Updated November 15, 2019
Board to Consider Moving Forward Two Housing Arlington Land Use Tools
On Saturday, November 16, the County Board will consider eliminating bonus density maximums for developments that provide affordable housing or community facilities. The County’s Zoning Ordinance currently sets limits on how much bonus density all projects may gain through the special exception site plan review process. The proposed changes would allow the County to consider bonus density where appropriate on a case-by-case basis, resulting in more opportunities to support housing affordability.
The Board will also consider a Request to Advertise December public hearings for a proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment that, if approved, would expand locations where elder care facilities could be located. The facilities include assisted living developments, nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, and other services to support daily living.
Arlington is home to more than 65,000 persons 60 years old or older and that number is expected to grow in coming decades. Options for assisted living in the County are limited. Just six facilities exist today and no new facilities have been built since 2011. The extensive community engagement process around the proposed amendment has further confirmed the need for more opportunities to age in place.
- Learn more, read the staff report
- This item is #16 on the County Board’s November 16th consent agenda.
The County Board Meeting on Saturday, November 16 will begin at 8:30 a.m. The public may attend in person on the third floor of Bozman Government Center. Meetings can also be watched via Arlington TV. Interested in providing comments? Learn how to sign up to speak at a County Board meeting.
November 13, 2019 ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITY:
Housing Arlington Community Conversation Series
In October and November 2019, Housing Arlington hosted three virtual dialogues about the intersection of housing with other community-wide issues: economics, the environment, and equity. Don’t miss these must-see conversations!
- Housing & Economics (video)
- Housing & the Environment (video)
- Housing & Equity (video)
- Learn more at the Community Conversation Series webpage
October 11, 2019 ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITY:
Take the Elder Care Zoning Study Survey by Oct. 15
Staff is conducting a zoning study (part of the Land Use Tools initiative) to expand the potential locations in the County for licensed assisted living and elder care facilities, and to clarify the zoning and development standards for these types of uses. Take a few minutes to complete our survey before it closes Oct. 15, 2019.
October 9, 2019 PROGRAM NEWS:
What We Heard: Priorities, Concerns and Ideas from the Housing Arlington Kick-Off
Feedback from approximately 100 in-person participants and 450 online participants was collected during the Housing Arlington kick-off process in May 2019. Overall, there was support – and concerns – for housing affordability, the range of housing that’s available in Arlington, and the infrastructure and school implications of increasing housing production.
Who we heard from:
More homeowners than renters. More than 100 people participated in the May 29 event. About 33% were homeowners and 41% were renters (the rest didn’t say one way or another). Among the 447 respondents to the online survey, 82% were homeowners and 18% were renters. According to the most recent Census data, 43% of Arlington households are homeowners. Thus, while the community meeting may have had participants that reflected the homeowner-renter split in the County, the survey respondents were disproportionately homeowners.
A range of neighborhoods. A total of 48 civic associations was represented by respondents to the online survey. The largest number of respondents was from Donaldson Run (27 respondents or 11.4%), followed by Bluemont (17 or 7.2%), Alcova Heights and Columbia Heights (each with 13 or 5.5%), and Barcroft and Claremont (each with 12 or 5.1%).
A few non-residents. Eleven respondents to the online survey were not Arlington residents but most lived close to Arlington (e.g. Fairfax, Alexandria and DC) and suggested interest in living in the County.
Priorities, Concerns, and Ideas
Increasing the supply of housing units and broadening the types of housing: Just over half of online respondents said that increasing the overall housing supply in the County is important, whereas nearly all of the in-person participants said the same.
“The only way to solve our problem is to increase the supply of housing (except single family homes). The policy mechanisms for doing this are debatable, but the core idea is not.”
Many online respondents – about 30% – raised concerns that increasing the supply wouldn’t make a substantial difference in housing affordability but would come at accost to roads, schools and services.
As with increasing housing supply, there was a similar breakdown in how online and in-person respondents ranked the importance of creating a greater variety of housing choices in Arlington, with more than half of online respondents and all in-person respondents supporting a wider variety of housing types.
“We need to let people build mid-rises and high-rises in the incredibly valuable places within 1/2 mile or so from the Metro that are currently only zoned for SFH.”
However, the 24% of online respondents who didn’t think greater variety was important highlighted concerns about their personal investments in single family homes and taxes.
“Missing middle housing is a result of Arlington’s increasingly high taxes. Reduce taxes on working families, allow the housing market to respond, and families will be better able to afford the types of housing they need and want.”
Affordability, aging and place and quality of life: Many residents are concerned about affordability, both on the rental and homeownership side, particularly about the ability to move out of rental housing and into homeownership in Arlington. These concerns are true even among those who are considering condominiums, rather than single-family homes. There was also notable concern among those looking to move-up—that is, move into a larger home—within the County.
“The costs of housing are increased and unreachable for two working parents with two kids at home. Owning a home is really only a dream in the area. I am moving 40 miles away because I can afford a home in that area but not here.”
While support for more housing options was not universal, there was a general agreement among survey respondents and participants in the community meeting that it was getting more and more challenging for people with lower and moderate incomes to find housing they could afford in Arlington.
“Rising living costs are making it hard for me to plan for my future. My rent this year increased over 30%, but I don’t have the means to purchase housing in this area as housing costs are also so high. I would not qualify for low-income assistance, but also think we need to have protections on yearly rent increases. My rent is rising much faster than my income, and I am continuously worse off every year.”
Community members expressed this challenge in different ways. Some were concerned with young adults not being able to live in Arlington. Others were concerned about teachers, firefighters, police officers and other local government workers not being able to live in the community in which they worked. Still others were focused on the ability to downsize and remain in Arlington as they aged.
“Rising property values and the commensurate rising tax bills may make it more difficult to remain in Arlington once I retire and am on a fixed income.”
“I have three sons in college who would like to return to Arlington but know they won’t be able to unless they live with me. They will have modest student loan debt, but even so the entry cost for an apartment rental is too high.”
While there were different opinions on specific housing types, where different housing should be located and how the County could promote a variety of housing options, there was a lot of consensus that new housing types—beyond single-family homes and high-rise apartments and condos—was one
important part of making Arlington more affordable.
Infrastructure, traffic, and schools: Schools, lack of open space and traffic congestion were top concerns when considering the impact of new housing on public facilities and infrastructure, particularly the school system. Many of those who indicated that they strongly supported expanding the housing supply in Arlington County said that evaluating the impacts of new housing development was important to ensure that the County was sufficiently planning to accommodate new residents while maintaining the County’s high quality of life.
“We are concerned about overcrowding in neighborhoods that will strain resources for schools and transportation. Packing existing neighborhoods with multi-family units will adversely affect the quality of life for existing residents.”
Location, location, location: Location matters when it comes to affordable housing. Many of those who responded online clearly noted that even as you supported the development and preservation of affordable housing in the County, County needs to consider where that housing was being built. Some expressed concerns that lower-income families were being concentrated in certain areas of the County.
Others focused on the importance of locating affordable housing in areas well served by transit, including both Metrorail and bus. Still others wanted to highlight the importance of weighing existing housing and existing neighborhood character when approving new affordable housing projects.
Bringing new partners to the table: Respondents said that the private sector needs to be more involved. In several different parts of the online survey, as well as in the community meeting discussions, community members emphasized that there was a greater role for the private sector to play in meeting housing needs in Arlington County. There was fairly strong support for partnerships on housing issues with civic and nonprofit institutions, but there was also a recognition that the County could partner more with the private sector, employers and the private developer community. Areas of opportunity included using privately-owned land for affordable housing, additional employee housing assistance from employers and contributions from developers to support affordable housing production.
- Housing Arlington Kick Off Summary Report
- Data from the May 2019 Kick-Off Event
- Data from the online survey
October 2, 2019 REGIONAL NEWS OF INTEREST:
Arlington, Alexandria Support Principles for Inclusive Growth
The housing challenges Arlington faces are a regional issue. In October, Arlington and Alexandria laid the groundwork at a joint work session for cooperating to support inclusive growth and address the impact that Amazon’s HQ2 and the planned Virginia Tech Innovation Campus is already having on the two communities. In a joint meeting of the Arlington County Board and Alexandria City Council on October 1, the two legislative bodies voiced support for a Statement of Principles to guide their partnership on key policy issues, including developing and protecting affordable housing; assisting small, woman- and minority-owned businesses; and expanding workforce development.
September 11, 2019 REGIONAL NEWS OF INTEREST:
Officials set regional housing targets, call for collaboration to address production and affordability challenges
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia adopted three regional targets on housing, agreeing to collaboratively address the area’s production and affordability challenges.
This collective action, outlined in a resolution approved by the COG Board of Directors, is the culmination of a year-long effort by local planning and housing director staff and COG to determine 1) how much housing is needed to address the area’s current shortage and whether the region could produce more, 2) the ideal location for new housing to optimize and balance its proximity to jobs, and 3) the appropriate cost of new housing to ensure it is priced for those who need it.
The rationale for each target is available in COG’s new report, The Future of Housing in Greater Washington: A Regional Initiative to Create Housing Opportunities, Improve Transportation, and Support Economic Growth.
Learn more at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments website.
August 7, 2019 PROGRAM NEWS:
Mid-Summer Update on Housing Arlington Initiatives
Work is well underway on several key Housing Arlington initiatives. Staff has compiled feedback from the May 29 Housing Arlington Kick-Off Event, and is currently reading and evaluating the very strong community response we got to the accompanying online feedback form. With nearly 500 online submissions, we thank all participants for their robust feedback and thoughts, and will be posting our findings soon.
- Land Use Tools
- Housing Conservation District staff finalized the HCD Update Report and has engaged with the community throughout the summer.
- The County Board will hold a work session on the Housing Conservation District on Sept. 10, 3-5 p.m. The public is invited to attend but there will not be an opportunity for public comment.
- Financial Tools
- Staff is working on outreach with potential funding partners. Learn more about the County’s current affordable housing financial tools here.
- Institutional Partnerships
- The County will partner with Enterprise Community Partners’ Faith Based Development Initiative (FBDI) and Alliance for Housing Solutions (AHS) to hold a workshop this fall. The invite-only workshop will be for houses of worship interested in developing or partnering with developers to build affordable housing on their properties.
- County staff is researching national examples of co-location and joint development with houses of worship, community-serving organizations, public facilities, and schools.
- Condominium Initiative
- Staff is working on scheduling a series of workshops for condo owners and HOA Board Members who are interested in good management practices for condominiums. In September we will be collaborating with Alexandria to offer a Saturday morning workshop about Reserve Studies and renovation needs. In October we will offer two classes in conjunction with the Living in Arlington fair on Saturday, October 12 about Fair Housing and Dealing with Mold Issues.
- Condo Homeowner Associations continue to share management issues and topics of concern and how the County’s Initiative could be helpful to them. If you are a condo manager or a member of a condo HOA and are willing to share your insights and perspective, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 18, 2019 PROGRAM NEWS:
County Board Adopts Zoning Standards for New Accessory Dwellings
The County Board voted to allow residents to build new detached accessory dwellings and made it easier to convert existing accessory buildings into accessory dwellings through several amendments to the County’s Zoning Ordinance.
The approved changes:
- Establish minimum side and rear yard setback distances of 5 feet for new detached accessory dwellings on interior lots;
- Establish a minimum side yard setback distance of 5 feet, and a minimum rear yard setback distance of 10 feet, for new detached accessory dwellings on corner lots; and
- Allow greater flexibility for converting existing accessory buildings into detached accessory dwellings.
Read this story in the County Newsroom.
April 25, 2019 PROGRAM NEWS:
Join Us for the Housing Arlington Community Kick-Off May 29
Join us for a community kick-off event for Housing Arlington, a new umbrella initiative focused on affordable housing and “missing middle” housing. Learn more about Housing Arlington and its focus areas and give us your feedback and thoughts.
April 25, 2019 PROGRAM NEWS:
County Manager Mark Schwartz Updates County Board on Launching Housing Arlington Initiative
View the County Manager’s report on Housing Arlington beginning at the 1:37:30 mark in the video.
March 19, 2019 PROGRAM NEWS:
County Board Adopts Proclamation to Kick-off a New, Housing Arlington Initiative
View the County Board’s proclamation on Housing Arlington beginning at 29:00 mark in the video.