“Missing Middle” Upzoning Could Bankrupt Arlington County

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, March 20, 2021.

If you’ve attended any of the County’s virtual sessions hyping so called “Missing Middle” housing as the solution to Arlington’s housing crisis, you should read Peter Rousselot’s ARLnow column debunking it.

Pointing to the Towns of 24th development in Green Valley, Rousselot reports that the starting price of each of the 8 town homes under construction is $800,000–$125,000 more than the assessed value of each of the two homes they will replace. According to Rousselot, the County’s own data indicate that most African Americans and Hispanics will not qualify for a mortgage on a Towns of 24th townhome.

Missing Middle upzoning will produce more housing to be sure, but that housing will not be affordable to current residents of Green Valley. Instead many of them will be forced to sell as developers bid up the price and assessed value of their property.

Not only will Missing Middle upzoning force moderate income people out of their homes, it will also degrade the environment. According to research done by Arlington Analytics, Towns at 24th will eliminate 40 mature trees and reduce the permeable surface of the lot by half, diminishing the aesthetic and health benefits of the existing neighborhood and inducing more runoff.

Some Missing Middle proponents ignore its negative social and environmental impacts, because it will net more tax revenue. According to Arlington Analytics, the increase in tax revenue at Towns at 24th will be offset by the increased cost in County provided services, resulting in a net fiscal loss of $140,000 over ten years. Instead of serving as a cash cow, upzoning could bankrupt the County.

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