Letter to the Editor: Krupicka on Sierra Club Endorsements
Rob Krupicka supports the Sierra Club's endorsements in the Democratic primary for Alexandria City Council.
To the editor,
"Think Globally. Act Locally." The Sierra Club’s endorsements for City Council exemplify this simple slogan. The environmental movement is not a NIMBY or anti-change movement. With climate change, the need to preserve farmlands and forests for future generations and our need to clean up our water, the Sierra Club and the environmental movement understand that urban communities where people walk, use transit, where energy conservation is done strategically and water runoff is managed using smart environmental principles have a critical role to play in environmental sustainability.
Alexandria is becoming a regional leader in these areas. We have new environmental standards for development and we’ve made huge strides to increase transit and walking. Our world population and, more locally, our regional populations are growing. That is a fact. Managing that growth in the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable way is a challenge for all of us. People have to have places to live. Our community has a role in that. Tearing down farms and forests for subdivisions isn’t environmentally sustainable. It also costs a lot more in taxes because we create more road miles and sewer miles per person, which takes state tax dollars from schools.
Concern about our air, our water, our forests and our farms require us to think differently about how our urban community functions now and in the future. Leaders have to be willing to do things differently to create a high quality, environmentally friendly quality of life for our current and future community.
The waterfront plan will restore the shoreline of the Potomac to a more natural state, will add acres of new parkland and requires private land-owners to preserve historic structures and to use state of the art environmental techniques to manage their properties. And we can afford it because it uses private property owners (instead of current taxpayers) to help pay for the environmental upgrades.
It is great to say we just want to raise taxes to buy everything but the reality is we can’t raise taxes for everything; we need to be reasonable about our ability to pay for things or we risk pushing people out of the city with taxes. The bottom line is that the waterfront plan will improve water in the Potomac. The Sierra Club understands this.
Beauregard has a significant, positive environmental role in the region. Our region needs housing. We need to increase the use of transit and walking. And we need to lock-in some long-term affordable housing units so a range of people that work in the city also have a chance to live here. The Beauregard plan will increase transit use, add acres and acres of open space, significantly improve water run-off and management and, again, forces private property owners to use advanced environmental techniques to manage water and energy. It also has those property owners and the new development that occurs cover the cost so that current taxpayers don’t have to bear the expenses.
If Alexandria wants to be an environmental leader, the answer isn’t to cut back on transit and focus on cars, which is exactly what happens if we don’t do the Beauregard plan. It isn’t to oppose the Mirant settlement that led to the closure of the coal plant as one Democratic candidate for Council did. The answer isn’t to reduce options to walk or bike which opposition to recent city planning work would do. It isn’t to let old warehouses sit on the shoreline and to keep the waterfront covered with parking lots while we wait for a hundred million dollars to fall from the sky or we cut school, health and public safety funding, as one Democratic candidate has suggested, so the city can buy and develop all the private land. The answer isn’t to encourage growth out to the Blue Ridge.
The answer is to implement a world-class, environmentally sustainable vision for our community that forces property owners and developers to use green technologies, increases walking and transit, adds public open space and ensures all city plans reduce our impact on the water and improves our overall energy conservation.
The Sierra Club understood all of that with their Council endorsements of Justin Wilson, Sean Holihan, Tim Lovain, Del Pepper, Paul Smedberg and Donna Fossum. The work and record and policy views of these candidates exemplify Alexandria’s Eco-City plan and our work to create a sustainable city that thinks globally and acts locally.
Alexandria City Councilman