sponsored by the entire freshman class last year and introduced again this year, this information will be posted online in future sessions.


UPDATED - I've updated this with my voting record through the Veto Session and the first part of our special session on redistricting.

2011 Complete Voting Record

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fairfax County's Exploding Senior Population

As original owners in one of the first subdivisions in Mount Vernon dating to 1941, my grandparents were at the leading edge of this trend. As original and subsequent owners from Waynewood, Fort Hunt, Stratford, Hollin Hills, Riverside Estates, Mount Zephyr, etc. started to build, so did the senior population in Mount Vernon.

For the last decade, the Mount Vernon area has been recognized as the home to the largest concentration of elderly in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. In the past session, I introduced several modest budget amendments to provide seed funding for several new programs for seniors:


  • $10,000 to Mount Vernon At Home to purchase a van to transport seniors to appointments, activities, and daily needs.

  • $5,000 to Fairfax County for its Senior Center Without Walls Program
I also issued a press release that you can read here - The Dixie Pig, 2011 Budget Amendments: U.S. 1 Transit Study, Seniors, Tourism & Helping Virginia's Businesses. All of these amendments were rejected. Recently these efforts were the subject of a Letter to the Editor in the Mount Vernon Gazette that is below. Thank you to Suzanne Young for focusing on these issues.

Ever-Growing Senior Population
Thursday, March 31, 2011

To the Editor:

A fall can be a catastrophic event to a senior citizen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report falls as the number one cause of injury deaths in the senior population. Yearly in the United States more than one third of adults 65 years of age and older have a fall; 15,800 people 65 and older died from injuries related to unintentional falls in 2005. Moreover, the incidence of fall-related deaths in the senior population has been steadily increasing over the past 10 years.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the senior population will more than double to 89 million by the year 2050. With the ever-growing size of the senior population, the fall numbers could increase drastically in the not so distant future.

Physical activity is a critical facet of health across an individual’s lifespan. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, "Being active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health." Appropriate physical activity among the senior population can aid in a multitude of health issues. Senior citizens who engage in regular physical activity are more inclined to have a stable weight, lowered blood pressure, improved cognitive functioning, reduced osteoporosis, controlled diabetes, reduced heart disease, improved mood, improved arthritis, and less falls.

According to the CDC, senior citizens who participate in appropriate physical activity are less likely to suffer a devastating fall. On Jan. 20, Del. Scott Surovell announced his introduction of six amendments to the 2010-2012 Virginia budget. These amendments include a $10,000 allocation in state grant money to Mount Vernon At Home for the purchase of a vehicle and a $5,000 appropriation to the Fairfax County Senior Center Without Walls program. These amendments could make a difference in the important work of these two innovative endeavors.

Mount Vernon At Home is a nonprofit organization providing its members assistance to live independently in their homes for as long as possible. Transportation to recreational, educational, and social activities is one example of the numerous services offered to its members. The Senior Center Without Walls program is a public-private venture between the Fairfax County government, faith communities, and local businesses. The program provides recreational, educational, and social activities to senior citizens without the use of an existing senior center or constructing new facilities.

The senior population is growing at an immensely fast rate and the health needs of this population are growing just as fast. Initiatives such as Mount Vernon At Home and the Senior Center Without Walls program can assist our senior population with access to recreational, educational, and social activities. Specifically, these endeavors can provide access to physical activity, a pivotal key to improving the health and reducing the number of falls in our Mount Vernon senior population.

Susanne M. Young

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Master of Public Health Student, George Mason University

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cleaning Up Little Hunting Creek

The 44th District is largely split between three watersheds - Little Hunting Creek, Dogue Creek and the Bellehaven Watershed (largely Quander Creek).

As part of the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, I had the pleasure of helping Friends of Little Hunting Creek help cleanup trash at the headwaters of Little Hunting Creek where is passes under Janna Lee Avenue. Our team was led by Stratford resident Betsy Martin and included my oldest daughter Eva along with several Fort Hunt Elementary Students who were members of Girl Scout Troops 922, 716, 211, and 364.

Our team came in second place all of the Little Hunting Creek teams by collecting 40 bags of trash. Last year, I organized a creek cleanup last year at Quander Creek (see The Dixie Pig, Cleaning Up Quander Creek) but what I saw was this time was even more eye opening and heartbreaking. We worked over only 0.2 mi. of stream.

Just below the bridge, fallen trees has acted to capture floating trash. Here are some pictures of the consequences.

Aside from the plastic bags, beverage containers, styrofoam and plastic food containers, we picked up five shopping carts, table legs, a street sign for a youth league, over a dozen inflatable balls, two bikes, a base drum, a lawn mower bag, an intact champagne glass, about 10 used diapers, and a DVD entitled "Black Booty." It is important to note that the bulk of the trash was food container waste.

The kids were amazed at what they were looking at. None of them had any idea people treated their trash like this. In addition to the the trash, there was no evidence of any life in the creek at all. There were no fish, bugs, birds, or reptiles. Some of the kids said they thought they had seen a snake and a dead bird. Given the condition of the creek, I am not sure how anything could live in it.

Just below the bridge, there was evidence of a forest fire started around a homeless camp. Here is a picture to the right. The trees surrounding this area were all burned and there was a shopping cart off to the side. It looked like the County had cut down some of the trees after the fire due to the damage.


Trash and watershed management in the U.S. 1 Corridor is a major problem. My experience last summer and a constituent survey I posted last year (The Dixie Pig, Plastic Bags & Mt. Vernon's Watersheds) led me to cosponsor legislation regarding a plastic bag tax this year. This experience further reinforced that opinion.

The vast majority of the trash I saw was food container waste from fast food chains, convenience stores, carry out, and grocery stores. The penalties are stiff - littering is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail under Virginia Law.

The County has adopted a Little Hunting Creek Watershed Management Plan. You can read it here. Interestingly, most of the plan is focused on stormwater flow impacts. The only discussion about trash related to reducing unauthorized dumping. Little in the plan was focused on enhancing the enforcement of littering, improving community education about watershed or trash issues, or pursuing legislative means to incentivize restaurants to minimize the use of the products found in our streams. I have been discussing this with several retailer groups here in Richmond. All are opposed to new taxes or fees, but prefer local educational programs or refuse collection operations at retail sites. I am going to continue those discussions.

At the end of the day, there must be a better way to get control of this problem rather than having our community invest thousands of volunteer hours each year picking up other people's trash. Send me your ideas.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Congressional Redistricting - Part II

This afternoon, we are beginning debate on Congressional Redistricting. I have not been briefed on the status yet. State Legislatures have responsibility for drawing congressional district lines. It is my understanding that the following plans are out there:

  • Virginia's eleven incumbent congressmen have proposed new lines for their districts. It is my understanding that this is reflected in legislation introduced by Delegate Bill Janis that you can review here (CLICK HERE).

  • The Virginia Senate has proposed a different map that is identical for most Northern Virginia Districts - the 8th (Moran), 10th (Wolf), and 11th (Connolly) - but creates a "political influence" district in the Richmond suburbs that is largely, but not majority, African American. The map was up last night, but has now been taken down of the state website.

  • The Governor's Bipartisan Redistricting Commission has proposed its own set of maps (View Draft Plan Here (I can't find the final online)).

  • A competition of 30 college teams produced its own award winning sets of maps (W&M Plan Here - Other Award Winnning Plans Here).

It is my understanding that we are beginning debate and voting on these plans this afternoon. All of the new plans push the 11th Congressional District largely out of the Mount Vernon community and have us entirely in the 8th Congressional District - Mount Vernon's congressional district for at least the last 100 years until the 11th District was slipped into Mount Vernon's southern precincts in 2001. Here is a map of Fairfax County until the House & Senate proposals:



Please send me your feedback at scottsurovell@gmail.com!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Congressional Redistricting Proposals

Delegate Bill Janis has filed a map that reportedly represents the districts agreed to by Virginia's eleven incumbent Congressmen.

I have posted a screen shot of the plan's boundaries in Fairfax County below (click on the image to blow it up). It consolidates all of Mount Vernon and Mason Neck into the 8th Congressional District where it was until 2001. If you would like to look at the entire state click here:


We are voting on these districts next week. Please send me any feedback you have to scottsurovell@gmail.com.

Weekly Column: Redistricting the 44th & Governor's Vetoes

The following column appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette, Mount Vernon Voice, and Patch.com on April 4, 2011:

This week, we returned to Richmond for a special session on redistricting and votes on the Governor’s vetoes.

The House of Delegates and Senate announced redistricting plans for their respective bodies about one week ago. Public hearings were held on about 3-4 days notice. Realigning district lines for elected positions is required because of population changes documented by the decennial census.

The House of Delegates’ Republican Caucus has proposed a redistricting plan for House districts. The House Democratic Caucus has not presented a plan although one member introduced an award winning nonpartisan plan created by University of Richmond students. You can view all proposals online by going to my blog, The Dixie Pig at scottsurovell.blogspot.com. I have posted links and instructions there if you would like to view the plans.

The latest version of the House Republican Caucus Plan proposes to slightly change my district, the 44th, as follows: Huntington Precinct would be moved to Delegate Mark Sickles’ seat. A small part of Bellehaven Precinct would be moved to Delegate David Englin’s seat, and Westgate Precinct (the area south of Mount Vernon Memorial Highway) would be moved back into Delegate Dave Albo’s seat where it was until 2001. Kirkside Precinct (essentially Hollin Hills & northern Gum Springs) and Marlan Precinct (Villamay, Marlan Forest and eastern Quander Road) would be moved from Delegate David Englin’s district into my my district. Most of Fort Belvoir north of U.S. 1 would also be added to my district, along with Hayfield Precinct.

Two weeks ago, I wrote that I liked the 44th District the way it is. The district is the closest to the target population number in the entire state without any changes. Thankfully, the proposal did not do significant harm to communities of interest in my district. Under the proposed House of Delegates plan, I would still mainly represent the same communities, the same high school pyramids and the bulk of the U.S. 1 corridor. I welcome some new constituents. You may recall that in 2009, I knocked on over 8,000 doors in the 44th district. When you go out, meet people face to face, into the “innards” of a community, and then fight for them in Richmond, you develop a deep sense of responsibility and ownership of “your turf.” It would be hard to let parts of my current district go. For sure, I will miss some of my current constituents if the current House plan is approved.

No plan is final. We will debate and vote on them in the special session. The plans must go to the Governor for veto or line-item vetos and then the U.S. Department of Justice for what is called a “pre-clearance” under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. There is always the possibility of a legal challenge as well.


Having said that, there is no question that this entire process is flawed. I support nonpartisan redistricting. Elected officials should not draw their own district lines – the People should. The Governor campaigned on bipartisan redistricting and then effectively ignored the issue for our last two sessions. He created a Bipartisan Redistricting Commission only with advisory power and then appears to be distancing himself from their recommendations. Both the House and Senate actually proposed their plans before the Governor’s Bipartisan Redistricting Commission even made its recommendations.


The House and Senate majority caucuses created a timetable that minimized opportunities for public involvement and maximized the ability of incumbents to protect their majorities. The districts that have been drawn are either very Democratic and very Republican. Competitive seats are virtually non-existent. No one is well served by the existing redistricting system except for incumbent politicians, lobbyists, and special interest groups. Fixing this will be a priority for me if the voters return me to office.

We also have a veto session next week. The Governor vetoed legislation requiring elementary students to participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of physical education per week. I voted no and will support the Governor’s veto. While I support encouraging children to be physically active, Fairfax County Public Schools estimates that this requirement will cost us over $18 million and the state is providing no funding. Several of our elementary school principals, music and art teachers also contacted me because this requirement would reduce time in art and music.

The Governor also vetoed three other bills including an agreement to raise Virginia’s medical malpractice cap, and increase civil penalties for pollution. I will vote to override those vetoes.

Please watch the news for any additional vetoes and contact me to share your views. You can email me at scottsurovell@gmail.com. You can also stay informed by reading my blog, The Dixie Pig, at scottsurovell.blogspot.com.

It is an honor to serve as your State Delegate.

Monday, April 4, 2011

44th District Redistricting Update

The House Privileges & Elections Committee has adopted a substitute bill which slightly changes the boundaries of the 44th District from what was originally proposed.

The primary change is that most of Bellehaven Precinct was moved in the the 44th District and Belleview Precinct was moved back into Delegate David Englin's District were it presently exists. Huntley Meadows Park was also moved back into Delegate Sickles' District and more of Fort Belvoir was moved into the 44th District.

In the map below, Blue is the old 44th District, Red is the new 44th District, and Pink is where they both overlap.

You can view the new lines as compared with the old lines below. You can also view the official maps here:

Division of Legislative Services Redistricting Map

Please email me if you have any feedback at scottsurovell@gmail.com.


View 44th District 2011 Redistricting in a larger map

Sunday, April 3, 2011

MCCP Insures Fairfax County's Children

Last weekend, I attended the 2011 "Dress Up With Grown Ups Gala" for the Medical Care for Children Partnership or MCCP. I had not heard about the MCCP Foundation before the dinner, but attended after I received an invitation and learned that a friend of mine was involved as a sponsor.

The MCCP is a public-private partnership that works with Fairfax County to provide health insurance to working parents without health insurance whose incomes are too high for Medicaid but too low to be able to afford healthcare - the cutoff is about $55,000. They work with Kaiser Insurance and private medical providers to provide services. Since 1986, they have provided insurance to over 86,000 Fairfax County children.

MCCP currently assists over 1,000 children enrolled including 382 in the Alexandria part of Fairfax County which is the largest population served in the County. There is a significant population of families receiving assistance on the U.S. 1 Corridor.

At the dinner, we heard from Jorge Ramallo whose mother received help from MCCP when he was a child. He ticked off all of the pediatric and other visits by himself and his siblings and talked about the peace of mind health insurance brought to his mother when they lived in the Springfield area. He's now a first-year medical student at Yale University.

Many people take health insurance for granted, but there is an entire community in Fairfax County where it is out of reach. This is an organization that is providing some needed services in the County and especially in the U.S. 1 Corridor. I was very happy to learn about this terrific organization.

Friday, April 1, 2011

UPDATED: The Wrong Way to Help the Homeless

There was an article in today's Washington Post regarding a VDOT decision to clear homeless people from some road right-of-way.

VDOT decided to clear them in response to complaints from one of my colleagues who was concerned about people walking to their tents in the dark at night. A VDOT right-of-way next to an interstate exit was probably not the best place to camp out. However, from reading the article, it sounds like VDOT simply chased them off the land.

Homelessness is a serious and often overlooked problem in Northern Virginia. There has always been a significant homeless population in the U.S. 1 Corridor. On occasion, there have been efforts to clear people off homeless camps in our community.


However, when this has been done in the Mt. Vernon area, it is usually done in coordination with our charities on U.S. 1 such as New Hope Housing and United Community Ministries. In fact, one of these events was resulted in the creation of the Ventures in Community Hypothermia Outreach Program (VIC-HOP) that the General Assembly commended last year.


Homelessness is typically secondary to other problems in people's lives - frequently mental illness. Whenever the homeless are cleared from property, it ought to be done in coordination with case workers to ensure that as people are moved, they are not just pushed along to become someone else's problem, but are given an opportunity to receive services that might help them break the cycle of homelessness.


From the news reports, it sounds like this was done the wrong way.


UPDATED - Here is a some video from a Channel 9 News Story on the eviction.

Weekly Column: The New Proposed 44th District and Veto Session Approaches

The following column appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette, Mount Vernon Voice, and Patch.com on March 31, 2011:

The General Assembly will convene in a special session on April 4 in Richmond to adopt redistricting plans and vote on the Governor’s vetoes.


The House of Delegates and Senate announced redistricting plans for their respective bodies this past week. Realigning district lines for elected postions is required because of population changes documented by the decennial census.


The House of Delegates’ Republican Caucus has proposed a redistricting plan for House districts. The House Democratic Caucus has not presented a plan. You can view all proposals online by going to my blog, The Dixie Pig at scottsurovell.blogspot.com. I have posted links and instructions there if you would like to view the plans.


I support nonpartisan redistricting. I do not believe elected officials should draw their own district lines. The Governor also campaigned on bipartisan redistricting but did not actively work for it during our recent session. He created a Bipartisan Redistricting Commission, but it has no real power. It is advisory only. Both the House and Senate actually proposed their plans before the Governor’s Bipartisan Redistricting Commission even made its recommendations.


House of Delegates’ districts must have 80,000 people and State Senate seats 200,000. The House and Senate have adopted competing redistricting criteria ranging from .5 percent to 1 percent or +/- 400 to 800 people. Finalizing these criteria will be our first order of business.


The House plan proposes to change my district, the 44th, as follows: Huntington Precinct would be moved to Delegate Mark Sickles’ seat. Bellehaven Precinct (the area around West Potomac High School) would be moved to Delegate David Englin’s seat, and Westgate Precinct (the area south of Mount Vernon Memorial Highway) would be moved back into Delegate Dave Albo’s seat where it was until 2001. Kirkside Precinct (essentially Hollin Hills & northern Gum Springs) and Marlan Precinct (Villamay, Marlan Forest and eastern Quander Road) would be moved from Delegate David Englin’s district into my my district, along with the most of Belleview Precinct. Huntley Meadows Park would also be added to my district, along with Hayfield Precinct and a small part of Fort Belvoir.


No plan is final. We will debate and vote on them in the special session. The plans must go to the Governor for veto or line-item vetos and then the U.S. Department of Justice for what is called a “pre-clearance” under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. There is always the possibility of a legal challenge as well.


Two weeks ago, I wrote that I like my district the way it is. The district is the closest to the target population number in the entire state without any changes. Thankfully, the proposal did not do significant harm to communities of interest in my district. Under the proposed House of Delegates plan, I would still mainly represent the same communities, the same high school pyramids and the bulk of the U.S. 1 corridor. I welcome some new constituents. You may recall that in 2009, I knocked on over 8,000 doors in the 44th district. When you go out, meet people face to face, into the “innards” of a community, and then fight for them in Richmond, you develop a deep sense of responsibility and ownership of “your turf.” It would be hard to let parts of my current district go. For sure, I will miss some of my current constituents if the current House plan is approved.


We also have a veto session next week. The Governor vetoed his first bill -- legislation requiring schools to provide elementary students to participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of physical education per week. I voted no on the bill originally and will support the Governor’s veto. While I support encouraging children to be physically active, Fairfax County Public Schools estimates that this requirement will cost Fairfax County over $18 million and the state is providing no funding. We cannot continue to require Fairfax County to take actions without providing funding.


Also, several Mount Vernon elementary school principals also contacted me and said this requirement would reduce time in art, music and other classes. I do not support sacrificing academics and art and music for physical education, activities that can be done outside of school.


The Governor also vetoed three other bills including an agreement to raise Virginia’s medical malpractice cap, and increase civil penalties for pollution. I will vote to override those vetoes.


Please watch the news for any additional vetoes and contact me to share your views. This will likely be the last article to go to print before we vote next week. You can email me at scottsurovell@gmail.com. You can also stay informed by reading my blog, The Dixie Pig, at scottsurovell.blogspot.com.


It is an honor to serve as your State Delegate.

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