March 2024 Ashton Heights Newsletter


The March 2024 newsletter is linked below. If you have any comments or questions, email

Looking at the End Game
by Scott Sklar, President, AHCA

I usually contribute very upbeat President columns.

I am very upbeat on this community and on the civic association. I am very upbeat on all of you I meet in our neighborhoods. And many of you who know me, know that I love teaching at the university, truly enjoy my 23 year-old global sustainability business, and giving weekly tours to engineers, architects and international visitors at my two self-powered buildings on N. Ivy Street, where I have lived now for 40 years.

I am starting off this way, because I am going to be grouchy, but not because I am unhappy. I feel very blessed, but am unhappy on some external and internal issues that are impacting our lives here in Arlington. And I want to articulate it, mostly to spur positive dialogue and discussion. I am not lobbying for anything.

When I moved here in 1980, I did so for several reasons. I wanted to be close to Washington, DC where I worked and socialized. I enjoyed DC’s museums, restaurants, and cultural offerings – and still do. So, I bought a house in an area with trees, littered with parks, and at the time, Clarendon had varied restaurants and small owner-owned shops. I was happy the Metro was opening in the corridor, and that there were lots of bicycle shops. I also enjoyed that the houses were old and varied – definitely not little boxes all looking alike. And I truly enjoyed people building onto their houses, as I did, as their families grew. Raising a daughter here was amazing, and aside from parks and great schools, there were fabulous families and lots to do both in Arlington and Washington, DC.

But as we leave the first quarter of the 21st century, some of this sheen is wearing off. Traffic is more congested, drivers are less patient and courteous, as are pedestrians and bicyclists plowing through in front of green lights. Loud horns and vehicle revs are more common in the middle of the night.

And now housing is getting bigger or multiple units cover the lots – old trees being dragged down, less lawns for kids to play and hold neighborhood barbecues. Aside from the market forces, I have been unnerved that County professionals have played into these trends of losing tree canopy and getting more congested. And then finally, I’m frustrated with the Arlington County Board, specifically the process of missing middle which morphed into EHO – it became clear “the Arlington Way” that many of us were most proud, had vaporized away.

Arlington has also set historic building goals, and I see moves to knock down historic buildings and not incentivize individual owners to keep our varied rich architecture. I am not talking about keeping the façade of Joyce Motors in a multi-story building, but rather stand-alone buildings of varied significance.

I am proud of Arlington’s quality education, adoption of a strong greenhouse gas emissions reduction and green energy CEP plan, but the transformation to electric buses and more EV charging stations is way too slow, which is a disappointment.

I have great concerns that Arlington is moving to super-density in Clarendon, more cement than trees and open spaces. My personal concern is that it will change the nature and quality of life of our neighborhoods. More noise, pollution, light, and people. We know there are solid options to mitigate these stressors. And I do believe our Civic Association is poised to face these challenges head-on.

Through all of these challenges, AHCA has stayed surprisingly consistent. We have a strong effort in County involvement in preserving tree canopy, stormwater education, promoting bicycle lanes and traffic calming. We have had a long-term positive relationship with the Arlington County Police. AHCA’s focus and organization around development, land-use planning, and project approval is strong, and top-of-the-line. And as issues come up, our committees on schools, housing, open spaces, and neighborhood conservation have strong leads who closely track on these issues.

To be clear, I feel we have some serious challenges on the array of issues we have identified as central to our community. But I am also confident that AHCA is structured to address them head on. And special thanks to the many who lead and staff our committees and follow these issues. Even more thanks to those who contribute to our newsletter and participate on our listserv. We have much to be thankful for, and we have some serious challenges. I look forward as we work together to face them, change them, and make our community the best it can be. Yes, “it takes a village”. Happy Spring!

One thought on “March 2024 Ashton Heights Newsletter

  1. Scott, thank you so much for your thoughtful and reasoned words on these issues we are facing. We have lived in the community since 1996 and have always loved the character of the community and its access to everything in the area, as you note. The noise levels are indeed increasing and any mitigation efforts are greatly appreciated. We are also sad at the loss of the tree canopy, from development and disease, the neighborhood looks a lot more bare these days, which is very sad. I love the annual tree planting efforts organized by Ashton Heights and take comfort knowing that one day those small sticks in the ground will bring back the beautiful shade that once covered our area.

    Thanks again and let’s keep up the push for preserving, while advancing our community

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *