What’s So Smart About East Falls Church Area Plan?

On April 16 County Board voted to adopt the East Falls Church (EFC) Area Plan, touting it as the climax of a five year planning effort with lots of community input. Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth submitted remarks endorsing the plan, which entails 600,000 square feet of mixed used development, including replacement of the VDOT owned Metro parking facility at EFC with ground floor retail and up to eight stories of apartment/condo development. Mike Nardolilli, president of the EFC Civic Association, said that key features of the plan were all approved by EFC residents in a 2005 survey. But EFC resident John Shumate and others who testified challenged that claim. See Shumate’s website. Shumate said that only 7 percent of those surveyed bothered to respond and that Nardolilli systematically ignored or tried to silence civic association members critical of the plan. He claimed that the ultimate insult was Nardolilli’s acquiesence to 600,000 s.f. of development after pledging to set the limit at 450,000 s.f. Continue reading

County Board Echoes Fudged Numbers

At its April 16 meeting, Arlington County Board voted unanimously to adopt a budget for FY12 that includes no real estate tax increase and very limited restoration of library and public safety cuts enacted in 2009 and 2010. In doing so County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman repeated the carnard that county residents pay lower real estate taxes than other Northern Va. jurisdictions.

Unfortunately Zimmerman is wrong. Continue reading

Fudging the Numbers

Arlington County Board is trumpeting the fact that its FY12 budget contains NO real estate tax increase. So what’s there to complain about? Well for one thing, the current tax rate is high. In fact at $4,821, the average Arlington household’s real estate tax burden is higher than any other Northern Virginia jurisdiction, including Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, City of Alexandria, Prince William County and Loudoun County. This may come as news to anyone who read the Revenue Summary and Detail report on the county’s FY12 budget website. A chart on page 43 shows Arlington with a lower tax and fee burden than all nearby jurisdictions except the City of Fairfax.

These numbers are wrong. Continue reading

What To Do About Artisphere

Arlington County’s budget reflects its main priority, which is to promote economic growth by satisficing developers at the expense of basic needs. There’s nothing inherently wrong with economic growth or developers for that matter, but there are limits to growth. Nowhere are those limits more in evidence than Artisphere, a widely touted but poorly attended cultural arts center in Rosslyn that is currently running a $800,000 deficit. Continue reading