Why Protest Now?

I’ve been taking a lot of heat for boycotting the February 17 Keystone XL Pipeline Protest even though I live in the DC area, because like the Punk Patriot I didn’t see the point. The Keystone XL pipeline is a done deal precisely because the organizers of the demonstration refused to take action against it when their opposition might have meant something.

The time for Sierra Club to protest was BEFORE the election of 2012 not AFTER. The least Sierra Club could have done was to withhold support for Obama until he acknowledged the threat of climate change and pledged to do something about it in the debates. Continue reading

Democratic Party Hegemony Over Arlington County Board = Dumb Growth

A recent Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA) email alert pointed out that Vornado’s plan to construct two office towers twice the size of the current zoning limit with over 2,200 parking spaces and 6,800 car trips per day adjacent to a major Metro stop isn’t smart growth. It’s stupid. Not only that but Vornado and the County have steadfastly refused to consider the community’s recommendations for making the proposed PenPlace office complex more livable–by mixing office space with residential, eliminating setbacks and creating more open space. Continue reading

EV Cabs Put on Hold

On December 10 County Board scuttled a plan to put 40 electric powered cabs (EVs) on Arlington streets, bowing to pressure from cab drivers who packed the County Board hearing room with gags in their mouths to signal their opposition both to the EVs and to Board Chair Mary Hynes’ decision to cut off public comment. As an inducement to approve the project EV Taxicabs had promised to install dozens of electric recharging stations around the county that would be available to the public free of charge. At first blush, EV taxis looked like a win-win for both Arlington residents and the environment. However, the Arlington Transportation Commission vetoed the project over concern whether the cabs could provide reliable service to/from Dulles Airport. Continue reading

Thomas Building Purchase, an Example of Throwing Money at a Problem

Opponents of the County’s decision to purchase the Thomas Building in the Courthouse section of Arlington, have been portrayed as nimbies or worse—classists who spurn the presence of homeless people in their midst. It’s true that the immediate vicinity of 2020 14th Street is a well-to-do neighborhood. Luxury apartments and condos like the Palatine, Meridian, Woodbury Heights and the Odyssey surround the acquisition, making the placement of a homeless center there incongruous from a purely financial standpoint. If the real estate in this part of the county is valuable enough to warrant rents starting at $2,000 a month, then why is the County forcing the owner to sell? Why isn’t it encouraging the owner to redevelop the property in line with the rest of the neighborhood?
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A Streetcar Named BRT

I’m sure County Board members are squriming over the report recently released by transportation consultant and Democratic Party leader Peter Rousselot which recommends BRT (bus rapid transit) for Columbia Pike instead of the trolley. According to Rousselot, the bus alternative actually performs about as well as the trolley on a number of key criteria but costs far less, $53 million for the bus v. $250 million for the trolley. Continue reading

I-66 Spot Improvement Project: Arlington’s Bridge To Nowhere

Last Friday at around 3:30 p.m. I was biking on a pedestrian bridge over I-66 and noticed traffic backed up all the way from Fairfax Drive to the Sycamore Street exit. So what else is new, you ask? Well, the fact that a little more than a year ago, VDOT spent about $15 million dollars of taxpayer money earmarked by Congressman Frank Wolf to construct an extended merge lane to alleviate congestion between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street. Continue reading

Bond Referenda Are Ultimatums

One of the key questions before the voters on November 6 is whether to approve four bond referenda that will fund transportation, parks and recreation, community infrastructure and the public schools. The Sun Gazette reports that 70% of Arlington County bond issues are approved. But the fact that the voters are uncritical of bond referenda doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be. Continue reading

Road Rage Against Arlington Transit Buffs

In a recent blog, WP columnist Steve Pearlstein attacked as nazis, zealots and nimbys Arlington activists who opposed recent road widening projects inside the county. He’s outraged that Arlington forced VDOT to abandon its plans to widen I-395 absent an environmental assessment of the project. Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth replied: Continue reading

“Smart Growth” A Euphemism for Gentrification

The Coalition for Smarter Growth supports the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan, adopted by County Board on July 23, claiming that it will save 4,500 affordable housing units. What the Coalition doesn’t tell you is that there are currently 7,300 affordable units on the Pike right now. So implementation of the plan will mean the loss of about 2,800 affordable units right off the bat. Continue reading