Arlington, VA

by ARLnow.com August 2, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Audrey ClementAudrey Clement says those who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary should come over to her side in the Arlington County Board election.

Clement, a perennial candidate who is running as an independent this year, after formerly running under the Green Party banner, says that she shares the “disappointment that Senator Sanders did not succeed,” a still touchy subject among some Democratic voters.

“I happen to share a lot of Bernie’s values,” Clement says in a press release, below. “I will place meeting the needs of all Arlington residents first and the wants of wealthy special interests last on my agenda when elected to County Board.”

Clement later says that her opponent, incumbent County Board Chair Libby Garvey, has gone back to “rubber stamping the Arlington Democratic Party’s agenda” after splitting from party leaders over the Columbia Pike streetcar.

The full press release:

I’m Dr. Audrey Clement, Independent candidate for Arlington County Board.

I applaud the efforts of all those Arlington voters who worked hard to make Bernie Sanders the Democratic Nominee for President, and I share your disappointment that Senator Sanders did not succeed.

I happen to share a lot of Bernie’s values, among them a sincere interest in good government. As an Independent, I will place meeting the needs of all Arlington residents first and the wants of wealthy special interests last on my agenda when elected to County Board.

So I’m asking you to join my campaign in order to make progressive changes locally that you tried to make nationally.

I live in affordable housing that’s in danger of being bulldozed for million dollar townhomes, displacing seniors, students, the disabled, and the working poor. I want affordable housing preserved and new affordable housing built that’s actually affordable for everyone in Arlington.

I’ve ridden a bicycle everywhere for decades. But bicycles shouldn’t be Arlington’s only transportation alternative to more parking for thousands more single-occupant vehicles.

And it’s time for on-site renewable energy installed throughout our County.

It’s time for electric vehicles throughout our County, charged by renewable energy sources.

It’s time to put a moratorium on Smart Growth — which is just a euphemism for gentrification — until there’s a comprehensive evaluation of where Smart Growth is taking our County.

Who wants to live in a County that is unaffordable to anyone who earns less than 100% of area median income, or $110,000 per year?

Not me.

My opponent says she’s “progressive”.  She initially voted against the Pike Streetcar and the most extravagant excesses of the Democratic Old Guard.

But, having been challenged in a primary election by an Old Guard Democrat, she’s gone back to rubber stamping the Arlington Democratic Party’s agenda.

With your help we can have better, more diverse, County Government at less cost.

Please visit my website — www.AudreyClement.com — to volunteer, donate and/or comment on issues of concern to you.

by ARLnow.com October 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm 0

Audrey Clement

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement:

As an Independent candidate for the Arlington County Board, I, Audrey Clement, ask for your support in making Arlington County government more responsive and more accountable to the people it serves.

Having lived in Westover and worked alongside many other dedicated Arlingtonians for over 11 years, I have devoted significant time and energy to advancing fiscal responsibility, promoting a sustainable environment, and supporting fairness and equality in our community.

Today, we must confront serious challenges — ones that require independent and innovating thinking, reality-based planning, and a commitment to using limited resources wisely.

Free from partisan constraints and beholden to NO special interests or groups, I can meet these challenges and help put our county back on a more solid footing in the years ahead.

At over 20%, Arlington’s office vacancy rate remains stubbornly high. Each percentage represents millions in lost commercial revenue, which places a greater burden on homeowners. Several federal agencies — including the National Science Foundation, Fish and Wildlife Service and TSA — are relocating or have recently relocated due to escalating rents driven, in part, by higher taxes.

Our ongoing school enrollment crisis results from the County and School Boards’ failure to plan realistically for a future that appears to include relentless residential growth. In 2014, the School Board itself predicted a 2,500-classroom seat deficit even after approving a $450 million capital budget.

The County Board plans to fund the new Affordable Housing Master Plan — mandating 15,800 new committed affordable units (CAFs) in the next 25 years — but refused to insist that staff provide a thorough analysis of the plan’s costs and impacts on county services. Ultimately, no plan can be implemented successfully without a thorough understanding of the costs and how to pay for them.

Though the County pays lip service to the environment, it lags behind neighboring jurisdictions in installing renewable energy infrastructure in public buildings, and it enthusiastically supports development that increases impervious surfaces, reduces the mature tree canopy, and further degrades our environment.

The Arlington County Board talks a lot about the so-called Arlington Way while routinely ignoring citizen input and dismissing our concerns. For example, the County Board already had a signed, undisclosed letter of intent (LOI) in place with developer Penzance when it convened the West Rosslyn Area (WRAPS) citizen’s group — whose assigned task was to consider what should be built on the site.

The result? That neighborhood will lose public parkland even as its population doubles, and the historic Wilson School will be demolished.

The County also unilaterally decided to relocate historic Fire Station #8 and sell the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont Park until neighbors rebelled. These are a few of the recent examples of County Board’s insular and autocratic decision-making style.

The Democratic candidates acknowledge a crisis of confidence in County government exists but continue passing the buck with platitudes and promises to do better. I have specific solutions. If elected with your support, I pledge to lobby the County Board to:

  • Reduce the Business/Professional/Occupational Licenses (BPOL) taxes on small businesses, streamline the business permitting process, and consult with the Governor to ask for help in filling the new 30-story office building near the Rosslyn Metro, which still has no tenant two years after construction.
  • Urge that support of County schools be given a greater weight in site plan negotiations with developers for community benefits.
  • Ask the School Board to reduce reliance on trailers by increasing secondary class size by one student per class (bringing Arlington’s student-teacher ratio in line with neighboring jurisdictions), utilize existing land and space more efficiently, and reduce costs.
  • Use housing funds to preserve the County’s remaining market-rate affordable apartment units and renovate them, which can be more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable over the long term than razing existing buildings to construct new units.
  • Encourage developers to incorporate on-site affordable housing into their projects to disperse the units more evenly countywide and reduce costs.
  • Strengthen the County’s efforts to enable disabled and retired citizens (who lived on fixed incomes) to age in place and remain in our community.
  • Install renewable energy on all newly constructed or renovated public buildings and recruit developers who will adopt the LEED Platinum standards and install on-site, solar-driven electric charging stations.
  • Adopt a transparency rule requiring online publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings to restore democracy to County government.

To make County government work better, I ask for your help. Please:

  • Visit www.AudreyClement.com to volunteer or donate.
  • Vote Clement  your Independent candidate — for Arlington County Board on Election Day, November 3, 2015.

Together, we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

by ARLnow.com October 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm 0

Audrey ClementIndependent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement is proposing a “72 hour transparency rule” for Arlington County Board and county commission meetings.

Clement is decrying the not-uncommon practice of county staff waiting to post documents related to County Board items and commission agenda items until either right before the meeting or after. While the vast majority of board reports and other documents are posted a week or more in advance, some go down to the wire, raising questions about government transparency.

In a press release, Clement proposes a rule requiring documents to be posted 72 hours in advance of any such meeting, and asks other candidates to support the rule as well. It wouldn’t come at a monetary cost, it would just require tighter deadlines, Clement said.

The full press release:

I’m Audrey Clement, Independent Candidate for Arlington County Board. I’ve spoken to hundreds of voters, taxpayers, and residents while campaigning for County Board this year.

Many have related to me their frustration with the fact that Arlington County staff frequently withhold critical documents, data, and information, or delay posting critical information till the day before the next Board or Commission meeting.

How can residents, the Civic Federation, civic associations, homeowners associations, and other stakeholders study and understand information or hold meaningful discussions with their elected officials about important decisions when staff either withholds, or waits until the last minute to reveal pertinent information and detail? They can’t!

There is a better way: A 72-hour transparency rule. In the corporate world, boards of directors typically require at least 5 days’ advance receipt of meeting materials. If you want meeting attendees to be prepared (which includes having read relevant reports and detailed information in advance), you need to give them the materials far enough in advance to make it possible. It is common practice in the business world to require 3-to 5-day advanced delivery of all board-meeting materials.

Providing meeting materials 3 days in advance of County Board and advisory commission meetings isn’t a lot to ask. It’s just common courtesy. And a 72-hour rule isn’t any more expensive or time consuming; it simply means setting earlier internal deadlines. In fact most Arlington County meeting documents are ready several days prior to meetings, yet staff often holds them for a Friday-night document dump to the County’s website.

Please join me and others in asking all Arlington County Board candidates to pledge their support to a 72-hour (or longer) rule for the advance publication of County Board and advisory commission agenda items and reports.

by Heather Mongilio July 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm 3,959 0

Audrey-Clement

(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Independent candidate for County Board Audrey Clement is continuing to criticize Arlington for hosting a bike race last month.

On Saturday, Clement, a self-described avid cyclist, said the Air Force Association’s Cycling Classic, a two-day racing event in Clarendon and Crystal City, was dangerous to the public.

“No mention made by the Air Force Association of the danger to participants and pedestrians of conducting high speed races in the heart of a densely populated business district or the nuisance value of blocking major throughways to vehicular traffic for half of the day,” Clement said.

Clement previously spoke against the race at a last month’s Board meeting, while the race was happening, because the road closures prevented her from biking to the meeting on the route she usually takes. During that meeting, she told Board members that closing roads for the race was “reckless endangerment.”

“I risked my life to bike to this meeting,” she asserted.

Clement noted on Saturday that she was “ridiculed” for her remarks in June.

“At the June 13 County Board meeting I was ridiculed by County Board members for characterizing the bicycle races in progress that day in Clarendon as ‘reckless endangerment,'” she said.

Board members responded to Clement’s latest complaints by saying the barriers lining the cycling course ensured spectator safety, but Clement disagreed.

“Other Board members agreed with Mr. Fisette that the barricades put in place were sufficient to prevent accident or injury, I wish that were true. Yet on Thursday, July 2, one cyclist was killed and two were critically injured when one of the cyclist’s had a tire blowout on a downhill race sponsored by the World Police and Fire Games in Prince William Forest Park,” Clement said during the July 18 Board meeting.

Clement went on to say that the sport of cycling has more deaths than the Indianapolis 500, which had its last death in 1973. While there were some crashes at this year’s Clarendon and Crystal Cup races, no deaths were reported. During the race, barriers kept spectators away from the speeding cyclists and event staff were positioned at every crossing area to help people get from one side of the course to the other.

Arlington County is happy to work with event organizers to plan road closures and public safety measures, Board member Jay Fisette said.

“Our special events [are] one of the things that makes Arlington special. We have a special events policy, we have our block parties, we have bike events, we have neighborhood events, and events sponsored by the BIDs that happen in our denser corridors and each of those require work and require staff time to make sure the road network still works and they’re safe,” Fisette said.

In her remarks, Clement also called for a multi-modal system of enforcing traffic laws, with police officers monitoring activity from bikes. Board Chair Mary Hynes said a system called “PAL” is already in place to encourage cyclists and motorists to be careful on the road.

by ARLnow.com October 30, 2014 at 11:30 am 0

Audrey Clement at Civic Federation candidate forumThis month, we asked the candidates from each competitive race on the Nov. 4 ballot to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them.

Here is School Board candidate Audrey Clement’s unedited response:

I’m Audrey Clement. I’m running for ARLINGTON SCHOOL BOARD, and I seek your vote. Democratic candidates for local office recently issued a press release promising to deal with Arlington’s enrollment crisis.

But Arlington Public Schools (APS) will not be able to meet the challenge under its recently adopted capital budget, as it projects a 2,500 seat deficit even AFTER spending hundreds of millions of dollars to produce 4,000 additional seats.

To address the crisis, School Board ought to ask the Superintendent some hard questions:

  • Why does it cost Arlington $2 million to build a new classroom, when it costs Alexandria $900,000?
  • Why does it cost Arlington $50 million to provide a new elementary school when it costs Fairfax County $20 million?
  • Why does Arlington spend $5,000 more per pupil per year than Fairfax County?
  • Why are voters asked to approve a $105 million school bond without knowing how half the money is going to be spent?

Since eighty percent of the schools’ half-billion-dollar operating budget is funded by local taxes and nearly half of every local tax dollar you pay goes to it, Arlington County Board should ask some hard questions too.

  • Why, for example, has the School Board never addressed the 2012 the Virginia Department of Education report which concluded that APS administration is top heavy with eight assistant superintendents to Richmond’s three?
  • Why does Federal Graduation Indicator show lower graduation rates for disadvantaged students in Arlington than elsewhere in the state?

County Board member Mary Hynes cast these concerns aside at a recent County Board meeting, saying: “I caution about doing the straight math.” She pointed out that there’s a lot more to a school upgrade than new classrooms, and the high per pupil cost reflects community values. In other words, the School Board must continue business as usual because that’s what the community wants.

The problem with business as usual is that the County can no longer afford it. According to a recent Washington Post article, Arlington’s “office market has been in near free fall recently. Between 22 and 23 percent of all the office space in Arlington County — more than 8 million square feet — is vacant. That is nearly triple the rate in 2010.”

As vacancy rates rise commercial tax receipts will erode, forcing County Board to raise residential tax rates to pay for the bonds issued to expand classroom capacity.

Under these circumstances Arlington should elect an independent to School Board who will stretch our tax dollars.

As a 10-year Westover resident and long-time community activist, I routinely urge the County Board to invest in basic services like libraries and schools over wasteful capital projects. With a Ph.D. degree in Political Science and classroom experience as a college instructor, I also strongly support APS’s focus on academic excellence.

Having served the U.S. House subcommittee for congressional oversight of special education programs, I am a strong advocate of remedial education.

If elected, I will work with my School Board colleagues to streamline the budget and guarantee success for all Arlington students. I will also encourage input from the public before key decisions are made. Visit my web site at www.AudreyClement.org and vote CLEMENT on November 4.

by ARLnow.com August 6, 2014 at 12:30 pm 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Clementine, a “rag-doll cat” who like to hang at least half of her body off surfaces on which she’s lying.

Here’s what owner Roxanne had to say:

This is Clementine, she is a 3-year-old black and white long-haired kitty. She was brought home from the Shirlington SPCA when she was 3 months old, and it was instant love! We’re not certain what kind of cat she is, but we suspect she may resemble something called a rag-doll cat. She loves to hang her body over any surface possible, and prefers when at least half her body is hanging off.

Her favorite hobbies are curling up on her favorite fluffy blanket, basking in the sunlight on the balcony, chasing bugs, and playing with her laser pointer. She has a very quiet meow, but she is very talkative, and love to be pet and lay in laps. Since her hair is so long, she loves a good brushing, to keep her coat nice and soft!

Clementine loves her home, and is a true Arlingtonian!

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

by ARLnow.com October 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm 1,612 0

Audrey ClementThis week we asked the two candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement (G):

I’m nine year resident of Arlington County with a doctorate in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. As a long time Green Party leader and civic activist, I’ve worked hard to promote a better quality of life for Arlington residents. As treasurer of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation (ACST), I filed suit in 2009 to compel VDOT to assess alternatives to piecemeal widening of I-66 westbound.

In 2008 and 2013 I petitioned to place a referendum on the ballot to consolidate Arlington’s housing programs in one agency to leverage more money for affordable housing. I’ve also lobbied for a ban on plastic bags in supermarkets and chain drug stores and Styrofoam in food retail outlets. A ban bag is needed because all the bag tax bills introduced in the General Assembly to date have been defeated. Unlike a bag tax, which requires legislative approval, a bag ban is legal in Virginia right now, because the Virginia Waste Management Review Board calls the shots on waste reduction measures, not the legislature.

I think Arlington needs a change in leadership because County Board doesn’t understand that sustainable growth and so-called “Smart Growth” aren’t the same. As new office towers go up overnight, employers move into the county, spurring demand for housing that drives up rents and real estate assessments and promotes excessive infill development. Nevertheless County Board continues to award developers with more density—50% more in Crystal City and Pentagon City alone. As a result, the supply of affordable housing in this county has been cut by two-thirds in one decade. This isn’t sustainable.

To be sustainable, basic public infrastructure must keep pace with new residential and commercial construction. Sustainability also requires the County Board to create a housing authority to leverage more money for affordable housing, just like all the other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia. Otherwise those who move into the County are stuck in a never-ending cycle of tax and rent increases as others are recycled out. To be sustainable, we need to do more than accumulate LEED points. We need truly energy efficient buildings and on-site renewable energy. To be sustainable, we must appreciate the difference between needs and wants.

  • We don’t need an $80 million aquatic center, when Northern Va. is already drowning in public pools.
  • We don’t need a $310 million trolley when bus service can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost.
  • We may want a cultural center and a black box theater. But we must get the private sector to finance them, not the taxpayers.
  • We may like the already over capacity Taj Mahal high schools recently constructed in this county. But what we need is to expand classroom space at a reasonable cost even if that means building up or renovating rather than building new.

If elected to the County Board, I will promote fiscal responsibility without sacrificing the health and welfare of its residents.

I pledge to make developers pay their fair share of infrastructure costs. I also plan to fully fund libraries, schools, and programs for youth, seniors, and the disabled, emphasize recycling and renewable energy; and hire an Inspector General to audit the County’s budget. You can find out more about my Campaign for a Greener Arlington by visiting AudreyClement.com. Vote Clement for County Board on November 5th.

by ARLnow.com April 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm 0

Audrey Clement at Radnor/Fort Myer Heights candidates night debateAudrey Clement is running for Arlington County Board under the Arlington Green Party banner, for the fourth time since 2011.

Clement, a long-time Arlington resident and IT consultant, will face off against incumbent Democrat Jay Fisette in November. The Arlington Green Party is urging a vote for Clement to “end one-party rule in Arlington.”

“Arlington needs new leadership,” the party said in a press release. “Jay Fisette says he is for sustainability, but the tax hikes County Board plans to impose on county residents to fund boondoggles like the Pike trolley and heated bus stops are unsustainable.”

Clement was nominated at the Greens’ April 3 meeting. She is running on a platform that includes:

  • Adopt a referendum sponsored by the Arlington Green Party to create a Housing Authority to provide more affordable housing at less cost.
  • No more tax rate increases. Repave streets. Fund schools and libraries, not wasteful projects, like million dollar bus stops on Columbia Pike.
  • Use commercial real estate tax to fund ART buses not the $250 million Pike trolley.
  • Fund school construction to ease overcrowding.
  • Open Arlington public libraries 7 days a week.
  • Retrofit public buildings with renewable energy.
  • Reduce waste. Increase recycling in apartments and businesses.
  • Ban single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam in retail stores and food outlets to reduce litter.
  • Provide free residential energy audits.

Clement received 12.9 percent of the vote in November 2012. Green Party candidate John Reeder received 32 percent of the vote when he ran against Fisette in 2009.

The Arlington County Republican Committee has set May 12 as the filing deadline for potential County Board candidates.

by ARLnow.com November 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm 4,623 42 Comments

Last month we asked the three candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay describing why the county’s residents should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 6).

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement (G):

I’m eight year resident of Arlington County with a doctorate in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. As a long time Green Party leader and civic activist, I’ve worked hard to promote a better quality of life for Arlington residents. As treasurer of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation, I filed suit in 2009 to compel VDOT to assess alternatives to piecemeal widening of I-66 westbound. VDOT went ahead with the Spot Improvement project anyhow. Yet persistent two mile backups on westbound I-66 show that I was right.

In 2008 I helped to place a referendum on the ballot to consolidate Arlington’s housing programs in one agency to realize economies of scale and leverage more money for affordable housing. Arlington County Board not only ignored the referendum, which garnered 30 percent of the vote, it had the General Assembly change the law to make it virtually impossible to get another one on the ballot. Yet the fact that two-thirds of the affordable housing in Arlington has been lost in the past decade confirms the need for a centralized housing authority.

I think Arlington needs a change in leadership, because County Board doesn’t understand that sustainable growth and so-called “Smart Growth” aren’t the same. As new office towers go up overnight, employers move into the county, spurring demand for housing that drives up rents and real estate assessments and promotes excessive infill development; the tear down of existing modest sized homes; and construction of oversized, unsightly, runoff inducing McMansions.

To be sustainable, basic public infrastructure must keep pace with new residential and commercial construction. Sustainability requires the County Board to support, not discourage construction of moderate income housing. Otherwise those who move into the County are stuck in a never-ending cycle of tax and rent increases as others are gentrified out. To be sustainable, we need to do more than accumulate LEED points. We need truly energy efficient buildings and on-site renewable energy. To be sustainable, we must appreciate the difference between needs and wants.

  • We don’t need a $79.2 million aquatic center at an out of the way location in North Crystal City, when Northern Va. is already drowning in public pools.
  • We don’t need a $250 million trolley when bus service can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost.
  • We may want a cultural center and a black box theater. But we must get the private sector to finance them, not the taxpayers.
  • We may like the already over capacity Taj Mahal high schools recently constructed in this county. But what we need is to expand classroom space at a reasonable cost even if that means building up or renovating rather than building new.

I pledge to make developers pay their fair share of new infrastructure costs. I also plan to fully fund libraries, schools, and programs for youth, seniors, and the disabled, emphasize recycling and renewable energy; and hire an Inspector General to audit the County’s budget. You can find out more about my Campaign for a Greener Arlington by visiting AudreyClement.org.

With your help, I will work to preserve the Arlington Way. Vote Clement for County Board on November 6, 2012.

by ARLnow.com June 8, 2012 at 11:00 am 3,982 60 Comments

The Arlington Green Party is hoping the third time will be the charm for Audrey Clement.

Clement has been nominated as the Green Party’s candidate for County Board in this fall’s election. It’s her third County Board run in a year, after losses in the November 2011 general election and the March 2012 special election.

The Arlington Greens issued the following statement about Clement’s nomination:

The Arlington Green Party officially nominated Audrey Clement as its candidate for the Arlington County Board in the November 6, 2012 general election at its monthly meeting on June 6. Dr. Clement, who qualified for the ballot in April, has run for County Board twice before. She has pledged to make fiscal responsibility and providing for basic needs over big ticket capital spending projects the centerpiece of her campaign.

Ms. Clement said that she will vigorously oppose spending $300 million in Arlington local funds for an ill-designed trolley on Columbia Pike that will only serve to eliminate affordable housing, and waste funds urgently needed for public schools and other county projects.

Audrey is a long time Arlington resident, an IT consultant, and holds a Ph.D. in political science. She has run twice for the Arlington County Board as a Green against Democratic and Republican opponents. She is an avid bicyclist, environmentalist, and mass transit supporter. Her campaign website is: http://audreyclement.org/

The Arlington Green Party has had a candidate for Arlington county board election for the past six years; in 2009, the Green candidate received about 32 percent of the total votes cast.

by ARLnow.com March 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm 4,994 68 Comments

Earlier this month we asked the three candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them during the March 27 special election.

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement (I):

I’m eight year resident of Arlington County with a doctorate in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. As a long time Green Party leader and civic activist, I’ve worked hard to promote a better quality of life for Arlington residents. As treasurer of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation, I filed suit in 2009 to compel VDOT to assess alternatives to piecemeal widening of I-66 westbound. In 2008 I helped to place a referendum on the ballot to consolidate Arlington’s housing programs in one agency to leverage more money for affordable housing. I’ve lobbied to create a year round homeless shelter and ban plastic bags in supermarkets and chain drug stores and Styrofoam in food retail outlets.

I think Arlington needs a change in leadership because County Board doesn’t understand that sustainable growth and so-called “Smart Growth” aren’t the same. As new office towers go up overnight, employers move into the county, spurring demand for housing that drives up rents and real estate assessments and promotes excessive infill development. Nevertheless County Board continues to award developers with more density — 50% more in Crystal City alone. As a result, the supply of affordable housing in this county has been cut by two-thirds in one decade. This isn’t sustainable.

To be sustainable, basic public infrastructure must keep pace with new residential and commercial construction. Sustainability requires the County Board to support not discourage construction of moderate income housing. Otherwise those who move into the County are stuck in a never-ending cycle of tax and rent increases as others are gentrified out. To be sustainable, we need to do more than accumulate LEED points. We need truly energy efficient buildings and on-site renewable energy. To be sustainable, we must appreciate the difference between needs and wants.

  • We don’t need a $50 million aquatic center, when Northern Va. is already drowning in public pools.
  • We don’t need a $250 million trolley when bus service can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost.
  • We may want a cultural center and a black box theater. But we must get the private sector to finance them, not the taxpayers.
  • We may like the already over capacity Taj Mahal high schools recently constructed in this county. But what we need is to expand classroom space at a reasonable cost even if that means building up or renovating rather than building new.

(more…)

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