Too many questions remain on ZFH

Too many questions remain on ZFH
(Graphic/Jessica Kim)

To the editor: 

I have been a resident of Beverley Hills for the last 41 years. I feel that it is a gift to be living in this city with its sense of community and neighborliness as well as the physical environment with its abundance of trees, relatively low density and its green spaces. This is why I moved to Alexandria and Beverley Hills in particular. I am literally heartbroken that this feels under threat right now because of the city’s “Zoning for Housing” proposal. 

I know that it is difficult for younger citizens to buy starter homes in Alexandria. Furthermore, with housing prices as high as they are, my husband and I could not afford presently to buy a house in Beverley Hills. We are two professionals; however, we have worked hard and for several years to afford our home. I would not have expected to live here at the beginning of our careers. 

I am a social worker by profession and very sensitive to the need for affordable housing and other programs for those who are economically disadvantaged. I have also become aware that this is a nationwide issue. 

However, I feel that the way the city is proposing to solve our affordable housing crisis by rezoning single-family neighborhoods is wrong and in actuality will not solve the problem. 

This approach adversely impacts neighborhoods and taxes our infrastructure in terms of density, parking, traffic, schools and quality of life. Areas of concern for me are: 

• The proposal would rapidly increase our population, which taxes our infrastructure, particularly schools and city services. 

• The eventual elimination of single family neighborhoods, which enhance the attractiveness of our city to newcomers. 

• There are no checks and balances on what developers can build. 

Other jurisdictions have not stepped up to respond to the Council of Governments’ recommendation to address the issue of affordable housing. I feel that we are doing the work that other jurisdictions should be taking on. 

I am concerned that more cars will add to the growing congestion we already have. This will also negatively impact our tree canopy, which we are working hard to replace, because increased density eliminates green spaces. 

Most importantly, I want to address the process by which the Planning and Zoning Commission, the mayor and City Council are attempting to enact this proposal. This proposal has been in the works for several years, yet was there resident input in the drafting stages? 

This proposal was made openly public only two months ago in its entirety and it is quite complex; hence, there is not enough time for residents to fully understand it per se and think about the consequences, intended or unintended. This precludes thoughtful resident input now and even precludes compromise. 

As a resident of the city, I feel helpless and powerless. I don’t feel that my and other individual voices matter. What happened to the ideas of consensus and compromise? When I think about our world situation, our city comes to mind. If we cannot respect the rights and voices of individual citizens, taking them into account, how can we expect to deal with the problems of the world? 

-Mary Jean Kane, Alexandria