What a start to 2017 we've had.
Here in Arlington, I've been working hard with other community members, as well as my colleagues, to resist the Trump administration's dark vision of America. We're marching for our long history of refugee resettlement, standing up for our public schools and seeking to strengthen our support for vulnerable community members (stay tuned for the launch of a new, one-stop webpage of resources for our immigrant community and FAQs on immigration enforcement).
Even better than protesting, though, is showing what great things a diverse, inclusive community can achieve together. With that in mind, here are a few developments I'm particularly proud of in Arlington in January and February:
Protection and Justice for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors
Survivors of domestic violence in our community are now safer from gun violence, thanks to an important new state law championed by State Senator Barbara Favola, and many weeks of coordinated, inter-agency work here in Arlington by Project PEACE (a group I'm honored to co-chair). The presence of a firearm makes it five times more likely that domestic violence will result in a murder, so this new protocol will save lives in Arlington County. See more in this ArlingtonTV video segment.
Additionally, thanks to the great advocacy of our Commission on the Status of Women to include a "Survivor's Bill of Rights" state law in Arlington's legislative package this year, Delegate Mark Levine has introduced a new bill that would keep forensic evidence longer after a child is victimized by sexual assault. The bill would allow childhood survivors more time to process their experiences and make a decision about prosecution as an adult. Hear more in this radio story, and big kudos to our CSW for continuing to lead on this issue.
Civic Leadership on Facilities Planning
After many months of recruitment, selection and careful development of their scope of work, our new Joint Facilities Advisory Commission is all aboard and getting to work. This group of 21 citizens will advise the School and County Boards on both long-term facilities issues like demographic projections and capital planning and short-term issues like land acquisition opportunities and use determinations. Tomorrow, I'll join the JFAC and hit the road on a bus tour of important sites around the County.
As you may know, we passed a "short term residential rental" ordinance at the end of 2016. In plain English: we legalized AirBnB in the County. For procedural reasons, we had to wait another month to take one more important step: Allowing renters, with permission from their landlords, to participate in listing their primary residences for short-term stays. It was encouraging to see many young Arlingtonians and renters raise their voices, participate in the development of this policy and ensure it fully included them.
Celebrating Economic Development Success
We are thrilled to welcome Nestle USA to Arlington and to Rosslyn. Their relocation is a once-in-a-generation economic development win and is terrific news, given our longstanding challenge with high commercial vacancy rates. Nestle's arrival is a reminder that, with great schools and neighborhoods, a strong transit system and one of the highest concentrations of educated millennials in the country, Arlington is ready to adapt and evolve our economy.
We have some hard work still ahead this year - and not only with regard to Administration and Congressional action. In particular, we're looking at an incredibly challenging budget year, including cuts and potential revenue adjustments to absorb the huge jurisdictional subsidy increases necessary to fix Metro. The budget process will kick off with the presentation of the County Manager's draft budget on February 25th; you can follow along on the FY18 Budget webpage.
Thank you, as always, for your support. And warm thanks for those of you who shared good wishes as I became Vice Chair of the Board last month. I can't imagine a better place to live and lead than Arlington County.