The Washington Post

Housing tops Alexandria issues in 2012, mayor says

Alexandria Mayor William Euille said Monday in a video of his annual State of the City address that the city’s paucity of affordable housing is its biggest issue.

“Since 2000, we’ve been facing multiple challenges to housing,” Euille said. “Dwindling resources at federal, state and local levels; declines in market-affordable rentals and affordable homeownership opportunities; and turmoil in the housing finance markets.”

In the 16-minute video, Euille touted the the city’s housing master plan process and the many major developments underway across this city of 140,000 residents, from Potomac Yard on the north end to Eisenhower East in the south, Arlandria in the north-central area of the city and Beauregard on the West End. He said he owner of Landmark Mall in the West End has told the city it is ready to begin planning for the redevelopment of the site.

In one scene, Euille, who is running for reelection this year, showed off the vista from the George Washington Masonic Memorial. In others, he watched a canine unit at the new police headquarters on Wheeler Avenue, promoted a trolley system to extend beyond King Street and spoke against the backdrops of the city’s farmer’s market, the Torpedo Art Factory and neighborhood and recreation centers.

He also pitched the city’s proposed $585.6 million budget, which is scheduled for a vote by the City Council May 7.

Alexandria has had to cope with some tough challenges this past year — from a damaging earthquake that shook the Washington region last August to flash floods to the loss in February of a paramedic who was trying to rescue motorists from a car fire. The protracted debate over the city’s waterfront plan also took a toll. Euille said compromises are necessary but that he believes there’s citywide agreement on improving Alexandria’s economic basis, regional competitiveness, affordable housing stock, environmental sustainability and jobs situation.

The slickly produced video was the second time the mayor has delivered his State of the City speech this way, after previous public events were sparsely attended. The mayor has some experience on camera: He has hosted a cable show “Mayor Euille today” since 2008.

The production was done in-house, with city employee Andrea Blackford doing most of the writing and Justin Thompson the videography and production. The project was overseen by Tony Castrilli, Alexandria’s director of communications and former managing editor and executive director producer at WUSA Channel 9.

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.


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