Today, it's Election Day in my former home-town (Alexandria, VA) and the stakes are high. I believe that fourteen candidates are vying for eight seats on the City Council. While I no longer reside within that county, I am well aware of two pressing issues which need to be addressed, either by new council-members or those who remain for the next term of office. Recently, in the city's zeal to embrace new growth (in the form of more housing, retail and office space) zoning variances and tax breaks were granted in exchange for a larger number of 'affordable units' to be made available to low-income residents, many of who previously resided in public-housing complexes (now razed by the wrecking ball). While the opportunity to live in the charming row-house style units (complete with a manufactured charm suggestive of Old Towne gentility) that have cropped up in the northern sections of the city may seem like a godsend, some inhabitants are less than seduced by their quarters, citing no yard(s), or even an outdoor porch (either front or back), cramped rooms and poor circulation. As one person explained to me, 'Black people hang out on their front-porches, so we can talk and visit with our neighbors. In the new units, there are no porches and we have to stand on the street or corners. The police will get us for loitering, and God knows that there are already enough of us in jail on bullshit charges. White people hang out in the back, you know; doing whatever it is they do . . .'
Residents of Old Towne are also concerned about plans to increase occupation density in blocks near the Waterfront (or on the river's edge). Plans to open hotels and shopping strips along the Waterfront would mean more congestion from increased vehicles and pedestrian traffic, more noise, as well as require new infrastructure to support the needs of larger buildings. Some feel that the charm of the historic town would be lost with the addition of new buildings crowded along tiny streets, and the antique character that draws residents and visitors to the area would be lost in the city council's scramble to generate new tax dollars. As we have seen on innumerable occasions, any successful integration of new development into a historic area calls for sensitivity and nuance, and current redevelopment plans have yet to win over long-time residents who've seen other pony-shows come--and go.
Jim Moran, we're voting for you!! Why: Your defense of progressive and Democratic principles on which this country was founded and your voting record means we want you to be our man in Congress!!
Have a great Tuesday.
PS: Today's soundtrack: CHRIS LAKE's Communicate