Far and away July’s highlight was my dad Ed’s 99th birthday, celebrated with cousins who flew in from the West Coast. The decorated World War II veteran and self-described “Old Buzzard” credits his longevity to faith, family and a good sense of humor. By that standard, I’ve got close to another three and a half decades of community service ahead of me! There were other items on my July agenda, as well:
I was delighted to be a repeat guest on Arlington Voices, a fast-paced show on Arlington Independent Media’s WERA, 96.7 on your radio dial and hosted by community activist Andrew Schneider. From taxes to trees, I shared what’s on my mind and what I’ve been doing about it since leaving the Board. I announced that I’ve joined the Government Affairs Committee of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and am excited to be back as a delegate to the Civic Federation. Listen in on our freewheeling conversation!
Speaking of trees, the torrential rains we experienced just a few weeks ago brought home the fact that Arlington must do a better job of managing stormwater runoff and preparing for—and responding to—significant weather events. While no drainage system could have accommodated our record mid-July deluge, ArlNow columnist Peter Rousselot makes a number of key recommendations for which there is a growing consensus, including preserving and growing our mature tree canopy, increasing investments in stormwater infrastructure and watershed retrofit assessment, and updating our 2014 Stormwater Master Plan. During the County Board’s biennial update of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) last year, I elicited the staggering statistic that, as of 2017, fully 45% of the County’s land area is impervious surfaces, up from 40% in 2001. Our regulated development activity is adding impervious surface growth—a key aggravator of stormwater runoff complications–at a pace equivalent to the footprint of the Pentagon (approximately 29 acres) every three to four years. See the graphic details.
On a related note, I strategized on July 15 with former County Board colleague Libby Garvey, Virginia House of Delegates member Patrick Hope, the Arlington Tree Action Group, and representatives of the building industry to find common ground on actions that the County can take now—or seek authority from Richmond to do—to maximize the public health benefits of urban trees and foster development more sensitive to green space and our tree canopy. I’d appreciate your ideas, as well.
With even the new, downscaled high-tech Columbia Pike transit stops still clocking in at an exorbitant sum of over $400,000 each (2/3 of which cost is chalked up to subterranean foundation work), it’s all the more critical that the County Manager finally act on County Board guidance that I authored back in 2016 to explore advertising on ART buses and stations, as well as on Capital BikeShare bikes and stations—with the proviso that all advertising revenues be re-invested in our local bus system and BikeShare. (While revenue gained in Arlington will be dwarfed by what Metro already reaps by ads on trains, buses, inside stations and on bus stops, why would we not do this?) I’ve followed up again on this with the County Manager in the wake of the Board’s July transit stops action and the revelation that some of the smaller new stops will have two sides completely exposed to the elements—making waiting passengers even more vulnerable to inclement weather than they are now at stops costing a fraction of what’s planned! Read all about it.
Hope to see you around the County, at a Farmers’ Market or maybe having a nosh in the Food Hall at the new Ballston Quarter! Options for spending your dining dollar in Arlington have never been greater. Thanks for staying with me and keeping in touch!