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

PRESS RELEASE: Enrollment Crisis for Arlington Public Schools

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board, and I’m running to reform County government.

My opponent Libby Garvey touts her qualifications as a twenty year incumbent, having served on the Arlington School Board or County Board since 1996.

The Arlington Public Schools (APS) website shows that student enrollment increased over the last ten years by over 6,800 students. During that time APS constructed one new elementary school, provided additions to several others and is planning to build more schools. But the need for more classroom space has not been met, as 3,000 students are housed in trailers, euphemistically referred to as “relocatables.” Continue reading

Rosslyn Residents Get a New WRAP

In justifying its decision to put a temporary fire station on the Wilson School playing field, the County claims that the plan for the WRAPS site was “developed through an extensive community planning process with broad participation from County commissions, civic associations and other stakeholders. . .”

Yet it is now known that the deal to redevelop the WRAPS site was cut with Penzance in a secret Letter of Intent (LOI) in January 2013, the existence of which was withheld from the community until almost a year later.

Characterizing the WRAPS planning process as transparent is a cruel joke to Rosslyn civic leaders, who were already upset when they penned the following in a letter to County Board on June 16, 2015:

“Furthermore, the [WRAPS] proposal fails to meet long acknowledged open space needs of the Rosslyn neighborhood, which lacks sufficient parkland for its substantial and growing population. In fact, the plan actually decreases rather than increases parkland. The population at the WRAPS site will increased by a projected 80 percent . . .; yet the community is losing at least 30 percent of the existing open space. In addition, access to the Wilson School field which has a common use area for many years, will now necessarily be limited during school hours, further reducing open space available to the community.”

Were it not for the vocal opposition of the same civic leaders who showed up at the July 16, County Board meeting, the County might have approved a deal that would have deprived Rosslyn residents of much of its remaining green space for another five years.

As a result of their opposition, County Board has delayed a decision on where to locate the temporary fire station till September. In the meantime, County Board promises to involve the community in exploring two other sites–Rhodeside Green Park, and a lot near Rosslyn Holiday Inn.

In March, 2015 Rosslyn neighbors rallied to save Rosslyn Highlands. At the time, other than the aforementioned civic leaders, few expressed concern about the planned demolition of historic Wilson School next door as part of the WRAPs project. The sentiment was that if sacrificing the school would save the park then that was okay.

Now we see that the decision to demolish the school has only whetted the County’s appetite to inflict more unwanted outcomes on Rosslyn neighbors. What’s worse, the controversy spawned over relocating the fire station highlights the unworkability of a plan that shoehorns residential and mixed use development, a major secondary school, a fire station and a public park all within about six acres.

Supermarket at Mazda Site a Bad Idea

750 N. Glebe is a 12 story mid-rise mixed use development project consisting of 491 luxury apartments, 733 park spaces and 62,000 square feet of retail space including a supermarket.

The fact that virtually none of the units except 22 CAFs designated as “affordable” will be affordable to most Arlington residents is cause for concern. The impact of adding almost 500 additional units in the immediate vicinity of Ballston Mall, which has already absorbed 1,500 newly constructed or soon to be constructed units is cause for even greater concern. But inclusion in this project of a grocery store that will generate 4,800 car trips on week days and 7,700 trips on Saturdays gives pause. Continue reading

Arlington Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline Needs to Go Public

Recently the County removed an agenda item consisting of a report by the County Manager on the Board of the Employee Financial Fraud, Waste and Abuse hotline’s first year of operation. The County Manager, who attended the meeting, said the report was postponed to give the newly appointed County Auditor, Jessica Tucker, time to review it. Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE: County Board Candidate Audrey Clement Calls for County Government to Accelerate Street Paving

I’m Audrey Clement, Independent Candidate for Arlington County Board in the 2016 General Election.

As a long-time bicyclist and patron of public transit who doesn’t own car,  I ask Arlington County Government to accelerate street repair operations across the County.

There are way too many pot holes and cracked and broken pavements for Arlington residents to drive or walk safely to work, school, or shopping centers—let alone to bike. Moreover, Arlington residents in the mobility-disabled community tell me that they are afraid of deteriorated sidewalks and crosswalks.

Even after a major street repaving effort last November right before the election, major arteries like Clarendon and Wilson Blvds. have deteriorated badly over the winter. Arlington needs to maintain its streets not just before the election but all year round.

When elected to County Board, I will make basic infrastructure maintenance and upgrades my first, not my last priority. Isn’t it time we had a County Board member who works for YOUR needs, not for vanity wants like a $20 million gondola and a $40 million swimming pool? It’s time for corporations, non-profits, and special interests to fund vanity programs and projects, not demand more from already-stressed taxpayers.

Please visit my Web site at: www.AudreyClement.com.  Let me help you make Arlington County a better place to live. A greener Arlington is a better Arlington, and that’s my pledge to you, the citizens of Arlington County.

Comments to NVTC on Widening I-66 Inside the Beltway

Comments to Northern Virginia Transportation Commission  (NVTC) on Widening I-66 Inside the Beltway on May 5, 2016.

First I want to express my regret that a deal worked out between NVTC and Governor McAuliffe last year to toll I-66 inside the Beltway first and widen it later only if necessary was scuttled in favor a plan to widen I-66 as soon as the tolls are in place. Continue reading