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Tejada Outlines 2013 Priorities as County Board Chair

by ARLnow.com — January 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm 4,077 62 Comments

Arlington County Board member Walter TejadaWalter Tejada, the new Arlington County Board Chair for 2013, says he will use his chairmanship to push for progress in four local policy areas: affordable housing, fitness and health, urban agriculture, and pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Tejada and other County Board members outlined their vision for the county at the Board’s traditional New Year’s Day meeting on Tuesday. As Chair, Tejada’s priorities will receive the sharpest focus.

In a seven-page speech, Tejada repeatedly called on the county to “move forward together… for all of Arlington.”

Tejada’s first major policy initiative is affordable housing. Tejada repeated a call he and Board member Chris Zimmerman previously made: for new affordable housing investment funded via adoption of Tax Increment Financing for Columbia Pike. The TIF would steer a percentage of taxes gained through increases in property values along Columbia Pike to the creation of new affordable housing, to bolster the county’s existing 6,585 committed affordable units.

“Already on Columbia Pike, market forces are threatening one of the County’s largest supplies of market-rate affordable housing,” Tejada said. “I have asked [County Manager Barbara Donnellan] to analyze and submit a recommendation by June 2013 for creating a transit oriented affordable housing fund on Columbia Pike through adoption of a TIF.”

“We need to house our healthcare workers and teacher aides, our cashiers and restaurant workers, our cleaning staff and small business employees, and other hard-working people so vital to our County’s economic health,” he continued. “We need to maintain the cultural and economic diversity that is so vital to Arlington’s soul, for all of Arlington.”

Tejada acknowledged that more affordable housing will not come cheap, but quoted former president John F. Kennedy in saying, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”

An affordable housing TIF on the Pike wouldn’t be the county’s first use of the funding vehicle. A TIF is in place to fund infrastructure improvements in Crystal City, including a planned Crystal City streetcar.

After affordable housing, Tejada called for the county to “promote healthy living” through an initiative called FitArlington.

The new focus on fitness and health will include the creation of a “Arlington Healthy Community Action Team” (HCAT) comprised of local health and fitness providers, youth services providers, nutrition educators and urban agriculture enthusiasts. In addition to promoting physical fitness in general, the county will work in partnership with the HCAT and Arlington Public Schools to help reduce the rate of childhood obesity in Arlington.

The childhood obesity initiative will kick off with a community meeting from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17 at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).

Tejada also highlighted the work of the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force, which was announced as an initiative at the 2012 New Year’s Day meeting. Among the issues being considered by the task force is the controversial proposal to allow Arlington residents to raise egg-laying hens in their backyards. Tejada said he expects the task force’s forthcoming recommendations to help promote healthy eating in Arlington.

“Sometime this spring, we expect the task force to bring its recommendations to the County Board,” he said. “I look forward to receiving those recommendations and helping lead the way on urban agriculture.”

Tejada said he will continue to “actively promote” the county’s “PAL” safety campaign, which encourages drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to be more courteous and conscientious on roads, trails and sidewalks.

“As part of the campaign, we will create more bike lanes, add more bicycle and pedestrian way-finding signs; make safety improvements and break ground this year on another section of the Washington Boulevard Trail,” Tejada said. “You will also see coordinated activities across the County, a number of events throughout the year, coordinated activities across the region and expanded outreach to the immigrant community.”

In addition to his four major policy priorities, Tejada extended his “for all of Arlington” philosophy to a new series of neighborhood town hall meetings – 10 in all in 2013. The meetings will be held in “every corner of Arlington to listen to folks’ concerns and ideas.” The first will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Drew Community Center (3500 23rd Street S.)

Tejada wrapped up his speech by recounting his experience as an immigrant.

“My Moving Forward Together agenda is an ambitious one,” he said. “It is rooted in my experience as an immigrant who moved to this county over 20 years ago and took an unlikely path to community and political involvement. Who would have thought that the young boy who helped his struggling family by shining shoes in the central market in San Salvador, El Salvador, would become the Chairman — twice — in one of the best communities in the world?”

“Our Arlington values of inclusion and diversity, for healthy living, for sustainability, and fiscal responsibility, will again guide us to continue being the community where — no matter what background — each person is indeed important,” he concluded.

While the New Year’s Day meeting has been a largely harmonious affair, featuring grand plans and optimistic predictions, the newest County Board member used her speech to further highlight a point of discord with her colleagues.

Libby Garvey said the planned Columbia Pike streetcar would be a waste of nearly $300 million. Garvey repeated her push for a far less expensive Bus Rapid Transit system along Columbia Pike, despite the rest of the Board’s repeated votes for the streetcar and the fact that dedicated bus lanes — a hallmark of BRT systems — seem unlikely on the Pike.

“Money that businesses or taxpayers must pay for a streetcar is money that is not there for affordable housing, education, infrastructure, the arts… everything else we want to do,” she said.

Garvey said that implementation of BRT would be less disruptive than construction of a streetcar system.

“Right now the plan is to lay tracks along the Pike and put up above ground wire where we just, at great expense, put the wires underground,” Garvey said. “This construction will be disruptive and make it difficult for customers to get to local businesses, some of which are struggling already. I fear many of these small and diverse businesses will be forced to close and never come back.”

Garvey called for “a robust and informed conversation about the streetcar and possible alternatives” before continuing with the project.

Other priorities outlined by County Board members include a “personal crusade to reduce the use of plastic water bottles” (Jay Fisette), a continuation of the one-on-one drop-in meetings with County Board members known as Open Door Mondays (Mary Hynes), and a continued “unshakeable commitment to progressive moral values” (Chris Zimmerman).

Fisette was elected Vice-Chair of the Arlington County Board for 2013.

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  • The Dope of South Arlington

    A chicken in every backyard.

  • Captain_Obvious

    Will there now be a “hen of the week” featured ?

    “Personal crusade to reduce plastic water bottles”…wow, just wow.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Why is it always just water bottles? Why not plastic soda bottles as well? If we’re trying to reduce obesity, shouldn’t that be our focus, instead of the water bottles?

  • KalashniKEV

    All housing is affordable- to those who can afford it.

    Moving forward “together” is not possible when you create an entitlement class that’s living out of the pockets of the productive class. This is the kind of thinking that’s tearing our Nation apart.

    • Wayne Kubicki

      The Arlington ruling class uses the term “affordable housing”, because it sounds much better than “rent controlled units”, which is what these non-market rate units that received either bonus density and/or a very below market rate loan really are.

      • Dan

        +1

    • Autoexec.bat

      Didn’t you read? You’re one of those to whom much was “given.” So now you’re being forced to “give back.”

      • KalashniKEV

        I read it differently- I’m “giving” them a portion of their monthly rent, thus I “expect” them to work for that much less.

        How does $2.75 an hour sound for our healthcare workers and teacher aides, our cashiers and restaurant workers, our cleaning staff and small business employees?

    • drax

      Affordable housing and subsidized housing are not the same thing, Kev.

  • KalashniKEV

    I <3 Libby.

  • Ralph

    I’m as progressive as they come, but what’s up with this “urban agriculture thing”? Who is seriously interested in having chickens in a modern city?

    • drax

      Do you say the same thing about vegetable gardens to, Ralph?

      • Ralph

        No. Small vegetable gardens in a city make sense — much less smell and noise!

        Don’t get me wrong, I understand that some people would want to hold chickens or other animals — but a city like Arlington is not the right place for that.

        • drax

          Would you say the same thing about dogs, Ralph?

      • Captain_Obvious

        no comparison.

    • KalashniKEV

      Someone with stock in a Bird Flu Vaccine company, perhaps?

    • Set the Controls

      Thank you. I’d love to raise chickens, but why does Arlington need to institute a Control Board for every activity that occurs here? Hands off for once.

      • drax

        Because all the “hands off” people suddenly want government to control things when it comes to something they don’t like, or appreciate, or simply aren’t used to, like chickens.

        • fedworker

          Well, duh

  • Ballston Resident

    Dear Walter,

    I have supported you in every election. Please continue supporting the Hispanic interests in Arlington, but don’t forget the rest of the good people in Arlington. Good luck in your Chairmanship.

  • Captain_Obvious

    I also love how an “Arlington Value” is fiscal responsibility…just hilarious.

  • Hadur

    “Urban Agriculture” is exactly the kind of stuff people would make fun of Arlington for. Not sure if serious…

    • drax

      Let people make fun of us if they want.

    • KalashniKEV

      +1

      Chickens don’t live in the city.

      • John K

        Actually chickens do, in many lovely places. I’m in Luanda, Angola, right now (and quite ready to return to Arlington, thank you) and you better believe we have chickens here. Of course, Luanda is a ****hole. If that’s the ambience we’re going for, I have more suggestions for our urban agriculturalists…

      • drax

        Chickens DO live in the city.

        There, glad that’s taken care of.

        • KalashniKEV

          Wrong. Chickens live on a farm. They are Farm Animals.

          “Urban Agriculture” is just another name for hydroponic Cannibis cultivation. The Chicken thing is just some ridiculous nonsense thrown out there to distract.

          • drax

            Nope. Chickens live in the city too.

            In fact, they already live in Arlington, legally.

            You’re making a circular argument, Kev. Things change. Stop sitting on your porch ranting.

  • BBMS

    “…transit oriented affordable housing fund…”

    He can be quite clumsy with his words, so I’m not sure what those mean when put together like that. Is the housing “transit oriented”, or the fund, or what?

    Also, does the county prohibit smoking in these rent controlled complexes? Do they have that power? They should.

    • South Awwlington

      I also wonder just what exactly that means.

      Then again, these folks use the words robust and diverse more often than eggs and milk.

  • Tuesdayschild

    “A personal crusade to reduce the use of plastic water bottles”. Wow.

  • novasteve

    Imagine how much affordable housing you could get with the money they are going to spend on the street cars

    Personal crusade eh? Isn’t that word “offensive”???

    • malaka

      Only to someone who finds offence in everything while offendind just about everyone else.

  • Aaron

    Money spent on one thing can’t be spent on other things.

    Libby Garvey is rather rapidly rising in my esteem. If we could just get beyond the other Board member’s vanity projects (streetcar, artisphere, aquatics center) we’re drawing enough revenue from our taxbase to really solve most if not all of our humanitarian concerns.

    • Hollywood

      If we could just tax everyone some more we could really spread the misery around!

  • Southarlington

    Libby is finally listening to what some Arlington residents( voters) have been saying about the street car…..She is also making noise about it that none other ones would …

    • Shel

      Rail transit is not a good investment. We should be allowed to see the Return on Investment Numbers before any of the Rail Projects go through. I seems various BOD membbers stat on a obsession and are blinded by getting it completed. This whole concept is pushing us to consider leaving Arlington. Wasting taxpayers dollars is not the way. 3 cheers for Libby. Too bad she is not Chairman. I am also tired about supporting the Affordable and ethnic oriented projects. There are no free rides.

  • Anon

    I love how there’s a Urban Agriculture Task Force but there is no task force on homelessness or any advisory committe that had a say on the County’s purchase of a $40M+ homeless facility.

    • KalashniKEV

      An advisory committee sounds like a group that might perform due diligence in researching alternative COAs, second and third order effects, Cost/ Benefit analysis, and would probably deliver a *gasp* recommendation!

      What if the recommendation runs contrary to the personal whims and desires of the county board members? Fisette might never have had the opportunity to have his own Art Gallery!

      Transparency? That’s not the Arlington way.

  • John Fontain

    “market-rate affordable housing”

    What does this term mean?

    • Captain_Obvious

      probably similar to “heavy-set, thin guy with lightish to darkish hair”.

    • Eric

      Housing that does not receive any government subsidies or special incentives but, through market forces, is priced low enough to be afforded by low-income people (I’m sure there is a technical mark for how cheap, just not sure what exactly it is).

    • internet tourettes

      Unaffordable except if you are a two lawyer family or have a business that’s profitablity is based on either a large government contract or employees that make minimum wage and no health or retirement benefits.

    • Set the Controls

      This struck me as oxymoronic too. Could be the housing units set aside as “affordable” when a new “market-rate” development is built, along with the ground-floor retail and other features that comprise “mixed-use development.”

  • SayWhat?

    SAY WHAT? So keep Columbia Pike values low so low income individuals can afford apartments, or tax others so they can take that money and subsidize others. Another way to keep values low is by getting people who don’t want to subsidize this craziness to move to Fairfax County. This plan is also a good way for the current regime to get voted out of office, which wouldn’t be bad.

  • Rory

    Everyone should e-mail Libby and tell her to keep up her anti Street car stance

    • drax

      Except for those who don’t oppose the streetcar, of course.

  • Arlresd

    “fitness and health”?? How about taking the canvas covers off of every school sports field that are covered up from Nov to March so our kids can run around during their 5 minutes of recess? Maybe if they were chickens they’d be allowed to go on the grass

    • http://www.onlinelan.eu/smslaan smslån

      i couldn’t agree more . . well said

    • drax

      So you’re saying that there’s no good reason for covering the fields? And you’re saying kids can’t run around anywhere else?

  • DynaFlash 8

    Tejada quoted former president John F. Kennedy in saying, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”

    That was easy for Kennedy to say …

    According to one historian, JFK received $1,000,000 from his trust fund in 1938, the year he turned 21. That’s $16.3 million in 2012 dollars.

    I, too, would pay my speechwriters to pen wonderful platitudes if I didn’t have to work two jobs.

    As for The Board’s priorities, what about fully funding the pensions of the Police and Fire Departments? There always seems to be some issue with deferred payments to those funds.

    “‘Clang, clang, clang’ went the trolley; ‘Clink, clink, clink’ went the bribes … “

    • drax

      Um, yeah, so Kennedy was saying that he had alot of responsibilities because he had been given alot. And he fulfilled them. Did that go over your head?

      • DynaFlash 8

        Yes, he was very responsible — he entagled us in Vietnam, he “chickened out” on civil rights legislation, and he ok’d hairbrained schemes to depose Castro.

        But you are correct in that he encouraged others into government “service”, i.e. his many paramours and concubines with whom he cavorted while Jackie was raising the children alone.

    • Rory

      Very true. But he was also a war hero and saved his comrades lives in WW II.

      More recent ‘fortunate sons’ avoid any service in the military.

  • Kim Arl un

    Headline and opening sentence should be corrected: It’s Zimmie’s agenda.

    What great real-life experience does Walter have? If not real life experience, what about education? Oh, yeah, a GED. Great that he cannot understand that the $1 billion of taxes comes from citizens, not just Zimmie’s imagination.

    • KalashniKEV

      Did you not read the article? This guy had a shine box in El Salvador. Of course he’s qualified to be County Chair in Arlington, VA…

  • bobbytiger

    “Bingo”.

  • Andrew

    Removing lanes from Columbia Pike for any purpose will force traffic to side streets or to other neighborhoods. Many commercial and family reasons people are on Columbia Pike driving cannot be replaced with public transit.

    • drax

      Who is going to remove lanes from Columbia Pike?

    • KalashniKEV

      Just wait until you have a lumbering trolley taking up the right lane, stopping on almost every corner- then wait till it snows and you have one get stuck.

      Trolley folley will destroy all trafficability of the Pike. Extra bike lanes will just make life a little bit worse.

      • drax

        As if you don’t have buses taking up the right lane and stopping all the time now.

        And I’ll bet buses and cars would get stuck in snow more often than trolleys.

  • Nova Lulu

    Oh, great. More @#$% bike lanes… narrowing streets to one lane all over Arlington. Gee, I hope they put more @#$% Zip Bike installations everywhere too.

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