Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, February 22, 2020
On February 6, housing planner Russell Schroeder outlined the Housing Division’s “Missing Middle” housing study to the Transportation Commission. According to the study’s framework document, one of the goals is to arrive at “a shared definition for the term ‘missing middle housing’ for Arlington”.
The Transportation Commission, which embraced the plan, conceded that missing middle does not mean affordable housing. Indeed, ARLnow quoted Commissioner Kristin Calkins, who said: “The point of the Missing Middle Study is not to create affordable housing, but is to create housing for different needs.”
Commissioner James Lantelme said the purpose of Missing Middle is
to further densify the County in order to reduce suburban sprawl and provide
people who can afford to do so the opportunity to live here–in other words, to
promote “Smart Growth”.
There was no concern expressed about the impacts of densification
on County residents, including increased congestion, overcrowded schools, loss
of green space and tree canopy and attendant runoff and flooding. To housing
advocates like AHC who believe that Missing Middle will provide affordable
housing, civic activist Suzanne Sundburg has this to say:
So all these folks who claim to support increasing the number of “people of color” and/or “affordability” are being intellectually dishonest. Increased density inflates land values. And inflated land values drive up assessments, which, in turn, drive up the tax burden. That increased tax burden falls heaviest on fixed- and low-income households . . . which often comprise people of color, seniors and the disabled. These developer welfare upzoning/densification programs increase the cost of housing for all Arlingtonians, and result in the displacement of the very people that they and the county claim they want to “help.”Suzanne Sundburg
Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, December 14, 2019
The Arlington Connection recently ran a story on upzoning the Arlington way. It went like this. A large lot on North River Street in Chain Bridge Forest was recently sold by the estate of its former owner to a developer. He leveled the home and all 200 trees on it to make way for 4 new McMansions.
At a recent County Board meeting Christian Dorsey informed one of
the impacted neighbors that the County Board couldn’t do anything about it. Appeals
to the County Manager’s office, CPHD and the Zoning Administrator likewise fell
on deaf ears. The reason is by right development according to Libby Garvey, who
commented on “the need to examine regs that can discourage such projects.”
But that’s not likely to happen when the County Board votes to upzone residential neighborhoods. Then the plight of Chain Bridge Forest will play out across the County. Housing advocates like Affordable Housing Solutions are cheering the developers on, because they naïvely believe that upzoning will produce affordable housing. That’s delusional. Upzoning will simply replace each million dollar tear down with 4 equally unaffordable pre-fabs.
A recent Sun Gazette editorial opined that upzoning will pit single family homeowners against recently “woke” voters who own no property and have no interest in preserving single family neighborhoods. Their votes will be bought by outside money from the likes of George Soros, who recently purchased the election of the County’s new Commonwealth Attorney.
“Woke” voters are no doubt
easily led. But their votes won’t be needed once existing owners realize that
they can make a killing by selling to a developer, who will then cannibalize
their property and immiserate their neighbors.
Arlington County has trumpeted the opening of the new Arlington Mill Community Center (AMCC) and the completion of 122 units of “affordable” housing at Arlington Mill Residences located nearby. But the price tag on Arlington Mill shows why the County’s approach to affordable housing isn’t working.
The apartments cost $31 million to build, which comes to about $250,000 per unit. The Washington Post reports that there’s already a waiting list of 3,600 people for those units, and families earning less than $64,000 per year need not apply, as most units aren’t affordable to people earning less.