Letters to the Editor: August 12 – 18, 2021
Clark Column Understates How Arlington Boxes Out Small Business
Charlie Clark’s characterization of Lyon Village’s response to the redevelopment plan for Langston Blvd. (formerly Lee Hwy.) was undeserved. Mr. Clark has lived in Arlington long enough to know how the development machine operates: Increasing the general land use plan’s (GLUP’s) allowable density supercharges the land’s development potential. It’s like throwing chum to sharks (aka speculators/developers). The greater the allowable density, the higher land values rise.
As the land’s speculative value inflates, so goes real estate tax assessments. As tax bills skyrocket, household incomes for those on fixed or modest incomes barely budge. The cost of housing rises for everyone.
Elderly, disabled and middle-income residents who cannot absorb successive tax increases sell out to developers, who stand ready to consolidate parcels and reap huge financial rewards. They know that their upzoning requests will be rubber-stamped (supplemented by “bonus” density).
Saying that the county doesn’t use eminent domain is disingenuous. The GLUP-to-upzoning, rinse-and-repeat formula applied along the Metro corridors and then Columbia Pike is an equally effective displacement tool.
Arlingtonians have repeatedly observed the human toll of Arlington County’s Darwinian policies: Seniors can no longer afford to age in place. Working-class residents are displaced as their rents skyrocket. Existing small businesses shut down or move (that’s why Clare and Don’s Beach Shack no longer resides on Clarendon Blvd.).
As for “planning,” Arlington has failed to meet the service and infrastructure needs for its existing population. Its aged and inadequate stormwater system cannot manage all the new runoff from development—many Arlington businesses and homeowners have repeatedly paid the price from extreme flooding.
Some students have spent nearly their entire school careers learning in trailers because the county cannot keep up with the growing demand for classroom space. Yet, the county refuses to purchase more land on which to build new schools, fire stations, libraries, parks and a host of other services to meet the needs of its exploding population.
The notion that this redevelopment plan is only a “draft” is absurd. And those living and operating small businesses along Langston Blvd. know it. At a minimum, they deserve compassion, not scorn.
Suzanne Smith Sundburg
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