The Arlington County government’s best estimate is that Arlington will have 55,300 more residents in 2040 (278,100) than we have now (222,800). Where will they live? How well will Arlington serve them and at what cost?
This 25 percent population increase will require many substantial investments in new or refurbished core public infrastructure. We should make those investments.
However, although Arlington is a wealthy community that can invest in many things, Arlington cannot afford to invest in every possible thing.
Arlington’s investment requirements extend well beyond the 2028 end date of the next- scheduled capital improvement plan.
In 2018, we should place a renewed emphasis on longer-term planning. We should evaluate alternative options using the best available longer-term financial modeling software. Longer-term forecasts are subject to greater potential for error. But, the solution is to be flexible, not to refuse to develop and publish the forecasts.
In this column, I’ll summarize some of the initiatives that the County should pursue in 2018:
Growth and Development
- Project-specific impact statements: As the Community Facilities Study Group recommended, Arlington should prepare project-specific impact statements for each special-exception site plan project. Anyone claiming that Arlington lacks the legal power to do this (e.g., the County Attorney) should be required to publish their detailed legal reasoning for review by independent legal experts.
- Broaden community benefits categories: Arlington should broaden the scope of the “community benefits” it asks developers to provide as part of applicable projects. Community benefits should include compensation for the costs of incremental school enrollment directly attributable to the project. Again, anyone claiming that Arlington lacks the legal authority to do this (e.g., the County Attorney) should be required to publish their detailed legal reasoning for review by independent legal experts.
- Parks: Many practices at the Department of Parks and Recreation need a complete makeover:
- compliance with County environmental policies concerning maintenance and capital projects
- stop installing new facilities until you can adequately maintain existing facilities
- much larger budget for (a) maintaining existing facilities, (b) tree canopy retention and restoration and (c) land acquisition
- civic engagement
- Longer-term financial modeling: Develop financial projections out to 2040 for both capital and operating budget spending, utilizing at least three assumptions: most likely case; optimistic case(s); pessimistic case(s). Publish the results and assumptions. Setting priorities in the context of this kind of data-driven information regarding what the County (and APS) are likely to be able to afford is a vital part of longer-term planning.
- To protect affordability, maintain stability in property tax rates.
Openness and Transparency
- Open data portal: Arlington must pick up the pace to rectify the many serious shortcomings that residents already have identified in Arlington’s open data portal. Arlington has a lot to learn from the more effective and informative open data portals used in other jurisdictions like Montgomery County.
- Consent agenda: Relax the rules for the County Board’s public comment period to permit members of the public to speak on consent agenda items.
The Arlington County government should make greater use of longer-term planning. Arlington needs to demonstrate to the public that it has fiscally-sustainable longer-term plans to accommodate the substantial population growth and development that Arlington says will occur between now and 2040.
Next week, I’ll summarize more initiatives.
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“Probing the highly imaginative, inspired mind of Teresa Oaxaca is not altogether unlike having a present-day conversation with an Old Master,” says Nashville Arts Magazine.
Here is an unusual opportunity to learn from this incredibly talented and accessible artist, at Art House 7’s two-day oil painting workshop in October. Teresa will give 2 portrait painting demonstrations for 3 hours each morning. Students will then be painting from a clothed live model. Teresa will offer individual critiques that focus on materials, techniques, process and artistic vision. You’ll get jazzed up about painting and become more confident about your abilities.
Art House 7, Two-Day Oil Painting Workshop with Teresa Oaxaca. Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT $250.
See more about Teresa Oaxaca here. Art House 7 5537 Langston Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22207
Validating one’s emotions has the power to heal, transform, and empower. What Is Validation? Every human being has feelings. We all have emotions that change over time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. The question isn’t whether we feel; it’s how we handle feelings once they arise.
Building strategies to understand emotions is essential to positive mental health, and validation is one effective skill to practice.
Emotional validation is the process of understanding, embracing, and actively listening to another person’s feelings (or your own).
Understanding someone’s emotions doesn’t necessarily mean you approve of how they are feeling or reacting to something. You can be supportive in acknowledging and validating an emotional experience without agreeing or diminishing it. Validation is a skill to learn and improve over time. It may take practice, but the effort is most certainly worth it. Emotional validation has the power to enhance interpersonal communication and foster strong relationships.
Are you ready to buy your first home, but concerned about saving for a down payment? Grab a drink and join us for 45 minutes to learn more about how you can buy your first house with 3%, 5%, or