In recent years, Arlington has set lofty goals to tackle the climate crisis and create a truly sustainable community and the County’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is a key mechanism to align government operations with these goals. The CIP, updated annually, generally anticipates planned investments 10 years into the future for new facilities, schools, equipment replacements, improvements to parks, stormwater, public transit, and other investments needed to support government operations. As the County’s finances are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, this year’s CIP only looks out through FY22-24. Nevertheless, the County has an opportunity to prioritize investment in meeting its goals for carbon neutrality, flooding mitigation, natural resource protection, and other environmental goals.
The FY22-24 draft CIP, however, lacks details on how the proposed investment will advance the County’s goals for climate change, sustainability, racial equity, and environmental justice and we are concerned that proposed spending does not sufficiently support these commitments. The Arlington County Board can bring proposed spending in line by ensuring that the CIP supports:
Transitioning to Zero Carbon Buildings – Numerous projects for new facilities and replacement of aging heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment in existing buildings offer an opportunity to maximize energy efficiency gains and shift away from natural gas base systems to all electric equivalents.
Moving to a Green Transportation System – The CIP should delay funding the replacement of ART buses until the County has plans to shift to cleaner electric buses. EcoAction Arlington supports the Sustainable Mobility for Arlington Campaign to incorporate funding in the CIP to support Vision Zero (safer streets, trails and pathways), speeding up transit, providing a safe route to every school, building out the bike network, and expanding and connecting the trail network.
Funding for New Open Public Space – The CIP does not set aside funding for the purchase of new open public spaces as called for in the Public Spaces Master Plan, which will limit the County’s ability to acquire property as it becomes available and to rectify historic inequities in access to public open spaces.
Arlington committed to doing its part to avert the consequences of this crisis, but a long-term plan with tepid commitment to climate goals cannot succeed. Ask the County Board to commit to these priorities in the FY22-24 CIPs by sending an email to CountyBoard@arlingtonva.us and speak at the public hearing on June 29 (you can sign up here). For more details, please read EcoAction Arlington’s letter (draft below) on the FY22-24 CIP.
This content originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of The EcoAdvocate newsletter produced by the EcoAction Arlington Advocacy Committee. For more information about the Advocacy Committee, please visit ecoactionarlington.org/get-involved/ecoaction-arlingtondvocacy/