Carlyle's Image ProblemI am writing to follow up on the Feb. 8 story about the Carlyle neighborhood of Alexandria ["All Quiet on Carlyle's Retail Front"]. Carlyle is part of the Eisenhower Valley, the economic engine of Alexandria. Since our formation in 1994, the Eisenhower Avenue Public-Private Partnership has worked tirelessly toward achieving our stated mission of promoting economic growth and quality of life in the Eisenhower Valley. The commercial development in Carlyle, to include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office campus, has been a wonderful addition to this part of the city. The residential, retail and hotel development currently underway is the next phase of this planned and coordinated new community. The partnership estimates that 5,400 residents live in Eisenhower Valley and that over the next three years that number will grow to more than 9,600. Most of this new housing is adjacent to the Carlyle community, and three projects are inside the Carlyle area. With the influx of residents, the addition of the Westin Hotel this fall and more restaurant and office space being leased, the Carlyle area can certainly become the robust community envisioned by the city. That said, this process could be expedited by improving visibility and access to Carlyle that would entice more quality restaurants and retail to move in.
The partnership will continue to work with our partners to promote Carlyle and the Eisenhower Valley.
Eisenhower Avenue Public/Private Partnership
Quarreling With ParksI read with interest the letter in the Feb. 8 Extra about the city buying vacant land for neighborhood use ["The Long-Term Case for Open Space"]. I have also followed the debate about spending taxpayer money for "pocket parks."
There should be no consideration or debate. It is a bad idea.
Imagine: The city's Open Space Steering Committee came up with a scoring scheme, with 15 being perfect, and proceeded to award 15 points to several sites that they liked.
My quarrel is that this is just another example of more wasteful, needless spending on projects we don't need and that are not used by the vast majority of taxpayers. These little pieces of land are neighborhood parcels. They should be paid for by the neighbors and/or neighborhood associations -- those who will benefit. Not by me.
This City Council has done nothing but tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend. I already pay grossly inflated taxes because of grossly inflated residential real estate assessments and tax rates.
I pay, like so many other longtime residents who have no intention of selling their home, for a variety of services that I can't use. This includes projects that take a substantial percentage of my tax dollar -- projects and programs such as Metro, public schools, city recreational facilities, and providing food, clothes, education, housing, legal advice and more to working unconvicted criminals who pay no taxes to the city except for possibly sales tax.
I realize some of these are core services that have to be provided by a city or county. And I am happy to pay my fair share. But why do I have to pay to subsidize the actual users? Those who use the services should pay more than those who can't or don't.
But that reasoning just makes too much sense.
A Threat to NeighborhoodsPress coverage about the zoning changes proposed by the Arlington County Board has not made clear just how drastic the changes would be.
Under the new regulations, if adopted, any residential property could be rezoned "commercial redevelopment," and the construction of a 125-foot-tall building could be approved on any property zoned commercial redevelopment. In other words, homeowners who are currently protected by restrictions on development in residential neighborhoods would lose those protections.
Even if the County Board says that it does not intend to permit that kind of construction in many instances, the code would not prohibit it from doing so, and board members' promises about protecting our neighborhoods have been cavalierly broken several times.
Last fall, the Virginia Supreme Court made clear that the County Board had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in approving First Baptist Church of Clarendon's request to build a 10-story building adjacent to residential properties in light of Arlington's zoning regulations. The County Board, rather than trying to fix the ill-conceived site plan, is instead seeking, quietly and quickly, to amend the regulations to give itself discretion to approve such construction anywhere in the county.
As affordable housing in Arlington is torn down to make way for more upscale housing, the board's determination to authorize this high-rise -- with big profits for the church and developers and a limited amount of affordable housing -- seems like political window dressing. Many neighbors and I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the board is not actually seeking to provide affordable housing.
I have heard much speculation about what exactly is motivating the board's actions with respect to this project, but whatever it is, it is not the community's best interests.
The board has made clear that it is not interested in maximizing affordable housing, protecting neighborhoods or honoring promises in place when families bought homes. It is determined instead to do whatever it has to do to get the church and its associates the revenue-generating building they want, paving the way for other developers to do the same. This is not my idea of public service.