Your View: Put a cap on Alexandria’s population

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Your View: Put a cap on Alexandria’s population
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By Jimm Roberts, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
Our recent city council’s wrong-headed approval allowing a developer to cram an infill house between two properties he owns in the Clover-College Park neighborhood was disheartening for many reasons, including misplaced entitlement, bureaucratic bias, a sanctimonious council and ignored neighbors.

Rather than elaborate on these reasons and others — elaborations likely to trigger defensive responses that will not correct the wrong — I am positing a plan. It has been percolating for some time. After years of informally assessing ever-increasing congestion on streets, schools, stores, Metro platforms and neighborhoods, the Clover-College Park decision prompted me to pitch it now.

It’s a congestion plan. Very simply, it caps the number of Alexandria residents at 150,000. It’s akin to human density restrictions for buildings, elevators, schools, etc. When adopted, in some legitimate way of course, it will keep congestion in Alexandria — in all its forms — roughly at its current level. It will also head off at the pass future infill applications, even those that have no taint.

Maybe my congestion plan will shake awake one of our elected officials. But I doubt it. So that leaves me importuning the departing Mayor Bill Euille to address it. Actually, he’s ideal. He’s the living manifestation for why I crafted my plan in the first place. He’s been the leader in densification. And, now that he’s become a simple citizen, he can explain why my plan is reasonable or why his, which has no limit, is better.

As you ponder the merits of mine and the demerits of his plan, keep this in mind: the city already has a congestion plan. You can find it, with some effort, on the third floor of City Hall. It’s in the zoning office. Unlike mine, which permits 150,000 residents, and unlike Euille, whose congestion plan has no limit, current city zoning caps the number of permanent residents at 250,000, more or less.

Since no more roads can be built in Alexandria, if the city’s plan prevails, then you have yet to experience true congestion. And you have yet to feel the financial consequences of this congestion. To help you prepare, just recall this simple truism: the more people who are crammed into the rigid confines of our small city, the more cars that will be on roads, the more youngsters in schools and the more taxes you’ll pay.

Using this simple equation, the Euille congestion plan — unless disavowed by his council acolytes — will ultimately take all your disposable income. The city congestion plan will snare ever more of your hard earned money. How much more is impossible to predict. Let’s just agree it will require far more taxes than you are currently paying. But my plan will at least keep your taxes stable, even after adjusted for inflation.

So, there you have it: which do you prefer? The higher taxes, more congestion city plan limiting residents to 250,000, or Euille’s and his city council successors’ plan, the one with no limit to residents, taxes and congestion, or my no tax increase, no more congestion limit of 150,000 residents?

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