Monday, June 15, 2009

The VBTA Endorse Light Rail?

The Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) has trotted out a "We've taken no official position" line on light rail in Virginia Beach. Okay, their Board members have made any number of statements against it, the VBTA opposed the funding of the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS), and their Transportation Chairman (Reid Greenmun) can't open his mouth without attacking it. Besides, it's nothing but a ruse to try to snag a seat in the Study process to try to sabotage the project.

However, what if the VBTA really wanted to endorse light rail? What would the Statement look like? Well, I decided to write a draft for them:

"The Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA), after much deliberation, has decided to endorse extending Norfolk's light rail Starter Line from Newtown Road to the Done site in Virginia Beach. Such a project would help achieve many goals that the VBTA has championed.

First there is the Beach's acutely unfavorable residential to commercial real estate ratio. Redevelopment along the rail line should produce additional top shelf commercial redevelopment that would help take some of the burden off current homeowners.

Light rail would also be a catalyst for jobs creation, with the additional new businesses in the transit corridor.

Using a light rail line to induce redevelopment of the Strategic Growth Areas (SGAs) puts off the issue of a Redevelopment & Housing Authority, an entity that we adamantly oppose.

Jump-starting redevelopment of the SGAs will aid the City in holding development at the Green Line. Remember that environmentalism was one of the three core principles of now-defunct CACI, a forerunner of the VBTA.

An enhanced mass transit system in Virginia Beach would help people get to work. In fact, 70% of trips on Hampton Roads Transit are people commuting to/from work. That means fewer citizens on entitlement, and a lessening of the social ills associated with high unemployment.

The additional housing units in the Newtown and Pembroke SGAs would provide market-based relief for homeowners. Should the number of new units start to dry up with greenfields dwindling north of the Green Line, assessments on existing homes would skyrocket. Simple Law of Supply and Demand: if Supply evaporates, price goes up.

In addition, such new units would provide opportunity for "come heres". Many of our Board of Directors members are transplants to Virginia Beach, and we'd be hypocrites to deny future generations the same chance we took and enjoyed.

Finally, light rail is an instrument of political change. When one can get on a train elsewhere in the region and travel to Virginia Beach in minutes for bus fare, things at the Beach will change dramatically.

Therefore, we encourage the Virginia Beach City Council and Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads to proceed with Virginia Beach light rail quickly but prudently. Since our endorsement clears the last possible noteworthy organized opposition to the project, no referendum is necessary."

Of course, it's inevitable that the VBTA will officially oppose the project, no matter how good the DEIS looks. Their "wait and see" position is one of the most transparent political lies since "Gorbachev is ill in the Crimea."

My point? Light rail even achieves many of the VBTA's goals. The problem is that they're too blinded by their own dogma and prejudices to get it.


Reid Greenmun said...

So many myths about the fantasy "benefits' of light rail all bundled up in one place!


I note that henry is still obsessed with the VBTA. Obvously our efforts to reveal the truth regarding light rail in Virginia beach have the prolight rail folks concerned.

The VBTA supports a referendum in keeping with the promise that Will Sessoms made during his campaign.

In our nation our government is required to have the consent of the governed.

In this case "the governed" have already voted in a referendum and rejected a light rail line along to old NS ROW. This fact now requires another referendum for our representaitves to determine the will of the people on this matter.

The DEIS and AA will offer useful information for determining the benefits of light rail and seperating the myths from reality.

The VBTA welcomes such information.

The VBTA is correct to object to a dishonest process planned for manipulating the "public input process" to result in a preconcieved outcome. Any rational and honest citizen and taxpayer would do the same.

As Henry knows, I have clearly articulated that due to the global economic disaster we now face, the availability of easy credit for developers to be able to afford to construct TOD has vanished. With this lack of credit so too vanishes the notion that light rail will result in the private sector building very expensive high density TOD.

The VBTA pays attention to taxes. It is what our organization focuses upon.

The proposed LRT and feeder bus system will result in between $8M to $12M a year in new taxes.

What spending does Henry Ryto propose the City Council cuts in order to cover these new taxes?

Avenging Archangel said...

I'm not "obsesed with the VBTA". Simply the VBTA keeps providing me great material for my blog.

No new taxes for Operating and Maintenance costs are needed, Reid. VNS and you keep spreading the lie that Norfolk wants Virginia Beach in on light rail to dump Norfolk expenses off onto the Beach. I've pointed out elsewhere that that's prohibited under HRT's operating agreement. The real reason Norfolk wants the Beach in is to get the Feds to pick up O & M. Norfolk already has received a two year grant to cover initial O & M. Having Virginia Beach in cements Washington picking up the tab.

Anonymous said...


Wishful thinking. The VBTA made up their mind long ago...anything that is progressive and new in Virginia Beach is not acceptable to the VBTA.

Fortunately, the voters see that and continue to trounce their candidates at the polls!

Avenging Archangel said...

Anon 11:05,

I covered that in my last two paragraphs of the post. My point was to show that even the VBTA has things to win through light rail getting built.

Too bad Neanderthals like Dean and Greenmun are calling the shots....

William Bailey said...

I support light rail but believe Sessoms should get voter approval before building the track. We need voter to ride it to make it work in VB.

So help me here: "First there is the Beach's acutely unfavorable residential to commercial real estate ratio. Redevelopment along the rail line should produce additional top shelf commercial redevelopment that would help take some of the burden off current homeowners."

Henry: What does "top shelf" mean in VB? More strip shops? How many sub sandwich or hair cutting shops do we really need? IMO: With our military and retired citizens, VB is not a "top shelf" economic town but more of a working blue collar/middle class community. Help me with your "top shelf" comments and what do you think a light rail line is going to bring us other than contruction jobs(nothing wrong with construction jobs) and a future of low paying service jobs. Thanks.


Avenging Archangel said...


Mostly high-quality office buildings. Given the zoning and land assembly costs, it's unlikely a developer would build a strip mall in a TOD zone. In addition, it would probably be in violation of the design guidelines.

Wally Erb said...

William: "We need voter to ride it to make it work in VB."

I believe you have the wrong concept. Light rail is based upon "the build it and develop, and they will come". The success of urban and TOD development is incumbent on growth projections. It is not about servicing current populous. The expected population, jobs, and revenue will have to require a proportional governmental services growth to handle those needs. To say whether or not one supports light rail and/or the urbanization expansion is not the question. The business case is whether or not there are economies of scale in the growth.
If there are it is a sound proposal.

William Bailey said...

Henry: We already have "Mostly high-quality office buildings" that are empty in VB. Do we need more? And just what type office jobs do you put in high-quality office buildings that light rail will bring to us that we currently do not have? I’ve use light rail in several cities during my Navy career to get to work but it wasn’t cheap or a reliable method to travel as there were always too many connections to make. In Norfolk/VB, they are not even running it to Naval Station Norfolk during the first phase. The Navy base should be the FIRST place we start building light rail as those sailors/civilians are likely to be the heaviest users! Have you seen I64 during the morning and afternoon traffic jams?
BTW: Light rail isn't going to change the geography, transportation (i.e.: ports and highways-container trucks) and economic climate of Virginia Beach. VB has a lot to offer except we are a cul-de-sac community with a beach. Your “high quality office buildings” are the dream of those developers who’ll let everyone else pay to build light rail but they will profit from the side growth. Not a bad gig if you can pull it off.
Wally: I do support the building of the rail but I'm not going to fund it with my few trips each year. I'd use it if it was built to go to Norfolk's mall, the Tides baseball or an Admirals hockey game. I base my opinion/comments on the fact that ridership will come from the military, voters, taxpayers and tourists. Tourists aren't going to pay for this one alone. Sound proposals without support from the taxpayers and a solid consistent ridership will fail… I do not want light rail to fail.
And finally: Sessoms made the commitment to get the voters approval when he was running for office. I know it is a bit much to expect some folks to retain some level of integrity and follow thru with their pre-election position but I do. It only seems reasonable that the city council is being pushed to build this without fully understanding the cost, impacts AND ridership by the local developers, hotel owners and others who will profit from the future building that might occur as a spinoff of light rail. Get the approval of the voters and taxpayers and there is no further debate EVER. Unless City Council, City Staff and the business community is misleading all of us, there is enough support among the voters to approve a referendum in 2009 or 2010. Why not trust the voters after all; they elected the current folks into office didn’t they?

Avenging Archangel said...


An EVMS to Naval Station Norfolk via ODU extension study is being done in conjunction with Newtown Road to Dome site. Virginia Beach has made it clear that it won't build without that extension.

Joe Bouchard has stated that as Norfolk CO, he regularly had to fly VIPS between Naval Station Norfolk and Oceana NAS. Doing both extensions would allow sailors to go between those bases by train.

On redevelopment, look at what's in the TOD zones now. LRT on average hikes land values 26%. The day the first train runs many of those lower-end uses become obsolete.