For the past four years, Dan McGuire has been the driving force behind an effort to get the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to offer a special license plate in honor of Reston.
However, his attempts haven't come to fruition, and now he faces more hurdles in his quest.
This year the process of getting a special license plate became tougher after the General Assembly increased the number of prepaid applications needed from 350 to 450, as of July 1.
"We just haven't reached the people yet," said McGuire, who has lived in Reston since 1972. "We've advertised. We've gone on TV [and] had stories in the newspapers. We just haven't been able to connect."
So far, McGuire has collected about 110 applications for the Reston-themed plates. Applicants sign on initially with a $10 application and agree to pay $10 annually to the DMV to keep the license plate. According to 2010 census data, about 58,404 people live in Reston.
There are more than 200 special license plates in Virginia, said DMV spokeswoman Melanie Stokes. Many of these are revenue-sharing plates, which help raise money for nonprofit organizations such as the National Air and Space Museum, which first issued a specialty plate in 2000 and has raised $722,085 with the plates. Annual fees for shared revenue plates are $25.
The DMV's timeline for approval of a special plate is about 10 months, during which time a submitted plate design is approved by the DMV and then plates are pressed and issued to residents. The timeline does not include an estimate for organizing the 450 signatures needed to apply for a special plate.
After gathering the necessary 450 signatures, individuals or organizations seeking a special plate must apply to the Virginia General Assembly for approval. Applicants usually find a state senator or delegate from their locality to sponsor legislation approving their plate, McGuire said.
He has asked Del. Tom Rust (R-Dist. 86) of Herndon to carry his license plate legislation once he's collected his signatures. Rust said he has sponsored special plate legislation before, but not within the past six years.
"It's much more difficult to get one now," he said. "They have to get all the applications, which we didn't have before." The point of the applications, Rust said, is to make sure residents want the plate before the lengthy process of approval begins.
"Anyone can get one," Rust said of who is allowed to apply for a special plate.
Driving around Fairfax County, McGuire takes stock of all the special plates he sees on cars that pass by.
"What is really a great mystery to me is, you'll see some small college you've never heard of and they'll have a license plate. Or, you'll see the Monarch butterfly, which is beautiful, but it's like, 'How the heck did they get one?'"
McGuire and those who recently joined his effort have until the General Assembly's 2012 session, which begins in eight months, to gather additional signatures.
"Reston is a special place and we are the most premier planned community in the world," said Jane Lee Wong, the North Point Director of the Reston Citizens Association, a nonprofit community organization. Wong joined McGuire's plate petition movement about a month ago.
"Our license plate is how we're going to advertise our community. We're going all out. We'll be reaching out to everyone."
Terry Maynard, also a Reston Citizens Association member, has signed up to receive a Reston special plate.
"I think we've got a great community here and I think we ought to show it off. If people are going to show off their alma maters ... I think we ought to be able to do the same," Maynard said.
This year, the Virginia General Assembly approved six new special license plates, including one celebrating the centennial anniversary of Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County.
"Everyone you talk to who hasn't done this says it will be a piece of cake. But everyone who has done it knows it takes a while," McGuire said. "Once it's done, we've got it forever. Your children will be able to get a plate, so can your grandchildren."
Other examples of special plates in Virginia include "Friends of Tibet," "150 Anniversary of the Civil War" and "Operation Wildflower," a Virginia Department of Transportation plate.