"We plan on helping tenants and community members mobilize," said Gabriel Rojo, the executive director of Alexandria's Tenants and Workers United, which is organizing Beauregard-area residents. "People are going to testify and we're also going to do some sort of protest."
The Beauregard plan, in the works for several years, is a sweeping model for redevelopment in an already dense part of Alexandria. Residents, however, warned the makeover would force low-income people to move.
In response to residents' concerns, city planners revised the redevelopment plan to increase the amount of affordable housing it would create, adding nearly 100 units of lower-priced housing and increasing the city's contribution by $21 million.
Planners also agreed to survey area residents about housing needs, reduce building heights by 10 feet, retain a number of existing apartment buildings and add open space to the area -- all in response to community feedback collected over months of meetings.
But some tenants in the Beauregard area say they're still not satisfied with the plan. They worry that the affordable units -- some of which will be available to residents making up to $80,000 a year, although most will cap residents' income at $43,000 -- won't be truly affordable. And they want the council to delay a vote on the plan until after the city conducts its housing survey.
"We started to say, 'Look, why don't we vote on this thing after the survey's done?' " Rojo said. "All the data hasn't been collected. That was enough to make the tenants feel uncomfortable."
City officials say the plan is simply a guideline for future zoning in the Beauregard area, and that the city doesn't need the level of detailed information the survey would provide to make that decision.
"[The Beauregard plan] is a policy document -- it's not regulatory, not detailed. It's conceptual. It lays framework," said Faroll Hamer, the city's director of planning and zoning. "We have enough information to make the decision before council now."
City officials say the council may delay a vote on the plan beyond Saturday. Still, activists like Rojo say they're hoping to draw 50 to 100 people to the council meeting. So far, however, only four people have signed up to speak.