S3-A Zoning Districts: An example of County Board Overreach

Comments at December 10, 2016 Arlington County Board Meeting on lifting restrictions on S-3A zoning districts, which County Board voted unanimously to adopt.

I want to associate myself with a recommendation sent to County Board on November 1 by longtime CivFed leader Suzanne Sundburg. In asking County Board to defer action on County staff’s request to rezone S-3A zoning districts, i.e. schools and parks, Sundburg said: Continue reading

Fillmore Garden Apartments Tenants Being Recycled

In 2015 Arlington County Board adopted the Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP), the purpose of which was to provide a roadmap to increase the supply of affordable housing in the County.

One of the tools to accomplish this goal was Transfer of Density Rights (TDR)s, whereby a landlord at one location cedes his by-right development potential to another developer in the same community. Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE: I-395 HOT Lanes Extension: An Accident Waiting to Happen

The I-395 Express Lanes North Extension Environmental Assessment (EA) lists roadway safety as one of four principal objectives in extending I-395 toll lanes north to Eads Street (p. 6). It cites the fact that over half of all roadway crashes occur during peak travel periods to demonstrate that congestion not only increases travel time, it also jeopardizes traffic safety (p.14). 

VDOT’s concern with roadway safety is well placed. However, it is by no means clear that HOT lanes will enhance travel safety even if they reduce congestion, since the Build Alternative all but eliminates the western shoulder of the express lane corridor by reducing it from 10 feet to 2. Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE: Vote Clement to Cure Election Stress Disorder

Millions of people are turned off by this year’s presidential election. In fact so unhappy is the public with the major party presidential candidates that psychologists have come up with a new diagnosis–Election Stress Disorder (ESD)–characterized by anxiety over the prospect of electing either one of them!

If you’re an Arlington resident suffering from ESD, a cure is in sight. No. I’m not running for President. But as an Independent candidate for Arlington County Board, I offer local voters a change from business as usual to real reform. Never have Arlington residents been more in need of this remedy.

Continue reading

Cost of Temporary Fire Station at Wilson School Unknown

While I am relieved that County Staff has not recommended Rhodeside Green Park as the site of a temporary fire station, I’m concerned about the process by which Wilson School was selected.

First, it is evident that while the County Manager’s office solicited input, its response to community in the published temporary fire station FAQ indicates that most of the objections to the Wilson School site were dismissed.

Second, while an alternatives analysis was done, the results of that analysis, published as Attachment 3 to the staff report, show that no serious cost benefit analysis was undertaken.

Continue reading

School Board’s Career Center Classroom Capacity Numbers Don’t Add Up

In recent commentary I claimed that the School Board had erased a projected 4,600 seat classroom deficit by double counting recently added capacity in its May 24, 2016 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) presentation.

Michael Beer, Co-Chair of the CivFed Schools Committee acknowledged that some numbers on page 19 of the document are misleading, but said the real problem is a chart on page 8 showing that the School Board “found” 800 additional Career Center seats by going from a 5/7 to a 6/7 model, which means occupying 6 out of every 7 classrooms throughout the school day instead of 5 out of 7. The question is whether that is actually feasible. Continue reading

Westover Tenants May Be Displaced from APAH Properties

As a Westover tenant since 2004, I welcome APAH’s decision to purchase 8 of Westover’s remaining garden apartments with two caveats:

1) APAH CEO Nina Janopaul advised me that she tried unsuccessfully to purchase some of the recently flipped properties in 2014. She was blown off by the owner of the properties. I believe that APAH would be more effective were it operating as the acquisition agent for a housing authority with the clout to play hardball with landlords.

2) I am concerned that APAH may evict tenants earning over 60 percent of area median income (AMI). Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE: Clement Exposes Disturbing Development Trends in Arlington

 ARLINGTON, VA – While most Arlington residents are focused on this year’s presidential race, there are other important elections in progress. The County Board race offers Arlington voters a stark choice between the status quo embraced by my opponent Libby Garvey and the reforms I advocate as her challenger.

Development has transformed Arlington. New high rise construction is ongoing in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, Columbia Pike and Pentagon City. In Ballston alone, 2000 new apartment units and 420,000 square feet of office space are planned or under construction.

While many view the County’s construction boom as a sign of prosperity, it belies some disturbing trends. First, at 20 percent the office vacancy is unacceptably high. Second, the impacts of hyper-development on schools, streets and parks have been largely ignored by County Board.

The most disturbing trend is the emergence of more classroom trailers on school campuses all over the county. In fact over 3,000 students are housed in trailers and many more will be in the future, as new housing construction produces a bumper crop of new students. Yet the County insists that the impact of new high rise development on the school age population is negligible.

In fact School Board incumbent Nancy Van Doren insisted at the September 6 Civic Federation debate that planned new classroom capacity will erase Arlington Public Schools (APS) projected 4,600 classroom seat deficit. Scrutiny of School Board budget documents reveals that Nancy arrived at this conclusion by double counting recently added new classroom capacity. Yet no one on County Board, let alone incumbent Libby Garvey has set the record straight.

Not only are County officials pushing the myth that massive new developments planned for Rosslyn, Ballston and Pentagon City will have minimal impacts on school enrollment, they also maintain that the impacts on traffic will be minimal. For example, a traffic impact analysis (TIA) done for the relatively modest six story development that will replace the Food Star at Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive will degrade rush hour traffic at the intersection from LOS D, which is stable to LOS E or “operating at capacity”. But this isn’t cause for concern for the County, since traffic congestion is routine in urban areas.

A massive Rosslyn Plaza Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP) between Kent Street and Arlington Ridge Road that will house 500 new housing units, 200 new hotel rooms, and 1.8 million square feet of office space, is slated for 2,168 parking spaces. According to the TIA, “at full build-out, six of the eleven signalized study intersections surrounding the site would operate at unacceptable levels of service in their current configuration.” But not to worry, because the impacts will be mitigated by a new street signal and road network.

In approving the PDSP, not only did County Board ignore the impact of additional traffic, it also ignored the joint appeal of the Metropolitan Washington Airlines Committee, Airports Authority, American Airlines, Airlines for America, and the Airline Pilots Association to defer approval of the Rosslyn Plaza project until FAA has decided whether to amend its regulations to consider the hazard of constructing office towers so close to White House prohibited airspace.

Finally there’s the issue of green space. At .8 acre Rosslyn Plaza is less than the 1 acre mandated by the Rosslyn Sector plan. 750 Glebe Road, the massive 500 unit luxury development at the intersection of Wilson Blvd. and Glebe Road, will have no publicly accessible green space. The developer of 2000 Clarendon Blvd. offers no new parks in return for the upzoned residential tower it plans to construct adjacent to the Odyssey. In rubber stamping these projects, County Board has essentially told residents that they can expect few natural amenities in return for usurious rents.

If elected to County Board, I plan to seek a fiscal an impact analysis of every major site plan development to assure that the project actually benefits the County and that its impacts are adequately addressed.

In addition, I plan to:
  • Seek tax relief for residents and businesses and stop the exodus of federal agencies from Arlington.
  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.

As a 12-year Westover resident and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in political science and service as a Congressional Fellow–I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

To find out more about my campaign, visit

You can make a difference! Boost my campaign for Arlington County Board by:

  • volunteering for an hour at your polling place on Election Day;
  • donating time or money;
  • planting a yard sign in your yard or window;
  • spreading the word via your PTA, civic association, listserv or blog.
Together we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

PRESS RELEASE: County Budget Numbers Don’t Add Up

ARLINGTON, VA – This year’s campaign season is heating up. So I think it’s important to let you know why I’m running against Libby Garvey for a seat on County Board.

The Citizen, Arlington County’s newsletter, recently announced the adoption of a $3.3 billion 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), highlighting several major projects to be funded over the next ten years, including:

  • new school construction

  • the long planned aquatics center at Long Bridge Park

  • a new community center at Lubber Run

  • more transportation related facilities

  • rebuilding Fire Stations 8 and 10

There is much to like in the capital budget. For example, funding for the aquatics center is limited to the amount already approved by the voters in previous bond referendums. The transportation budget includes funding for expanded and consolidated ART bus service. ART incidentally is the only Northern Virginia transit service that realized a significant increase in ridership this year. 

Nevertheless there are serious problems with the latest CIP. At over $500 million, Arlington Public Schools (APS) CIP grabs the lion’s share of the capital budget. Yet County Board evidently adopted the APS CIP without giving it serious scrutiny. 

For example, the School Board presented a chart on page 19 of its briefing to the County showing that it would erase a projected 4,600 classroom seat deficit by providing 5,661 additional seats by 2025. Yet comparison of this chart with a similar one produced by the Superintendent on page 22 of his proposed CIP and other information in that document shows that no less than 2,216 of the “new” seats have already been accounted for in recently added classroom capacity. Subtracting this number from the projected 5,661 new seats results in a 1,145 seat deficit even after adding a 1,000 seat high school at a location as yet to be determined.

This budgetary sleight of hand should never have gone undetected by County Board members, particularly my opponent, who herself sat on the School 

Board for almost fifteen years.

Another problem with the CIP is the allocation of $46 million for a new Lubber Run Community Center, a four story structure, one third of whose space will house the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). In approving this capital outlay, County Board ignored the objections of community leaders who argued that siting office space adjacent to a park is inappropriate and unnecessary, given the county’s current 20% office vacancy rate. Their argument that a community center that met the need could have been built for half the current budgeted amount fell on the deaf ears of County Board members who like to tax and spend.

If elected to County Board, you can be sure that I will scrutinize future CIPs with particular attention to the APS budget, to verify that its projections are accurate. I will also look for pork in the form of new construction projects that do not reflect actual need.

 

In addition, if elected I plan to:

  • Seek tax relief for residents and businesses and stop the exodus of federal agencies from Arlington.

  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.

  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.

  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.

As a 12-year Westover resident and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in political science and service as a Congressional Fellow–I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.


To find out more about my campaign, visit

www.AudreyClement.com

You can make a difference! Boost my campaign for Arlington County Board by:

  • volunteering for an hour at your polling place on Election Day;

  • donating time or money;

  • planting a yard sign in your yard or window;

  • spreading the word via your PTA, civic association, listserv or blog.

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

Sincerely,

Audrey Clement, Ph.D.

Independent Candidate, Arlington County Board

www.AudreyClement.com

571-830-8889 cell