Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bham Deal is Sham; Loitering & Drinking Meeting

Thanks for checking out the Herald Trib today. Two pieces:

From earlier in the week:

One last note: I'll be out of town at a conference for much of next week. I won't be posting then. However, I will try to have a bunch up before I go.

Letter to Editor: Sham Deal—Bham Unaffordable.
[Editor’s note: This letter originally came to me as an email on the Arlington New Directions List Serve. I’m reposting it with the permission of the writer. Also, he originally wrote that Buckingham Villages had 560 units, which was wrong. Others on the listserv pointed it out, and he asked me to make the change before posting the letter here. –Steve]

I am going to enter my dissent on the demolition and gentrification of Buckingham: I think it was a disgrace, a cop out, and a sorry statement—I don’t see how keeping perhaps 100 of the original 460 apartments as “affordable” is a good deal for anybody.

As to the question of purchasing condos, I fail to understand how a one bedroom, renovated apartment costing $300,000 minimum is a good deal for anybody. Condo prices are dropping like a stone; interest rates now exceed 6.7%. Getting someone making a $40,000 income into making monthly principal, interest, condo fee and tax payments of $2,300 for a one-bedroom condo is not "affordable housing" in my opinion.

The best outcome for Buckingham would have been the County Board to have designated it as an historic property, then condemned and taken the entire three villages and then sell them to a nonprofit housing group to continue to operate as basic rental housing for the many people who make less than $30,000 a year—including the elderly, and disabled. It also would have historically preserved a unique apartment complex, now largely destroyed.

One of the 20 fresh ideas for affordable housing in Arlington was the creation of a new Arlington housing authority which would both own says the 460 units now destroyed at Buckingham and have the financial resources to directly finance the purchase of such apartments. This authority would directly own and preserve these apartments as RENTAL housing!

Arlington existing non-profit housing groups, particularly AHC is a partner with Paradigm Development Company the Buckingham owner and developer, have become housing developers rather than housing preservers. I do not trust AHC to preserve and maintain Arlington's historic garden apartments.
The Arlington Green Party has decided to endorse the creation of an Arlington Housing Authority through a voter referendum on the November ballot. We hope that those of you interested in affordable housing in Arlington will support the creation of the housing authority.

If Arlington had a housing authority at the time of Paradigm proposed to demolish historic Buckingham Villages 1 through 3, the housing authority could have both financed and owned the units which would have been kept for the roughly 1,600 tenants evicted.

We of course would have needed a County Board with both a backbone and a genuine commitment to affordable housing that the current one has never demonstrated.

--John Reeder

Loitering and Public Drinking to Be Topic of Meeting Next Week

Long-time Buckingham resident James Vandeputte has spoken to--it seems like--just about anyone who would listen regarding the courtyard behind his apartment at Arlington Oaks and the loitering he sees around the CVS at the corner of N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road.

The courtyard at night turns into a bit of a “beer party.” There’s public drinking, urination, defecation and littering, he said. He said he sees similar activity around the CVS and Glebe Market.

He has spoken to management at Arlington Oaks. He’s spoken to local and regional managers at the CVS, and the sales office of Buckingham Commons (the new townhouse development going in to Buckingham Village 2 at the corner of N. Henderson Road and N. George Mason Drive). He’s spoken with Arlington County Police Officer Lutz.

“This neighborhood is changing into a slum, ghetto, Skid Row,” he said in a recent interview. Mr. Vandeputte has lived on the 4300 block of N. Pershing Dr for about 12 years. He has lived in the neighborhood since 1974, he said.

This courtyard becomes a "beer party" Mr. Vandeputte said.

He has spoken with Marlene Oronao, the code enforcement officer for the Historic District of Buckingham, which includes the Gates of Ballston and the Historic Ballston Park apartments and the commercial strips at the corner of Pershing Drive and Glebe Road.

She’s been working with management of the CVS to clean up the litter on their property and has been happy with the results in that area, but she knows that more must be done to stop public drinking and other problems that come with that, she said.

For that reason, she has convened a meeting of about 10 or more local leaders and mangers for next Wednesday to discuss what can be done, to get people to the same table to talk, she said.

Some of the problems are code enforcement, and she said she wants the owners and managers to know what their responsibilities are. She said the police will be there to discuss the legal matters, such as trespassing and public drinking and urination.

This meeting is not intended to be an open, public meeting. Ms. Oronao said she would normally just do all this by telephone, but getting everyone together at one time was important to her.

Mr. Vandeputte has said that he plans on putting together notes that he wants to share with neighbors and other civic organizations.

[One note: I cannot be there--I'll be out of town--but I will have coverage the following week, after I get back. --Steve]

Police Notes for Buckingham

June 18: Burglary, 300 block of N. George Mason Dr. Between 1:30 and 10a.m., someone entered an apartment through an unlocked door and took a wallet and clothing.

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Considering what The Green Girlfriend and I saw tonight, I agree that public partying could be a growing problem in Buckingham. At midnight there was loud music and pot smoke coming out one window at the exact same time as a guy was peeing in the middle of the road on Thomas St. near the corner with Henderson.

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