Editor: I am glad to see the bold proposals from Arlington government staff in the draft “Framework for Expanding Housing Choice” that is part of the Missing Middle housing study.
The proposal, if approved by the County Board later this year, would allow up to eight units in the same size (or smaller) building currently allowed for one household. Requiring these homes to follow the same setback, height and lot-coverage rules means no physical differences that would alter the “neighborhood character” or negatively impact the environment relative to the status quo that we see with knockdown redevelopment.
These more modest apartment, condominium and townhome options will bring much needed housing options for the increasing number of households that can’t afford, or don’t need, a large single-family home. That includes many people who are living here already but are looking for their next home, whether it’s a downsizing senior or a new couple looking for a place to start a family.
Without these new options many of these Arlingtonians will be forced to look elsewhere. Keeping them here, whether in a duplex, a four-plex or an eight-plex, strengthens the fabric of our community.
Some have argued that this is happening too fast without enough time for feedback. In fact, there has been an active discussion about new housing options for single-family neighborhoods since the adoption of the Affordable Housing Master Plan in 2015. The Alliance for Housing Solutions held its first forum on the topic in 2016, and the county government’s Missing Middle Housing Study was announced in 2019. Under the current timeframe the final adoption by the County Board won’t occur until close to the end of 2022.
It’s time for us to move beyond discussion and analysis and toward implementing these new rules as soon as possible.
Michelle Winters, Arlington