Walter 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.
Board to Hold New Year’s Meeting — The Arlington County Board will hold its traditional New Year’s Day meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. At the meeting, Walter Tejada is expected to be elected County Board chair. Tejada and the other four Board members will then outline their policy goals for 2013. In a press release, Arlington County billed itself as “the only local government that “gets to work” on the New Year’s holiday.” [Arlington County]
Cemetery Expansion Concerns Tree Lovers — A plan to expand Arlington National Cemetery has some tree lovers crying foul. The cemetery is projected to run out of additional burial space in 2025, prompting the need for the expansion. Some Arlington residents, however, have been critical of one particular part of the expansion plan, which calls for the clearing of 890 “old-growth” trees. The cemetery plans to replant 600 trees and to preserve a stand of 220-year-old trees. [Arlington Mercury]
Bike Arlington’s Top 10 List — Staff from Arlington County’s Bike Arlington program has published a list of their “top 10 favorite topics from 2012.” Among the entries in the top 10 list: Capital Bikeshare’s expansion, Bike Friendly Business awards to local shops, and the county’s Predictable, Alert and Lawful (PAL) safety campaign. [Bike Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The closures will be in effect on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, for Arlington County offices, libraries and human services offices. Courts are also closed those days; Arlington Circuit Court will be open from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on December 26, and Arlington General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts will be open from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on December 26.
The ART Information Center and all Commuter Stores will be closed on the previously mentioned four days. On December 24 and 31, ART 41, 42, 51, 77 and 87 will run on a Saturday schedule. On December 25 and January 1, ART 41 and 51 will run on a Sunday schedule. The STAR Call Center will be closed all four days and all standing order rides will be cancelled.
Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center will be open from 6:00 a.m.-noon on December 24 and December 31; all other community centers will be closed. On December 25 and January 1, all community centers, including Barcroft, will be closed.
Arlington Public Schools will be closed from December 24-January 2.
Trash and recycling schedules are as follows:
Dec 24 & 31
- Trash & recycling: normal operations
- Special collection: brush, metal, electronics – normal operations
- No cart repair or mulch delivery service
- Leaf bag collection – normal operations
Dec 25 & Jan 1
- Trash & recycling: regular services not provided. Services available for Tuesday customers on Wed 12/26 and Jan 2
- Special collection: scheduled services not provided
- Leaf bag, brush, metal, electronics, cart repair services available for Tuesday customers on Wed Dec 26 and Jan 2
- Call Center: closed
Dec 26 – 28
- Trash & recycling: normal operations – all services completed by COB 12/29
- Special collection: normal operations – all services completed by COB 12/19
- Call center: normal operations
- Trash & recycling: normal operations – all services completed by COB 1/5
- Special collection: normal operations – all services competed by COB 1/5
- Call center: normal operations
Metrorail will run on a regular weekday schedule on December 24. It will be open from 7:00 a.m.-midnight on December 25 and January 1, and will run on a Sunday schedule. MetroAccess subscription trips are cancelled for those two days. On December 31, Metrorail will run on a normal weekdays schedule, but will remain open until 2:00 a.m. to accommodate those celebrating New Year’s Eve.