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Monday, August 15, 2022
FairfaxOpinionEditorial: Is zoning chaos coming Fairfax's way?

Editorial: Is zoning chaos coming Fairfax’s way?

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As standalone words, “missing” and “middle” are fine and dandy. But put them together and, look out, Fairfax residents!

Over in neighboring Arlington County – we pay attention so Fairfax residents don’t have to – the entire community seems in an uproar over what will be, if enacted, the most major change to residential-zoning policy ever.

Supporters of the “Missing Middle” proposal did much of their work under cover of darkness, and county leaders seem poised to impose the policy on a public that is waking up and, while not very happy, seems to have no recourse. (That’s what one-party rule does to a locality.)

In short, Missing Middle would eradicate single-family zoning in most of the county. As many as eight units (yipes!) could be shoehorned onto a single lot.

Boosters of the idea say it will provide more housing options, lower costs and spread “equity” (the buzzword of our times) throughout the community.

Anyone credulous enough to believe that free-range zoning is going to lead to lower housing costs seriously needs to look again. Maybe Arlington leaders truly have fallen for that canard, or maybe they’re simply willing to pretend it will work and then profess being shocked – shocked, we tell you! – when the inevitable result is more super-expensive housing crushed closer together than ever before.

It is telling that Arlington officials admit they’ve done no cost/benefit analysis of the additional housing that would be squeezed in, despite critics inquiring how all this will impact schools, transportation, stormwater management, parking and the like. And they apparently plan to do no such analysis before enactment of the changes – another case of Arlington’s ready-fire-aim style of governance.

Trust us, Fairfax residents, those promoting this radical change to existing zoning policy are not going to stop at Arlington. They’re headed our way, most likely trying to replicate the effort of keeping the import of such a change under wraps until it’s too late for the public to do anything about it.

As far back as 2019, we told Arlington residents this was on the horizon and to be prepared. Most chose not to pay attention, only to now get mobilized when it’s likely too late. Hopefully Fairfax residents will be more proactive once the winds of Missing Middle start blowing in from the east.

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