PRESS RELEASE: Arlington Claims Ongoing Housing Discrimination to Bolster Case for Upzoning

October 12, 2020.

As the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board on November 3, I’m concerned that my opponent, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, is misusing the racial justice movement to push upzoning on County residents.

In a September 24 County press release, Garvey indicated that the purpose of upzoning, which replaces single family homes with townhouses and duplexes, is to redress exclusionary policies that have locked minorities out of residential neighborhoods. She said: “Without changes these policies will exclude ever more people from being able to live in Arlington.

Unfortunately upzoning will likely have the opposite effect. Studies have shown that due to ever increasing land values no one earning less than area median income will afford the housing built on densified lots. In addition many moderate income residents, including people of color, will be forced to sell when real estate assessments escalate in their upzoned neighborhoods.

In another press release, Garvey emphasized the Board’s resolve to address “historic and ongoing patterns of discrimination,” implying that homeowners in predominantly white, residential neighborhoods are racist.

This drew an angry rebuke from Bill Roos, member of Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future (ASF)who reported in a letter to the editor of the Sun Gazette that the County has produced no evidence to support ongoing housing discrimination. He said:

The county government’s own summary of housing complaints shows that there were no – zero – complaints of housing discrimination based on race, color or national origin in the latest year for which data is available, 2019.

Bill Roos of ASF

Worse still, both Mary Margaret Whipple and Michelle Winters, who lead the Alliance for Housing Solutions (AHS), the principal advocate for upzoning Arlington, own homes assessed at over $1 million.

Is densification the solution for their upscale Arlington neighborhoods? If so, do they plan to make a killing by flipping their homes to a developer who will replace them with duplexes? If not, why are they pushing densification on their neighbors?

If elected, I plan to demand answers to these questions from those pandering the illusion that upzoning will solve racial inequities in Arlington County. I will also:

  • Say YES to affordable housing, and NO to upzoning.
  • Use bond money for needed facilities not boondoggles.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear cutting wooded areas as the first line of defense against runoff and flooding.
  • Exercise the County’s own independent authority to deal responsibly with the COVID crisis.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

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