Affordable Housing and Parks Compete for Space in Clarendon Sector Plan Update


Comments At Arlington County Board Meeting, April 23, 2022.

It’s unfortunate that staff continues to ignore the pleas of nearby civic associations to preserve the green space on 10th Street in Clarendon, which has been part of the Clarendon Sector Plan for years. Given that this update reduces Clarendon to a concrete urban canyon on par with Rosslyn and and Ballston, the need for usable, publicly available green space has never been greater.

Likewise it is lamentable that Joyce Motors must beg for a few tiles from its original façade and that the iconic Silver Diner must be reduced to rubble to satisfy developers’ greed.

I share the Park & Recreation Commission’s “concern about zoning changes that would impact the possibilities for a public park” and desire to retain 43,000 sq ft of public park space on 10th Street in its Dec. 2021 letter to the board.

Furthermore I concur with community activist Suzanne Sundburg’s criticism of the Clarendon Sector Plan as follows:

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  • Counting a street as “green” or “open” space is dishonest. This plan packs more people into a small space while reducing meaningful park and recreational areas.
  • The fact that the County Board controls the amount of density on most of the sector map, makes its density limits pretty much irrelevant, especially now that the affordable housing “bonus” density cap is gone.
  • Likewise, the tapering/step-back map is largely irrelevant, because there isn’t sufficient width of sites along 10th Street (abutting the residential areas) to provide meaningful tapering of building height. The promise to provide it is inherently dishonest and meaningless to those living nearby.
  • Brick-and-mortar retail is in the toilet. If you force buildings to contain retail space on the ground floor, why not make its uses as flexible as possible so that the space can be leased?
  • Preserving 3 whole building facades in the entire sector. Wow. I guess we cannot retain anything remotely human scale that might be appealing.
  • Building right up to the sidewalk and minimal real/functional green space amplifies climate change; it accentuates the claustrophobic nature of excessive building heights (not human scale); it makes the streetscape hotter, more sterile and less pleasant for walking.
  • Anyone who would ride a bike in a traffic-choked, congested area like Clarendon has a death wish. Adding more density won’t fix that problem.
  • The plans’s wall-to-wall concrete and asphalt space means any trees that may be planted are unlikely to survive to maturity.
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