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.