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Missing Middle

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PLEASE ATTEND THE COUNTY BOARD MEETING JANUARY 21

Arlington County Board will on a Request to Advertise

New Missing Middle Draft Zoning for 8-plexes in Residential Areas

Email asf.virginia@gmail.com - let us know if you can speak (in person or virtual)

​​ASF Research Shows Missing Middle at Odds with Key Parts of the Comprehensive Plan

If you are worried about negative impacts of extreme infill, 

email  our sample letter to countyboard@arlingtonva.us

On April 28, 2022, Arlington County staff released its Missing Middle Housing Study (MMHS) Phase Two report givng us a preview of plans to change half of the county's land area from single to multi-family zoning.  That draft was further modified by staff, who produced an updated version of proposed zoning ordinances released October 31.  Those draft zoning amendments -- and some additional language added by the Planning Commission on December 15, would:

  • allow up to 8-plexes in all residential lots where they are not now allowed (with options to allow "only" 6-plexes, or to allow "only" fourplexes on all lots.

  • allow separate options for fourplexes on all lots, with "tiering" to allow up to 8-plexes on lots over 9,000 square feet and larger, or to allow 8-plexes on lots closer to transit);

  • reduce on-site parking requirements for most Missing Middle lots, from the current one parking spot per unit to one-half spot per unit (with options to vary requirements based on distance to mass transit);

There are several options designed to address community concerns on excess density and inadequate parking, (one option would cap annual Missing Middle build-outs to 21 new builds and 21 conversions from single-family homes).  Even with such modifications, the October 31 zoning amendments and the Planning Commission amendments represents SIGNIFICANT density, possibly 7 times the current population.  AS ASF has outlined in a comprehensive study published December 2022, the zoning changes will also push several key goals of Arlington's Comprehensive Plan further from reach (40% tree canopy, fewer vehicle miles traveled, becoming a "carbon neutral community" by 2050, preserving single family parts of the county). Although County  Attorney Corr told the Board that Missing Middle zoning could be "rolled back" at a later date, ASF believes that the new code would be irreversible. The board will not finalize new code until possibly March 2023, but all options on the table now will:

  • accelerate population growth that was already projected to add 63,000 people from 2018 to 2040, for whom the county conducted no new infrastructure or other key planning;

  • understate major impacts of much higher populations and teardowns;

  • exacerbate the gentrification being caused by Missing Middle zoning ALREADY in effect in historically-Black neighborhoods;

  • cause hardships for those at lower income levels.

Some options, if chosen, could:

  • result in much smaller developable lots with fee-simple sales of 3-unit townhomes and duplexes, with implications not yet fully assessed;
  • make it more difficult for those earning below the median income of $108,00 to find affordable housing in Arlington, OR require SIGNIFICANT NEW SUBSIDIES for those earning below 50% of median income; 

  • normalize parking a block from your house;

  • result in a 49% reduction of tree canopy on newly-developed lots.

The county says there is no need to plan for more infrastructure, including schools, stormwater, or truly affordable housing; even the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission is concerned that density is getting ahead of our infrastructure financing.

If you are worried about negative impacts of extreme infill,  use our sample letter and email it to countyboard@arlingtonva.us

ASF will continue to ask the county to:

  1. Fully reveal population growth that is allowed by maximum buildout of new zoning;

  2.  Study the fiscal, environmental and displacement impacts of the proposed 8-plex vs. current land use and zoning;

  3. Consider measures that are not irreversible nor as inflexible as zoning tools to address housing needs;

  • Email ASF to volunteer to speak at the first Board Meeting that will allow unlimited public comment or to volunteer or request a yard sign! ASF.virginia@gmail.com

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​​​Key Links:

ASF MM Links:

Arlington County MMHS Links:

Civic Groups/Arlington Non-Profit/Arlington Resident Inputs on MMHS Phase Two

Other Resources on Upzoning in Arlington and Beyond

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​​ASF also questions the "major housing crisis for mid-level earners" battle cry that has accompanied Arlington's MM campaign.  Zillow in January 2021 showed 335 homes/townhomes for sale in Arlington under $800,000 out of 536 total units, showing relatively robust supply.  The Missing Middle effort -- like an October 2020 failed effort to change affordable homeownership programs -- seems to favor higher income households at the expense of lower income groups

ASF is concerned that the county's MM plans, as with its other development plans -- including extensive new density along Langston Boulevard, is untethered from fiscal reality.  See the January 2021 ARLNow article by Peter Rousselot (ASF member) for more information on the tax implications of growth. Arlington in 2018 committed to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments that it would add residents equal to the combined populations of Charlottesville and Culpeper, approximately 65,000.  But five years on, the County has not budgeted for any added facilities such as schools or parks for these new residents.  In February 2022, the County Board approved a new sector plan for Pentagon City that will add 12,000 new residents to the 8,000 now living in that area over the next 40 years -- almost equal to the entire population of Falls Church -- without budgeting funds or public space to add adequate infrastructure. The County says it also won't need to budget for infrastructure or public services as it looks at densifying the Langston Boulevard Corridor.  And, no surprise, the April 28 Missing Middle study and corresponding analysis projects no new schools or facilities are needed despite up-zoning all remaining single-family areas that do  allow new multifamily projects currently.  The claim is not credible.

 

Additional Resources:

Arlington County Documents/Resources

ASF Documents

Third-Party Documents

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BEFORE: Two homes, owned by African American Arlingtonians on a treed lot in the historic Green Valley neighborhood

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AFTER: Eight townhomes, each priced at $850K, in the new "Towns of 24th" development violate budgetary, environmental, and diversity principles

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Ballston Row townhouse list price $1.1 Million, July 2020 Photo: Gary Anthes

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Photo: Gary Anthes

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Common Arlington cottage being torn down, along with with surrounding mature trees, to build a McMansion

house on 600sf lot

Single family home on tiny 1500 square foot lot sold in 2020 for $440,000. Zero yard. Missing Middle taken to the extreme?

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Newly built duplex in Halls Hill — a traditionally African American neighborhood — sold for $1.1 Million per unit

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Foxcroft Heights neighborhood — the last remaining area of the Freedman's Village — affordable homes give way to high-priced replacements

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Lyon Park Auxiliary Dwelling Unit (ADU) adjacent to a single family home provides a source of rental income for homeowners.

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Falls Church Railroad Cottages "affordable" units cost $700,000+

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Falls Church RR cottages - Missing Middle exemplar. City kept budget costs down by only allowing seniors (no school spending)

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Falls Church Railroad Cottages MM were developed in 2016 on land owned and inhabited by African-American families and businesses since just after the Civil War

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