Tracking Growth and Development in Arlington

As a vibrant community,  Arlington is always growing, but we see a need for more collaborative and deliberative planning.  To know where we are headed, it helps to see where we have come from.  Below are highlights from county officials' statements and developments that reflect those views in action, dating back over the past few years.

2020

2019

2018

2017

 

December 16, 2019

County Manager Mark Schwartz in his manager’s report launches a study of “Missing Middle” housing, a process that appears likely to include significant “upzoning” of neighborhoods now zoned for majority single-family housing.   According to patch.com, https://patch.com/virginia/greateralexandria/study-low-housing-inventory-arlington county staff will begin working on a study in March 2020, with work lasting about 18 months.

 

Erik Gutshall, county board member, at December 16 board meeting, on upzoning:  “we are not doing Minneapolis” [i.e., it will not be county-wide]

 

“Too much single-family zoning is leading to a proliferation of teardowns, Richard Tucker, director, Housing Arlington, quoted December 19 in  Arlington Prepares For Blowback As It Considers Adding Denser Housing, WAMU Affordabiility Desk

 

“The Board’s direction … has not included anything constituting a countywide upzoning or blanket change to the… ordinance at this time.”  Board Chair Dorsey quoted in the Washington Post December 28.  In housing-hungry Arlington, officials study whether to allow more duplexes, triplexes

 

“We have no firm plans or proposals in place and . . . the effort is largely conversational – gauging community opinions, formulating research."  Board Chair Christian Dorsey in a reply to CivFed President Sandy Newton addressing her concerns about changes to single-family neighborhoods, as quoted in December 13 SunGazette

 

“Starting from a blank slate with no proposed policy or zoning changes, a county-led team will use inclusive public engagement, a cross-disciplinary team… extensive data… and analysis… Neither an across-the-board rezoning nor an elimination of single-family zoning, would be the right fit for Arlington. “  Arlington County press release, December 18, 2019, announcing the launch of new housing studies

December 14, 2019

Arlington Board gives 5-0 thumbs-up for Amazon to build two 22-story office buildings at Metropolitan Park, a 2-mllion-sq.ft. complex at S. Eads St. and 15th St. S. in Crystal City.   This is the first of two projects for HQ2.  It includes 587,000 of bonus density and relief from county site plan stipulations on minimum parking spaces.  Amazon pledges $20 million for affordable housing in return, $12.5 million above the amount required. 

Arlington Board rezones part of Crystal City known as Crystal houses from RA6-15 (Multi-family dwelling district) to C-O-Crystal City (mixed use Crystal City District), thus adding density above and beyond what the site plan had stipulated. The board also approves construction of 1,657 new multi-family residential units and “modifications of zoning ordinance standards for residential parking ratio, surface parking, above grade structured parking.”  The county also agreed not to build planned Crystal House #5 and to begin a new SPRC process to “take full advantage of the density available.”

4th Quarter 2019

December 17, 2019

County board approves new rule for a 4.1 special exception site plan process to loosen zoning restrictions (last tightened in 2013) for construction or licensing of senior-care facilities across 18 zoning districts (vs. five), especially in Rosslyn, Crystal City, and Columbia Pike.  The rules also ease parking requirements. 

 

“Elder care facilities are an appropriate use for zoning districts which already permit multifamily development."   Nick Rogers, zoning amendment coordinator with the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

 Arlington County Board Approves Senior Housing Zoning Ordinance Amendments

December 16, 2019

County Manager Mark Schwartz in his manager’s report launches a study of “Missing Middle” housing, a process that appears likely to include significant “upzoning” of neighborhoods now zoned for majority single-family housing.   According to patch.com, https://patch.com/virginia/greateralexandria/study-low-housing-inventory-arlington county staff will begin working on a study in March 2020, with work lasting about 18 months.

 

Erik Gutshall, county board member, at December 16 board meeting, on upzoning:  “we are not doing Minneapolis” [i.e., it will not be county-wide]

 

“Too much single-family zoning is leading to a proliferation of teardowns, Richard Tucker, director, Housing Arlington, quoted December 19 in  Arlington Prepares For Blowback As It Considers Adding Denser Housing, WAMU Affordabiility Desk

 

“The Board’s direction … has not included anything constituting a countywide upzoning or blanket change to the… ordinance at this time.”  Board Chair Dorsey quoted in the Washington Post December 28.  In housing-hungry Arlington, officials study whether to allow more duplexes, triplexes

 

“We have no firm plans or proposals in place and . . . the effort is largely conversational – gauging community opinions, formulating research."  Board Chair Christian Dorsey in a reply to CivFed President Sandy Newton addressing her concerns about changes to single-family neighborhoods, as quoted in December 13 Sun Gazette

 

“Starting from a blank slate with no proposed policy or zoning changes, a county-led team will use inclusive public engagement, a cross-disciplinary team… extensive data… and analysis… Neither an across-the-board rezoning nor an elimination of single-family zoning, would be the right fit for Arlington. “  Arlington County press release, December 18, 2019, announcing the launch of new housing studies

December 14, 2019

Arlington Board gives 5-0 thumbs-up for Amazon to build two 22-story office buildings at Metropolitan Park, a 2-mllion-sq.ft. complex at S. Eads St. and 15th St. S. in Crystal City.   This is the first of two projects for HQ2.  It includes 587,000 of bonus density and relief from county site plan stipulations on minimum parking spaces.  Amazon pledges $20 million for affordable housing in return, $12.5 million above the amount required. 

Arlington Board rezones part of Crystal City known as Crystal houses from RA6-15 (Multi-family dwelling district) to C-O-Crystal City (mixed use Crystal City District), thus adding density above and beyond what the site plan had stipulated. The board also approves construction of 1,657 new multi-family residential units and “modifications of zoning ordinance standards for residential parking ratio, surface parking, above grade structured parking.”  The county also agreed not to build planned Crystal House #5 and to begin a new SPRC process to “take full advantage of the density available.”

December 2, 2019

Seven PTA presidents ask the Arlington School Board to not vote on any elementary school moves after the board proposes shuffling up to a quarter of Arlington’s elementary students.

November 18, 2019

The county indicates it is looking at using multiple public parks as future sites of county schools. 

The county supports APS conducting design and cost studies for three sites currently under discussion (Qunicy/Buck site, former VHC site, and Aurora Hills complex) to inform your CIP process.  Letter to APS from County Manager, November 18, 2019

November 19, 2019

The county board approved a funding request by Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority to widen the W&OD bike path, which would add impervious surface and require cutting of over a dozen mature trees in near East Falls Church metro in Arlington.

November 16, 2019

The county board approved new bonus density for affordable housing projects being built through the Site Plan Review Process across the county.  The move also redefined the terms “low or moderate income” to" allow the Board the flexibility to consider a higher affordability income range."

 

“In keeping with the goals of our Affordable Housing Master Plan and our Housing Arlington Initiative, the Board’s action … gives us flexibility to approve additional density above the 25% maximum we now allow.  We believe this … will encourage developers to add more affordable homes in their projects."  Board Chairman Christian Dorsey in county press release.

November 15, 2019

Board member Garvey visits a residential project where 200 trees were cleared “by-right” from a private lot in Chain Bridge, and says she is open to fixes.  “This destruction has caused substantial harm.  I went to our lawyer [to ask] is there something we can do and he said, maybe setbacks.”   Garvey said “she expects the review to take a few months and result in a set of

recommendations.”  https://www.arlnow.com/2019/11/15/housing-development-prompts-county-board-member-libby-garvey-to-ask-for-regulation-review/

November 12, 2019

Housing and Equity, Virtual Community Conversation Series,” part of Housing Arlington public forum to discuss affordable housing and equity in housing.  https://housing.arlingtonva.us/events/housing-arlington-community-conversation-series-3/

November 8, 2019

A 36” water main breaks in North Arlington, requiring many residents to boil water, and snarling traffic near Chain Bridge, Glebe Road, and the GW Parkway. 

3rd Quarter 2019

September 10, 2019

County board work session on Housing Conservation Districts, a new tool launched via "Housing Arlington" to address affordable housing. 

July 8, 2019

GW Parkway, Cherrydale Library, Westover stores, Unitarian Universalist Church, parts of N. 18th St., Chain Bridge, all close due to high water, and several homes and businesses flood in Westover, Waverly Hills , Halls Hill, and Ft. Myer.

2nd Quarter 2019

June 24, 2019

County board members discuss teardown/McMansion phenomenon with media outlet "Progressive Voice":

 

“While we … should respect individual property rights, we also should recognize the impacts…, including storm water runoff.  We must [ensure] the regulations are enforced, monitor and update our own ordinances, and work to obtain additional authority from Richmond … to make sure Arlington remains a sustainable place to live.”  Board member Matt de Ferranti

 

"We need to prioritize a diversity of housing forms and inclusive household

types, energy efficiency and sustainable building materials, access to transit and neighborhood shopping nodes, and quality green space.” Board member Erik Gutshall

April 25, 2019

Arlington County launches “Housing Arlington” initiative, citing a need for a "Missing Middle" housing program that will add density to single-family neighborhoods.  It promises an “expanded approach to an equitable, stable, adaptive community” and to address both “affordable and missing middle housing.”

April 12, 2019

Virginia adds $4 Million to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF) for affordable housing.  This follows a February decision by Richmond legislators to authorize $75 million for five years for affordable housing in Northern Virginia, part of the Amazon incentive package

1st Quarter 2019

February-March, 2019

In multiple meetings with civic and other local organizations, county officials project effects of Amazon locating HQ2 in Arlington.  A county board flyer distributed at the meetings indicates “Only 15-20% of the workers are expected to live in Arlington," and ”long-term plans are already underway for thousands of new residential units in Metro corridors, offering a range of new housing options, including a projected $7 m per year for 1,000 units over 10 years for affordable housing in and around the project area.” 

March 2019 - A local builder urges developers to support to the board for Amazon vote, saying “new Chairman [C. Dorsey] was very enthusiastic about more density throughout the county after Amazon’s arrival.  He wanted us to have more working sessions directly with the board to help make this happen.”

February 1 2019

County asserts in its flyer “Amazon in Arlington, What to Know” that “Arlington’s proposal is aligned with existing county-approved plans, including the Crystal City Sector Plan and the approved site and development plans… such as Metropolitan Park and Pen Place.” 

2018

November 12, 2018

Amazon announces plans to locate its second headquarters (HQ2) in Arlington’s Crystal City/Pentagon City area, now being branded as “National Landing.”  Virginia promises $819 million  on the condition the company brings 25,000 jobs to the area.

2017

December 16, 2018

Arlington Creates new Housing Conservation District (HCD) in 12 neighborhoods to guard against further loss of affordable units, requiring review before converting multifamily units into single-family houses.  The action affects older garden apartments and townhomes in Westover, Penrose, Lyon Park and Lee Highway areas, inter alia.  “Arlington Creates Housing Conservation District — but some say too quickly,” December 16, 2017, Patricia Sullivan, the Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/arlington-creates-housing-conservation-district--but-some-say-too-quickly/2017/12/16/db9c91a6-e283-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html

 

“By protecting density and… affordability, we protect our diversity.” 

-Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol, December 16, 2017, to the Washington Post

 
 
 

3rd Quarter 2020

September 12, 2020

Arlington County Board, approves changes to allow modifications to existing non-conforming duplexes by right, allowing homeowners of these units to modify or remodel their units.

2nd Quarter 2020

May 15, 2020

Arlington County Board, prior to its May 15 meeting, backs away from proposal to suspend -- for a period six months beyond end of the Covid-19 crisis --normal Site Plan Review Committee and Long Term Planning Committee review processes for development 

April 27, 2020

Arlington County Board approves new zoning to develop a 2.8 acre site for a six-story senior care facility on N. Taylor Street.  The developer contributes over $350,000 to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and commits to maintain an open public space on the site.  The facility replaces single family homes and one business. 

April 27, 2020

Arlington County Board approves use by Amazon (Acorn LLC) and Clark Construction of Metropolitan Park for staging and dewatering activities relating to HQ2 construction, for $10,000/monthly payments for three years.  Approval will result in cutting of 24 mature trees (although the park will be redeveloped as part of Amazon's eventual HQ2, tree removal had not yet been agreed by the community.

1st Quarter 2020

March 21 and March 24, 2020

In its first social-distancing board meeting (due to Covid-19), Arlington County Board approves new residential and hotel projects, higher density, in Rosslyn and Crystal City, adding up to one million square feet of density in these transit corridors, and reducing parking requirements, while negotiating public benefits including parks and a new library.  Affordable housing contributions were obtained in lieu of affordable units in the new buildings, except for 5% of new units in Crystal City project. Also see here.  

March 12, 2020

Wakefield High School suffers water pressure problems in much of the school because of supply issues with county pipes.

March 2, 2020

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu addresses county board on ways to plan for enhanced equity.

January 2, 2020

County Board votes in new chairman, Libby Garvey, inaugurates the board for new year, outlines priorities, and engages Civic Federation.  See Libby Garvey comments, Christian Dorsey comments, Katie Cristol comments, Erik Gutshall comments, Matt de Ferranti comments.

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