BUILDING COMMUNITY FOR THE NEXT 100 YEARS
UPZONING IS FOREVER!
Breaking News! Missing Middle Housing Will Extend to All Arlington Residential Areas - County Board Rejects Civic Association Request to Delay Next Phase with New Zoning
On April 28, Housing Arlington staff released the Missing Middle Phase Two report including plans to allow duplexes up to 8-plexes in ALL areas where only single-family homes are now allowed. The report outlines as key goals increasing housing supply and adding different types of housing. The report fails to define the total possible new supply and additional populations projected, rules out new spending or any plans for more infrastructure, including schools or stormwater projects, contains no modifications for new single-family homes, and -- by raising the potential yield on every single family lot in all residential areas not already covered by MM zoning -- will stimulate even more teardowns, lot consolidations, and speculative investment that is making Arlington increasingly unaffordable. On May 10, the Civic Federation issued an emergency request for the Board to extend the planned timeline for the next phase of the study, which would include drafting new zoning ordinances following a July County Board work session. The Board rejected this request on May 12. See quick links below for text of both items. If you are worried about negative impacts of increased density, fill out the County's online feedback form on Missing Middle before May 27. More important, write NOW directly to the Board, noting that Phase 3 is being rushed; population growth, fiscal, environmental and displacement impacts have not been properly addressed; and that zoning changes, once implemented, can not be undone per Virginia law. Write to: email@example.com. See more info on our Missing Middle page.
Peter's Take: Arlington's Missing Middle Housing Morass, ARLNow, December 1, 2021
ASF Background on Plan Langston Boulevard, ASF, November 2021
ASF Video Presentation, What Do New Density Plans Mean for Me? Peter Rousselot, June 2021
Myths vs. Reality, April 2021, ASF responds to Missing Middle advocates
Growth Model: Arlington's model for growth is reflected in its General Land Use Plan (GLUP), related zoning, and a citizen compact since 1979 that has limited extreme density to the Orange Line Metro corridor. This compact is under threat as the county coordinates now more with regional jurisdictions on job and population growth than with its own residents, and has let several key players, such as JBG Smith, Amazon, and non-resident speculative developers, and some local non-profits, shape the way to more tech-sector growth. Arlington also faces the challenges for jurisdictions on both coasts where high-paid jobs have made housing scarce or too expensive. At the same time, we face the challenge of Covid, with a K-shaped recovery widening gaps between the top and the bottom of the income scales. Add the new reality of climate change, and Arlington needs to rally with creative community-based growth models that will play out over 30-40 years.
Changing Cityscape: On a practical level, the county is pursuing or has approved in the last decade major changes to entire parts of our community. Form-based code at Columbia Pike, a new skyline at National Landing with Metropolitan Park and Pen Place (Amazon HQ2), the Shirlington Arts-Industries area, the Clarendon Sector Plan, to name a few. Rosslyn is sporting towers over 30 stories, notable even in that dense corridor. Without creative new approaches, these and other growth trends will severely adversely affect our taxes, our infrastructure, our demographic/socioeconomic diversity, and our environment. ASF currently is focused on two of the initiatives that will greatly change our community: Missing Middle Housing and Plan Langston Boulevard, but also weighs in on general development especially in terms of financing and tax implications.
Missing Middle Housing: No jurisdiction in the U.S. has expanded affordable housing or diversity with Missing Middle housing, but Arlington is pursuing an expansive policy to allow -- likely with a vote by the County Board in October 2022 -- multi-plexes in single family areas in all single-family residential zones. The county has claimed that Missing Middle will offer housing affordability and equity, but ASF and others project the opposite effect, and county staff has admitted, that "affordability outcomes would require a separate staff effort." Furthermore, housing types recommended in its May 2022 report would not be affordable to Arlington's African-American, Latinx, or senior populations based on current median incomes for those groups.
Plan Langston Boulevard: The county has unveiled two projected scenarios, under the rubric of "Plan Langston Boulevard," for new land use and zoning along that corridor running west of Rosslyn to Arlington-East Falls Church. ASF believes both scenarios fail to account for major adverse fiscal, environmental impacts; do not address new infrastructure, particularly schools, roads, parks; and will severely erode market-rate affordable housing/diversity, effects we also predict for Missing Middle Housing, where plans are not as far along. PLB in fact includes some Missing Middle housing, and presages what we may expect with the next phase of that process.
The Upshot and How to Weigh In. ASF believes MM and Plan Langston Boulevard up-zoning (and up-GLUPping) both represent irreversible densification and a break from the county's 40-year agreement with residents to limit high-density development to Metro corridors. We hope you will share your views with the board (firstname.lastname@example.org)