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Letter to the Editor: Beauregard Plan’s Benefits

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the article, “Beauregard Waiting Game," which attempted to describe the impact of future redevelopment in the Beauregard area on existing residents, yet failed to include some important facts.

First, while the article said that "most of the [affordable] units won't be available until after 2023," it failed to mention that the affordable housing is being provided over time because the redevelopment will occur gradually over the next 30 years, not all at once. As such, a majority of the residents can remain in their homes for many years to come. In addition, those residents who are relocated by a phase of redevelopment will have ample notice throughout the development review process and will be provided with a generous relocation package, including a relocation payment and help finding a new home. Given the 40 percent average annual turnover rate, which is consistent with the market, there will be plenty of comparable homes available to accommodate relocated residents who choose to remain in the neighborhood.

Second, while 38 percent of the respondents in a recent resident survey reported they earn less than 40 percent of Area Median Income, and while a subset of that group is "calling on city leaders and JBG Companies to roll back rents to 2010 rates and freeze them in place," the article fails to mention that the residents have been and are currently paying market rents that are consistent with other similarly situated rental apartments in the area. There is no justification, nor legal authority, to impose rent control, let alone to control market rents in one location in the city for the benefit of one group of residents over all other similarly situated residents throughout Alexandria.

Finally, while the article mentions the Plan's $167 million, 800 unit, affordable housing package, it fails to mention that dedicated affordable housing is the top priority in the Beauregard Plan, as evidenced by the allocation of over 41 percent of the total developer community benefit contribution to affordable housing and the city's commitment of increased tax revenues to be generated by the redevelopment to affordable housing. Increasing the number of affordable housing units beyond the extraordinary commitment that has already been made, as requested by Tenants and Workers United, would result in the reduction of other community benefits to be realized through the implementation of the Plan, including a fire station, bus rapid transit, a multi-purpose athletic field with lighting, and improved open spaces.

The way to preserve continued affordable housing in the Beauregard area is to realize the vision created during the three year long Beauregard Small Area Plan process, which will occur through the proposed redevelopment of the area. Without the proposed rezoning and redevelopment, as stated previously, the property owners will either "renovate or redevelop under existing zoning, neither of which guarantees any affordable housing."

M. Catharine Puskar, Esq.

Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, Emrich and Walsh, PC