On Tuesday, March 15th, the Arlington County Civic Federation overwhelmingly passed a “Resolution to Restore the Public’s Confidence in Arlington County Government”. The title sounds worthy and noble. Our local government always has room to improve its civic engagement and public accountability, although YIMBYs of Northern Virginia noted the poorly thought-out clauses of the resolution itself, which seemed designed to merely express anger rather than solve problems.
However, the largest issues lay in the accompanying “report” (previously called the “Appendix”) which appears to be little more than a 100-page laundry list of personal attacks, vague accusations of dismissiveness by County staff and Board members, unfounded insinuations of conflicts of interest by Advisory Group appointees, plus multiple direct attacks on YIMBYs of Northern Virginia.
These repeated instances of the organization being targeted (more than a dozen times across the report) - apparently by authors who don’t want to welcome newcomers into Arlington or to make room for different kinds of housing that Arlington residents need as they move through life - is alienating and counter-productive to their stated cause.
The report is intentionally dismissive by referring to community engagement by Arlingtonian YIMBYs as ‘lobbying’, as per item 7.8. President Jane Green points out that “sixty percent of Arlingtonians are renters. That is not a special interest group. That is the majority of the County. Plenty of citizen groups in Arlington mobilize their followers to speak at public meetings, but only our group specifically advocating for renters is criticized in the Report.”
Vice President for Arlington, Grace White: “YIMBYs of Northern Virginia have effectively turned out renters and other folks typically not seen in the past at County Board meetings, and I am proud of what we have done there. However, there is still work to be done in seeking out the voices of people who can’t take time away from work and family to attend a civic association or county board meeting. These are the pressing issues of engagement and policy Arlington faces, and disappointingly, they seem largely unconsidered in this resolution.”
Adam Theo directly addresses the future of better engagement: “The authors may say that their goal is to be more inclusive of all opinions, however the authors of the Civic Federation resolution continually insinuate that the views of YIMBYs and renters aren’t as valid as others.”
The Report also contains many basic factual errors and typos, including mis-attributing a Twitter account to us (item 6.2.1) and multiple instances of stating our name incorrectly. A simple fact check or reaching out to our organization (which never occurred) would have enabled them to avoid these mistakes. Adam Theo urges “if those who are opposed to our mission of growth, prosperity, and solving Arlington’s housing crisis want to attack us, they should at least have the decency to get basic facts about us right. We request the Civic Federation leadership and sponsors of the resolution reach out to us to remedy the damage which has been caused after our attempts at reaching out have gone unanswered.”