From Matt de Ferranti <[email protected]>
Subject November: Budget Closeout, Plan Langston Final, & Election Report
Date November 30, 2023 2:00 PM
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Dear Friends,

Arlington took a significant step forward at the Board meetings earlier this month by incorporating resident input in passing a plan for the redevelopment of Langston Boulevard. The County Board also acted on what is called "closeout," preserving funding from the County Budget that ended on July 1 for next year, and passed the Historic and Cultural Resources Plan.

For details, reflections on Charlie Clark's passing, the spirit of service, and thoughts on the election, take a look below.
I joined my colleague Takis Karantonis for our Veterans Day ceremony featuring the Army Brass Quintet.
It was a special opportunity to remember and honor all those who have served
and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Last month, I updated you on the two amendments I passed on the Langston Boulevard Plan related to the East Falls Church Metro and Cherrydale Neighborhoods and the Lee Arts Center. The East Falls Church and Cherrydale amendment came up again this month--the issue was when both plans should be updated. I moved to clarify the focus for East Falls Church on the parking lot where buses now operate and to expedite the time frame for both. The amendment related to the Lee Arts Center that listened to neighbors' requests stayed in the draft, reflecting the need for a fair planning process for that parcel.

This month, the amendment I am most proud that we passed was intended to measure our progress on affordable housing along Langston Boulevard via an aspirational goal of 2,500 units in the entire area, including East Falls Church and Cherrydale, by 2040. The Housing Commission and numerous advocates asked the Board to add a provision and I sought to strike the right balance of aspiration and realism via an amendment meant to be used as a measuring stick with respect to our progress.

The Board also passed an amendment responding to concerns from the Yorktown neighborhood regarding a street through the Lee-Harrison shopping center and to height concerns brought forward by the Halls Hill Neighborhood. We also took up and passed several other amendments. For a full summary of our action on Plan Langston Boulevard, go here: Arlington County Board Adopts Langston Boulevard Area Plan – Official Website of Arlington County Virginia Government ( ([link removed])

Not every amendment requested was adopted and the Plan did not achieve full community consensus. However, 70% of the speakers and, I believe, at least 60 and perhaps 70% of the community as a whole are broadly in support of the Plan. To watch the debate, click on the red button:

[link removed]
Go to 5:54:30 to listen to my closing remarks on Plan Langston Boulevard.

The Board also acted at the Tuesday, November 14th meeting on "closeout," the term that refers to the accounting for the County's budget that ended June 30th. (The County's budget years runs from July 1st to June 30th each year.) This year closeout included slightly more "one-time" money that the Manager and Board agreed to move forward to next year's budget. (Next year's budget will start on June 30th of 2024.)

The big picture is that office vacancy rates are nearly certain to be up when we learn how much money the County can budget for come January. Arlington relies more heavily on office values for our budget than any locality in Virginia, so we will face a tight budget over the coming months.

The two biggest issues that came up were how much money to allocate for programs that serve teens--middle and high school students--and how much to allocate toward land acquisition. Closeout is generally not the right time to make budget policy since the full budget process in March and April will involve 10-12 work sessions. Nevertheless, the County Manager and Board sometimes prioritize issues that are urgent. The Manager recommended $500K to work on a gap analysis of the programs we currently have for teens and what we need to do to help, since we have lost 2 teenagers over the past year to the opioid epidemic. I supported an amendment from Board Member Tannia Talento to add $250k to the Manager's $500K to make clear that we must work with urgency in this area.

I offered an amendment to reduce from $5 million to $2.5 million the amount set aside for land acquisition over the next six months. Applying an equity lens and working to be fiscally responsible given our coming budget challenges, I felt less money than the County Manager's recommendation was the more responsible choice in this case.

Last but less controversially, the Board allocated $9 million towards the Barcroft Apartment deal that we worked out at the end of 2021. Given the rise in interest rates, this was a wise investment in affordable housing that should not be taken for granted.
[link removed]
Watch the Arlington Community Foundation's six-minute video that provides an inspiring summary of service in our community.
The Board also passed an update to our Historic and Cultural Resources Plan, the primary policy document guiding the County’s historic preservation goals and actions. The update acknowledges that both Arlington and the practice of historic preservation have evolved and offers an increased focus on partnerships and inclusion. The Plan will help expanding access to local culture and history and representation of all Arlingtonians.

For a summary of the Plan and the other actions the Board took in November, go here:
Wrap-Up Media Release for November 2023 Meeting ( ([link removed])

In addition to the Board actions, I think it worth reflecting on how precious life is. We lost Charlie Clark, Arlington's historian, on November 15th. ‘Our Man in Arlington,’ local historian Charlie Clark, dies at 70 | ([link removed]) Charlie was a deeply kind and thoughtful man who was, as our Chief Librarian Dian Kresh said, "A community weaver, one of those special people who knit our community together."

The article on Charlie and the above video on the spirit of service with retired Judge Bill Newman's inspiring remarks remind us to be grateful and kind-hearted in this season of Thanksgiving and the holiday season to come.
I spent Election Day volunteering in Arlington before picking up my mom to knock doors for two Senate Candidates--Danica Roem and Joel Griffin--and House of Delegates candidate Josh Thomas. Two of three won and Arlington's future is brighter because we have a Democratic Senate and House.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for tolerating my many requests to help us win the Virginia Senate and Virginia House of Delegates this year. Arlington will be a safe place for women's reproductive rights over the next year because we won. Arlington's ability to support funding for Metro and to fight climate change will be enhanced because we won. Common sense gun safety laws will not be reversed because we won. Next week, I will give another election report.

For now, there were many issues at stake in this election: because of you and so many, Arlington and Virginia will be a better place next year. Thank you!

With a full heart,


Authorized by Matt for Arlington

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