Land use tools are used by the County to leverage housing affordability opportunities. This initiative will explore the creative use of land use and zoning mechanisms to expand both affordable and missing middle housing.
Process and Goals
There are six components within the Land Use Tools initiative:
Accessory Dwelling Regulations Update
In November 2017, the Arlington County Board adopted an ordinance updating the accessory dwelling regulations in the Zoning Ordinance, which governs second dwellings with a kitchen, bathroom, and a separate entrance on existing single-family lots. In 2019, the County Board adopted additional zoning regulations allowing stand-alone accessory dwellings on the rear of lots.
Goal: Encourage an adequate and flexible supply of housing to meet community needs, as well as provide support so that older adults can age in place.
Elder Care Zoning Study
Status: In process
Staff is conducting a zoning study 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.
Goal: Update and modernize Arlington’s zoning regulations for elder care housing. Currently, Arlington’s zoning regulations strictly limit where new assisted living facilities and nursing homes can be built. One of the central goals of the County’s zoning update will be to permit elder care housing in additional zoning districts that already allow multifamily residential and commercial/mixed use development.
Status: In process
Staff is analyzing the bonus density provisions in the Zoning Ordinance that help provide contributions toward community facilities or on-site committed affordable units and, in limited cases, contributions to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF). Over the past 15 years, these amounts have been substantial:
- $49,407,595 in contributions in lieu of on-site units
- 336 on-site Committed Affordable Units (CAFs)
Currently, the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance allows up to 25% additional density and up to six stories in additional height for site plan projects that make contributions toward affordable housing and/or community facilities. The incentive allows the County Board to approve additional height and/or residential density for both market-rate and low- or moderate-income housing where a proposed site plan project complies with requirements.
Goals: County staff is exploring the potential benefits, as well as other consequences of lifting the current density and height caps.
Plan Lee Highway
Status: In process
Building on visioning work by the Lee Highway community in 2016, the County is leading a multi-year community planning process that takes a closer look at the long-term goals for this important corridor and its surrounding areas. This vision calls for Lee Highway to become a walkable, urban main street with a string of neighborhood activity centers between Rosslyn and East Falls Church, along with new transportation and housing options, better public spaces and more. The study area includes properties along the Lee Highway frontage with commercial and multi-family uses, as well as several discrete areas of low-density residential uses.
Goal: A plan for Lee Highway that can be used as a guide for future private and public decisions.
Housing Conservation District
Status: In process, County Board to consider recommendations in 2020
In 2017, the County Board created the Housing Conservation District (HCD) and adopted the HCD Policy Framework. This special planning district encompasses twelve areas, containing 382 properties and over 5,600 apartments, located throughout the County outside existing planned areas. These areas contain a significant concentration of market-rate affordable rental units (MARKs).
Goals: Maintain and enhance the character of multifamily neighborhoods, encourage the preservation of existing market-rate affordable housing, and create opportunities for new affordable and moderate-income units when redevelopment occurs. The study could also lead to new forms of housing, creating a greater variety of housing types available for Arlington residents.
Missing Middle Housing Study
Status: Planning Phase
County staff plans to conduct a study that will engage residents, realtors, home builders, lenders and other stakeholders in a discussion of how existing tools and policies for housing development support future County growth, including ownership for middle income households. This study will also explore how adding more of certain existing and potential new housing forms that are not currently permitted could create new opportunities for middle income households; while identifying other potential impacts and issues for further study. Analysis to support this public discussion will include a review of current housing inventory, zoning tools and land use policy, demographics, housing market analysis, and current practices from other jurisdictions.
Goal: Identification of community goals for Missing Middle housing in Arlington and issues for further study that could inform development of policy recommendations and potential implementation tools for County Board consideration.
Timeline and Engagement Opportunities
Visit the Housing Arlington Meetings & Events page to see current engagement opportunities.