ASF QUESTIONS FOR ARLINGTON COUNTY BOARD JULY 7 SPECIAL ELECTION CANDIDATES
MAY 28, 2020
KEY ISSUE #2: ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
Question 2 (one part):
Trees - Residential and commercial development are putting major stress on Arlington's tree canopy, now hovering near 40%. What specific steps would you take to stabilize and expand Arlington's tree canopy?
Taki Karantonis Response:
As a former Board chair of Arlingtonians for Clean Environment (ACE), now EcoActionArlington, I know that trees are an important part of Arlington’s ecosystem and are a front-line response to climate change. As fortunate as Arlington is to have 40% canopy coverage (a higher percentage than many comparable Virginia communities), we must be vigilant in our protection of this resource.
As a Board Member I would actively support:
1. Increasing funding for open space acquisition, aggressively seeking out parcels for purchase, and proactively planting significantly more trees on Arlington public lands and rights-of-way each year than are lost to disease and construction. We need to replenish the canopy every year so that, in the long run, Arlington will continue to have sufficient tree canopy.
2. Evaluating plans for construction or expansion of all public buildings to ensure that they are done in the least disruptive manner possible. As an example, as a BLPC member, I argued for re-using an existing privately-owned parking garage next to the Career Center, rather than building a new one on open green space adjacent to the Montessori Public School. I would also work with School Board colleagues to preemptively preserve trees to the greatest extent possible in their projects, and, where preservation is not possible, add tree groves and other accumulations of trees to their sites, acknowledging that increasing school space is a key priority for our community.
3. Establishing a Dashboard for Natural Resources that would focus on metrics like tree preservation, un-programmed open space and stream valley habitat protection. This publicly available source of information would inform County Board decisions and allow citizen activists to monitor our financial and personnel efforts in this important area of community sustainability.
4. Adding tools to the County's toolbox to better balance the impact of single-family developments on the environment. Between the expanded footprint of many of these homes and severe weather events, many mature trees have been lost in recent years. New tools should include tax incentives for preservation of mature trees and strict enforcement, including fines, for violation of preservation goals.