PRESS Release: Sidewalk Ordinance Repealed

September 21, 2020.

As the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board on November 3, I’m concerned that my opponent, County Board Chair Libby Garvey has lost touch with the voters.

On Tuesday, September 15 Garvey conducted a public hearing on extending an emergency ordinance to permanently ban congregating on some heavily trafficked stretches of county streets. The idea was to curtail COVID spread. Though the County Manager, indicated that the measure had not been enforced, it was already unpopular. Several commissioners, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, and the president of the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association all testified against it.

Nick Freshman, owner of Spider Kelly’s in Clarendon, testified that the mere existence of the ban had discouraged people from patronizing his bar and that permanent adoption would jeopardize his business, as patrons would go elsewhere. Others argued that enforcing a sidewalk ban would lead to selective enforcement, a key aspect of racial injustice, which the County has committed to end.In the end County Board caved to the opposition, All board members except Garvey voted to repeal the sidewalk ordinance. Garvey justified her continued support for the measure by saying that it had encouraged compliance even though the County itself reported that compliance had been “spotty at best.

I don’t think Garvey understands that reopening restaurants and bars with limited seating available inside causes queues to form outside. The only remedy is to open the surrounding streets to pedestrian traffic, as some Clarendon residents have recommended, but the County has thus far refused to do.

If elected, I will recommend sensible solutions to COVID related logistical problems. I will also

  • Say YES to affordable housing, and NO to upzoning.
  • Use bond money for needed facilities not boondoggles.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear cutting wooded areas as the first line of defense against runoff and flooding.
  • Exercise the County’s own independent authority to deal responsibly with the COVID crisis.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.