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Monday, August 15, 2022
ArlingtonOpinionEditor: Why not start slow on Missing Middle?

Editor: Why not start slow on Missing Middle?

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Editor: I attended the recent work session held by the County Board and watched as the elected officials ignored the opinions and suggestions of half the residents in attendance who oppose the heavy-handed approach to upzoning all single-family-zoned lots for Missing Middle housing.

What the County Board ignores is that people who bought single-family homes 40 years ago (or four months ago) searched Arlington for a neighborhood based on the house, schools and neighborhood appeal. Now the County wants to wipe out single-family housing they claim covers 70 percent of the land in Arlington in a single action.

These homeowners and renters should not be penalized for being successful and being able to purchase/rent an Arlington home – each has a unique story.

When the topic of identifying sectors near transportation points for upzoning was brought up, it was dismissed without discussion. I found that revealing. Parking at least will receive some further review to consider more than 0.5 cars per dwelling.

If there is such a level of support for Missing Middle housing, as county leaders suggest, I do not understand why the Arlington County Civic Federation passed a resolution requesting an extended evaluation period of the Phase 2 Missing Middle report. The community outreach that was lauded by county leaders must have occurred elsewhere, because the majority in my neighborhood were not aware of what was being planned by the county.

What I suggest is each neighborhood be able to vote for single-family upzoning or not. Those who vote yes get the upzoning as proposed. Those neighborhoods that vote no will follow the existing variance process in place.

To me, this is a simple way to preserve the areas where a neighborhood means traditional single-family homes, while those who vote yes will embrace a more urban lifestyle.

If the turnout at the meeting was representative of a 50-50 split in the community, then the county government can get 50 percent of the way it wants and have a chance to see what occurs. In five years, the results can be assessed, and changes made based on lessons learned.

Libby Garvey asked whether we can we change or reverse course as necessary, if we find this does not work as planned. Let us plan on that and see how Plan Langston Boulevard works, how Amazon’s 25,000 workers at $150,000 average salary work out, and how the 20-percent commercial vacancy rate impacts the county, telecommuting and housing.

There are many dynamics in play. There is no need to jump into Missing Middle housing when – as the report says – it will affect only 150 lots a year.

Start with 75 and see how it works. What is the rush?

Dick McNamara, Arlington

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