Letter to the Editor: City hall decisions harm small business

Letter to the Editor: City hall decisions harm small business
The Business Bank at 697 Washington St. specializes in the finances of small business owners. (Derrick Perkins)

To the editor:

Alexandria’s small business community is struggling. Increasingly, one sees on residential doorsteps, items purchased online and delivered by parcel service trucks. Retail stores go vacant while city hall imposes parking fee increases and limits how much off-street parking establishments can provide.

Alexandria’s Small Business Development Center, meanwhile, dismisses “naysayers who forecast dire consequences of change [whose …] letters appear regularly in local papers to criticize … complex decisions on controversial matters.”

It apparently has not occurred to city hall that the parade of outsized property tax increases of recent years is a consequence of those “complex decisions on controversial matters.” Small businesses, struggling to make it, find shouldering those property tax increases, directly or through higher rents, increasingly difficult.

In Old Town especially, sidewalk conditions are often so bad that people legitimately worry about injury. A BID was even proposed to rectify these and other infrastructure issues. It apparently has not occurred to city hall how much sidewalk dining, by narrowing the pedestrian right-of-way in an irregular sequence, exacerbates sidewalk conditions. While Old Town restaurants might relish their sidewalk dining, how do they feel about a BID in part necessitated by sidewalk dining’s subtle infrastructure impacts?

At this rate, Alexandria’s Small Business Development Center’s approach of dismissing community “naysayers” by ignoring incremental and subtle consequences of “complex decisions on controversial matters” risks a death of a thousand cuts for Alexandria’s small businesses.

-Dino Drudi, Alexandria