Monday, April 14, 2014

Latest AHIF-AHC Pike 'Affordable Housing' Purchase - A Huge Charade

Hey Yupette,

Maybe you saw the discussion at Saturday's County Board meeting, followed by the County Board's (with the exception of John Vihstadt) vote to approve Arlington Housing Corporation's purchase of the Serrano Apartments on Columbia Pike. Maybe you read Post reporter Patricia Sullivan's report in Sunday's Post about the purchase. Maybe you saw local residents who attended the County Board meeting voice their opposition to more affordable housing in the Columbia Pike corridor. What a charade.

But you can see for yourself by doing a Web search on 'Serrano Apartments Arlington'. Then read the staff report for Agenda Item 35 on the County's Web site

The Serrano Apartments 'affordable housing'? Affordable for whom? Entry-level CIA employees. Recent law school graduates. Creative Class Yupsters who've been living in a townhouse with three roommates and just received a big promotion.

Turns out that, of the 280 well-maintained and recently modernized units at the Serrano, exactly 28 are affordable to persons who earn 60% of Area Median Income as defined by HUD ($107,000 in 2014). So 60% of $107,000 is $64,200. The rest of the 'affordable' units, there are 196, will be rented to persons earning 80% of AMI or. $85,600 per year. The other 56 units will be rented at market rate. How much do you have to earn per week if you are employed full-time to earn $64,200 and $85,600? About $1,235 and about $1,646.

How much does someone earning $10 and employed in one of the restaurants or retail shops in a mixed-use redevelopment approved by the County Board in recent years? About $20,800 per year, or $400 per week.

It gets worse. Limo Liberals from VOICE didn't bother to complain, much less attend Saturday's County Board meeting. 'Affordable Housing' in Arlington is a huge charade, and many different organizations get to play leading roles.

Pike Rider 22204

Friday, April 11, 2014

School Board to Massively Borrow for New Schools, Additions

Hello, Yupette,

Arlington School Board held an important 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Program Work Session last night. According to presentations by Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Management Services Deirdre McLaughlin and Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and operations John Chadwick, the Arlington Public School System will be hard pressed to both borrow enough through issuing bonds and find enough sites to build all the new classrooms and other infrastructure the school system will need by FY 2022.

APS will not have enough borrowing capability to build the classrooms and other infrastructure needed by FY 22 when new classrooms are actually needed. The school system will need to borrow at least $450 million by FY 2022 for new and replacement infrastructure.

Regarding capacity, the school system plans significantly expand Abingdon Elementary School and build a new elementary school on County-owned land somewhere in South Arlington. (The school system is apparently not aware that a major infill redevelopment will occur at Park Shirlington, which is adjacent to Abingdon School, at the same time Abingdon School is expanded).

APS is considering repurposing existing school sites for a new middle school (HB Woodlawn and Arlington Traditional School are being considered).

APS thinks it can jam 2000 or more students into Wakefield, Yorktown, and Washington-Lee by repurposing interior space, and building an addition at W-L.

APS considered leasing commercial building space but found that option would be too expensive. The school system has apparently not considered buying and renovating an existing commercial building to be used as a school.

Details are going to be on the Arlington Public Schools Web site in the near future.

2100 too

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

County Board To School Board: Prepare for a Tax Rate Reduction, Cooperate with County Government

Hey Yupette,

County Board, School Board, and County Manager met last night at the School Board offices. Polls had just closed but the County Board was obviously getting reports from Democratic poll workers about the unhappiness of Arlington's Voters.

So, County Board informed the School Board that a real estate tax rate reduction is likely from the advertised rate. County Board also put the School Board on the the defensive about the per-student cost of educating Arlington's K-12 students compared to neighboring jurisdictions.

Because of numerous complaints the County Board hears from neighborhoods, which are not informed about the School System's plans for school expansion until plans are announced by School System planning staff, the County Board told the School Board that the County Board will have to be informed about School System planning decisions before the decisions are announced.

Finally, County Board Chair Fisette told the School Board that, because of the demands placed by New Urbanism, large areas of school open space (like school playgrounds) will have to be 'repurposed' for multiple sports-recreation purposes.

County Board Members Fisette, Hynes, and Tejada put the School Board on the defensive and there were several testy exchanges between County Board and School Board Members regarding County Board vs. School Board priorities.


Monday, April 7, 2014

We Have a Choice on April 8th: Bus Rapid Transit We Can All Live With...Or a Streetcar System to Die For


There are better and less expensive transit options for the Pike than a costly and ineffective streetcar. But the projected $400 million cost of a Pike streetcar system (eight times what a state-of-the-art off-the-shelf bus rapid system would cost) is only one part of the toll streetcars would exact on Arlington residents. It's obvious from what's occurring elsewhere that a shared street streetcar system is too dangerous for the Pike. Streetcar tracks alone would cause hundreds of injuries every year. Streetcar accidents involving vehicles of all types would cause dozens of accidents every year, some serious.

That's why it's important to elect John Vihstadt to the County Board on April 8th We need state-of-the-art bus alternatives on the Pike we can all live with, not a streetcar system to die for.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

County Board to Contract Out DHS Services to Pay for Streetcars

Hey Yupette,

Arlington's Department of Human Services and Community Planning, Housing, and Development made their presentations at the County Board-County Manager FY 2015 on April 3rd. County Board was tired after spending the day planning the upscale urbanization of a couple more neighborhoods with a couple of REITs and wanted to get through the work session expeditiously.

Good news is that DHS is making significant progress in reducing the number of single homeless persons. DHS has also stabilized the number of homeless families. Bad news is that even with 11% of Arlington's annual budget ($124.8 million), 685 full time employees, and the FY 15 cost per Arlington resident at $580, DHS is only keeping up with the demands for crisis human services by shifting funds from wellness programs to crisis intervention programs.

Bad news for DHS is County Board Chair Jay Fisette has to significantly reduce DHS's budget over the next few years to pay for the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcars. Consequently, a wide range of services now being provided by DHS employees are under review before being contracted out. Chairman Fisette is especially interested in privatizing Volunteer Services, something Walter Tejada vehemently opposes because he believes privatization would make Volunteer Services another elitist organization, like the Committee of 100 and Civic Federation.

Community Planing, Housing, and Development (budgeted at $9.5 million in FY 15 with 88 full time employees) reported that the number of market rate affordable apartments in Arlington affordable to persons at or below 80% of area median income is 'plummeting' and the total budget for affordable housing in FY 15 will be $21.5 million, which will be used to build or renovate about 350 affordable apartments for the creative class. Developer contribution for affordable housing during FY 15 will be about $4 million. Highlight of the budget discussion was CPHD will hire two senior planners, one to control the Planning Commission and the other to control 'neighborhood nuisances' who live near Crystal City. Nothing mentioned about VOICE and it's demands for affordable housing or the plans for a massive TIF to fund all of redeveloped Crystal City's infrastructure, including a streetcar system.

Finally, the County Board discussed its regional obligations, including its pet regional non-profits, which are typically unchanged year-to-year.

Next up for discussion is the School System on April 8th.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Alan Howze Will 'Protect Our Quality of Life'? Like a Fox Protects Chickens!

 Hey Yupette,

Received the latest large postcard from Alan Howze's campaign. Full of blather and vague promises for more of the same. "Protect our quality of life"? Protect WHOSE quality of life? My streets are crumbling. When do they get repaved? Not this year. Maybe next year. Department of Environmental Services is too busy planning $310 million streetcar systems for the Pike and Crystal City. That's where our taxes are going, into slush funds for Alan's and his fellow Democrats' pet special interests.

"Protect our quality of life"? Anyone been in Clarendon Friday and Saturday evenings lately? County Board, especially Lyon Village resident Mary Hynes, has received, and ignored, hundreds of complaints about pub crawlers - Alan Howze's urban hipster campaign volunteers.

"Protect our quality of life"? By installing an expensive and dangerous streetcar system on Columbia Pike that will cause massive traffic congestion and hundreds of accidents every year?

Alan Howze will "protect out quality of life" all right. Like a fox protects chickens.

Dennis, Resident-Voter-Taxpayer

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

County Board-County Manager FY 15 Budget Work Session: AED Wants NSA, Needs Used Car Lots

Hey Yupette,

Arlington's Economic Development Office (AED) also made a presentation at yesterday's Arlington County Board - County Manager FY 2015 Budget Work Session.

The Arlington Economic Development Office is a $10 million per year County agency which promotes business development, real estate development, travel and tourism, and cultural affairs. In FY 2015 AED's budget will increase by 8 percent to $10.9 million and AED will add two full-time employees, bringing the total to 63.57. AED occupies a luxury office suite on Glebe Road in Ballston.

So what are Arlington's taxpayers getting for $10.9 million next fiscal year? According to statements by AED's staff during yesterday's work sessions we are getting an expensive bureaucracy that's saddled with arts organizations in constant need, stagnant travel and tourism, increasingly unhappy non-profits and for-profits (to the point where the County Manager recently appointed a Business Ombudswoman), and increasing citizen resistance to AED's long time Smart Growth redevelopment agenda.

Consequently AED is looking to attract corporations and non-profits from areas like Silicon Valley and around the D,C. Beltway where the cost of living and doing business are comparable to Arlington's. AED is partnering with Arlington's Department of Technology Services (DTS) to install an extra-high capacity "Connect Arlington' LAN around Arlington which the County will own and operate.

One AED initiative, begun by recently-deceased AED Director Terry Holzheimer, is to try to bring CIA and NSA activities and CIA and NSA contractors to Arlington by offering access to vast amounts of surveillance data (including HD video images) obtained from a compliant resident population (tens of thousands of Arlington residents work for national security organizations and contractors). NSA and the CIA would use Arlington to model a future National Security State, assuming silo and stovepipe problems can be resolved.

In the meantime, Arlington's 'growth industries' are new and used vehicle sales, bars, restaurants, and upscale retail.