City developers, business owners and residents in Fairfax, Va., want to make sure that their neighborhoods don’t feel too hot, too cold, or too dry.
The issue, they argue, is a lack of diversity in the local landscape.
That’s one reason Fairfax is one of the nation’s hottest cities, and its unemployment rate is nearly 10 percent.
A combination of factors are to blame, according to a new report by the city’s economic development board.
The report calls for a “more balanced, more diverse, more inclusive and equitable” development strategy.
It’s a plan that could include creating a city-wide housing strategy that includes incentives for new and existing owners to move in.
It would also help encourage the creation of new and established businesses, like food trucks and clothing retailers, to offset the negative impact of rising home prices.
But many residents and advocates are skeptical of those goals, saying they’ll only lead to more gentrification, which can cause neighborhood blight and damage homes and businesses.
“They are not the answer,” said Laura Ebert, an urban planning professor at the University of Virginia who helped write the report.
“There’s so much work to be done.”
Fairfax is a city of 4,600 people located in the Fairfax County suburbs.
Its population grew by 9,811 in the first six months of the year, a rate of roughly 12.3 percent.
The Fairfax Economic Development Board, which includes the city, was created in July 2011 to promote economic development in Fairfax.
It includes the Virginia Department of Economic Development, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech, among others.
It also includes the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
While it’s a big-city agency, the board does not have the power to implement its own policies.
It’s made up of a handful of local elected officials, including the mayor and the city manager.
It is expected to report on the economic development plan next month.
“We’re a little bit behind in terms of creating a plan, but the fact that we’re at this point where we can make the recommendations is great,” said Julie Loh, a Virginia state senator who represents the area.
“We have a lot of opportunities for our city.”
The board also is working on a plan to address racial equity, which is one area where Fairfax is struggling.
According to a 2014 report by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the percentage of residents of color in Fairfax is at its lowest point in at least a century.
A recent study by the Institute of Labor and Employment Research found that about 18 percent of the city�s workforce is white.
That means about 1.6 percent of Fairfax residents are black or African American.
In 2015, the city created a task force to look at the issue of racial disparity, but that report was shelved amid a lawsuit.
Fairfield City Councilwoman Mary O’Brien, who was elected in 2016 and is the city councilwoman responsible for development, said that despite that, she believes there are still important steps to take.
She said there is an emphasis on inclusion and community engagement in all aspects of the development process, and that she wants to see more diversity in all areas.
A number of areas have been designated as high-risk areas, such as housing, schools, libraries, parks, recreation, and cultural and historic resources.
O’Brien said she expects that in the coming years, more high-quality housing will be created.
“There’s still work to do, but I think we’ve got a lot more work to make in terms in terms the diversity in our city, in terms all the places that we have to make the investments in,” she said.
More broadly, O’Connor said that Fairfax needs to do more to make it a place where people can work.
At a time when the region is dealing with a record-high rate of opioid overdose deaths, and a surge in violent crime, O�Connor said the board should focus on making the city safer.
“We need to make this a place that people want to live, and we have a duty to the people of Fairfax County to make that happen,” she added.
On the positive side, the economic board expects the area�s unemployment rate to fall by 10.3 percentage points by 2020.