Smart Growth Comment Page

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6 responses to “Smart Growth Comment Page

  1. I remember coming to Arlington in mid/late 70’s — Lum’s at Courthouse (now Summers) and the IHOP on Fairfax Drive (still there!) were two of the very few places in the area where you could get a meal after 10pm. I got my car serviced at the Sears in Clarendon (now Market Common). All this was convenient to drive to because it was so empty, I always had easy parking!

    Now, I live in Clarendon, pretty close to where that old Sears used to be. We LOVE it — being able to walk/bike/Metro to just about everything we need. We’re surrounded by wonderful restaurants, shops, activities, bike trails, etc. And I have the world’s best commute — I walk to work.

    Arlington’s embrace of smart growth and transit oriented development has created a vibrant, lively place. Hooray to all those visionary leaders back in the 1960s… and hooray to everyone who is staying true to that vision! I echo what all my neighbors say: “Arlington is awesome!”

  2. While it is hard to cram 30 years of history into a short-film on the success of the R-B Corridor, I commend Arlington for presenting our story in this very informative short film. Upfront, though I believe we need to credit more of our success due to our proximity to the Nation’s Capital and the great institutions residing there.

    As a recent incoming resident (1999) and recent former Arlington staff, my perspective is more contemporary. Some the successes worth mentioning are:
    1- Creating a truly multi-modal transportation network (trails, complete streets, safe walking, transit);
    2- Redeveloping station areas with attractive development (at appropriate densities, with community input on design and some attempt to create mixed land use);
    3- Accomplishing so much with so many hurdles including: Strong neighborhood resistance, State planning limitations (Dillion Rule), resistance from other local communities, State and Federal agencies such as VDOT.

    I look forward to the next thirty years, where we accomplish even more:

    1- More livability through support for small business, local farms, and affordable housing;

    2- More sustainable mobility choices: HOV-transit lanes along Arterials such as Arlington Blvd , bikeways and bikesharing, increased parking management, cordon pricing and peak pricing for I-66 and I-395 to make cross region travel more predictable and cost efficient.

    3- More support for people who make Arlington great. One of the keys to our success has been our ability to attract and retain great people, Arlington County staff, volunteers, overall labor force and even dedicated politicians. If we don’t invest in their professionalism, training and development, then we will suffer diminishing returns.

  3. I live in Alexandria (Old Town). The City is modeling its development along the “smart-growth” of Arlington. However, there is a clear down-side to this. It’s fine for empty nesters, DINKs, singles, and other nontraditional households. But smart-growth results in gentrification of older, blue-collar neighborhoods; housing losses for working and lower-middle-class folks; and most significantly, an unfriendly housing and living environment for families with children. We have that problem in Alexandria on my street: young couples move in, have children, try to find child-friendly housing, and ultimately give up and move to Fairfax or Prince William. I think that to be survivable in the long-run, communties need to have room for families. Otherwise, they stagnage and eventually become unattractive places to live.

  4. The Greater Greater Washington blog today says Arlington — with its Smart Growth policies — is the model for Montgomery County ‘s future development. Check it out at — Mary Curtius, Arlington County Media Relations Manager

  5. This is very inspiring. In Seattle we’re finally opening our light rail this year and seeing how it worked in real life is great. Thanks!

  6. Bernard H. Berne

    Arlington County’s so-called “Smart Growth” policy is misnamed. It is really extremely “dumb growth”.

    Metro should have travelled between Rosslyn and Ballston in the median of I-66. This would have permitted the County Board to change its General Land Use Plan to increase densities along I-66, which had relatively little existing density and virtually no affordable housing or small businesses.

    This did not happen. By placing Metro underground through a relatively dense developed mixed use corridor between Rosslyn and Ballston, the County lost a huge amount of affordable housing and a large number of small businesses, many of which employed blue-collar workers.

    Because of Metro and new development, the cost of housing and commercial space escalated along Arlington’s Metro corridors, forcing out low-income minorities and other blue-collar workers, as well as many small businesses. This was worst near Rosslyn and Ballston, which have entrances to I-66.

    Even worse, the increased densities in Arlington’s Metro corridors served to accelerate new development and sprawl in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties. Automobile traffic increased throughout Northern Virginia.

    Although some people do not recognize this, Arlington’s increased development along its Metro corridors actually induced many people to drive automobiles between Arlington and Northern Virginia’s outer Counties. Some people decided to reside in the outer Counties and to drive to new workplaces in Arlingon’s Metro corridors. Others decided to reside in Arlington’s new high-rises and drive to workplaces in the outer Counties.

    As a result, I-66 became highly congested. Within 20 years of Metro’s construction, it became necessary to widen I-66, both inside and outside the Beltway, to accommodate the increased traffic that Arlington’s new development had caused. The increased traffic increased air pollution and energy use throughout Northern Virginia.

    Thus, Arlington lost much affordable housing and many small businesses and gained air pollution. At the same time, sprawl accelerated throughout Northern Virginia and I-66 became congested.

    Arlington therefore made a huge mistake by increasing densities in its Metro corridors, which formerly contained much affordable housing and many small businesses. This was truly “dumb growth”.

    Arlington’s politician’s won’t admit this. It is an “inconvenient truth”.

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