To the editor:
I am writing in response to the Jan. 7 Alexandria Times editorial, “Wanted: Better approach to affordable housing.” What is truly wanted is local government that will address the basic facts, that will increase the supply of affordable housing at a time when the poor are out of work and national-average rents are increasing. Let us consider the facts.
Equating affordable housing and density, the editorial falsely states “Given the litany of problems Alexandria is currently experiencing that are unintended consequences from over-densification – flooding, closed schools, environmental destruction, traffic bottlenecks …” None of these are caused by density. Flooding is caused by climate change. Closed schools, the pandemic, environmental destruction and traffic are caused by car-dependent suburbia. The problem isn’t density, it’s the zoning-enforced developer business model that monetizes green space into endless suburbia.
Surveys show that 50% of people in the U.S. want to live in walkable neighborhoods, but only 10% of our housing is like that. To our knowledge, all Alexandrians want more green space. High-density housing, centered on town-square transit hubs, could meet both of these pent up demands. I am asking you to picture a much-improved Cameron Station, with fewer cars, a transit hub, taller buildings and, most importantly, not walled off from the rest of Alexandria.
Alexandria needs to better manage development and avoid traffic gridlock by building walkable neighborhoods with high-frequency transit. The West End has plenty of people to support local businesses, but apartment buildings are walled-off from each other, making walking difficult. Landmark will have a transit hub, but no bike lanes to get people to transit. The problem isn’t density, it is continued car-dependency. For housing, for climate, for the simple joy of a neighborhood walk, Alexandria needs to open up its neighborhoods to walking, biking and high-frequency transit. Otherwise, too many of us will remain trapped in our cars.
-Jonathan Krall, Alexandria