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Letter: Squandered Inheritance?

To the Editor:

Alexandria’s Planning Commission last week unanimously adopted the Beauregard Small Area Plan (BSAP), now scheduled for a vote at Saturday’s City Council meeting.

Two flawed, related assumptions accepted erroneously as reality last week underpinned the Planning Commission’s action: Namely, that the nearly $30 million city staff has dedicated to fund a traffic ellipse at Seminary and Beauregard is “not taxpayer money” and, that unless the BSAP is adopted quickly, even more market-rate affordable housing will be lost and that the city would benefit from locking in developers’ proffer for some 800-plus units of subsidized housing.

Money for the ellipse — while part of developers’ proffer to the city as a quid-pro-quo to add increased density — can be used by the city for whatever priorities it chooses, among them affordable housing. The developers did not ask for a traffic ellipse; the city did. Not, certainly, the neighborhood. Not the Department of Defense, which will not share its cost despite BRAC-133’s projected 10,000 car trips a day at that intersection.

So ... as a way to think about this: Your grandpa leaves you $30 million in his will. Grandpa is gone. Is it your money or his money? So, for being good and going along with plans to give developers all the density wishes their hearts desire, the Planning Commission says it’s not the taxpayers’ money that’s being used and not in the taxpayers’ interest to decide how to use it, but rather the city’s. In other words, the city would rather spend its inheritance to build a questionable traffic ellipse as an attempt to keep commuter traffic from backing onto I-395. There’s little to nothing in that deal for Alexandrians. And, it’s our inheritance.

Carol James

Alexandria