Arlington ‘Missing Middle Housing’ Plan Faces Scrutiny

A proposal to legalize more housing types in northeastern Virginia has prompted vigorous debate among stakeholders.

1 minute read

March 20, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

 Red brick homes with blooming wisteria in foreground in Arlington, Virginia

Liz Albro Photography / Arlington, Virginia

“For the better part of the past year, Arlington’s ‘missing middle’ plan has generated a polarizing debate, leading to marathon public meetings and sometimes vicious exchanges on social media,” writes Teo Armus in The Washington Post. Supporters of the proposal say it would create more housing options and make housing more affordable, while critics worry about the potential strain on local infrastructure and say the proposal won’t create truly affordable housing

According to Armus, the proposal will likely be approved by the Arlington County Board in some form, but, if critics have their way, the proposal’s ambitious goals could be whittled down. For example, the original proposal to allow up to eight units on a residential lot was already narrowed down to six units. Other details of the plan, including an annual development cap, minimum site area, parking requirements, and lot coverage are still up for debate.

Armus notes that policies limiting single-family zoning have had significantly different impacts depending on the technical details of each plan. As Yonah Freemark of the Urban Institute points out, “zoning changes are just one piece of the puzzle.” Proponents of the plan say “only the most extensive version will tip the scales such that home builders see the economic rewards of constructing ‘missing middle housing instead of larger, single-family houses.”

Thursday, March 16, 2023 in The Washington Post

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