Terra Centre and Virginia Demographics

To paraphrase Forest Gump, “I may not be a smart man, but I know what smoke is”…and, typically, when I smell smoke, I can find the fire. This time I smell the smoke, and sense the fire is a ways off, but don’t know exactly what the fire will be.

So let me offer some thoughts to you, and let you take a whack at it.

A) Since we bought our single family home in Burke Centre in 2004, there have been numerous articles about the potential pricking of the housing bubble. I have been of the opinion that we are somewhat value protected thanks to bad road planning. The horrendous road infrastructure in Northern Virginia and large number of homes already built means that there is no place to put new roads in close/inside the Washington Beltway. Close in locations have the benefit of “location, location, location”, so if you want to have a short commute you have limited options. This was our opinion when we bought the house, and to date the idea has held up. It actually had a double benefit for us. We owned a town house in Burke Centre before the boom exploded. Without the boost we got selling our town house we could never have afforded to buy our current home.

B) In the absolutely marvelous blog Bacons Rebellion, there is an 8/29/2006 post titled “The Housing Crisis in Fairfax” that caused a significant amount of comment. The article draws attention to a Washington Post article that analyses how so many people who work in DC/ Northern VA and want to own homes have to move farther and farther out to find a home they can afford. It notes the creation of “both the Owns and the Own-Nots — as well as the Owns and the Own-80-Miles-From-Works”. Even for the latter, money saved in buying the house is eaten up both by transportation expenses and the opportunity costs of spending 2-4 hours each day commuting.

Check both out…

C) Bwana’s WMD #1 and WMD#2 go to Terra Centre Elementary School. WMD #1 was in a joint K-1 class, and we hoped as WMD #2 started school he could get the same class and same teacher. However, because of a dearth of first graders it was decided to ax one K-1 class (guess who was to be in it), and redistribute. Personally, I suspect more than a little bit of bad planning in this course of action (but that discussion is for a different time). The telling bit of information was the observation by people connected with the schools that the home pricing in Burke Centre is at a point where young families (who typically have young children) are not moving in here…instead we are getting older families, with older families and parents who are farther along in their careers and at a higher pay grade.

Where am I going with this? Well, there has been much talk of how Fairfax County has gone purple, leaning to Blue. Certainly that is a reasonable conclusion based on the 2005 election results. Yes, the GOP ran a horrendous campaign for governor, and yes, the democratic pick-ups were in areas formerly represented by moderate GOP delegates or had terrible GOP candidates (but that discussion is for a different time). Nonetheless, the expectation is that Fairfax will go more and blue.

However, if younger, lower income level families are not able to move in to Fairfax, what does that do to the equation? Does Fairfax continue to trend blue, or does it stay a resolute purple, titling to eggplant or heliotrope depending on the election?

I don’t know…my little corner of the world may be unique. But when blogs and MSM jointly agree on a condition, then that condition may just really exist. And if it exists, then possible trends and results are worth considering.

As the NOVA West Jaycees used to say “We Shall See-eee!”

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