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The Right Note: Typical Board Behavior

by Mark Kelly September 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. 

The County Board is back from its traditional August break. Three items from the meeting remind us of how the Board too often operates.

The Board heard complaints from Crystal City area residents about cut-through traffic. This is my neighborhood, and I drive through the area every morning and evening on my commute.

It seems that residents have been complaining that the driving app Waze is sending people onto neighborhood streets to avoid U.S. Route 1 and S. Eads Street. Blaming an app is convenient, but it is not the source of the problem. Over the past two years, the County completed a narrowing of S. Eads Street from two travel lanes each direction to one as part of Arlington’s anti-car philosophy.

The action has caused dramatically increased congestion on S. Eads Street during the morning and evening commutes. So now drivers are bailing out onto neighborhood streets. This was a totally foreseeable consequence of eliminating travel lanes on a main thoroughfare, and is almost certainly not going to get any better.

The Board also deferred action on lighting the Williamsburg soccer fields. The County wants to light more fields and the growing soccer community supports it, but some in the neighborhood are opposed to it. The Board seemed to offer no good reason for the delay. They seem unprepared to deliver bad news to one side or the other.

The Board did have to deliver some bad news at the direction of the Governor and General Assembly. Arlington was forced to adopt the changes to its towing ordinance after the Chamber of Commerce and the industry successfully lobbied Richmond to tweak the law.

Board chair Jay Fisette largely gave Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) a pass along with Arlington’s State Senator Barbara Favola, also a Democrat, who helped lobby for the towing industry. Instead, the Board wanted to lay the blame at the feet of Republicans. The Board inexplicably fails to recognize that years of antagonism directed at Republicans in Richmond is not going to help their cause in situations like this one.

In typical politician fashion, there was no acknowledgment of the Board’s contributions to problems mixed with a little kicking the can down the road and a healthy dose at pointing the finger at someone else.

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