Sunday, December 3, 2017

"Why Should I Commute by MetroRail from Vienna to Ballston?"

Hey Yupette,

Tolls on I-66 Express Lanes start tomorrow, December 4th. Representatives from VDOT attended the November 28th County Board meeting, told everyone to buy an EZPass transponder, and generally responded with "Don't Worry, Be Happy" to concerns expressed by County Board members.

One would hope commuters who commute to Arlington one-per-vehicle on I-66 will purchase transponders, or choose a "Smart Growth" alternative, like riding a bicycle to MetroRail stations this Winter. One would hope employers of low-wage workers who commute on I-66 will subsidize the cost of EZPass transponders.

But one apparently-upscale commuter has posted the following question to several local news blogs:

"Why should I freeze or bake on the Vienna MetroRail platform waiting for a train that will stop at three MetroRail stations before Ballston, where I work in a new office building, with loads of parking beneath the building, when I can drive my Don Beyer SUV directly from my home to my Ballston workplace via brand new Express Lanes?"

I have to agree that the people who are responsible for the MetroRail mess are our elected representatives, who also are WMATA Board members, who've given commuters about a dozen transportation and transit alternatives to NOT ride Metrorail. I-66 Express Lanes are only the latest.

Why should we pay more in taxes to subsidize the transportation disaster our elected representatives created over the past 25 years?

Cindy in Ballston 22203

Monday, November 20, 2017

Need Open Space? Rouse Estate Reportedly For Sale

Hey, Yupette,

Ever wonder about the Estate on Wilson Boulevard at McKinley with a big old mansion and acres of open space? The Estate may be for sale. Longtime owner Randall Rouse died at age 100 early this year. He was a noted builder, developer, equestrian, and philanthropist.

The Rouse Estate consists of a historic mansion, some decaying outbuildings that may have once included stables, and about 10 acres of open space.

Did a Google search and can't find what may happen to the Estate. Mr. Rouse contributed substantial amounts to build equestrian facilities for equestrian groups out near Middleburg.

A woman who fox hunted with Mr. Rouse and his wife told me the Estate on Wilson and McKinley will be sold. What the County would do if the property came on the market is not known.

Thanks for this blog.

Karen, 22207

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Park Shirlington Apartments Again On-Track for Gentrification Redevelopment

Hey Yupette,

I live in Fairlington, not far from where Smart Growth Boosters Scott Brodbeck (ArlNow) and Scott McCaffrey (Inside Nova) live.

What they, and apparently most in the neighborhood, haven't yet learned is the County Board made a secret deal a couple months ago to redevelop the Park Shirlington Apartments on South 31st Street, adjacent to Fairlington.

The former owner of Park Shirlington, Home Properties, sold Park Shirlington in September to Standard Property Company, Inc., an affiliate of Home Properties. Standard Property formed a joint venture with a housing non-profit, the National Foundation for Affordable Housing Solutions, jointly the "Project Sponsor". Park Shirlington contains 294 1, 2, and 3 bedroom market-rate apartments on 15.79 acres.

Arlington County proposes to include Park Shirlington in a Housing Conservation District (HCD). Housing Conservation Districts include zoning incentives, such as preservation, infill, and redevelopment options, aimed at preserving the affordability of market rate properties. County Board will take up HCD creation on November 27th. At its November 9th meeting the Housing Commission approved lending $6 million in Affordable Housing Investment Funds (AHIF) to the Project Sponsors ($20,408 per unit). Total acquisition costs of Park Shirlington would be $72.4 million or $246,341 per unit. Unknown at this point whether the Project Sponsor would be going to the County for more AHIF funds once construction commences. County Board will also take up approval of AHIF funds for Park Shirlington on November 27th.

But wait. There's more. According to comments made during this week's Housing Commission meeting the Project Sponsors want to build as many expensive townhomes as possible on-site when Park Shirlington is redeveloped. Number of townhomes most often mentioned was 154. The townhomes would sell for about $1 million each. Do the math.

Then there are the external costs. Abingdon School adjacent to Park Shirlington was recently renovated for $32 million and only 132 seats were added to the school's capacity. Fairlington residents who live near Abingdon School are already furious that so many use permit conditions were violated during Abingdon School construction and are apprehensive that another phase of building construction will take the remaining open space for a larger building and more parking and student drop-offs.

Then there are the workforce housing activists, who are angry about the exclusionary practices related to "affordable housing", which excludes people who are in desperate need of housing that's actually affordable and who work close to where so-called affordable housing is being constructed (e.g., Shirlington Village). They see low-wage worker and other low-income residents being forced out of the County while the County Board enriches real estate trusts, developers, law firms, financial institutions, and various consultants, to the point that the activists complained to the Housing and Urban Development Inspector General that the County's affordable housing program is de facto fraud.

County Board meetings later this month should be interesting. Stay tuned.

H.J., 22206

Monday, November 6, 2017

Audrey Clement for County Board


When it came to decide which candidate to endorse this year for Arlington Board the decision wasn't even close. We again endorse Audrey Clement.

Given his existing and potential conflicts of interest as the owner of a regional residential construction company, Erik Gutshall shouldn't have been appointed to the Planning Commission, let alone been selected by the Arlington Democratic Party as its nominee. Erik flat-out lied when he stated that his company won't benefit from re-purposing homes and townhomes into accessory dwelling units. But that's what occurs when one political party runs a county for more than 35 years.

As for Charles McCullough II the Green Party nominee, like the Arlington Greens who nominated him he's big on promises and short on performance. Before running for County Board this year Charles was another Washington attorney who was part of the status quo. Unlike Audrey Clement, he hasn't attended Planning Commission and County Board meetings and spoken when big issues came up for vote. Completely like the Arlington Greens.

Audrey Clement has been completely engaged in County Government's decision-making process, insofar as the County's often-secret decision making will allow her to be involved. She shows an in-depth knowledge of fiscal and other data at meetings and takes sound positions on planning for the future, not more development-for-the-sake-of-development.

Unfortunately, local media are so focused on profits that they're addicted to supporting and promoting the status quo, the primary reason Audrey's not been endorsed. Time is overdue for truly independent media in the County as it's time for a majority of real Independents on the County Board.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Democrats to Massively Fund APS and DPR With Gutshall on County Board

Hey Yupette,

Think Arlington Public Schools and Department of Parks and Rec are over-funded now? Arlington's returning County Board members and current Planning Commission Chair, Erik Gutshall, have already decided to massively fund every want of APS PTA parents and Parks and Rec's 'soccer parents' if Gutshall is elected to County Board on Tuesday.

With Gutshall on the County Board all the Board's Democratic members would have children or grandchildren attending APS. Current County Board members, e.g., Katie Cristol, have already made extravagant promises to parents, and not just about schools and soccer. Promises made in secret meetings about daycare in residential neighborhoods just got the County sued by angry neighborhood residents who were the last to know.

Oh, and Erik is going to get rich quick converting McMansions into multi-family apartment buildings, and no one knows how many more students that would add to APS's enrollment, and to neighborhood parks and rec.

So look for APS to get 50%, or maybe more, of County Government's annual revenues with Erik on the County Board.

What can you expect when Smart Growth has become the Oxycodone of County Government and Democratic County Board members are the biggest addicts?

We have a choice on Tuesday. Fiscal sanity or fiscal insanity. I'm voting for Audrey Clement.

Karen, 22204

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gutshall Lies Like a Cheap Carpet About His "Home Services" Company

Hey, Yupette,

I listened to the hour-long "candidate forum" for the County Board candidates on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show yesterday.

Who does Erik Gutshall (aka, Gut$hall) think he's fooling? According to several Arlington VIP Democrats the #1 reason he's running for County Board is to get rich building unaffordable housing and converting single-family homes (especially McMansions) and townhomes into apartment buildings, boarding homes, bed and breakfasts, and de facto motels.

Erik recently re-purposed and re-branded his "home services" company into a regional residential contractor. He's not waiting to be selected for County Board to create so-called "missing middle" housing. In fact, Erik is partnering with the affordable housing non-profits, like APAH, to build workforce housing that APAH refuses to build.

Erik is furious that workforce housing activists have outed him as another limo liberal who's out to get rich from the affordable housing racket. But Erik only has himself to blame by advertising what he's up to on his company's Web site. Don't believe me, take a look at the screen shot I've attached (click to enlarge).

Why am I not surprised that Audrey Clement and Charles McCullough weren't treated kindly by the hosts of the Kojo Show yesterday? WAMU is thriving because of contributions from limo liberals who live in tear-down McMansions.

As always, thanks for your blog.

Fed-Up Democrat 22205

Monday, October 23, 2017

Angry Housing Activists Complaining to HUD About APAH

Hey Yupette,

In the event you wondered what Arlington's affordable housing activists have been up to lately, they've been complaining to Department of Housing and Urban Development Inspector General about the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH).

Arlington's housing activists, who in recent years lobbied for a Housing Authority to replace APAH and other housing non-profits, examined the County - APAH - AHIF - Arlington Presbyterian Church redevelopment deal passed by the County Board last May, with the exception of Independent County Board member John Vihstadt.

Housing activists were incensed to learn that the financing deal for Arlington Presbyterian Church redevelopment (a 498 page document) is likely to provide no housing to Arlington residents who work in low-wage restaurant and retail on the Pike, at a cost of almost $400,000 per unit for apartments that are almost all one-bedroom.

Consequently, several housing activists recently complained to HUD's IG that the Arlington Presbyterian Church deal is out and out fraud.

According to several housing activists HUD already has APAH and CPDH on a short leash because of poor accounting for HUD funds used in Arlington's housing programs.

It gets worse, because APAH is being criticized for other so-called "PTL" (Pass The Loot) redevelopment deals with non-profits recently passed by the County Board which produce negative community benefits.

Coming to an older residential neighborhood near yours, sooner than you think.

Linda, 22201