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Kojo Comes to Arlington, Finds That People Like it Here

by ARLnow.com June 16, 2010 at 2:54 pm 1,813 12 Comments

WAMU 88.5 FM’s Kojo Nnamdi hosted his “Kojo in the Community” program in Arlington last night. The show just finished airing, and there were so many topics raised over the course of two hours that it’s hard to summarize everything. Look back over this web site for past four months and you’ll get a taste for about half of the discussion.

Kojo started out by talking about the past and present of Arlington. Long-time residents spoke in wonder of the pace of development over the past 20 or so years. Many people lamented that the development is hurting the area’s diversity by making it more expensive to live here. Despite Arlington’s push for affordable housing, it seems there are many who feel that not enough is being done.

There were other assorted complaints, but almost universally, those in attendance at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Parish said that they really like it here. Of course, many of the speakers were people who either work for the county or are part of community organizations — people who are in their positions in the first place because they are passionate about the community.

During the course of the discussion, one thing became clear: we in Arlington think we’re pretty smart. Multiple speakers referenced how intelligent the residents of Arlington are — which is empirically true, if you look at census data. But it was notable how many people raised it as one of Arlington’s key characteristics.

Another part of the program focused on the future of Arlington. From the redevelopment of Crystal City to revitalization and streetcars on Columbia Pike, to the ever-present change-of-government debate, the discussion was wide-ranging and all-inclusive, like a community planning stream-of-consciousness.

There was no shortage of residents with something to say during the two hour discussion. This community is vibrant and interesting (and, dare I say, intelligent) enough that Kojo could have probably been here for 20 hours and people would have still had new topics to raise. Thanks to WAMU for the giant pat on the back for Arlington. It is nice to live here, after all.

  • MB

    I’m really sorry that i missed this, as I’m a fan of both Kojo and (obviously) Arlington. The central truth – that people really love this place, and are quite happy with the state of affairs – is one of the reasons I find the trolling here at ARLnow.com so ridiculous. Sure, there are always things that could be improved/fixed, but this is the sort of place where we *can actually get that done*, instead of going off on hateful and uninformed rants.

    • Mike

      It will be on podcast, but you didn’t miss much. Unless you count people tooting their own horn worthwhile.

  • Alexis

    It was a pretty good discussion, a lot of talk about how great Arlington is, which it is, but think time is better spent discussing how to improve it. I wanted to hear more about affordable housing, not just that Arlingtonians need it, but how do we get it? I’ve lived here for 5 years during and after college, and while I’ve worked hard to move above an entry-level income, I can still barely afford a studio apartment near Columbia Pike. Seems like all the new housing projects in the Orange Line corridor and Columbia Pike corridor are ALL luxury condos and apartments that start in the $300,00 and up range. It forces anyone who makes less than $60,000 a year totally out of the Arlington community.

    • Mike


      Arlington is great, but if you want to live here you have to pay the piper. I’ve lived in the DC area my whole life and this is my third time living in Arlington. I moved from Fairfax because the commute was killing me. And guess what, I paid through the nose to live here.

      “Affordable housing” sounds great, but demand outstrips supply.

      • Alexis

        Mike, I’d contest that part of what makes Arlington great is diversity, both economic and ethnic. One of the panelists on Kojo’s show said, and I paraphrase, It’s not good enough to say you can work at 7-Eleven, but you can’t live nearby. I too moved here, from Alexandria, to shorten my commute to DC, but I pay the same amount in rent for a studio here as I did for a 2 bedroom apartment there. I love it in Arlington, but I’d hate to see the county lose good residents only because they don’t make 6 figures. Not only is accommodating lower-income residents good for diversity, but there are studies that show communities with a wide range of income levels actually improve and stabilizes local economies.

        • lily

          I know it’s a complex issue but I think part of the reason Arlington housing prices are so high is that living in the outer suburbs really, really sucks. It’s not just the distance of the commute to DC. 66 West is jammed every morning with people who work in Tysons but still choose to live in Arlington because most of FFX County is a sprawling, traffic-choked hellhole. I grew up in Springfield, and I would move out of the DC area altogether before I would live there again.
          If the rest of the metro area wasn’t as soul-sucking, there wouldn’t be as much of a premium on Arlington housing.

        • Mike

          I like the diversity too. Pollo Rico, Vietnamese summer rolls. Yum!

          However rigging the rules for ethnic diversity is just plain wrong. Rigging the rules for economic diversity is just plain unfair.

          • Fair Game

            Fortunately, no one is discussing ‘rigging the rules.’

            Alexis, Arlington County has information about a variety of affordable housing assistance programs on its website – you can also call 703-228-3765 to talk with someone to learn what may be most appropriate for your specific situation.

            Lily, I think you’re right that Arlington is blessed by having an advantageous geographical location close to DC while also making the kinds of long-range decisions that have created a low-traffic, high quality of life. It’s no accident that Arlington has good schools, neighborhoods, services and recreation/entertainment. And our civic associations have leveraged our desirable proximity to DC to get a lot of community benefits paid for by the private sector, too.

            Is it perfect? Of course not – I have my own list of things that need fixing. But like you said, it is about as good as you can find anywhere in the DC Metro region. Our neighbors in VA, DC and MD would love to have our problems.

  • Fat Kid.

    The county board couldn’t be more dishonest and fraudulent when it comes to the affordable housing issue.

    There’s no coherent plan or strategy… They just dump millions of dollars into developers pockets at absurd rates in exchange for a could units here and there. Including subsidizing projects to build ten story buildings next to single family homes at the cost of $660,000 per unit of “affordable” housing.

    Doesn’t sound like one of the smartest places to me.

  • Efrem Hornbostle

    Re: “one thing became clear: we in Arlington think we’re pretty smart”

    This is priceless. Of course you do, you are self-centered elitist liberals. Liberalism is a fallacy, not based on fact, but on emotion and feel. Liberalism is a religion to liberals, a God-like sense of superiority over all others using the false premise of perpetual victimhood to garner votes from the “downtrodden” that liberals depend on for votes and support.

    If you liberals are so smart, why is it that most States and jurisdictions under liberal governance are going broke? Just look at Detroit for example, they are bulldozing neighborhoods and it’s not to rebuild them into “urban villages”.

    Arlington is a unique liberal cesspool in itself, because it’s a small oasis of liberal do-gooders using the faux mantra of the “Arlington Way” as cover to jam every ill-conceived vote garnering boondoggle down the throats of all Arlington taxpayers.

    The County Board is a fraud, they use scripted speakers at public comment and intentionally drag out county board meetings to make it appear as though they want to hear the point of view of all citizens. Most county board decisions are made well in advance, in consultation with the hierarchy of the ACDC.

    Keep thinking you are all so smart. If you are so smart, why are you hiding behind ACDC front groups like Citizens for Arlington Good Government to interfere directly with the due process right of free referendum?

    • Mike

      Spot on as usual.

  • steve

    The most important thing about arlington is its actuall, obtainable cultural diveristy. It is not unheard of to abuse reefer with inpovrished friends in green valley (NAUCK) one night, and trash a lavish county-club-hills mansion the next. Might not be common, but its not impossible. The fact that a yorktown trust funder, and a fifth generation green valley drug dealer might share more than a county, but a metro seat, a school board, and maybe even a friday night here or there is whats really important. The amount of cops that harass and pester youth, mena nd women alike, is arlingtons biggest and most ignored problem.


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