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A Green and Beautiful Pentagon City: Comments on the Sector Plan Update

February’s general County Board meeting was an active one with over 100 public comments and the vote on the long-planned Pentagon City Sector Plan update. This revision to the neighborhood-wide framework will result in greater density, walkability, and hopefully expanded green space in the neighborhood immediately around the Metro station on the Blue and Yellow lines.

I’ll get more into my thoughts on the processes and politics of the update soon, but right now I’ll simply share my public testimony with the video starting at my comments (6:05) below that.

Good afternoon, members of the Arlington County Board.

I want to focus on the opportunity that greater density gives for expanding green space, planting more trees, and improving our environment in Pentagon City and across Arlington.

The county does not always handle this balance well, with large parts of Rosslyn and Crystal City still being massive plots of concrete and asphalt. And as two public commenters mentioned this morning, even a huge loss of mature trees in an ultra-*low* density single family residential development on North Ridgeview Rd. I am eager for that not to be the case here.

You must make sure that all additional community benefits and new public facilities such as schools, a neighborhood library, or expanded Aurora Hills Community Center are integrated into the new density, not built out at the expense of Virginia Highlands Park. I have no doubt it can be done as part of the new high-rises. With that we can have the best of both worlds – lots of new housing *and* increased beautiful green spaces.

I welcome a Pentagon City that has high levels of density around the metro station – exactly where it’s appropriate and sensible, with thousands of new neighbors, greater housing affordability, additional commercial activity, and expanded green space that this updated plan brings. I welcome not only the “green ribbon” walkways but also more trees along streets and in parcels that are currently surface parking lots. I welcome more opportunities for safe and friendly areas for children to play – not just dedicated playgrounds, but also casual open areas throughout Pentagon City – especially the RiverHouse site. I welcome the reduced carbon footprint that residents of denser, transit-oriented communities produce – helping to clean our air and fight climate change.

I will be looking for hard numbers and calculated metrics on trees and open acreage as we move into the site plan processes. But undoubtedly, this is an excellent end result of a plan, especially with the recent changes as of this month in expansion of green space in the RiverHouse site across from Pentagon Row. It is possible to have a green and beautiful high-density neighborhood surrounding a metro station, next to the world’s largest office building, and directly across the river from the nation’s capital.

Please pass the sector plan update with amendments to the general land use plan and modifications to the master transportation and public facilities maps – and let’s move on to the many site plans where the decisions about community benefits and trees will be made.”