To the Editor:
Let's face it — Alexandria is the loveliest jurisdiction of the entire Washington Metropolitan Area. I have lived here for half of my life. And in the course of this many years, "things happen." The city was always there when needed — whether it was a tornado hitting four houses on our street, ours included; the Fire Department ambulance staffed with an emergency physician when I fainted while jogging; the battle with "our" monopolist TV and high-speed internet provider; the city arborist to support our drive to re-forest our street (80-year old oak trees had either died a natural death or had been trimmed to extinction because of above-ground wires); the Recycling/Solid Waste Department's responsiveness to "special needs" recycling or simple oversights; our highly competent Police Department whenever "odd" occurrences were reported on our small street; the General Court Clerk when we needed procedural information; the Environmental Inspector as to noise pollution and flooding problems; the Tax Department for additional information and help. And so on. The list is long, and I am fully appreciative not only of what our city does but also of what it represents historically.
That all of the above requires funding is perfectly understandable, and we do pay extra taxes (including small business taxes not levied right across the line in Arlington) for all of these privileges. And that the city, during difficult economic times, does its utmost to obtain revenue adequate to continue to be the most exceptional jurisdiction around Washington is also understandable. But — here is the but. How to maintain and increase tax revenue is the issue. Rezoning the historic waterfront for high-density development? No. The outrage at this approach goes way beyond our beloved city — Marylanders are well-informed too and opposed since our Old Town is a jewel for them as well. The Mark Center? No need to explain details of the detrimental impact on our quality of life. High-density development in Arlandria, Del Ray and Beauregard, destroying affordable housing and "organically grown" well-functioning neighborhoods? No. And the horror of gentrification on Madison and Montgomery Streets — my way to work to my Old Town office? No.
Conclusion: We need to reset City Hall with Andrew Macdonald as mayor and Bob Wood on the City Council, neither one beholden to developers but dedicated to preserve, protect and defend our culture, history and environmentally sustainable quality of life. This election is not about politics but about the right policy, about everything we Alexandrians care about most.