In its November 5 editorial endorsement of Arlington County Board incumbents Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes, the Washington Post depicted Arlington as a latter day Camelot where yuppies frolic, and the streets are paved with gold:
“Arlington County has been substantially remade in the last couple of decades mostly for the better. An influx of shops, restaurants and apartment buildings, mainly near Metro stations, has attracted a new generation of ambitious young professionals and lent the county a cosmopolitan gloss,” etc. etc.
Similarly Tejada and Hynes were depicted as Arthur and Guinevere presiding over this idyllic city state with wisdom and grace. By contrast I am the wicked witch of the North, an “anti-growth” candidate, who if elected “would try to stop it in its tracks.” The assertion was backed up by no supporting evidence. In fact in an interview with post editorial writer Lee Hockstader I repeatedly told him that I don’t oppose growth per se. I oppose growth without adequate consideration of the impacts, some of which he himself recited in his paean to the incumbents–lack of affordable housing and strains on public transit and the school system.
While conceding that I’m well informed, the Post said that I’m much better at criticizing the Board than offering solutions. Not true. I want the county to scrutinize site plans for impacts and require developers to mitigate them. If the impacts can’t be adequately mitigated, then the plans need to be revised. For example, rather than grant Boeing Corporation carte blanche to build a 732 space parking garage for its new headquarters in north Crystal City, I would require Boeing to submit a traffic analysis that demonstrated that Crystal City neighborhoods can actually handle the traffic. If Crystal City can’t handle the traffic, then I wouldn’t just say no. I would tell Boeing to reduce the number of parking spaces and offer to provide Boeing with more public transit to the site. Is this anti-growth? No. It’s sustainable growth. That’s all I’m asking for.
So why does the Washington Post oppose sustainable growth? Well for one thing it derives a lot of advertising income from area developers. For another thing, one of its subsidiaries, Robinson Terminal Warehouse Corporation, owns a valuable piece of land on the Alexandria waterfront just a few blocks south of Crystal City that Robinson wants to reap a profit on by redeveloping at much higher density. This plan is opposed by Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP), which wants to preserve existing density on the waterfront and dedicate it to public use.
Thus it is in the Washington Post’s financial interest to side with developers at the expense of area residents. It’s in the voters’ interest to take the Washington Post’s pro-developer bias into account when reading its editorials.