Housing costs in Arlington are rising at an unsustainable rate, driving out our friends and neighbors for the benefit of developers....Read more... Since 2000, the percentage of affordable housing units for residents making 60% of the median income has dropped from approximately 22% to just over 3% currently. This is a crisis level drop in the number of Arlington homes affordable to folks in need.
It’s also hard for the middle class to afford Arlington. Only 44% of the county’s residents own, compared to 66% nationally. In June 2017, the average apartment rent in Arlington was $2403. Average annual rent increases will likely top four percent in 2018.
As baby-boomers in Arlington retire on a fixed income and seek to downsize living space, they may no longer be able to afford staying in the county. If we don’t address the issue of housing affordability, even fewer of our Arlington first responders and teachers will be able to live in the county, traffic congestion will increase as workers drive from farther out, and businesses will find it harder to locally staff lower wage jobs or recruit young professionals to our community.
If elected, I will work to ensure Arlington aggressively addresses this issue through innovative solutions such as:
- Shifting housing assistance funds to direct housing grants in order to support more families and individuals earning less than 40% of the area median income, with an emphasis on households of seniors over the age of 65, disabled persons, and working families with children. As well as, funding housing affordability programs by increasing the zoning change fee on apartment developers forgoing affordable units; thus shifting this cost from the general taxpayer.
- Expanding homeowner and rental assistance programs for Arlington County employees, including teachers and first responders.
- Developing new homeowner affordability programs to support community/developer partnership models like community land trust and low-equity housing cooperatives.
- Furthering a unified approach to public housing by merging county staff from across agencies into a single entity responsible for preserving, operating, and advocating for public housing using tools such as long-term tax-exempt bonds and HUD loans.
- Reviewing all subsidized housing programs to verify that subsidies are reaching the intended recipients in a cost-effective manner and are not misdirected.
Supporting Local Business through Sustainable Initiatives
Across Arlington, too many storefronts are empty. Each 1% in the vacancy rate is $3.4 million lost in annual tax revenue....Read more... The 2008 economic crisis, Base Realignment and Closure Commission outcomes, and the changing nature of business in the digital economy have left Arlington with a 20% commercial vacancy rate.
The county has been slow and ill-equipped in responding to this problem and envisioning a viable pathway for future growth. Chasing after billion dollar businesses led the county to give away millions of our hard earned dollars to multinational companies and large commercial developers.
Still our vacancy rate is high. Still the hard working local businesses that were always committed to Arlington receive little help. Supporting existing local businesses, attracting digital and clean economy enterprise, and incubating start-ups are better paths to fill office space and create a thriving Arlington.
To re-energize the local economy I will work on the County Board to pursue sustainable initiatives such as:
- Stopping the practice of giving multimillion-dollar corporate-welfare subsidies to attract/retain multibillion-dollar corporations.
- Refocusing economic development policy on the creation and support of locally owned businesses and cooperatives through initiatives such as small business regulation roundtables, career education programs, and low-cost public broadband.
- Creating an integrated system of public-private partnerships with universities and existing local businesses to develop Arlington into an international innovation hub and national incubator for high growth industries that support cutting edge sectors such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and sustainable technology.
- Incorporating bidding preferences into county contracts that emphasize local purchasing, social responsibility, cooperative business structures, and the use of unionized labor.
- Creating an “Our Money in Our County” initiative that transfers a certain percentage of public funds currently invested in multinational banks and reinvests it into local community banks and credit unions that agree to make a certain percentage of their loans to local businesses.
Effective Transit Solutions
Arlington is home to 11 Metrorail stations, including some of the busiest in the system....Read more... As someone that rides the Metro Blue/Yellow lines regularly, I am constantly frustrated by the expensive, crowded, and failing Metrorail system. The Orange/Silver lines fare no better. We are continually asked to pay more and get less.
I am equally perplexed that at times it can take me longer to get across the county via bus or car than to go into downtown Washington. Arlington residents deserve a safe, convenient, and less costly public transit system. In areas of the county dependent on Metrobus and ARTbus, congested streets and high fares limit the viability of this option for an on time commute. The half-million miles of biking done from the 85 Arlington based Capital Bikeshare stations indicate that we must also do more to create and maintain safe bike lanes.
As a County Board member, I will advocate for Arlington’s transportation concerns by:
- Demanding that dedicated funding for WMATA only come with adopting stringent accountability measures and that any later dedicated funding increases only result from meeting these measures.
- Providing a premium rapid bus service option on Columbia Pike similar to the Metroway system operating between Alexandria and South Arlington.
- Ensuring a fair ARTbus pricing model so that fare increases don’t happen just because Metrobus increases fares.
- Expanding Capital Bikeshare and encouraging on-demand mass transit models to create multimodal connections between Arlington’s residential and commercial areas.
- Prioritizing safety improvements to intersections that are regularly identified as having more than 25 car accidents per year, such as Washington Blvd/Rte50 and Army Navy Dr/S.Hayes.
School Quality & Diversity
An important part of our community, Arlington Public Schools face a variety of challenges stemming from limited space, and finite resources, as well as a growing and diverse population....Read more...
Though we build state-of-the-art schools, protracted development processes drive up costs and result in new schools being beyond capacity shortly after opening. While a variety of education indicators showcase positive student achievement for many APS students, when broken down by race, English language learners, socioeconomic status, and disability there is much work that needs to be done. Teachers with sufficient resources, school leaders empowered to work with communities, and well-equipped schools are all necessary for every student to be career and college ready.
My background in education and education policy will allow me to be a strong voice on the County Board for Arlington’s public schools and its students as we work with the School Board to turn good policies into reality.
Though the School Board is ultimately responsible for APS policies, as a County Board member I will work to make sure Arlington meets our moral responsibility and the economic necessity of having quality public schools for all by:
- Exploring the redevelopment of vacant office buildings into ground-floor early learning facilities (reducing elementary school overcrowding) and upper-floor small class learning centers and digital classrooms (reducing high school overcrowding).
- Achieving cost savings through more Arlington County and APS joint-use facilities and joint programming opportunities that may be outlined in the new APS 6 year strategic plan. In addition, I will work to encourage the Joint Facilities Task Force to more closely align long-term land acquisition and facilities planning of the county and our schools.
- Supporting a comprehensive “Cradle to Career/College Pipeline” initiative that expands early-childhood education programs, providing tools and resources to pregnant women and parents of children ages 0-5, to prevent the achievement gap before the first day of school.
- Supporting initiatives that will increase the number of National Board Certified Teachers in all disciplines and promote collaboration between school leaders, businesses, and community groups.
- Supporting efforts to reduce the cost of college by offering expanded access to AP and IB curricula as well as early college credit courses.
Public Services for Aging in Place
As the general population grows and our county’s baby-boomers get older, we must ensure that county human services and first responders are appropriately resourced and prepared....Read more... This means funding and expanding programs that provide health and other social services for elder needs, in addition to making sure the county has affordable housing options for those that don’t want to move away from their homes. On the Arlington County Board, I will tirelessly advocate for our elders and services to age-in-place.
I will work to help Arlington prepare for the challenges of having a larger and older population by:
- Funding and planning for the growth of existing housing, health/dental, and transportation programs that enable seniors on a fixed-income to afford the costs associated with independent living.
- Developing an updated and more comprehensive Elder Readiness Master Plan to address how the county intends to coordinate and advertise services, as well as embark on public/private partnerships for the needs of a growing aging population that is more active, diverse, and independent.
- Increasing emergency services staffing levels and reducing response times by expanding programs that develop our own first responders and attract trained first responders from other jurisdictions.
- Promoting the development of more assisted living and long term care facilities, as well as “Vertical Villages” which place needed elder services in close proximity.
- Encouraging the establishment of local consumer/physician co-ops that leverage the growing number of elders and the large number of primary care physicians in the area to provide a lower cost option for preventative care services specific to older residents.
An Environmentally Conscious Community
Few things are as important as preserving our environment and natural resources for future generations....Read more... Environmentally conscious communities will become the hub of economic growth for their ability to minimize consumption in a manner that maximizes individual savings, public revenue, and corporate profit. I will work to ensure Arlington is a world leader in environmentally conscious growth.
My sustainable growth proposals offer lower household expenditures, cheaper and more efficient public transit, and a greater emphasis on green growth initiatives. These environmentally friendly policies will make Arlington a more vibrant community generating additional business and tourism growth, as well as preserving the planet for future generations.
If elected, I will pursue Arlington’s sustainable growth through such initiatives as:
- Promoting a “passive housing” code model for residential and commercial development; emphasizing the use of resourced materials and energy saving technology to reduce utility demand, lower business expenses, and keep more money in the pockets of Arlington families.
- Exploring cost saving energy alternatives for residential and commercial areas such as community solar power and micro-electric grids.
- Prioritizing clean fuel mass transit options when expanding ARTbus service and selecting new multimodal transit options.
- Conducting a feasibility study to determine the cost savings to be had from transitioning from Dominion power’s monopoly to a regional-municipalized service-oriented energy utility.
- Preserving the large tree canopy in residential neighborhoods through tools such as exceptional specimen tree ordinances and residential zoning provisions that favor maintaining a neighborhood’s existing architectural character in lieu of McMansion building.
Protecting Our Green, Open, and Public Spaces
At only 26 square miles, Arlington, which is predicted to grow by 60,000 people by 2040, is the 12th most densely populated jurisdiction in the United States....Read more... Despite having over 160 public parks and 89 miles of biking/jogging trails, Arlington lacks enough open and green space. Non-county residents often utilize Arlington’s excellent public facilities, further straining the county’s resources. As Arlington continues to grow we need to preserve our green spaces and be creative about developing new public spaces.
If elected to the Arlington Board, I will champion thoughtful approaches for Arlington to address this challenge including:
- Making the preservation of our parks, dog parks, and biking/jogging trails a top priority.
- Developing deeper long-term planning partnerships between and among the county’s public entities to ensure the focused acquisition and best use of public land.
- Expanding programs with local businesses, communities, and university partners to offset the cost of maintaining and developing parks and recreational facilities.
- Incentivizing mixed-use residential and large commercial developers to incorporate creative open space concepts into design, such as: active green-space roof tops, dog runs, large public atriums, multi-use public plazas, as well as curbside setbacks allowing for microparks and seasonal dining.
- Generating new revenue by working with local businesses to provide seasonal concessions at certain designated parks or plazas.
Meaningful Inclusion in Government
Despite promises of greater inclusion, the “Arlington Way” continues to leave many Arlington residents out of the political process....Read more... Many feel that major county decisions are being made before the affected community is consulted, while others feel their community is not consulted at all. If elected, I will work to gather the various perspectives of our county, and incorporate those views into the County Board decision-making process.
If elected, I will serve as a full-time Board member to more effectively represent both South and North Arlington and work towards achieving a more inclusive and positive decision-making process for Arlington by:
- Developing a streamlined County-to-Citizen liaison system, operating through the Ombudsman’s office, that provides civic associations, community groups, and businesses with a one-stop solution to learn about and address issues impacting their specific neighborhoods.
- Ensuring viewpoints across the political and socioeconomic spectrum are represented on advisory boards and commissions; as well as ensuring those boards and commissions have the support needed for active member participation and to better reflect community views.
- Convening faith-based organizations to identify areas of greater collaboration in informing and providing services to residents.
- Incorporating more non-digital means to reach out to segments of the Arlington population that don’t have ready access to internet or cable television.
- Recognizing that inclusivity means public spaces should reflect the values of our community; as such, advocating that Arlington County convene a citizen/business committee to lead its own effort in renaming Jefferson Davis Highway.