In case you missed it, yesterday afternoon, the Arlington County Board discussed, and then overwhelmingly (4-1) voted “to update its Green Building Incentive Program…emphasiz[ing] energy performance and reduced overall environmental impact for site plan developments that voluntarily seek incentives under the program.” Note that there’s been absolutely nothing controversial about any of this for nearly 15 years…until, that is, Republican and all-around demagogue John Vihstadt joined the Board (unfortunately).
Arlington launched its Green Building Incentive Program in 2000 and has updated it four times since then to ensure that the program incents developers to build exemplary projects that meet stringent environmental standards. Since 2000, 56 site plan projects have agreed to achieve LEED certification. Nineteen of these buildings have been built, achieved their LEED commitments, and complied with the green building site plan conditions, and another 20 are under construction.
Who could be against that? Well, nobody on the Arlington County Board (or apparently on the Arlington County Planning Commission, which voted unanimously to recommend approval of this update) — until now, that is. As was explained yesterday, this technical update to a popular, effective program was broadly supported, really hit the “sweet spot” in terms of getting everyone on board. Except, again, for the lone Republican on the Arlington County Board. Wait, you ask, a Republican is obstructing stuff for no good reason? That NEVER happens! But all snark aside, of course it does, all the time, at the federal, state, and now local level here in Arlington. Unfortunately, we’re now stuck with this particular Republican for four more years. Let’s just make sure we never make this mistake again.
P.S. As a commenter on Blue Virginia put it recently: “In opposing the 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan (ostensibly to protest the streetcar – which as an oped in today’s Washington Post explains, yet again, would be a huge positive for Arlington) Vihstadt also voted against money for schools, public safety, parks, economic development, street paving and bridge renovation. And despite his claims to be for affordable housing, he declined to vote (recusing himself) on the only measure to come before the board that would help affordable housing.” And again, now – for absolutely not good reason (listen to Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette’s explanation as to why that’s the case) – he’s voted against building energy efficiency. hat’s what we’re now stuck with for four freakin’ years. Great. Of course, Vihstadt’s whole shtick — being a demagogue but not seeming like one (by sounding perfectly calm and reasonable while doing so) — is full of…fill in the blank on that one.
P.P.S. I received the following comment from a Democratic member of the Virginia delegation in Richmond.
Now it begins… Today the Arlington County Board took the positive/sensible step to update its important Green Building Incentive Program. This energy efficiency plan reflects the County’s Community Energy Plan goals and provides incentives to site office building site plan developments in order to lessen environmental impacts. The voluntary program is designed to encourage the construction of buildings that are more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable than buildings built to code. Under the program developers are given the option of increased density if they achieve greater energy efficiency. This is a NO-BRAINER – but it wasn’t unanimous. Who voted against it? The Republican John Vihstadt.