To the Editor:
The marathon City Council hearing on May 12 for the Beauregard Small Area Plan (BSAP) was a great win for the developers and the City’s planning staff. But at what cost to the community, when the pervasive problems of traffic and transportation were ignored?
One wonders if we should even waste time holding such “public hearings” in the future — for things like the City Council, the Planning Commission and the Transportation Commission — if the outcome is a foregone conclusion. All three turned a deaf ear to anyone who said there are serious flaws in this plan that need to be addressed before the carte blanche approval is given. And the courageous effort of Councilwoman Alicia Hughes to seek a deferral to address these gaping holes in things like the HOV Ramp, the Ellipse, the lack of adequate recreational amenities and Open Space for the enormous flood of people expected, got an equally cold shoulder response from her colleagues.
What is most troubling is the rejection of the idea that renters deserve a right to be a part of this City, but the vote said no, we only want up-market townhouse and condominium residents to live here. This was never about “subsidized” housing, but about “workforce” housing. Hundreds of families and their children will be displaced, in spite of the many years they have lived here. Would the Council have been as eager to destroy huge chunks of wealthy enclaves like Seminary Hill, Del Ray, Beverly Hills and the Waterfront as they were for the neighborhoods of the West End that will face this onslaught of traffic, congestion and density? Obviously the Council and the two commissions learned nothing from the aftermath of BRAC, on how bad planning leads to bad outcomes.
The one good outcome of the Council vote is that it will make it much easier for voters to wade through the 14 candidates on June 12 Primary list when they go to vote for Council candidates. Crossover voting is allowed so Republicans and Independents can join Democrats to give momentum to a desperately needed shift in outlook and priorities. Given the clear record of positions of all candidates on the BSAP, Waterfront, Arlandria and Corridor C (and A & B), skip all those candidates supported by developers and lobbyists and look instead to the new faces and new ideas for a Council that needs a “reality check” along with balance and fairness. Pick new people far more responsive to citizen input. The old mantra, “Alexandria never met a developer they didn’t like,” still resonates.
Come to the last debate on June 4 at George Washington Middle School so you know exactly how each candidate would impact your neighborhood and your City. Vote absentee if you can’t vote in person on June 12. One person — and one vote — can make a difference for our City.