Editor: The Arlington County Board prides itself on being progressive and forward-looking but seems to have adopted the Donald Trump playbook as it rushes to push through Missing Middle housing and zoning changes.
Like Trump on immigration, the County Board has focused on a difficult and complicated issue, affordable housing. Like Trump – “build the wall” – the County Board advocates a one-size-fits-all solution: eliminate single-family zoning in Arlington. Like Trump with “Make America Great Again,” the County Board advocates “Missing Middle Housing,” a bumper-sticker approach to a complicated problem.
Like Trump, the County Board has divided residents and pitted neighbors against each other. (This is only the beginning of how that negative, divisive dynamic will play out if Missing Middle is adopted.) Like Trump, the County Board has made simplistic assumptions about Missing Middle and has sought to obscure unpleasant facts demonstrating potential problems, and then complained about being required to produce information through FOIA requests.
Like Trump claiming that a wall would solve immigration issues, the County Board claims that Missing Middle will create more diversity and affordability in housing. In fact, a close study reveals that it will likely drive up land values and accelerate gentrification. The County Board has made no significant attempt to study or plan for the consequences of the proposal.
Most importantly, the County Board has failed to communicate transparently with county residents about a policy that would, without question, fundamentally change the nature of residential life in Arlington.
Rather than listening to and addressing valid concerns expressed by its constituents, the County Board instead has doubled down on attempting to justify its own actions, with a “We Alone Can Fix It” approach.
Like Trump, County Board members forget that they are public servants, elected to listen to and serve constituents, not the other way around.
Kathleen Rubinger, Arlington