Your Views: The unstated reason for densification

Your Views: The unstated reason for densification
A rendering of the Aspire, a planned independent senior housing building at 1112 First St. (Rendering/City of Alexandria)

To the editor:

If all this development city council is rubber stamping is so fiscally advantageous, why is city hall proposing a property tax increase primarily for new school construction to accommodate enrollment growth? Are we to believe that enrollment growth doesn’t have something to do with all the additional housing development city hall is okaying?

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments insists that, to accommodate anticipated population growth, the region needs to add 363,000 net new housing units by 2030, of which Alexandria’s “share” is 12,900. How much property tax revenue will these units generate, especially if COG’s recommendation that three-quarters be affordable to middle- and lower-income households is honored?

How much will these add to enrollment? Will the additional property tax revenue be enough to cover the capital costs associated with the additional enrollment, plus the operating costs associated with the additional enrollment and other costs generated by the additional development?

Lurking behind city hall’s full-speed ahead development drive is another previously downplayed factor. A long, well-organized, well-funded “blue Virginia” effort has been ongoing for at least a decade since Barack Obama unexpectedly carried the Commonwealth in 2008 and maybe even since George W. Bush carried it in 2004 by a less-than-expected margin.

Activists and pundits have been waiting for it to flip to blue, largely as a consequence of densification creeping into outlying Loudoun and Prince William Counties. It finally did in Northern Virginia, where Democrats hold all legislative seats, except a few at the exurban fringes of Loudoun and Prince William counties. Democrats are also expected to pick up four new House of Delegates seats and one Senate seat at the expense of Republican strongholds consequent to the 2020 Census, cementing a permanent Democrat majority.

Northern Virginia has lifted statewide Democrat candidates to victory in almost every election in the past decade. This only became possible through development policies allowing for more liberal voters to be packed into Northern Virginia, even at the expense of the liberal voters who have lived here a long time.

Clearing the way for this expensive, disruptive dynamic to play out is among the key unstated reasons the political establishment closed ranks against even other Democrats willing to listen to constituents concerned about the collateral consequences of all this development.

The Alexandria Times should consider arranging a study, independent of city hall’s self-serving estimates, of the real fiscal impact of all this development.

-Dino Drudi, Alexandria