Letters to the Editor for July 23 – 30, 2008
Opposes Plan for F.C. Affordable Housing Project
On Monday, July 28, the Falls Church City Council will be voting on Special Exceptions to present city codes to allow for the construction of a seven story building which will have 174 affordable housing rental units on 1.24 acres almost opposite the proposed Harris Teeter supermarket in the center of Falls Church. Most will be one-bedroom units (150 – 82 for seniors) about 600sq feet in size, and the ground floor will have support facilities for Homestretch and the FCHC.
The three zoning requests are to change the present land use from Commercial to Mixed Use, to exceed the present building height restrictions, and, even more significantly, to permit the building to have less than half of the required parking spaces for a building of this size. A total of 137 spaces are provided only, not the 297 required by present code for the building, even after allowing a reduction for mass transit use. This exception is not minor, but has long term implications for all businesses and dwellings in the area.
Many City residents may not know about this proposal because of the name confusion between the new city center (CSS) and this building (CSSA) but they are completely different entities. In addition there has been almost no publicity about this building in this newspaper, or the Falls Church City website. There are no definite figures, but the expected annual cost to the city is expected to be over $1 million, the building has requested a property tax waiver (a large annual financial loss to the city) and the long-term capital costs to the City are not yet clear. There is a proposal for Atlantic Realty (CSS) to provide $3-4 million for the new building in exchange for omitting the 36 affordable housing units at present included in their development.
I support additional affordable housing in the city, but recommend strongly against approving exceptions to code for this building now. The parking provisions are woefully inadequate, and this could not be easily changed later if the zoning exceptions are approved now.
Editorial Vs. GOP Inaction ‘Baseless’
Regarding last week’s News-Press editorial, while everyone has the right to express their opinions, it may help the readers of this publication to separate fact from fiction in these two very controversial political discussions. (Illegal immigration and transportation funding)
The editorial’s statement “caused all Hispanic residents, legal or not, to move away from those aversive environments”is an obvious falsehood. Does the News-Press expect the readers to truly believe that every single person of Hispanic origin has fled the county? It’s simply a silly, biased statement that does not add to the author’s reputation. This type of inflammatory rhetorical hyperbole does not add to any reasonable discussion of these very serious issues.
It is ironic that City Council David Snyder of the NVTA is seeking scapegoats for the current transportation impasse. All he has to do is take an honest look at the NVTA’s documented record of mismanagement and poor decisions to discover that one of the chief engineers of the failure is the NVTA Board itself.
There is plenty of blame to go around for both major parties. However, making baseless accusations and seeking scapegoats isn’t a step in the right direction. As such, this editorial is a disservice to the newspapers’ readers.
Via the Internet
Anti-Gay Letter Failed to Include Evidence, Itself
In the July 17-23, 2008 edition of your paper, Jeff Hilton’s letter-to-the-editor twice accused columnist Wayne Besen of not providing evidence to support comments he had made in previous columns. Then, Mr. Hilton asserts that children brought up by a same-sex couple are exposed to the hazards of “Domestic Violence, AIDS, hepatitis, decrease life expectancy.” Yet, Mr. Hilton doesn’t provide any evidence or facts to support this!
I’m not saying Mr. Hilton’s assertions are wrong (nor am I defending Mr. Besen’s comments). I just found it interesting that Mr. Hilton insisted on evidence from an opposing viewpoint, but felt no obligation to defend his position likewise.
Slams Inaccurate, Indefensible Anti-Gay Letter
In his letter to the editor in the July 17-23 edition, Jeff Hilton seeks to perpetuate the inaccurate and historically indefensible notion that only fundamentalist, Biblically literalist evangelicals such as Dr. James Dobson or Rev. Donald Wildmon, believe in or practice Judeo-Christian values. In fact, Judaism and Christianity existed in the world for milennia before American evangelicalism developed in the seventeenth century, and American fundamentalism, in the twentieth.
Most Christians who lived prior to these movements would most likely have seen these movements as divisive and overly simplistic forms of Christianity, if they saw them as Christian at all.
Mr. Hilton has a point regarding Mr. Besen’s characterization of Dr. Dobson as a liar or a charlatan, or of the American Family Association as a money sucking scam. Such language is unnecessary and inappropriate for serious discussion. At the same time, Mr. Hilton’s claim that Besen accuses Dobson of misusing the research of other scholars without proof suggests that he is a liar. The fact is, Dobson’s use of the writings of other researchers in ways that those researchers reject is well documented in the public domain and need not be recounted in Mr. Besen’s column. Mr. Hilton, if he were interested, could look up those accounts and read them for himself. In fact, Dr.
Carol Gilligan’s criticism of Dobson’s use of her work is posted on Youtube and can be viewed without reading at all.
The unfortunate point is that Dr. Dobson, Rev. Wildmon, and Mr. Hilton would like the less than informed to believe that the “God” of “Judeo Chistian Values” is as obsessed with homosexuality as they are.
Rev. Dr. Michael Brenneis
Letter Was Insensitive, Rude & Disgusting
As a long-time reader of this publication and a supporter of the freedom of the press, I am pleased that you continue to publish Jeff Hilton’s rants. However, I found the letter to the editor from Jeff Hilton in the July 17, 2008 issue of the Falls Church News-Press overly rude, insensitive, and disgusting. Hilton’s letter was an ill-thought-out attack on Wayne Besen and the homosexual community in general. Since I’m quite sure that Hilton’s views do not represent those of the News-Press, and that he knows less about what he’s talking about than your average religious fanatic, I wasn’t offended as I could have been.
Hilton’s letter had numerous factual flaws, and ironically cited no sources and showed no evidence whatsoever, which was the reason he was bashing the respectable columnist Wayne Besen. Hilton claims that “Love Won Out,” one of many homophobia-inspired “ministries” aimed at what could be described as “Praying the gay out of people” is effective at what it tries to do. According to the American Psychological Association, attempts to change people’s sexual orientation often lead to “depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.” Wayne Besen’s very own progressive organization Truth Wins Out (www.Truthwinsout.org) has brought forth to the public many facts about these misleading organizations, including that many of the founders who claim to have changed their sexuality are often found “not living their lives as they has advertised.” Furthermore, there is absolutely no credible scientific evidence in the history of the world that sexual orientation can be changed, as a recent study found that a person’s sexual orientation is determined early in life as a result of their genetic pattern and environmental factors. Sexual orientation is like your skin or eye color. It is not a mentality, and it cannot be changed.
Hilton makes a fallacious statement that once marriage is no longer defined as the union between a man and a woman, there will be nobody to say that group marriage and polygamy are wrong. This logic is as ludicrous as saying that adding a “left turn on red” will immediately lead to the abolition of all traffic laws. There is no movement to legalize polygamy, and even once gay and lesbian marriages are legalized by the constitution, the massive religious right groups that oppose them today will still exist, and as long as they do, they will make sure polygamy is not legalized, while oppressing gay people all the while.