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Board Approves Courthouse Building Purchase, Amid Homeless Shelter Controversy

by ARLnow.com | December 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm | 11,594 views | 283 Comments

The Arlington County Board authorized the county manager to purchase a Courthouse office building last night, the first step to the creation of a new, year-round homeless shelter.

Arlington first publicly proposed the purchase of 2020 14th Street N. last month, saying that the building would help the county consolidate overflow office space, would facilitate the redevelopment of the Courthouse area, and would serve as the site of a long-desired comprehensive homeless service center. The homeless shelter would take up two floors of the seven-story building, which the county has valued at $25.5 million, and would replace the current emergency winter homeless shelter, located two blocks away.

Most of the several dozen people who spoke at last night’s marathon county board meeting stated their support for a year-round shelter. But the speakers were split between those who voiced support for 2020 14th Street being the site of that homeless shelter and a very vocal group — largely residents of the Woodbury Heights condominium, located next to the proposed shelter — who spoke out against it.

Concerns about safety and property values were the crux of the opposition to the proposed shelter.

“I just want to say that we’re not assholes… because that’s what it’s going to sound like,” said Woodbury Heights resident Meredith Fox. “I absolutely support, one million percent, helping homeless people getting full care. My issue… is safety. For any woman to enter our home, we are now going to have to walk by many [homeless] people who are standing outside.”

“Would you buy a [condo] right next to the homeless shelter?” asked resident Kerry Britton. “Maybe the one six blocks away looks better all of a sudden. If my property goes down 10 percent, that’s $42,000 for me and my husband.”

Britton noted that she and her self-described “NIMBY” neighbors all support the idea of a comprehensive homeless shelter — just not next to their condo.

“There are many other less expensive parts of the county where the homeless shelter and government offices can locate,” said resident Joanna Kim.

Other speakers against the shelter included a Woodbury Heights resident who broke down in tears as she described being sexually assaulted by a homeless man in a train station years earlier, and two young girls who said that, as Woodbury Heights residents, they worried about homeless individuals cursing, smoking and drinking on the street where they catch the bus to school.

“That may influence us to make poor choices later in life,” one of the girls said.

The intense opposition was counterbalanced by passionate supporters of the year-round homeless shelter, who made a strong showing at the board meeting.

Among the pro-shelter speakers were church pastors, representatives from community groups, a real estate developer, a business improvement district director, and volunteers from the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. A-SPAN runs the emergency winter shelter and would run the proposed year-round shelter.

“We are poised at a moment in Arlington’s history where we have the resources and we have the opportunity to do what is right and to do what is just,” said Rev. Tim Hickey, of the Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in south Arlington. “The measure of the values of any community can be seen in how they treat and deal with one another, but most importantly in how they treat and deal with those that are most vulnerable among them.”

“No one wants the homeless living on our streets in Arlington,” said Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing President Nina Janopaul. “It’s inhumane, and it… costs our community dearly in terms of hospitalization and jail costs. A new year round shelter and homeless service center will help our homeless transition into permanent supportive housing to lead productive lives. That’s what we all want.”

A number of speakers tried to debunk fears of increased crime from the homeless shelter — pointing our that Arlington County police headquarters is directly across the street, and that A-SPAN has a good track record in terms of mitigating impact on communities in other locations where it provides homeless services.

Several formerly homeless individuals told stories about how A-SPAN helped to turn their lives around.

“Before I entered the emergency winter shelter, I was on the streets and feeling hopeless,” said David Marand, a military veteran who served in Afghanistan. “Going through the shelter was the best thing for me, because it opened doors that I would not have been able to access on my own.”

After hours of testimony, as the clock approached 12:45 a.m., the board voted unanimously to approve the purchase. The county will now attempt to negotiate a purchase price with the building owner. If it cannot negotiate a “fair” price, the county has threatened to use its power of eminent domain to purchase the building.

“It’s going to be a first-rate program,” County Board member Barbara Favola said of the homeless service center/shelter. “We have to be prepared to roll up our sleeves and make it work.”

Despite last night’s drama, the year-round shelter is not yet a done deal. The County Board will have to approve a special exception use permit for the shelter once the building is purchased and the shelter is ready to move in.

Jeffrey Miller, a Woodbury Heights resident, says he and other condo owners are contemplating their next move.

“We’re still gathering information, and evaluating future actions,” Miller told ARLnow.com “Remember, it was only three weeks ago that the County first unveiled this proposal. We have to determine how to address the County’s failure to consult with the neighborhood (or even to provide minimal advance notice), as well as how to pursue our substantive concerns over the proposed acquisition and usage.”

Woodbury Heights residents weren’t the only ones who opposed the building purchase. Several business owners, who rent office space in the building, spoke out against the purchase last night. The county said that existing leaseholders (with the exception of ground floor retailers and restaurants) will eventually be moved out of the building to make way for county offices and the homeless shelter. Those tenants, the county said, will be provided with relocation assistance.

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  • OLQP Parishoner

    Small correction, ArlNow: Our Lady Queen of Peace is in the Nauck neighborhood and has been there for the past 60 years. Learn more here: http://www.olqpva.org

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      Okay thanks, we’ll correct that.

    • NOT a OLQP Parishoner

      Question – Does OLQP have it’s own homeless shelter on site? Or is Mr. Hickey only more than happy to push one that ISN’T in his back yard?

      I’m guessing he doesn’t practice what he preaches. Literally.

  • Louise

    That’s my church! SO proud to be an OLQP parishoner, and a resident of Arlington. What an excellent decision made by county staff. Thanks to all who came out and spoke, those who wrote letters, etc.

    • NOT a OLQP Parishoner

      Awesome. Then the next shelter can be across from your house.

      • YellowSubmarine

        That church has a very long history of inclusiveness, community service, and integration. They are know for welcoming all types of Christians, especially non-traditional Catholics.

        And no, it’s not my church. But you should know who you’re talking about before you make vast assumptions.

    • Courthouse Resident

      Give us your address and we will send them over. I have been saving the intoxicated, drugged up sex offenders just for you.

  • OX4

    “two young girls who said that, as Woodbury Heights residents, they worried about homeless individuals cursing, smoking and drinking on the street where they catch the bus to school. “That may influence us to make poor choices later in life,” one of the girls said.”

    Unbelievable. I love how parents’ biases are mirrored by their children.

    • Quoth the Raven

      What do you mean? You think that was a planted comment or something?!? How dare you! I’m sure those girls are absolutely honest when they’re saying they are worried about future influences and future bad decisions!

    • ArlRes

      I’m guess walking by the college kids drinking, smoking and cursing on the patio of Ragtime isn’t a problem however. It’s only the perceived notion that all homeless will do this, and will do it out front of the homeless shelter, across from a police station, at all hours of the day…great arguement

      • dtagg

        Thank god! If anyone is responsible for the corruption of our young generation, it is the obnoxious current generation that are entirely self infatuated!

      • Rick

        Yeah but they’re not waiting for school buses at 1130 on a Thursday night..

    • Joe

      It’s so true. Kids being fed things to say by their parents. Tasteless.

      • CW

        Ding ding ding, we have a winner. They’ve not been imprinted and are now truly believing this; I’d say the odds are that they were spoon-fed these lines.

        To put it another way – if a “young girl” is sufficiently self-actualized to make the statement “that may influence [me] to make poor decisions later in life”, then odds are it won’t influence her to make poor decisions, because she is cognizant of her own decisions already.

        • KalashniKEV

          Wow… that’s brilliant reasoning. I followed every step. Really.

          How is it going to keep her from being the next victim?

          • Arlington Voter

            That is a different argument. A poor one, but one you can actually make with a straight face. The “seeing homeless people will influence me to make poor choices later in life” argument is illogical, and frankly ridiculous.

      • ReallyNow

        From listening to their comments that night, I doubt that their parents wrote it for them.

        Either way, good for them for showing interest and involvement in government and issues that are important to them. Maybe you don’t agree with them, but teaching kids to fight for their beliefs in this forum is something to be proud of.

    • Burger

      And if they said something you supported would that change your answer.

      • Joe

        Not at all Burger, not at all…

      • Josh S

        Yeah, I think any testimony of kids this age, no matter the content, can pretty much be filed in the “that’s cute, but can we move on to the real discussion” category…..

        • Rick

          The haughtiness of Arlingtonians on full display.

          Dems are right, GOP is wrong, children are stupid. They pay sales tax, maybe even income tax. They can say whatever they want and you’re not one to judge them

          • KalashniKEV

            What’s funny is that these children do more for America (simply by holding future potential) than the Bums this proposal seeks to enrich.

            I would have coached the girl to say, “Why do I go to school in a trailer when my parent’s money goes to support these Hobos?”

          • Josh S

            Sure, Rick – in your world, you let ten year olds make decisions about where to locate facilities and spend millions of dollars. Sure you do.

          • Rick

            The County Board displayed what they thought was in the best interest of the five of them, plus the non-resident County Manager. They held the words of a minor in the same hand as everyone opposed to this project, which is coincidentally the one they wipe with.

            You missed my point because I called you haughty, and you compensate by sarcastic repetition of what I said.

            I wasn’t there, perhaps they were 10, maybe they were old enough to work, but if they’re old enough to spend money and pay into the county coffers, they have a voice. You not respecting them makes you look like the fool, not the children.

    • Courthouse Resident

      Where you there? I was. They wrote the speech themselves. They should be worried.

  • MrsD

    I understand the need for homeless shelters in Arlington but my heart goes out to the hard working people who paid good money for those condo’s next door. Their screwed!

    • Louise

      Mrs. D, the info I have is that they are not next door–they’re six blocks away. And I’d guess that having homeless inside and off the streets would actually help instead of having them outside.

      • Louise

        Oops, I’m incorrect. It’s about a block away, on the other side of the hotel.

      • Courthouse Resident

        Hey Louise,

        Maybe you should get off the couch and visit the site before you speak about location.

    • Pedantic Grammarian

      I understand the need for homeless shelters in **Arlington, but** my heart goes out to the hard working people who paid good money for those **condos*** next door. **They’re** screwed!

      • Z

        Thank you for your service.

      • Garden City

        Hey, quit making fun of people for whom English is a second language.

    • OX4

      Their screwed what?

    • Joe

      I think bringing down the price is an exaggeration. Plenty of Yuppies are willing to buy your condo if you decide to sell. Big deal if there’s a homeless shelter below, the location is amazing. Location, location, location as they say. Your building is outdated, there wasn’t going to be a big bidding war by itself anyways since it’s an outdated property.

      • Scott

        +100

        • Southeast Jerome

          I am condo shopping now and 100% wouldnt even consider one next to a homeless shelter.

          How is it even an argument that this wont bring down the property value?

          • Condo Buyer

            I recently bought my condo and I did not even consider Woodbury Heights (or anything around the Courthouse metro for that matter–anything east of Veitch is no better than Rosslyn/Crystal City in my opinion). As Joe stated, the building is outdated. Your properly values are already going down as it becomes even less attractive compared to newer condos.

      • CourthouseChris

        Uhh, yeah. As a current renter of a condo in Colonial Village, I am supremely interested in purchasing in this building. Especially now that the threat of a homeless shelter has cleared out the a**hole conservatives.

        I’ll just say it now: I would rather have the homeless shelter as a neighbor than republicans.

        • ArlingtonWay

          What a tiresome ideaologue you are. Why exactly do you think anyone here cares how you feel about the political parties? Or who you prefer your neighbors to be?

          • CourthouseChris

            I think I quite appropriately demonstrate the non-a**hole demand for housing in the county. Not everyone is so scared of poor people that the presence of a homeless shelter would dissuade them from buying a neighboring condo.

            Do only the ideologues that are contrary to your own position tire you, or are you so weary that all ideas make you so fatigued? Please, do elaborate.

          • ArlingtonWay

            Yawn.

          • CourthouseChris

            I’m blown away by your rhetorical prowess.

          • Zoning Victim

            Speaking for myself, people who want to frame every conversation as Democrat versus Republican tire me, as do self-righteous people who think that everyone who has an opposing viewpoint to theirs is an “a**hole” and that agreeing with them somehow makes a person a “non-a**hole;” it doesn’t.

            I don’t suppose it bothers you or any of the rest of your self-described “non-a**hole” clan that grouping homeless people together in mass housing like this exactly what you don’t want to do. I mean, why actually do something that will actually get homeless people off of the street, cost less and not ruin the property values of the hardworking people who are actually helping to pay for the services the homeless consume?

            Please, report back to us on when you buy your new condo in this building. Until then, I call BS on your asinine diatribe against people with some fiscal common sense and a sense of fairness toward the people who own condos in the adjacent building.

          • Quoth the Raven

            In the same way, it’s pretty silly to treat either Rs or Ds as some homogeneous group. Amazingly, I’m pretty sure that not all Rs and Ds think the same way about a lot of things. In fact, I’m also pretty sure that some of your friends might be, gasp, conservative!!!! OMG!!! You better figure out who those folks are so you can get rid of them! Who needs friends who think differently than you do?!?!?

          • Courthouse Resident

            Maybe we can send them to your house and they can sleep there. Get some skin in the game and then talk.

        • dtagg

          Woahhhhh… now how do you get off bashing republicans? This is not a political battle, but one of modesty. There are a growing class of people in this country that believe they are better than everyone else. Let me ask you one question. What have you done for humanity today? I am guessing that these are the same people constantly criticizing south arlington residents for, oh wait… living in south arlington. Oh, and guess what… I much prefer hanging out on 23rd street any night of the week. You ask why, well its because the people are REAL!

        • Choogirl

          +1

      • Courthouse resident

        Really? You think a buyer with dozens of condos to choose from is going to pick the one across from the homeless shelter? Perhaps, but only because it will much cheaper than all the condos that are not directly across from a homeless shelter. Location, location, location. Woodbury residents are going to see their property values tank. The County is lying.

        • Arlington Voter

          Question – how has the presence of the Winter Shelter affected property values? I think the answer is not one cent, but I’d be interested in your perspective.

          • Louise

            ;)

      • KalashniKEV

        What about the residents of the new and decent adjacent Condos? What’s going to happen to their property values after the Bums infest the area? What are you going to tell children who become prey to these people?

        There’s really no argument that this isn’t going to turn Courthouse into a toilet.

    • KalashniKEV

      Regardless of how many meters away the Bum Mansion is, her point is valid- creating this haven is going act as a magnet for crime and poverty… and yes, we are ALL screwed.

    • Really???

      You do realize those hard working people also live next to a jail and courthouse right now, both of which have actual criminals in them. I would think that would be more of a concern than homeless people. I would hope they realized that when they paid good money for those condos.

      • But They….

        But they are locked up….an important distinction.

  • future drunkard

    I too saw some homeless people cursing, swearing, smoking and drinking once…it looked so glamorous that I am sure I will want to emulate them later in life.

    • pikershorts

      I went to college. That made me drink an incredible amount for 4.5 years.

    • KalashniKEV

      It’s more fun than working for a living!

      If I didn’t have any conscience, I’d LOVE to just hang out and stay drunk all day on someone else’s dime.

  • Captain Obvious

    Let’s get rid of wALTER tEJADA!

    • novasteve

      I’d say let’s build a homeless shelter next to his house.

      • KalashniKEV

        I have a better proposition… let’s vote him out and move him into his own homeless shelter. You know he couldn’t hold a real job.

    • Josh S

      **tilts head, scratches it in wonderment****

  • 1234

    When was the last time that the board didn’t vote unanimously on an issue.

    • Rick

      This year I believe. There was some bill that Zimmie was being a stick in the mud about because there wasn’t enough transit money attached

  • jim

    Hint: for those who get screwed by these a-holes on the County Board VOTE THE JERKS OUT? Amazing how the same people who complain will mindlessly pull the lever for these dirtbags every time.

    • 1234

      If only there were some options on the ballot . . .

      • Bill

        There are other good option in N Virginia – they just fail to ignore it.
        I would go into detail if my attorneys would let me.
        Bill

      • Truthi

        There have always been options on the ballot. You all did not choose to take them. Enjoy your new neighbors.

        And no there is no homeless shelter at Our Lady Queen of Peace BUT it is where Zimmie worships.

        • Southeast Jerome

          Right…… because heaven exists. Along with the easter bunny and the notion that putting a homeless shelter next to a condo complex wont cause the property value in that condo complex to drop. Amazing beliefs!

          • KalashniKEV

            They believe their own lies.

            It helps them cope with the Guilt.

    • charlie

      that precinct delivered a resounding victory to the incumbents this year. they have only themselves to blame.

    • Josh S

      Do you feel better, jim?

      Getting all that really nitty-gritty, dirty, angry language out there on the Internet, for everyone to read? Yeah! Wait – hell, yeah!!

      Boy, I bet that feels good.

    • Baja

      Everyone should take their arguments for or against this to the Board instead of wasting time on this site (just sent them my two cents). countyboard@arlingtonva.us.

      I support spending a small amount of taxpayer money on a year-round homeless shelter, but not in an expensive area like Courthouse! There will be NIMBYs wherever it goes, but it should be built on or near a less expensive area that’s well-served by bus. That’s not an attempt to marginalize the homeless, simply efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

  • E Change

    Good for the county! Nimbyism has caused concentrations of high income and low income areas in Arlington, which has led to many problems, including disparities in the school system population, fund raising capacity for PTAs, etc. An economically diverse community is a healthy community.

    • ArlingtonWay

      What a strange comment. How exactly is the construction of a year round homeless shelter going to change the concentration of incomes? By lowering the concentration of wealth in the courthouse area? By evening out the north arlington schools by adding a bunch of homeless kids What A truly bizarre statement.

      • KalashniKEV

        +1

        I’m not getting it… are the high income areas supposed to be “punished” with Bums?

        • drax

          No, Kev, it makes it more convenient for you to spit on them.

          • KalashniKEV

            I already told you- I would never spit on anyone. I’m also against bankrolling Losers with my money.

  • Puke

    Good thing this place will be right near a metro line where homeless people from D.C. and Maryland will be able to easily access it. The County may need to purchase Woodbury Heights in order to meet the demand of the homeless.
    If I get in an argument with my wife can I crash in the homeless shelter? Do they have a soup kitchen too where I can get some free food? I may just go there for dinner to save money. This sounds like a plan!

    • Patrick

      Finally someone recognizes that this homeless shelter will only make the number of homeless people in arlington increase as they migrate across the river.

      • ArlRes

        So how come the current Arlington homeless of 500 haven’t already migrated into DC’s shelters?

        • ArlingtonWay

          Because there is no room in most dc shelters. Which is exactly why this facility will attract homeless from outside county. Which is the entire point the poster was making.

          • ArlRes

            So even though this shelter will only house 75 of the 500 homeless currently in Arlington, you assume even more people from dc will come to Arlington? You’ve watched Field of Dreams one too many times.

          • KalashniKEV

            How are you even putting forth this argument?

            I’m positively bewildered…

      • CourthouseChris

        Dear god – you mean a homeless shelter might be of benefit to people who are homeless but formerly resided elsewhere? THIS MUST BE STOPPED. We need to make sure that people who stay at our homeless shelter at one point had a home near the shelter. F*** the people who never had a home near this shelter.

        I sincerely hope every single person that opposes this shelter some day has to fear for their own safety.

        • ArlingtonWay

          Dispicable.

          • CourthouseChris

            If you are going to mock me by imitating me, at least spell it right. I did.

          • KalashniKEV

            LOL… Chris, are you the 99% too?

            (I’m convinced that you’re a sock puppet)

        • Courthouse Resident

          I am pretty sure you work for the county or A-SPAN. The only person that is going to benefit is the developer who is going to build the tower where the current shelter is. Go look at the 20 year old site plan and get a clue.

    • Courthouse resident

      $25.5 million is the tip of the iceberg. The County wants to build a year round “wet” homeless shelter on the R-B corridor. Let’s not forget that the County claims it wants to transition the homeless into permanent housing. Buying Woodbury Heights is not a bad option. I hear there are a lot of tenants anxious to sell for some reason…

      • ArlRes

        I heard the county is already setting up an eminent domain purchase of woodbury heights in 2018 using funds set aside from a special tax district they will set up this year thats borders include only the woodbury heights condominiums.

        • CourthouseChris

          So, your valid arguments having been exhausted, you resort to fiction?

          • ArlRes

            Just wanted to stoop to your level for a brief moment. You’re right, my bad…

          • CourthouseChris

            [citation needed]

        • Rick

          lol

      • Zoning Victim

        “Let’s not forget that the County claims it wants to transition the homeless into permanent housing.”

        Believe it or not, that’s the least expensive and most effective way to help the chronically homeless, which are the people most everyone on here are complaining about having to live near in large concentrations. I’m not big on having to pay for other people’s housing, but these people, the mentally ill and truly helpless people who makeup the chronically homeless, are the ones that we conservatives (or at least I) always say we’re willing to help. When it comes to kicking people off the government’s income redistribution list, I’d much rather start with the people whose housing we subsidize even though they make more than the national average, welfare for mentally stable people, years of unemployment for people who don’t get jobs in new towns that are hiring and corporate welfare for all of the politicians cronies. Let’s start there before we even bother considering whether or not we should be withdrawing all support for the weakest members of our society. The chronically homeless people truly are incapable of holding down jobs and being what the rest of us consider “normal.”

        • Southeast Jerome

          “When it comes to kicking people off the government’s income redistribution list, I’d much rather start with the people whose housing we subsidize even though they make more than the national average”

          Do you mean all those people with mortgages that get to deduct their interest payments? Because I am sure you are not talking about renters, who do not get to deduct any portion of their rental payments and in most cases, make well less than those people that have mortgages.

        • Josh S

          The national average is irrelevant for making local determinations about income eligibility. All such government programs rely on local averages.

        • KalashniKEV

          I’d like to transition them back to DC!

  • TGEoA

    Time for the HOA to lawyer up.

    • Rick

      novasteve is a lawyer, and a courthouse resident!

      • Arlington Voter

        The fact is a lawsuit is a waste of time. The county has a hard and fast right to eminent domain for this clearly public purpose. The only litigation will be over the price, and then only if the buyer and seller cannot agree.

  • It’s me

    So your thought process goes something like this: ,”Yes, too bad we can’t just shoo away those smelly homeless people and, I don’t know, maybe put them on a rail car out of town or something! Or how about force them to go to DC; they are used to having poor people around, right? Plus, geez, I might have to see a few of them around on my way to Starbucks for my skinny latte, ew.” Are you people kidding me? God forbid we actually put a roof over the head of someone so troubled they sleep on steam grates while the rest of us sleep snug in our beds. As others have said, rockin’ bars with loud drunks walking the streets at closing time (yes, swearing, relieving themselves maybe even puking) and maybe getting behind the wheel is fine, but a few homeless folks in a monitored setting are strictly verbotten in your world view. You better hope the economy does not double dip and you or your family ends up on the street, kicked out of that fancy condo that stays really warm and dry on cold winter nights. Shame on you. This is what your life priorities are? Really? Get over it.

    • Puke

      Do-gooders. Yuck.

    • Always Right

      Since they don’t go to work or contribute to society, they can be moved somewhere they are not bringing realestate prices down. Herndon is a good possibility.

    • Patrick

      Get off your soapbox and let them stay in your house.

      • Josh S

        Way to articulate a meaningful and productive worldview, there.

        Are you even aware that people beside yourself even exist?

        Really?

        • ArlingtonWay

          Yes. Really.

          • ArlingtonWay

            Oh and by the way, the “really” thing is pretty played out. You can also stop saying Whaaassssaup?” if you are still doing that too,

          • Josh S

            I’m sorry, was someone talking to you?

          • ArlingtonWay

            Your mom was. Wink.

        • KalashniKEV

          LOL @ “a meaningful and productive worldview”

          Are you for real with that nonsense? Why don’t you invite one of these hobos to live with you until he “gets back on his feet?”

    • ArlingtonWay

      Sanctimonious much?

    • ArlingtonWay

      Not too sanctimonious are ya?

    • Zoning Victim

      Attempting to frame the conversation in such a way that attempts to make it seem like if you don’t support the county putting an emergency homeless shelter in a very expensive building next to other people whose property values are most likely going to go down means that you are completely against helping indigent people is extremely disingenuous.

    • KalashniKEV

      LOL… I liked this one. You should post more. I liked the imagery.

      You should have mentioned them taking a poop in that little park across from where Dremo’s used to be too!

  • Bill

    Get used to the “My way or the Highway” attitude of this Board.
    Remember that when you vote again. How many times are they just
    going to go through the motions and do what they want.
    Certainly not like the days of old even when the Board was Democrat.

    • KalashniKEV

      I am happy about this unanimous vote for 2 reasons:
      1) It has solidified the opposition
      2) Neither the Bum Mansion or Trolley to the Ghetto are going to happen. People are currently lawyering up against the former.

  • John Fontain

    “There are many other less expensive parts of the county where the homeless shelter and government offices can locate,” said resident Joanna Kim.”

    HOLY CRAP! DID SHE SERIOUSLY SAY THIS?

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      We should clarify the context: she was arguing that the price of the building was too steep, and that less expensive real estate would be preferable. But she was a resident of the condo building and was thus arguing against the purchase in her neighborhood.

      • John Fontain

        Thanks. My first read was that she thought it was more appropriate if a less-wealthy area was used for the shelter to protect her high property value.

        • Josh S

          It certainly reads that way.

          Especially since it would be an extremely convenient argument for someone who lives nearby, is opposed, but doesn’t want to appear insensitive or callous.

        • ArlingtonWay

          And what exactly would be wrong if indeed that was her argument?

          • Josh S

            ^^^ lost cause ^^^^

        • KalashniKEV

          Don’t you agree with that? Why should a South Arlington taxpayer struggling to save up for the move to North Arlington be paying food and rent for a Bum to occupy some of the most expensive real estate in the country?

    • Yes, but

      there are a few ways it could be interpreted. The most positive way is that it is a statement about getting the best value and the most help to the most people. For example, if you had 25 million dollars, you could buy a really nice condo in Trump Tower and house a few homeless or you could probably buy dozens of whole neighborhoods in greater Detroit and start a whole (formerly) homeless city. The same principle applies within the borders of Arlington.

      Note that I am not necessarily advocating this ‘best value’ approach to the homeless situation.

      • pdksobe

        not only should the cost/benefit criteria be applied to this shelter, but also to all county services/employees currently located in courthouse.

        imagine how much us county taxpayers could save if we move all county offices to a vacant office building near the DMV.

        getting more services from the county for less taxpayers $ seems like it makes too much sense for this banana republic of a board to consider…

        • Josh S

          Can’t imagine there’d be any savings. Operating costs are operating costs. Even if, there was, in fact, a vacant office building near the DMV big enough to handle all the county employees now in courthouse.

        • KalashniKEV

          “imagine how much us county taxpayers could save if we move all county offices to a vacant office building near the DMV.”

          Navy Annex. LET’S DO IT! The board just declared war on North Arlington, they don’t deserve to stay here anymore.

    • Courthouse resident

      Sounds logical to me. Despite what the Board’s spending patterns seem to indicate, the County has limited resources. So when they build Artispheres and wet homeless shelters on the pricey R-B corridor that means the County has less money to spend elsewhere. Which may be why Arlington County elementary schools look like trailer parks. I am not convinced that a homeless shelter and fleet storage justifies a $25.5 million purchase in prime real estate territory. That said, I am all for the County paying even more if they could just move it back a block or two back into commercial territory. Yes, I am a NIMBY. It is entirely inappropriate to put a wet homeless shelter across the street from a high rise residential condo.

      • KalashniKEV

        “It is entirely inappropriate to put a wet homeless shelter across the street from a high rise residential condo.”

        That’s what it all boils down to. All emotion and ridiculousness (both sides of the issue) aside.

        • Josh S

          Would it be OK if it was a low-rise residential condo?

          • KalashniKEV

            It’s never OK.

          • Josh S

            P.S. that was a joke.

  • Always Right

    There goes that neighborhood!
    Where did they find the ” formerly homeless individuals who told stories about how A-SPAN helped to turn their lives around”? Living in Prison , I’m sure.

    • You know

      You do know that there is a homeless shelter less than 3 blocks already there? In addition to the Courthouse, Jail, Probation Offices, bail Bondsman, PD’s office, and an offender transitional program?

      • novasteve

        The current shelter isn’t YEAR ROUND.

    • Zoning Victim

      I think you should do some researching on homeless people; you might be surprised to learn that most formerly homeless people are not the winos you see talking to their imaginary friends in the park. Most homeless people actually only spend a few days homeless, exit the system and never return.

    • KalashniKEV

      “Living in Prison , I’m sure.”

      Try sitting behind desks in county offices. Seriously. They don’t move them into real jobs.

  • Louis Brandies

    Going to volunteer my legal services to defeat the Board’s Castro like proposal.

    • Arlington Voter

      Going to volunteer mine to ASPAN and all the groups who support this proposal. Nice try.

  • novasteve

    Would anyone like to help start a fund to build mini homeless shelters next to the members of the Board that approve this?

    • Josh S

      I’ll match you, dollar for dollar.

      Talk is cheap, steve.

    • KalashniKEV

      LOL… OCCUPY Zimmie’s front lawn.

      Maybe that’s what we need to criminalize vagrancy in Arlington.

  • Puke

    Is A-SPAN complete non-profit? Is everyone there a volunteer? Do any of them get a salary? Just wondering.

    • You know

      Wow – do yourself a favor and google what a non-profit is…

      • Puke

        If they were truly do-gooders they’d work for nothing and live amongst the homeless. So even the people that run the place are out for the all might dollar under the ruse of “helping” the homeless.

        • OX4

          Steve?

          • Puke

            Randy?!?!

          • novasteve

            I don’t use multiple monikers.

        • Josh S

          I believe there is a log in a Mississippi swamp that is missing its bump.

        • Zoning Victim

          Right, so would the police, firemen, social workers, the military and everyone else who works in a job where they’re trying to help people. People have to eat man, there is certainly plenty to debate with regards to how much help we should be expected to provide, but lets not go attacking the people who work in the homeless shelters.

          • KalashniKEV

            Good non-sequitir… not really.

            I’d rather see EXTRA money go to fighting crime, putting out house fires, saving lives, teaching our children, and defeating our enemies than to bankroll some hobo who just rolled into town in a boxcar with a jug of wine.

            Let them volunteer if that’s what they’re into… but NOT with my money!

          • drax

            How about services for the mentally ill, considering that many homeless have such problems (and aren’t just lazy or drunk)? You know, two birds with one stone.

          • KalashniKEV

            No, I skipped that “Social Work” one in my example. I’m not paying for some Loser to whine on about his problems as an alternative to actually fixing them.

          • no whining

            But KK, that’s what you do on this site 24/7 . . . whine about your problems. Sorry, about your perceived, not actual, problems, all caused by the county. Grow up. Also, it’s “non sequitur”, not “non sequitir”.

    • Joe

      Do you even know what a non-profit is? Google what it means or maybe get an education in business. Don’t come back until you’ve put some thought into what you say or know what you’re talking about.

    • drax

      So now salaries are profit? Wow, my taxes are going to be alot different this year.

  • Puke

    Thanks! I did! So the people that work there do get a salary, thus it is in their best interest to not “End Homlessness in Arlington” as their tag line suggests. If they ended homelessness they’d be out of a job and end up in the shelter themselves without anyone to run it.

    • You know

      That would be amazing! If they ended homeless – they would be more than happy to find another profession improving the community that you live in. As a non-profit employee, you’re welcome.

      • Puke

        I highly doubt that.

      • KalashniKEV

        LOL- “they would be more than happy to find another profession improving the community that you live in.”

        Providing a service funded by your money that doesn’t benefit you. (or as in this case harms!)

    • Scott

      Wow- brilliant. They secretly don’t want to help the homeless too much because it would ruin their gig living like fat cats working at a non-profit.

  • bred

    If this is the 2nd post on this – sorry. Technical trouble.
    What I want to say is that I think the CB that their minds made up BEFORE any public comment. So why waste your time? Zimm and his sycophants will get there way. I wish that we could toss all of these people out; but who to replace them, more former school board members??

    • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

      “What I want to say is that I think the CB that their minds made up BEFORE any public comment.”

      All of the C.B. meetings are like that ….. they have decided how they are going to vote long before all of the public comments.

      • KalashniKEV

        That’s why I stayed home from this. Not worth getting my blood pressure up.

        • drax

          And guns aren’t allowed in the building anyway.

          You could have just gone out and spit on homeless people instead. That makes you feel better.

          • KalashniKEV

            Another spit comment… where are you getting this from?

    • Erika

      That is totally true…it was very clear their minds were made up before the meeting even began. They were more worried about the 4 people that didn’t feel they had adequate input on their neighborhood SIGN than on concerns about the homeless shelter.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    So – whats the status of the eminent domain element of this issue – did they discuss it?

    • Erika

      they didn’t discuss it at all. its really scary.

  • Puke

    Honestly I don’t care one way or the other on this subject, I just wanted to piss people off. I can check that off the list.

    • zzzzz

      Not much of an accomplishment. All it takes to piss people off around here is to say you’re opening a restaurant with “tavern” in the name…

  • Thes

    The headline of this ArlNow article is outstanding and nicely balances the essence of the underlying facts with their newsworthiness.

    Other headlines on the same subject were:
    County Officials Aim to Mollify Angry Courthouse Residents (Sun-Gazette) [Hey folks, there's controversy! Guess what it's about?]

    Arlington Board Approves Buying/Condemning Building for Homeless Shelter (subtitle: County also wants the Thomas Building in the Courthouse community for office space) (Courthouse Patch) [Ok, so it's not just for the homeless shelter, it's more complicated than that, but why does it matter?]

    Arlington to buy building for homeless shelter (Washington Post) [Ignores the office space aspect altogether, yet also doesn't mention the controversy.]

    Well done, ArlNow, well done.

    • Grognak

      It could be a better headline. It implies that they are approving a purchase, when in fact the terms are not set. I do not believe the owner has agreed to sell. Purchases need two parties to be in agreement.

      More accurately, it should say the Board approved the acquisition of the property through any and all means available to the government.

  • MC

    What’s not surprising: another unanimous decision made only a handful a days after it was announced publicly. Even though the proposal has some merits, it was not perfect, and will harm the interests of many taxpayers. There were better options that were never explored or discussed publicly, such as other sites for these facilities. The Board again embraces a Robert Mose-style of planning that is indifferent to the concerns of many citizens. If this were a road, we would have an environmental impact study – yet this is rushed through.

    • MC

      Should have typed Robert Moses-style

      • novasteve

        Are there that many Long Islanders here who would understand this?

        • KalashniKEV

          LOL… as much as I’m ashamed to admit it. ;)

        • drax

          Some of us from elsewhere actually know who he was too.

          • KalashniKEV

            You’re the smartest, most enlightened, progressive guy on this whole board.

            (Does that make you feel better? Alleviate some of the Guilt? Maybe you won’t have to reach into my pocket to fund the leftist agenda?)

    • South Arlington

      And those other “better options” wouldn’t harm other taxpayers also, right? No matter what, someone was going to be hurt by this.

  • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

    What is the occasion for the bunting ??

    • Josh S

      Probably the recent swearing in of Tejada and Hynes. (Did I get that right?)

      • Thes

        Yes. It was festive, even after the festivities were over. Unfortunate optics.

  • Cabrini–Green

    Robert Moses, Tony Rezko…

    The beauty is that this government forced “charity” will provide for any number number of “voters” that will vote the right way.

    The ACB can feel good about themselves AND get something for the effort!

    We should just assess the surrounding properties higher, and tell them that they are more wealthy because of the ACB!

    Win, win. win.

  • nota gain

    Many homeless live, daily, in the Arlington Libraries and occasionally have to be awakened.

    • KalashniKEV

      I know… I keep turning down their Facebook friend requests!

  • Village Genius

    Hmmmm? Just recently the County decides that office space at the Clarendon Metro is too expensive so the County moves it Human Services department (e.g., food stamps, etc.) to Washington Blvd. just south of Rt. 50. No Metro access for the thousands of people who will visit that department and only minimal bus service.

    But now, a few months later, the County Board deems a Courthouse office building as the only choice (of course, they only looked at one building, but who is counting). One justification is that the 75 or so homeless people need Metro access.

    Strange public policy decision making.

    The $39 million dollar building (including necessary renovations) comes with a $1.5 million increase in annual operating costs.

    From an earlier post:

    Better value for the buck: The lovely Highlander Motor Inn at 3330 Wilson (RPC 19014022) is a much better value with an assessment of $2 million. Very minimal renovation necessary for a homeless shelter.

    Rather than spend $25 million [really $39 million] for a run-down building, the County can buy the lovely Motor Inn AND construct office space above the existing motel. Plenty of parking is included; Metro and bus access.

    • CourthouseChris

      Dude, do you own the Highlander? This is not the first pitch I’ve seen in the comments section…

      • KalashniKEV

        It’s called developing courses of action, cost benefit analysis, due diligence- something the county board wants no part of!

    • ArlRes

      Next time do some research on the residents who utilize the service of the County’s dept of human services. Over half are from the zip codes of 22211 and 22204, and they do not have the option of taking metrorail to get to the old 3033 building. The new building actually shortens most of their commutes being on a metrobus line.

    • Courthouse resident

      Yes it is certainly curious, especially when you consider that one of the County’s arguments for the $25.5 million “wet” homeless shelter is that it will be closer to County services. Do they anticipate the homeless making frequent use of the zoning permit office? Generous and frequent contributions to the Treasurer? Or could it be that the County is lying in an effort to justify a really bad decision?

      Yes on Highlander. The surrounding property values are negligible already. Not much damage that can be done and no reconstruction needed. I am assuming there are no residences nearby though. That is my biggest problem with the proposed wet shelter. You bet yer arse I am a NIMBY.

      • Thes

        That was one of the arguments? I thought it was so that the County office workers (which will make up most of the building) could be near the other County office workers. Where did they make that argument?

    • ArlRes

      Chuckle. I remember staying at the Highlander with my family as a kid, we needed a place to stay for a few days between houses.

      But seriously, why isn’t that on the table? More cost effective and a convenient location for all. Is it for sale? It could be used almost immediately as a family shelter. I like that idea.

      • Courthouse resident

        The 2020 building is a much better place for a homeless shelter than the Highlander. I can’t wait to have it built, so that we can get these folks off the streets, especially in the winter months. Perhaps we can sign a neighborhood petition in support to help fast-track the acquisition. They needed this thing yesterday.

        • KalashniKEV

          LOL… you can’t be serious.

      • drax

        “we needed a place to stay for a few days between houses.”

        So you were homeless.

        • ArlRes

          Not what I’d call it, since it was by choice and there was a house waiting for us. We couldn’t move in until the previous residents moved out. I’m sure my mom didn’t like it, but for us it was an adventure.

  • dtagg

    I am officially sickened by Arlington humanity during this holiday season. I much appreciate everyone in favor of helping out those in need. Ignoring the homeless is no way to solve a problem. I hope as you are shopping for your loved ones during this holiday season that you can take the time to think about the people that do not have a warm place to rest. Oh and here it comes… Merry Christmas. Thats right, I said the “C” word.

    • I against I

      Yeah, it’s sad, welcome to Arlington. Merry Christmas.

    • KalashniKEV

      Why don’t you invite one into your home for Christmas? You can wrap a 40 and put it under the tree! lol

      • Josh S

        I’m beginning to suspect that you are not real, Kev. Perhaps a secret DARPA artificial intelligence program, out seeing whether or not it can pass the Turing Test?

    • drax

      Happy Hanukkah.

  • MJM

    I watched the latter part of the meeting online — I was initially impressed bc it seemed that the Board was asking a lot of detailed and very thoughtful questions about the proposal. However, what I found particularly disturbing was that the responses were often very general and vague….and then no follow-ups were asked! For example, someone (I don’t remember who) asked a question if any research had been done about other cities / towns / counties / etc in this same or similar position — i.e. where a homeless shelter was operating in a residential / densely populated area. And the response was yes — a lot of research had been done, and there are a lot, pretty much every city has this, it operates fine, etc etc (I don’t remember the exact quote, but that is the gist). So, to me, the natural follow up would be, ok — please provide examples of specific cities where this has occurred and is working well. I’m not at all saying that they’re lying about doing research (so calm down) — but I think any rational person would want to take a look at cities / towns who have implemented something like this….to see how it’s working, understand the challenges, what worked, what didn’t, etc etc. And I was simply amazed that they were satisfied with that answer. “Yep. We did lots of research!” Ok then, great….as long as you researched it, that’s good enough for me! Next question! To me, this just seems to imply that they really weren’t at all interested in thinking through the issue and contemplating any alternatives. They had already made up their minds that it is THIS building that they want and that’s the end of the discussion.

    • Arlington Lady

      TOTALLY TRUE!

  • MJM

    Also — I truly don’t understand why people are being attacked just for making the suggestion of exploring an alternate location (IN Arlington). What’s the problem? That’s just sound business. You never rush into something (particularly for a purchase of this magnitude) without fully exploring alternatives — well you *shouldn’t* anyway. And especially in these budget constrained times — does it really make sense to be taking this on? No one is saying NOT to do the project….I think everyone agrees that there is a need for this. And I’m sorry, but the assertion that the homeless “need” to be on a metro line is crap. I took the bus for years — why can’t they? I just don’t understand the singular focus on (1) spending $25M+ to purchase and renovate this building, when it appears there are other options (even nearby!); and (2) the insistence / insinuation by some that the homeless somehow have a “right” to live in the middle of Courthouse. Again — not understanding this. Sure, I think we should all reasonably expect some sort of assistance (in the form of shelter, programs, etc), within Arlington, and with reasonable accessibility to public transportation, but…to demand that all of those things must be provided right in the middle of one of the more expensive areas of the county? Again — this is a HUGE investment, when it’s still not clear what (if any) due diligence was performed to explore realistic alternatives to ensure that making this investment is the best use of tax dollars. Not saying it hasn’t been done….but if it has, it certainly has not been shared. From a strictly business standpoint, I can’t think of any business that would approve something like this with the limited information that has (so far) been provided. And again — in case the above is not clear…I’m not arguing against the shelter. I’m saying that turning a blind eye to other (potentially good) alternatives doesn’t help anyone. What if (for example) there’s another location / building that could provide beds to more….for less money? Wouldn’t that be an option worth looking into?

    • Richard Cranium

      Please take your “logical” and “balanced” statements elsewhere, no room for them here in the land of verbal grenade-throwers.

      • Thes

        Most of the building would be used for government offices, and so this site is appropriate because it’s at the government center. Formally, the Board didn’t finalize the decision about a homeless shelter this week (they will have to vote on a use permit later for that). Instead they are buying a building for County offices, and also announcing that they intend to add a homeless shelter to the facility as well. Another way they could have done this would be to simply acquire it as an office building and not disclose their intention to also use it as a shelter, and then, having acquired it.

        To put it another way, if the County had just decided to add a shelter to a building they had already occupied for years, some could say that it was a sensible cost-savings measure to co-locate the facility. The only difference here is that they are announcing it all in advance — you know, like, being honest and transparent about it.

    • ArLater

      Its nice to see that atleast one person in Arlington still has a mind and can convey their opinions in a sensible manner, without just screaming at the opposing side mindlessly.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Would people prefer to have some type of year-round shelter for the homeless (regardless of location within Arlington for a moment) or have the homeless hang out/live on the streets, pan handling at corners and intersections, or pretty much making Central Library their day home?

    I realize there are a lot of very passionate (to say the least) feelings on both sides of this issue; but wouldn’t a year-round shelter for the homeless someplace in Arlington, where they can get help be better than having them hang out by the local 7-Eleven (or wherever) drinking, cursing, and relieving themselves in public?

    I say all this because I’ve seen a lot of comments at ARLNow topics over the past few months that seem to indicate a lot of people are fed up with the homeless hanging around local stores, cursing, drinking, relieving themselves, and pan handling. Surely there could at least be agreement that some type of year round shelter should be available for the less fortunate.

    I say all this not as some “bleeding heart” or “do-gooder” but to try and say that regardless of anyone’s particular political persuasion, this issue isn’t going to go away and it isn’t an easy issue either.

    And BTW, I am neither Democrat or Republican, but on many issues my preferences or views would likely deem me as one of those “@***hole conservatives” in the eyes of some folks – to use a term someone used earlier in this thread.

    • novasteve

      If you build it, theyw ill come. This will only attract panhandlers. And they don’t stay in thet shelter 24 hours a day. They leave to panhandle during the day, so everything that you describe WILL happen, there will just be more of it thanks to the 24-7 year round shelter night next to a metro stop.

      • nauckneighbor

        For someone who has an opinion about everything in regards to Arlington you sure don’t know how anything works.

        1st- It is a shelter for residents who have become homeless while living in Arlington. There is a 96 hour rule for anyone in the shelter to prove that they are a previous arlington resident or they are not permitted to stay.

        2.- Not all panhandlers are homeless, and not all homeless are panhandlers. As stated before, many of these homeless individuals have jobs, but are just working their way back to being productive members of society and are getting assistance to get their lives back on track.

        3. Also, yes they don’t stay in the shelter 24 hours, because it is not a jail. They go out during the day getting the necessary services to help get themselves back on track.

        Finally, people constantly say VOTE THEM OUT, well that is your opinion, but the majority of Arlingtonians have consistently supported our County Board for exactly what they’re doing to help those less fortunate.

        Remember, your vote doesn’t count any more or less than mine.

        • novasteve

          Oh wait, so I bet they have to show a photo ID to prove they are alington residents, eh? But that would be racist to do that for voting eh? Something tells me if this rule exists, it is NOT enforced in the slightest. They let anyone and anyone use this if they say they are homeless.

          • drax

            Oh wait, novasteve is wildly speculating.

        • ArlRes

          Most homeless shelters require that everyone be out of the shelter by 9 am, and they aren’t allowed back in the building until after 5. So, yes, if you attract people from outside the area to come to Arlington to use the shelter, that will indeed mean more people hanging out at 7-11, sleeping at the library, and relieving themselves in public. I understand that there will be a requirement that they show a connection to Arlington, but realistically, I just don’t see how that is going to be enforced.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        OK, Steve, so is it better to leave things as they are now? From all the comments I’ve seen over the past few months on ARLNow, whenever the issue of the homeless, bums, etc. comes up, it seems a lot of commenters are fed up with the current situation. What is the solution to the issue? I don’t live in the Courthouse area of Arlington, so I don’t have a dog in the fight regarding location. It seems leaving things as they are isn’t satisfactory to many people and a year-round shelter (at least in the proposed location) isn’t satisfactory to another group of people.

        What is the answer or solution?

      • KalashniKEV

        Nope. We’ve started with the bank robberies, now a wave of armed street robberies… you know what’s coming next after this invasion of Bums…

    • Josh S

      It is a very grim commentary on the state of America in 2011 when Bluemont has to disavow being a “do-gooder.”

      (Thoughtful post, by the way…)

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Thank you, Josh. In the eyes of some folks, I’m probably an “@sshole conservative” on most issues. But in my personal opinion, I don’t think this is a “conservative” vs. “liberal” issue. Regardless of the question of whether a year-round homeless shelter should be in location A, location B, or location C, the fact is that there are homeless people in our community and ignoring the situation won’t resolve it. To me the issue is, should there be a year round place where those genuinely in need can get help or should the citizens of Arlington prefer to let them stay out on the streets, use Central Library as their day home, etc.

        • drax

          Maybe there are other issues that aren’t conservative vs. liberal too.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Hey Josh,

        I made a reply to your comment, but for some reason it didn’t come through. To me, this issue shouldn’t be a “liberal” vs. “conservative” issue, it should be about finding a real solution to a problem that: 1) isn’t going to go away; and 2) isn’t going to improve by ignoring it. Not doing anything about it only allows the problem to become worse. We have homeless people in our community. Some have mental challenges, some are drug addicts, some are alcoholics, some panhandle and relieve themselves wherever. There are also some who don’t have those issues but lost their homes due to a catastrophic financial event. Some people may believe that having a year-round shelter will only invite those who are perhaps “less-than-desirable” from other locations to come here. But what do we do for those who are Arlingtonians who are in genuine need? Somewhere, there has to be some solution that provides year-round help for those genuinely needing and qualified for it without bringing in persons from other locations that could “overload the system” and at the same time, ensuring public safety. I don’t claim to have the answers or the solutions, but surely there can be some location, somewhere within the County were people in genuine need can be helped. And not all of those people are necessarily drunken bums accosting, pan handling, and relieving themselves in public.

        If the proposed location is not acceptable to some/many Arlington residents, what would be an acceptable location in Arlington for the year-round shelter.

    • MJM

      Agreed. And I don’t think anyone at all is disagreeing w that statement (that some sort of year-round facility / resources should be available for the less fortunate). I think the problem (from my perspective) arises when (1) you’ve got a county Board rushing something through (or at least appearing to) without involving / informing the neighborhood (from what I’ve read, the building is not for public sale anyway — so what is the rush right NOW? Won’t it NOT be for sale later as well? After fully vetting other alternatives?); (2) not exploring / entertaining any other venues (or suggestions) for the facility; and (3) being vague about the research / additional work they have done regarding to examine impact to the area.

      If this turns out to be to best place for this facility after fully exploring the alternatives, then fine. Full speed ahead with the plan. But shouldn’t someone be looking into that *first* ?

      • Josh S

        I suspect that county staff has been looking at this for some time. Politicians, and therefore the media, are usually only involved well into the process. So just because you just became aware of all of this recently doesn’t mean that there has been any rush.

        • Village Genius

          The County Manager’s report for supporting the buying of the $39 million building and invoking eminent domain was only 5 pages long (without counting the plat exhibits). The extremely short and vague document failed to convey any information.

          Good public policy would require a better report so that the County Board members could make an informed decision on such a large purchase. For instance, the report states that the building would support more county office space. Okay, for what department? Are the functions of those unknown employees critical for Court House area or could they be housed elsewhere? What other options were considered — none are listed.

          Very basic “why, what, when” questions are not discussed in the skimpy 5-page report.

          No business whether public, private, for-profit, or not-for-profit would undertake such a tremendous purchase without more information.

        • MJM

          Then fine — communicate that instead of providing vague and non-specific answers to questions when asked. If they’ve already done that research and explored other alternatives, and this is truly the best option, then great! But share that. They expect everyone to just take their word for it?

          I DO agree they have been looking at this building for a long time. That much is clear. It’s across the street and it’s convenient. It’ll make for a nice government complex for them, with all of their buildings in the same general vicinity. What is a lot LESS clear is how much research has been done into potential alternatives for the homeless shelter.

          • Thes

            This is a good point. Now that the decision is public (and because of eminent domain, no longer a negotiation) there should be a lot more information coming out about how this is such a good idea.

            Some people think we should just “trust our expert staff”. I am not one of those people.

          • Arlington Lady

            the problem is that there may be a constitutional amendment on the VA ballot next November to make using eminent domain much more difficult. that is why they are rushing this now…so they can use the lax eminent domain law before it gets tightened.

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  • Abe Froman

    Heck, if I over paid for my condo, I would be bitter too.

  • novasteve

    Gotta love these libs here. Tejada knows that he will bring in more homeless voters who will be able to vote for him than people he alienates in the courthouse area. So he’ll gain support. With other people’s tax money! Classic US liberalism in action.

    • Josh S

      And the Republican party is there fighting your fight for you steve – writing voting “reform” laws that serve to disinfranchise those who are poor, don’t have an i.d. or permanent residence, or otherwise are not part of maintstream society.

      • novasteve

        Disenfranchise? Whatever.

        So you need a photo ID to buy sudafed, to enter a court house or any government building, but NOT to vote? That’s “racist”, eh?

        • Josh S

          Not sure why you put racist in quotes, since you’re certainly not quoting from my post. I never used the word.

          My response to your list would be to ask why do you need a photo id to enter a government building? What the heck does a photo id prove while you are on your way to pay a parking ticket, file a will, etc?

          People have been voting for decades without showing id. Is there some rash of voter fraud that we are not aware of? What has changed that all of a sudden we need to show id? I would submit that nothing has changed but that the Republican party sees an opening given 9/11 and anti-foreigners sentiment and so are seizing on this chance to restrict the number of voters that would be part of demographic groups that would tend to vote Democractic – poor people, immigrants, homeless, etc. These are the same people that wouldn’t have ids.

        • Just the Facts

          Last I checked (which was about 30 mins ago), no ID was required to enter the Arlington County courthouse or main County office building.

          Where do you come up with these arguments?

        • Another courthouse res

          These things have nothing to do with each other – this is the ultimate straw man argument.

          The right to vote is conferred on you by the Constitution; the right to buy Sudafed is not.

          Attempting to disenfranchise voters by requiring a government ID is an affront to our American freedoms, and comparing it to buying Sudafed is silly and tasteless.

    • drax

      Yeah, steve, that’s it, the homeless are a huge, powerful voting bloc. And controversies like this don’t lose any votes.

      Just brilliant stuff today, steve. Tejada also drives an automatic.

  • Whitney Wilson

    Its pretty clear that the County has been looking for a site for a year-round shelter for some time. I can’t say whether this was the best option, or what other options were looked at, but hopefully enough due diligence was conducted prior to making the final decision (I guess there is no equivalent to an Environmental Impact Study for projects like this?). I don’t think that locating the shelter in this location means that the neighborhood will go to H-E-double-hockey-sticks (A-SPAN seems to have a pretty good track record or managing these facilities). But I do feel bad for the immediate neighbors however, because this decision will undoubtedly knock some of the values of their homes. Regardless of what anyone thinks, there are significant numbers of people who will not consider buying a home near a homeless shelter. Fewer potential buyers generally equals lower price.

  • Just the Facts

    Here’s the facts: the homeless shelter entrance will be on 14th St. North directly across from the entrance to the Police Station used most often by officers coming and going from work.

    The entrance to the “affected” condo building is a full block away on 13th St. North near the intersection with N. Courthouse Rd. Residents walking from the Courthouse Metro, let’s say, will not even walk by the shelter and there’s no reason to think homeless people will congregate around the condo when it’s a full square block away from where services will be provided.

    Is it a perfect solution? No. But it’s not like the two entrances are right next door to each other and residents of the condo building will have to shoulder their way through a collection of homeless people to get home…

    • YourFACTSarewrong

      In case anyone reading is actually interested in the facts instead of talking about how heartless these neighbors are while staying a comfortable proximity away from the area in question – this is actually NOT the truth.

      As someone who once lived in the building in question, I can tell you firsthand that this comment isn’t factually correct. The proposed shelter entrance actually faces (and is mere feet away from) the commonly used pedestrian entrance to the building. It will also be on the other side of the police building, and out of view from it. In addition, while police cars abound on the block, I rarely actually saw police officers out on the street in that section. (And know many people who parked illegally at the meters there for months and never got so much as a single parking ticket. Law enforcement officers aren’t present there.) And why should they be there? It’s a residential area.

      So for the record, it is completely and utterly untrue to say the buildings and entrances are not directly next to one another, and it is *exactly* “like the two entrances are right next door to each other and residents of the condo building will have to shoulder their way through a collection of homeless people to get home.”

      If you are advocating for the shelter in this location, at least know what the reality will be for these residents. And if you still want to rub it in the residents’ faces how wrong they are, why don’t you move to this building and pay them the unaffected, (or even improved!) high prices that they paid for their homes.

      Any takers? No, I didn’t think so.

      • Just the Facts

        @YourFACTSarewrong:

        1) What’s your source for stating that the proposed shelter entrance faces the condo building (as opposed to 14th St. North)? I’m not saying it isn’t true, but I just read the 29-page Board report on this issue and couldn’t find details of the design for the shelter.

        2) I don’t know how you define “commonly used pedestrian entrance” (perhaps the one YOU preferred to use?) but there is absolutely no doubt that the main entrance/front door of the condo building faces 13th St. North just off N. Courthouse Rd. It’s not even in the line of sight of the building at 2020 14th St. North. If going in a back door might result in the unpleasant experience of passing a homeless person, all residents of the condo have to do is walk to the front door and they’ll never be anywhere near the homeless shelter.

        3) Your point about officers not being on the street in front of the Police Station is laughable. Is there an officer out there every minute of the day? Of course not. But it’s the main entrance to the POLICE STATION. You really think there aren’t officers passing through there on a regular basis?!?

        Finally, I never said or even implied that anyone was “heartless.” I was just clearing up the facts. The opposition made it sound like the front door of a homeless shelter was going in right next door to the front door of their condo building. That’s simply not true.

        • YourFACTSarewrong

          As an answer to 1, it was from attending the hours-long board meeting on Tuesday night. I hope that I misunderstood something there, as the other side of the building (facing the police station) would be a slightly safer entrance. Either way, though, current residents (and shelter residents) will likely be walking past the entrance at all hours of the night, regardless of where the door actually is located.

          As far as 2, I am not going to go back and forth arguing with you. I lived there, and I know what I experienced with regard to the entrances. As far as I know, you did not live there, and so are less qualified to state which entrance most pedestrians use. Please let me know if you did in fact spend any time at all at Woodbury Heights, and if you chose to get to the Metro by using the farther “main” entrance to the building, walking up a decent sized hill, and wasting valuable time heading to your destination. If you have not in fact visited the building and are using Google Maps for your information, I can see why you would initially make that assumption. If you continue to feel that you are right here, we can just agree to disagree.

          In addition, I also never said that passing by the homeless was unpleasant; I literally quoted what you said in your post. No one yet knows how this will pan out. If crowds of men (who do have the potential to be drunk, as this is a wet shelter) congregate by the building, I can imagine that some single women might choose not to walk past them. And quite frankly, it is irritating to me that women who do not want to walk past a group of potentially drunk men should be forced to take an inconvenient way out of their home each and every time they leave. Putting the shelter in an area with better lighting and with pedestrian traffic (beyond that for just one building) seems like it would be safer to me. It is WONDERFUL that they are putting in a comprehensive shelter, and I am fully convinced it is necessary. But choosing this particular building, based on what I saw Tuesday night, is purely a matter of the board’s own convenience, and frankly I don’t think they should be putting their own comforts for new office space location above that of the people they were elected to represent.

          And as for 3, again, I will not go back and forth arguing. This is based on my own observation after living there of the officers going about their business. They are busy with their ordinary jobs and while they may be in a close proximity to answer any distress calls after they have happened, I’m sure that will be cold comfort any person who is the victim of a crime.

          As far as my “heartless” comment, you are right, you did not say that. That was meant more for others on this forum, but I simply wanted to leave one single message. I apologize if I offended you with that, it was not my intent.

          But again, we will have to agree to disagree on your “front door” assertion. As far as I am concerned, the door nearest to where the shelter will be is the entrance that most pedestrians living in the building use (ie, their front door), and to say (now twice) that this is not the case is completely untrue.

  • novasteve

    I can’t wait for all the proponents of this to have to smell the cigarette smoke of them ALL smoking outside of that place. You earned it! Or are you going to oppress homeless people and make them walk a mile away to smoke?

    • drax

      All homeless people smoke?

      Oh, and you’ll like this steve. I’ve amused myself by finding a link to smoking with just about every negative behavior or condition you’ve displayed or talked about on this forum. But I never thought I’d connect smoking with being homeless and poor. But I knew enough to try, and voila!

      http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=10899&Cr=tobacco&Cr1=

      LOL

  • the bottom line

    is that this homeless shelter, regardless of where it is, is an inappropriate use of county TAX dollars. It is providing a service to people who are likely not from the county anyway. The money would be better spent on schools and public works projects. When you pay steep taxes (especially real estate taxes through much of arlington) you expect to receive some public services back, not a give away to the needy. That’s a role for charities, churches and those occupy folk.

    • Ballstonian

      +1000

      We pay to live here. This is our money they’re spending. The homeless pay zero taxes to the county, yet somehow they simply *must* be within walking distance to a metro. This is an insane notion beyond any logic.

      A-Span frequently states that up to 40% of their “clients” are at serious risk of death. My answer: so? What value are they providing. It seems they’re just taking and existing only because their weight is being carried by others (ie. us taxpayers).

      Yes, I know this is “heartless”. But tell me where we have any affirmative obligation to keep others alive? (and in walking distance of the Metro, no less.) If churches and other private charities choose to spend money on the homeless, then fine; donors to these organizations voluntarily give their money with full knowledge of how it will be spent.

      Some might ask, “do you also oppose spending taxpayer money on schools?” No, I don’t. That’s investment. But meals and beds for the homeless are pure consumption purely for their own ends. Unlike a well-educated populace, their continued existence provides zero return to the people who pay for it.

      Now, do I want to round up the homeless and send them to camps? No. But there’s a real distinction between actively removing/killing them and simply letting the chips fall as they may. And if those chips mean a hypothermic death on a January night, then so be it. At least I can walk out of 7-11 being harasses by one less vagrant.

      • Baja

        I support spending a small amount of taxpayer dollars to provide temporary accommodations to homeless folks, but I certainly do NOT support spending an exorbitant number of taxpayer dollars to do so in Courthouse. That’s insane! There are many other more economical but bus-accessible places in Arlington that would be more appropriate.

      • quoth S by D

        Re Balstonian comment “….are there no prisons? No workhouses?…
        (Hint) response by gooddoing merchants “indeed there are but at this festive time of year some of endeavor to ….blahblalhblah”)

        Quoth S “then let them go there, or die and reduce the surplus population”. Ring any bells?!

        Seem, the more times change, the more those “chips” stay the same!
        XXX

  • Sam
  • KalashniKEV
    • Josh S

      It’s hard to conceive of a law more doomed to failure.

      1. Will it stop homelessness? No.
      2. Will it result in overcrowding in local jails should the local police be dumb enough to enforce it? Yes.
      3. In sum, will Hungarian society be better in any way after this law? No.

      I am guessing that the vast majority of people who end up homeless did not choose the situation. Outlawing it thus makes as much sense as outlawing being ugly. Or outlawing being born crippled or disfigured in some way. It is perhaps ironic that Kev, who routinely talks contemptously about people having “guilt,” I guess “liberal guilt” or some such is also the de facto leader of the anti-homeless set. (Or are they hobos this week, Kev?) Yet, what would cause someone to have such a negative reaction to seeing homeless people? Why is it so terrible to walk past someone who is sitting on a sidewalk? I submit that what makes it terrible is the stark and in-your-face contrast between that person and the terrible situation they are in versus your clean, well-fed state, walking perhaps to the nearby Starbucks to drop $5 on a mocha and a muffin and, whipped cream? Sure, why not – I’ll just hit up Gold’s later and take a spinning class.

      Kev will respond with some sophmoric joke about how he’d much rather be drunk on a street corner all day. This is about as tired and transparently bullshit a response as one could imagine. Of course, it’s what the frat boy on MTV Real World would say, though.

      • Ryan

        Will subsidizing homelessness put an end to it? No. You can’t throw $25.5M at a problem and expect it to be fixed, especially since the housing is permanent and they can stay there indefinitely.

        • Josh S

          It’s not intended to put a stop to it.

          Where do people come up with this stuff?

          • Lou

            Maybe they went to A-SPAN’s webpage and saw the banner across the top that says “Ending Homelessness in Arlington”

          • Richard

            If we were on the open plain in Africa, homeless people would be eaten by the lions. There are no bums laying around there.

  • Rick

    This part made me lol:

    “…would facilitate the redevelopment of the Courthouse area…”

    Can someone explain how commandeering property, kicking out small businesses, and raising the County Flag out front will redevelop anything?

    • Thes

      Yes, it would allow the County to move out of other crumbling buildings nearby, have them torn down and possibly sold to developers, and have newer, better buildings in their place. At least, that’s what the County Manager has claimed.

      • Rick

        But do they really have to spend $25 million and kick people out to tear up that parking lot? We can rebuild bridges without closing them but they can’t drive piles in an empty lot? Really?

  • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

    Just the Facts,

    Many, if not most, of the residents of Woodbury Heights use the back door of the building which is right next door to the door to the proposed homeless shelter. A few feet in distance. They do this so they don’t have to walk an extra block up a steep hill to the metro. Most don’t use the main entrance like you suggest, your facts are not straight. I know because I used to live in the building for 16 years.

    Many of the Woodbury Heights residents cut through the parking lot of the proposed homeless shelter to this back door entrance of Woodbury Heights and this is where the homeless people will be sitting on the brick wall between the two buildings and this will cut off this backdoor entrance to Woodbury Height because people will be afraid of what they will encounter from the homeless sitting on the wall between the two buildings. They will be scared. There is fear of urination/deification on their property by the homeless waiting to get into the new shelter, trash and beer/booze bottles left on the property, registered sex offenders outside their doors, and potential of attacks on women. You can’t make this kind of stuff up. Shame on the county for approving this.

    • Louise

      Deification?

  • ArlRed

    “There is fear of urination/deification on their property by the homeless waiting to get into the new shelter, trash and beer/booze bottles left on the property, registered sex offenders outside their doors, and potential of attacks on women.”

    The current shelter is 1 block away. Can you cite any instances on that block of beer/booze bottles out front, urination/defication , or any attacks on women in and around the courthouse metro station over the past 5 or 10 years? Might help your case if you at least have some form of evidence…

  • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

    ArlRed:

    You have no idea of what you are talking about. The back door of Woodbury Heights is less than 20 feet from the proposed shelter’s entrance. This is where many, if not most, residents enter the building to avoid a block walk up a steep hill.

    Get your facts straight. There are good people in Woodbury Heights who are being hurt by this.

  • ArlRed

    So I take it the County showed you the design of the new shelter and where the proposed entrance is?

  • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

    ArlRes,

    Why don’t you take your lazy ass down to the site and see the proximity. You have no idea what you are talking about.

    • ArlRed

      I’m sitting in it right now 11th… Perhaps it’s you who is uninformed since you’re citing information on things which are clearly not factual?

      • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

        ArlRes,

        I’m totally factual. You have not idea what you are talking about. Take a look at the site and let me know if I’m wrong. I know I’m not.

  • ArlRed

    If you’re factual, show me a fact, any fact. Post a link to a presentation or design or anything that shows the design of a new shelter?

    • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

      ArlRes,

      Take a short trip to the site and see for your stupid self that the back door to Woodbury Heights is less than 20 feet from the ONLY door that could be used for the homeless shelter.

  • ArlRed

    No facts or truth to your statements, just as I imagined :)

  • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

    ArlRed,

    Can see you did not even bother taking a visit to the site.

    The county sent a FedEx to Woodbury Heights just 1 day before Thanksgivings telling them they plan to buy the building or use eminent domain. Do you honestly think they did any presentations or designs or anything like that that they are going to share with the community?

    Suggest you take a visit to the site before you become such an expert on the matter. You will clearly see that they only entrance to the homeless shelter is about 20 feet from Woodbury Heights backdoor. If you can’t see this, you just don’t get it.

  • ArlRed

    You should have attended the board meeting and listened to the presentation they gave. Didn’t they state that they are building a separate elevator, and also a separate stairwell for the shelter? How can that current stairwell be for the shelter if its required to have a separate stairwell?

    To help you “get it”, listen to the board meeting at the 6:39:15 mark where they address elevators and stairwells.

    http://arlington.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2256&meta_id=97195

    • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

      ArlRed,

      Let’s be perfectly clear on this.

      You don’t know the site and Woodbury Heights does not want this homeless shelter next to their condo.

      Your comments reflect your bad judgement. I guarantee that the vast majority of residents in this area don’t want this shelter and dislike your comments.

  • ArlRed

    But my comments do simply reflect the facts, and yours merely reflect your bigotry. I’ll gladly entertain any factual information you care to provide. I’ve just yet to hear any…?

  • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

    ArlRed,

    Good luck to you

  • Wralmratskale

    Bravo, come frase … un’altra idea

  • Hector Gramos

    Any update on this story?

  • Seth R

    Wow, I can not believe Arlington County would displace what I would consider a part of their tax base. The businesses who lease space in the building can not be happy they are going to be forced to move (since no leases will be renewed). I think this matter ends up in the court system for years. Good luck Arlington, bad move. Last I looked there are plenty of vacant lots up and down the R-B Corridor that could support a simple homeless shelter. Eminent Domain=strong arm Government move.

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