BUILDING COMMUNITY FOR THE NEXT 100 YEARS
UPZONING IS FOREVER! GET THE FACTS!
Plan Lee Highway Survey, Open til June 20 - Weigh in!
Myths vs. Reality, April 2021, ASF responds to Missing Middle advocates
Presentation for ASF Public Meeting, What Do New Density Plans Mean for Me? Peter Rousselot, YouTube video, June 2021
Missing Middle Housing is High End Housing, Peter Rousselot, ARLNow, March 10, 2021
Spending Growth and Real Estate Taxes, Jon Huntley, Arlington Analytics, March 2021
Arlington Duplexes and Missing Middle, Jon Huntley, Arlington Analytics, March 2020
ASF Article on Missing Middle Housing, August 2020
Missing Middle and Other Approaches to Development
Arlington has been in Covid-19 mode since March 2020, limiting in-person public engagement and suspending work on some key initiatives. Covid also put major pressure on the county budget, although federal funds will cover some gaps. Covid may wreak long-term change, with more telework for some, wariness of public transit, and greater demand for green space/recreation. Low interest rates may skew home sales and increase speculative investment, while rental vacancies rise. As unemployment benefits and eviction protections fade, there may be long-term impact on front-line workers and those who lost income during the pandemic. Although outcomes for Arlington are not fully known, it is likely that the pandemic widened gaps between those at the top and the bottom of the income scales, demographics that would be affected by new zoning the county is exploring.
Despite these "unknowns," the county continues to fast-track a study launched December 2019 to introduce "Missing Middle" (MM) Housing in Arlington's single family neighborhoods. It released five research bulletins in summer 2020; staff fielded questions on September 2; the County Board approved a MM Scope of Work, Charge, and Timeline on September 22; and a virtual community "launch" followed on October 28. Phase One of the initiative has closed, yet ASF believes it did not produce the desired "common understanding," as the board rejected ASF's and CivFed's calls for a community working group. MM up-zoning would be an irreversible densification and a break from the county's 40-year agreement with residents to limit high-density development to Metro corridors.
County staff is now reviewing housing "types" that it will recommend to the board for further study.
While no jurisdiction in the U.S. has produced, through Missing Middle policies, an affordable housing supply or improved demographic or income diversity, Arlington is promoting MM as a social and economic tool for housing affordability and equity, even as staff told the board on September 22 that "affordability outcomes would require a separate staff effort" and public feedback revealed that affordability was the greatest concern about housing. As the county has rejected open dialogue on affordability or "attainability," we offer some ideas that truly address residents' needs:
adopt long-term fiscal models for budgets before approving new zoning that will accelerate population growth;
revisit zoning that has led to extensive tree loss by permitting extremely large homes on modest lots;
develop a long-range plan for new school seats for anticipated enrollment growth without repurposing parks for school use;
provide housing vouchers or coops for county employees;
address Virginia's ban on inclusionary housing;
promote remodeling, adaptive reuse and other policies for the best use of built and green space, avoiding teardown/new builds that hugely inflate land/home prices;
work with local groups to set up community land trusts;
fully fund existing Arlington commitments to acquire more public green space;
invest in sensible mass transit, instead of letting builders escape parking space requirements that adds to traffic and parking woes;
ensure state-of-the-art stormwater and tree canopy management to ensure we can manage our precious -- and increasingly stressed -- natural environment;
Invest in low-income communities to preserve cultural history and encourage economic redevelopment and improved educational outcomes.
These issues are explored across the expanse of our website. ASF is engaging robustly on Missing Middle and other aspects of development -- such as Plan Lee Highway, loss of green space to site plan development, accelerated gentrification, and tools to capture true costs of new projects from developers -- that relate to sustainability. We urge you to review our Key Issues pages. For more info on MM, you may visit our Missing Middle page. For our our most presentations and requests to the county, please see About Us.
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