BUILDING COMMUNITY FOR THE NEXT 100 YEARS
UPZONING IS FOREVER! GET THE FACTS!
ASF Letter to Arlington County Board on MM Phase I, January 13, 2022
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 coordination with regional jurisdictions on job and population growth, as well as visions of Amazon-fueled 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. In the meantime, look for additions soon to our Development Page that provide more info on these basics of growth, planning, and fiscal consequences of current growth models, including by-right and site plan developments.
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 currenty is focused on two of the initiatives that will greatly change our coummunity: 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 multi-plexes in single family areas, most likely in areas zoned R-5 and R-6 and along transit routes, but possibly 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, even at the end of Phase 1 of its MM study in late 2021, that "affordability outcomes would require a separate staff effort."
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 presaging 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 (email@example.com)