As this strange year comes to an end, the Board had — as now is usual — a combination of traditional Board issues and Covid ones. I marvel that only a short time ago holding meetings virtually felt odd. I think “you’re on mute” is the catch-phrase of the year. I now have a corner of my home that I call my “broadcast studio.”
Covid Work Session
We continue to accept funds when available from the Federal and State governments to help with Covid relief, e.g., help with utility bills. As we all know, numbers of cases and deaths are rising rapidly and the beginning of a national vaccin
ation campaign will not prevent many more cases and fatalities over the next few months. The Board will hold a Covid work session with our staff on Tuesday Dec 22nd at 3:00 pm for an update. You may wish to tune in or watch later. (You can watch live meetings on this County website page by clicking on the “In Progress” link next to the meeting when the meeting is in progress. Or watch streaming live in HD on Arlington TV’s YouTube channel or broadcast on Arlington TV on Comcast Xfinity 25 or 1085(HD) and Verizon FiOS 39 & 40 when meetings are in session.)
Green Building Incentives Program
The more traditional items this month included an update to our Green Building Incentives Program, which began in 1999. The update raises the bar for developers wanting to get bonus density for helping us get to carbon neutrality by 2050. This includes requiring
LEED Gold certification as a minimum, providing electric vehicle charging stations and the infrastructure for more, exceptional energy performance standards like zero carbon certification. I’m happy to see support for the natural environment, with incentives for bird-safe glass, green roofs and more.
Residential Permit Parking Updates
A major issue which will carry over into 2021 was the advertisement of changes to our Residential Permit Parking (RPP) program. The RPP came into being in 1972 to prevent commuters from filling up neighborhood streets around Crystal City. Over the years the RPP evolved and became increasingly complicated. Communities started to use RPP more to reserve public streets for local use, and about 75% of applications were being denied because they did not qualify for the program. While some streets were empty because homes in the RPP all had driveways and garages, nearby neighbors outside the RPP area had nowhere to park when they returned from work. With community input, staff has spent years working on the new proposal. RPP is a program that is impossible to make totally fair, but I think it is still needed and we’re trying to make it better. We will take it up at our February meeting. I’m hopeful we can come to a conclusion then.
The Board approved an agreement with APS to put a very large stormwater detention vault under the athletic fields of the new Reed School. This is a great example of government innovation and flexibility. It helps an area of our County that presents tremendous challenges for stormwater control because so many streams were put underground when homes were built in the last century. We were looking at many disruptive changes to improve our underground systems. This solution means we can be a lot less disruptive AND have a good mitigation facility in place faster…all at a lower cost to taxpayers.
We renamed Henry Clay Park in the Lyon Park neighborhood Zitkala-Sa Park to honor a remarkable woman who lived there from 1925 until her death in 1938. She was an early, and extremely effective, advocate for Native Americans and an accomplished classical musician and composer. One of
the more inspiring moments for me this month was reading about her amazing life. She first came to Washington in 1900 to play the violin for President McKinley. Here is a link to the PBS program about her life in their “Unsung Women Who Changed America” series.
To further our County-wide renaming efforts, the Manager presented an outline of a process for replacing our County logo and for renaming other places. That process will come to the Board in a more complete fashion in January. I’m very pleased we are moving forward with this quickly and deliberately.
One of the best results of this effort is understanding the history of our place names and the amazing people associated with them. For too long, history has only recognized a small white and predominantly male portion of our population. That has hidden incredible stories that can inspire all of us, especially in difficult times like 2020. These residents of Arlington have overcome far greater challenges than most of us and it’s helpful to know and understand that to foster our own sense of hope and possibility.
My Swearing In
Finally, as readers know, I was sworn in for my 3rd term on the County Board on December 16th. I was delighted to have so much family joining from around the globe, and the virtual participation of my 5 grandchildren leading the Pledge of Allegiance was special to me. I spoke about some basic issues I plan to work on in my next term and cannot thank everyone enough for your support that enables me to continue this work that I love. If you missed the ceremony, here is the YouTube link.
During the holiday season and after, please continue to stay distanced from folks outside your home, wear a mask when you are out and wash your hands when you return home.
Happy Holidays and stay well,
P. S. If you haven’t seen it, here is the cool video of the Rosslyn Holiday Inn demolition.