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Thursday, December 1, 2022
ArlingtonIncumbent iffy on how much Missing Middle is appropriate

Incumbent iffy on how much Missing Middle is appropriate

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Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti says he is opposed to including eightplexes as part of plans to eliminate single-family zoning across much of the county, and is still up in the air on whether six-plexes should be included.

But will that translate into de Ferranti’s voting against the final proposal if it includes options he considers too dense for their surroundings?

Apparently, he hasn’t decided, declining to draw a line in the sand on the matter.

“It is premature for me to speculate on how I might vote on this question,” de Ferranti said in response to a Sun Gazette query, saying he did not want to “short-circuit” the ongoing community-engagement efforts related to the increasingly contentious zoning proposal.

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De Ferranti’s is the lone County Board seat on the Nov. 8 ballot, and he is hoping to retain it for a second term. While the odds-on favorite, he has still faced flak from challengers Audrey Clement and Adam Theo. The former is opposed to the Missing Middle proposal, the latter believes it may not go far enough.

De Ferranti staked out his position – yes to including up to four properties on a single parcel, depending on its size, no to eight and no firm position on six – at the Arlington County Civic Federation forum that opened campaign season on Sept. 6. He has reiterated it since, including in several conversations with the Sun Gazette.

The incumbent said he’s willing to discuss the issue with anyone, and suggests his four colleagues should be, too.

“I’d ask that we all engage in the dialogue our residents have rightfully demanded, and I am committed to,” he said.

Proponents of Missing Middle say it will allow more people to own homes in Arlington, although they have been forced to admit that the resulting properties more likely than not will remain out of reach of many in the community. Critics say the County Board, which seems committed to the concept despite large-scale community opposition, is not listening to the public it serves.

“Community engagement was a scam,” said local resident R.R. McNamara in a letter to the Sun Gazette. “The community expects better of its elected officials, and is angry at how this has been handled.”

The Missing Middle issue has become the biggest political hot-potato in Arlington since the Columbia Pike streetcar imbroglio a decade ago. The streetcar proposal was stopped in its track after anti-streetcar independent John Vihstadt won election (twice) in 2014 and Democratic County Board members Jay Fisette and Mary Hynes subsequently switched sides to kill off the project.

No such scenario is likely in 2022, as neither Clement nor Theo has built the campaign infrastructure or war chest to suggest being much more than token opposition, albeit token opposition that might, if enough in the electorate are in a surly mood over the issue, split 40 percent of the vote between them.

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