'Smoke and Mirrors'

On Affordable Housing

A letter by Christine Corrado Windle ["Affordable Housing a Must," Loudoun Extra, July 31] focused on the growing lack of affordable housing in Loudoun. Rather than examining the real forces driving this sad state of affairs, the same banal argument used by the puppets of the big builders was forwarded.

In essence, the argument has two prongs: first, that Loudoun is a no-growth jurisdiction, and second, the lack of affordable housing is the fault of smart-growth policies championed by tree huggers. Both of these positions are pure smoke and mirrors used to deflect any attempt to really make a difference in our taxes and affordable housing accessibility while permitting maximum profits for corporate builders that are subsidized by our taxes to pay for new services demanded by their customers.

My family is composed of local public servants, and when we arrived in Loudoun from Fairfax my taxes dropped and I found a desirable, affordable place to live. Taxes were 88 cents on $100 of assessed value just 16 years ago, assessments were realistic, schools were good, crime was low and roads were relatively uncrowded.

Then came the whirlwind of unbridled development propelling Loudoun into the stratosphere of national growth levels. As the fastest-growing county in America exploded, so did our taxes and assessments. The linkage is undeniable.

While members of the "Vapid Four" group of pro-tax supervisors attempt to claim that "no growth" has held sway, the facts are indisputable. With multimillion-dollar schools sprouting like mushrooms, thousands of new employees and all the other myriad governmental service demands created by immoderate growth, taxes have skyrocketed. People are not moving to Loudoun to demand less from government; they want the very best, and that costs money -- your money and my money and lots of it.

Finally, Windle's use of Montgomery County's affordable housing program presents only half the story. That county has also reserved more than 90,000 acres in the west as an agricultural reserve, while demanding affordable housing from local developers in areas planned for growth. Will the solely market-driven ideologues on our board create a similar program when it may reduce their developer constituency's profits? Look at the current A-3 land and show me a truly "affordable new house."

I concur with Windle that we need affordable housing, something we lost when we let the growth monster out of the box and run amok. With the Transition Area now zoned for tens of thousands of additional houses with access to public water, I wonder, how many of these houses our Republican-dominated board will mandate as affordable in a manner similar to Montgomery County?

Martin Bromser-Kloeden