This Sunday, a group called Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit (AST) is holding a fundraiser with former Rep. Tom Davis (R) and Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey (D). The #1 goal of AST is to stop a proposed streetcar project along Columbia Pike (supported overwhelmingly, and for many years, by both the Arlington and Fairfax County Boards), and to replace it with a mythical “Bus Rapid Transit” (BRT) system (I say “mythical” because you can’t have BRT without dedicated lanes, and that’s not possible on Columbia Pike).
Anyway, my question for today isn’t about AST or about the merits of the streetcar project (which I strongly support, by the way), but about former Rep. Tom Davis (R). The last we heard from Davis, he was making the case for the Republican “extreme team” ticket (Cuccinelli/Jackson/Obenshain) and how they could win the election on November 5. Uh, guess not – ha. Now, Davis is busy raising money to fight a streetcar in Arlington? Why?
I don’t know, but perhaps this 2005 Washington Post article might provide some clues regarding Davis’ attitudes towards smart growth?
[Rep. Tom Davis] says he’s deeply concerned that at the Vienna station, “smart growth” — the slogan of those who favor building more densely around transit stations to funnel population growth there rather than letting it seep deeper into the countryside — is really dumb growth, overly congesting both roads and rails.
Three Fairfax elected officials told me that Davis explained his opposition to the MetroWest development to them as a matter of party politics: The congressman believes that the people most likely to move into condos and townhouses near a Metro station are — oh, the horror! — Democrats.
One politician who spoke to Davis says the congressman told him straight-out that he opposes Pulte Homes’ MetroWest project because “all it does is produce Democrats.”
Of course, this doesn’t explain why Davis would care about a smart growth project like the Columbia Pike streetcar, given that it’s not in his (former) district. Perhaps it’s as one Virginia Democratic political power player told me, that “Republicans would like to see flat population growth in NOVA so it can’t completely dominate statewide races,” and that smart growth/high-density-development projects, such as flows from transit projects like Metro and streetcars, do indeed “produce Democrats,” as Davis so inelegantly (but correctly) put it back in 2005. The bigger question is, why are some Arlington Democrats working with Tom Davis to oppose this project? That’s what I don’t get at all.