Your Views: Density quest is not egalitarian

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To the editor:

I’m all in favor of affordable housing. But don’t be tricked – it’s a feel-good phrase. It shrouds the intent to make Alexandria a more congested and costly place in which to live and to work. Simply stated, this quest for more density is not born of egalitarianism; it’s a city government grab for dollars.

Despite all the fees, penalties and taxes our city assesses us, our city government’s spending not only exceeds the sums that we remit, but it spends our monies on ventures not sought by those it serves. More to the point: Alexandria’s government is woefully disconnected from the citizens who fund it.

For example, there was no citizen clamor to foster biking by shrinking street capacity for cars, or for skyscraper-tall light poles around athletic fields, or for scooters for Old Town, or for the Potomac Yard Metro Station to be placed atop a protected wetland instead of a nearby build-ready dryland or to tolerate well-paid city officials who dissemble the truth.

The list goes on. Unable to reduce expenses or to attract businesses, especially those that produce something, Mayor Justin Wilson and City Manager Mark Jinks can only get more revenue by acquiring more taxpayers. Consequently, they court developers rather than listen to residents. After all, it’s the developers who build the taxable structures that house the new taxpaying residents.

The result is more human, structural and vehicular density. Yes, all will produce more tax revenue for the city. But here’s a never-mentioned consequence: The new citizens receive services for which their taxes are insufficient. This means, as density increases, everyone’s taxes go up. In other words, we get diminished open space, longer commutes, higher stress and greater costs in exchange for more, not less, tax.

And to what end? Has anyone postulated the number of residents after which the city can tolerate no more? Is this number one million residents – or one billion? The next time you run into either Wilson or Jinks, ask them how many occupants are ideal for Alexandria. And ask them how they know citizens want more concrete, congestion, stress and cost from more people, structures and vehicles being crammed into the fixed space called Alexandria?

-Jimm Roberts, Alexandria

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