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County Board Candidates Address Affordable Housing

by Katie Pyzyk January 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm 4,803 157 Comments

(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) The five Democratic candidates running in a special election for the open County Board seat have weighed in on affordable housing in Arlington. The candidates submitted their essays to the Alliance for Housing Solutions, which asked all to answer the same three questions.

In short, the questions asked what the county’s priority should be for affordable housing, how the county can meet its goal of increasing affordable housing and what actions should be taken to preserve or increase affordable housing.

Libby Garvey is one of the candidates citing the issue as a top priority. She says the county should be concerned about the loss of two-thirds of its affordable housing since 2000, and increasing the supply is crucial to Arlington.

“If we are to preserve Arlington as a diverse and vibrant community we need to have people from all income levels living and working here,” Garvey said. “This is an increasingly large and difficult challenge in a community like Arlington.”

Most of the candidates didn’t believe Arlington had met its goals for affordable housing. Melissa Bondi says missing the goal shows the need for a change in strategy.

“The best response is not to change the target – rather, it is to increase the variety of existing, expanded and new tools that will be needed to meet the needs of Arlington residents across the full housing continuum,” Bondi said.

Peter Fallon suggested that developers should do more in terms of supporting affordable housing in Arlington.

“For profit developers have not accepted the business case for constructing affordable housing,” Fallon said.

Fallon is among the candidates who supports incentivizing production of affordable housing so it is more attractive to developers. Kim Klinger also supports looking into financial incentives. Additionally, she believes the county should investigate more programs for using existing properties, as opposed to only building new ones.

“Our commitment to affordable housing may also include the use of tools that address housing rehabilitation programs, multi-family improvement programs, great house concepts, and adaptive reuse,” Klingler said.

In regards to preserving or increasing affordable housing, Terron Sims says Arlington County has existing tools that can be used to increase the affordable housing supply.

“It is ultimately a policy question that involves tax subsidies, expenditure of tax revenue and, possibly, zoning changes,” Sims said.

The full readout of candidate answers is available on the Alliance for Housing Solutions website.

  • Captain Obvious

    Is Lowe running as a Democrat? I thought that it was announced at the candidate forum at the last Arlington Dems meeting that he had dropped out.

    • The article has been updated to reflect this.

  • NoToAffordableHousing

    How about no? I am quite happy that next-door Buckingham is getting gentrified so that we have less riff raff spilling over into Ashton Heights. More affordable housing would be horrible. No more safely walking to the metro at night, and lower property values sponsored with my property taxes.

    • b0rk

      You’re right–every person that doesn’t make six figures is a felon and more likely, a nazi cannibal.

      • Young Condo Owner

        I appreciate your hyperbole, but I have to say, if you aren’t making enough money to live here, then why are you whining about it? Get the right job, work hard, like my parents did, and aspire to Arlington. That’s the way it works.

        • Jason S.

          “Aspire to Arlington” and you accuse others to hyperbole. Yes, all across our great nation young citizens “aspire to Arlington”.

          Come from a goofball that brags on his parents’ success makes it even more hilarious.

        • Josh S

          What about those who may already have roots in Arlington but can’t afford to stay? I think that’s where you find the most emotional arguments in favor of attempting to preserve lower cost housing. I’m all for growth and development in Arlington (not that it matters what I think – it’s going to happen regardless), but I can also see the case made by those who have simply been living their lives here and have seen property values skyrocket around them. While preserving affordable single family detached homes may be impossible (and it may be too late on that anyway), it should be possible to preserve affordable apartments/condos/townhomes. Especially with the growth in these kinds of buildings. Yes, you could easily sell them all at market rates – the demand is definitely there. But I do think there is some societal good that comes from having a diversity of economic groups.

          • Some people here call them “rich” because their house is worth so much.

          • Clarendon

            It is so much more interesting living in a place where you can socialize with people from all walks of life and economic conditions. It is a classic conundrum. You don’t want to make a place affordable by not allowing quality. The basic problem is there aren’t enough desireable places like Arlington. I’ve lived here for 20 years and could not now afford to buy the place I currently own. I could afford to buy in the place I grew up (downstate) but that’s because it was overrun with big boxes, parking lots, lanes of traffic and housing subdivisions – in short, it sucks.

          • The difference between the cost of the two isn’t the layout. It is the available jobs. Take an urban area such as Detroit and compare it. You can afford to buy there, and will get tremendous diversity. That would suck too.

          • Clarendon

            Nah, it’s the quality of life – at least for me and many like me. I could sell my house here, buy a mansion outright down there and there are plenty of jobs for engineers. I have friends and relatives down there that I would like to live near. It simply sucks to live there for a young professional and be dependent on a car, be stuck in traffic, have no where you can walk to and be surrounded by big box, traffic sewer ugliness. But, maybe you would prefer that, and you are lucky because that lifestyle is very affordable for those that desire it.

  • South Arlington

    I’m tired of this being a priority talking point. It’s highly provincial to believe everyone must be able to afford to live in Arlington proper, rather than further out suburbs. I’d really like a home in Malibu, CA but can’t afford it – I don’t then expect the Malibu government to subsidize me living there so I can have a home beyond my means.

    • South Awwwlington

      +1,000,000,000

      This, as with EVERYTHING, is political. Affordable housing, pet projects, etc = more votes for the incumbent fools who rob from Peter to pay Paul. As long as we continue to live here, we contribute to the bs.

      • Tre

        Irony: both commenters are living in South Ar(ww)lington

        • South Awwwlington

          Nothing ironic about it…it’s where I could afford to buy without subsidy. I would suggest all do the same and we’d be better off for it!

          • Young Condo Owner

            You are right, Sir. Buy where you can afford. Period.

          • Herbert Spencer

            Do away with all the subsidies and let the chips fall, baby.

          • Arlington Voter

            You are all subsidized. The home mortgage deduction. It’s one of the reasons why housing is so expensive.

          • Herbert Spencer

            Was I not clear? Do away with all the subsidies.

          • You clearly don’t have a mortgage.

          • Southeast Jerome

            We will see 10% social security tax before they do away with the mortgage interest deduction. No politician in their sane mind would ever champion that, it would be political suicide.

            However- if we look at things rationally, it wouldnt be disastrous and is worth discussing. I think we maybe would see it being limited to homes $1MM and under or something like that.

          • Josh S

            An extremely easy sentiment to voice from those already through the gates. Close ’em behind you as quickly as possible, eh?

          • Herbert Spencer

            When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

          • Zoning Victim

            Actually, it may do the opposite. You can’t get rid of the mortgage interest deduction and not lower the nominal tax rate (unless your goal is to cause another huge round of foreclosures and a resulting housing market crash, which, I suppose, is one way to generate affordable housing). So lowering the nominal tax rate will stop the unfair stance of taxing renters more than homeowners, thereby putting more money in the pockets of people who rent. That would certainly help anyone who wanted to buy a home save money for a down payment and moving expenses.

        • b0rk

          What is ironic about someone from South Arlington not wanting “affordable housing” in that neighborhood?

        • South Arlington

          Maybe I’m missing the irony of moving to an up and coming neighborhood like Penrose and affording a single family home with a nice yard that is exactly a 9 minute drive to my office in Chinatown. I guess I should get a sweet condo in Ballston bro.

          Regardless, there’s no reason that the County needs to subvert the market so people that clearly can’t afford to live in a desirable/expensive (they go hand in hand) place can live there. This goes for development on rapidly gentrifying Columbia Pike, the Views development and any other “affordable housing” projects (although if the County continues to force this on us, I hope they will continue to place the new “affordable housing projects” around the county equally – I’m looking you at you next EFC).

          • Young Condo Owner

            Dude, there is no irony, you are doing exactly the right thing for you. When I have kids, I want a yard, too! And like all of us, I will try to do that in a good neighborhood, devoid of what NoToAffordableHousing calls riff-raff. I don’t use those kinds of un-PC terms, but we’re definitely on the same page.

          • ArlingtonWay

            My favorite thing about South Arlington is how close it is to the United States. Very convenient!

      • Josh S

        Yes, you are absolutely right – it’s political. That’s what running a democratic government is – politics. Not everyone agrees with you about an issue so you have to lobby, build coalitions, compromise, etc.

        If there was a politician who held your viewpoint, couldn’t someone who didn’t agree with them simply complain that they were only promoting that idea just to get votes?

        Of course they could because that’s the whole point. You attempt to represent the desires of the majority.

        And I wouldn’t worry too much about the affordable housing bloc. You can sleep pretty well tonight knowing that the forces working for the “free market” have a comfortable lead in access to the halls of power, even in Arlington, VA.

        Lastly, I find it very puzzling what you said about “as long as wel live here, we contribute to the bs.” Are you suggesting that you might leave soon?
        (No, of course not – it’s just more empty sloganeering, isn’t it?)

        • Zoning Victim

          That’s kind of a poor argument on all accounts. Making a decision that some people like and some don’t isn’t even close to actually giving people something of monetary value that you took from some other class of people. Cons complain about affordable housing and individual welfare, and Dems complain about corporate welfare (tax breaks); they do this (complain about welfare to groups they aren’t in / don’t support, that is) because this is real money going into the pockets of a voting group to purchase their votes to keep a particular group of people in power. Then they pretend that there is some altruistic reason why it’s okay to give money to the welfare recipients that fit their ideology. Buying votes through income redistribution, whether it’s from the middle class up or the middle and upper class down, isn’t the least bit the same as not agreeing on topics like gun control, criminal penalties, environmental regulations and etcetera.

          • Josh S

            Yeah, it really is.

            Virtually all decisions eventually result in some monetary impact to someone, somewhere.

            And how do you come up with “giving people something of monetary value that you took from some other class of people?” What is this, Nottingham Forest? Just how simple is your worldview?

            I’m wondering, is “cons” short for something, or are we to read it as is? Because it doesn’t seem to line up with the other half of your sentence, which talks about “Dems.”

          • Young Condo Owner

            Conservatives. Who are not all Republicans.

          • Zoning Victim

            Stop trying to act naive; you know exactly what I’m talking about.

            Of course, most people who don’t have a decent counterpoint introduce intellectually bankrupt arguments like what common word usages really mean, how the view of the other debater is simplistic, or something about how all decisions make an economic impact to someone, somewhere, “eventually” when the topic of the post your answering is buying votes via income redistribution through individual and corporate welfare and how that is far from the same thing as voting a particular way on other issues where there is no exchange of income between classes of people (there goes my simplemindedness again, right?).

            Since you must have missed the three basic points I made my post, I’ll try to restate them succinctly:

            Most people argue against one form of income redistribution or another, and which one(s) they argue against depends on their political ideology; this is because income redistribution at it’s core and in all of it’s forms is morally wrong.

            It is vote buying by bribery when politicians redistribute income in order to gather votes from the people who are proffering from the income redistribution; both of the parties that currently dominate politics in America do this despite the fact that they both know it is wrong and complain when the opposing party does it.

            Vote buying through income redistribution is not the same thing as the other political choices politicians must make on how people should behave and what protections we should have under the law, whether those decisions have an economic impact or not.

  • CW

    “Affordable housing” has become a loaded term which people take to mean “government-subsidized housing”. I am all for affordable housing in the dictionary sense of it. Arlington has a LOT of wasted space where perhaps developers and landowners could be incentivized to build affordable housing. I feel like it does not need to be this dichotomy that we have developed where everything is either $800k condos or government subsidized.

    • Young Condo Owner

      Absolutely. The “affordable housing” movement is completely fail. I work VERY hard to be able to afford my condo in Clarendon, and my parents also work VERY hard in order to help me out. Honestly, I don’t believe in bringing in some blue-collar people into my HOA to “even it out,” whether they work in Arlington, or not. I’m a Ron Paul free-market guy, and I don’t see any upside in allowing other people to live where they can’t afford. If they’re working in Arlington and commuting from Chantilly, so what? If they work hard enough, they’ll be able to afford to live here, too. Honestly, this hand-out sh*t is too much. Where’s the candidate who is anti-affordable housing?

      • CW

        That line about your parents is a joke right?

        I’m an advocate of the market, but I’m also not at all against having a stratified market. Maybe Arlington gives a developer here or there some tax incentive to turn one of our dozens of old mom-and-pop used car lots into truly affordable (but still market rate) housing for middle-class people. Not right on the main drag, not granite and marble from floor to ceiling, but not giving out handouts and not a rat-trap. I don’t think that hurts anyone. I think it keeps the local economy diversified and strong. Right now the market is such that the only things getting built are right at the high end of the market. I think there is room to build at the middle (working class) of the market if the county focuses on developing areas other than just right on the orange line.

        • Young Condo Owner

          Huh? Dude, I’m with you all the way. Yeah, my parents help me out temporarily, but everyone’s parents do. And yeah, an old used car lot is more like what we could give to people for “affordable housing,” although I still don’t get how that’s not a handout. So are you actually for affordable housing? Just not right by a metro station? That makes sense to me.

          • CW

            I still can’t tell if this is a joke or not.

            I’m saying that there is a lot of space in the county that is not necessarily put to its best use, and that perhaps the county could incentivize the development of that space into something more useful. That’s how development plans work. My bet is that, in the process, the result would be some lower-priced market rate housing. Right now, developers only are looking at the highest end of the market. I am not for handouts, but I am for economic development plans that cut across a wide range, geographically and socioeconomically. A diversified economy helps everyone.

          • Young Condo Owner

            Cool, like what spaces? There are a couple rubble heaps on Clarendon Blvd, but that’s probably too near a metro. I only moved in a couple years ago, so I don’t know much else besides what’s on the Orange line.

          • Old SFH Owner

            No, “everyone’s” parents don’t subsidize them. Some free-market guys really believe one should work for what they have, not expect somebody else, be it parents or the government, to pay their way for them.

          • Young Condo Owner

            Do you think my parents didn’t work for what they have? Or that I don’t work my as* off to maintain the part of the condo that I can afford? Is it a sin that we can only do this for me, together?

          • dk

            Of course it’s not a sin, but please don’t come here all holier than thou spouting off nonsense about the “free market,” “working hard” to be able to “afford” to live in Arlington, and railing about “hand-outs.”

            Isn’t the real story that you CAN’T afford to live in Arlington, no matter how hard you work? That in order to live here, you need to be subsidized? That you are receiving a hand-out? Isn’t the only difference between you and other hard working people who can’t afford to live here that you are able to live fat at the teat of your parents, and others may not be so lucky?

            You are demanding a standard from others that you do not maintain for yourself. That, my friend, is what we call “hypocrisy.”

          • Young Condo Owner

            Listen, you can leave my mother’s “teats” out of this, please. That was extremely rude. I am simply advocating a PRO-MARKET and PRO-FAMILY method of leading your life. It takes time – generations, sometimes. My grandparents were immigrants, and each generation has worked very hard to make sure the next one has more. They did it for my parents, my parents did it for me, and I will too, by making sure my kids are placed in the right schools, starting with pre-school, that they are connected to the right people all the way up the ladder, and that their choices in life are not constrained by their lack of means, but rather follow the path that I have laid out for them. It’s called FREE WILL, SAVING, CHOICES. We owe everything to the Freedom America has given us, and I will not squander that by apologizing for my parents’ and my hard work.

          • John Wayne Bobbitt

            “follow the path that I have laid out for them” – that sure is about the most absurd definition of FREE WILL I have ever read.

          • Young Condo Owner

            Well, I meant more like, “follow the path that is natural after I set everything up for you properly, and once you understand free market principles and what liberty means.” Which will be the same as the path I would have laid out, you see?

          • dk

            Again, your hypocrisy is breathtaking. On the one hand you say it is all about CHOICES–the clear implication being that your family has made the right choices to get you where you are and other people’s families have not. But then you say that you want to make sure that your children’s CHOICES are not constrained by their lack of means. So which is it? Are people fully responsible for their place in society? Or do the means people come from/have affect the place where they end up?

          • Jason S.

            Many people are forced out of the nest as a matter of practicality. Your bubble is endearing.

          • dk

            This is so funny. It’s a joke, right? No, not everyone’s parents help them out. LMAO.

        • South Arlington

          Developers make more off of those more expensive dwellings. People are buying them at those high prices. I don’t see what the problem is. Like it or not, being this close to the city makes Arlington an upper-middle/upper class community. I don’t see why we can’t just let the market allow that. No one complains in Great Falls that their hourly wage service workers can’t afford to live in Great Falls.

          • Young Condo Owner

            EXACTLY. My housekeeper lives way out in Fairfax, and neither she nor I cares how long she takes to get to my place. She needs the job, if she does the job well I pay her, end of story.

          • Arlington Voter

            Now I know this is a joke.

          • Young Condo Owner

            What? I’m not joking, dude, she does a great job, and I pay her well. What’s the joke?

          • JB

            This is an awesome schtick. Seriously LOL. Keep it up, YCO!

      • South Awwwlington

        we don’t have the likes of those around the land of Milk and Honey.

    • Josh S

      A LOT of wasted space? Would that include the gas stations? What about the check cashing stores? The 7-11s? The fast food joints? Where is this magical land of meadows and shady brooks you speak of?

      In any case, please help us to understand how the construction of a new condo tower or cluster of townhomes would provide affordable housing in the “dictionary sense of it.” Because of the overwhelming demand for housing in Arlington, any new housing built and left to market forces will not sell/rent at anything like what might be deemed “affordable,” at least in the sense used among policy wonks. Witness the new apartment buildings recently completed along Columbia Pike – far from metrorail, deep in the murky depths of dirty and exotic South Arlington, and still going for almost $2,000 for a one-bedroom. This, my friends, using the standard rule of thumb of no more than 35% or so of your take home income on housing requires an annual income of $80,000+. Admittedly, around here that’s not an outstanding salary but still rules out most people who we might otherwise think of as being solidly in the middle-class.

      • Zoning Victim

        “This, my friends, using the standard rule of thumb of no more than 35% or so of your take home income on housing requires an annual income of $80,000+.”

        Ironically, the median household income in Arlington in 2007 (latest figures I could easily find) was ~$14,000 more than that.

  • Vladimir

    Let’s just hope that Arlington learns from Alexandria’s affordable housing mistakes. Walk through Old Town and find a million dollar home with bars on its windows next to dilapidated projects, a county filled with terribly average schools and, for a suburban county, lots of crime. If Arlington prefers increasing access to affordable housing, we all must recognize that there is a cost to this strategy. There may be perceived benefits derived from social engineering that may or may not materialize, but let’s not forget that besides the obvious political benefits affordable housing brings to candidates there are substantial risks to social values, education and the tax base. It must be tempting for candidates to woo the underclass, but don’t forget the uppity tax base that provides food for the trough.

    • NoToAffordableHousing

      Indeed

    • Herbert Spencer

      Thank you for posting this.

    • Young Condo Owner

      Amen. “Substantial risks to social values” – EXACTLY. I think we all know what we’re talking about here. Also risks to education. When I have kids, I know what I want their classmates to look like, and I know what kind of families I want them to come from.

      • Sam

        I can’t tell if this parody or not. If it is, it’s just subtle enough to be really well done.

        • South Awwwlington

          or entirely terrifying.

        • Josh S

          It’s a parody.

      • b0rk

        Definitely not those “brown” people, amirite?

        • Young Condo Owner

          Can’t say that here, but I think Vlad knows what he meant, and I do too.

          • RosRes

            Gee, I hope your parents stop subsidizing you soon so that you can go out to the outer suburbs where you belong…

          • Young Condo Owner

            Huh? I have every right to live where I can afford! This is America man, not some socialist paradise. Maybe you should be the one moving . . .

          • RosRes

            Not according to your own logic you don’t.

          • Young Condo Owner

            If I live here, that means I can afford it. End of story. Some people have relatives helping them, others have a government subsidy. The former is as it should be, the latter is socialism. Get it?

          • ArLater

            So you do not want hand outs to people who cant afford to live in the R-B corridor, yet YOU receive these hand outs. Yes its not from the govt, its from your parents but its the same concept. You cannot afford to live in this area yet you do from outside help. I am also a Young Apartment Renter, and work very hard to live in this area, on my own. If I were receiving help from mommy and daddy I would not be sitting here saying others who need help cannot live here.

            I for one am also against affordable housing as I do not see why we need to make Arlington for one and all. If you cant afford to live here, there are other options around, tough luck. You however, sound like a hypocrite.

          • Young Condo Owner

            @arlLater, no man, we’re totally on the same page. If you can’t afford it, tough luck. Luckily, we can.

          • James

            If you are receiving help from your parents financially, you cannot afford to live here.

            The whole point of affordable means that you can afford it on YOUR income alone.

            Pot meet Kettle…Kettle meet Pot.

          • IG

            So James, if someone is living in Arlington’s rent controlled housing, and still receiving monetary aid from relatives to pay for housing, can they afford to live in Arlington? Or, put another way, if you are living in rent controlled housing, are you required to pay for it strictly on your own income, without any other help?

          • Young Condo Owner

            Thank You, IG! My point exactly. These rent-controlled folks are probably DOUBLY subsidized. That is outrageous.

          • Zoning Victim

            I can’t believe the number of people on here who are willing to attack Young Condo Owner because his/her family helps them live here while they’re getting a start; real nice, let’s just attack everyone who comes from a good family but opposes socialism.

            More puzzling are the people on here who are trying to say that Young Condo Owner’s situation is exactly the same as someone taking money from the government to live here or that it’s so similar that he or she shouldn’t share the conservative ideology that you should only get what you can afford without asking for handouts from the general public.

            In one situation you have someone willfully giving something to someone else (in this case their child) and in the other you have a governing body forcibly taking the money from one person and giving it to the other. One is support from a loving family and the other is socialism.

    • Putin

      If nobody wants it, just what are the ‘obvious political benefits affordable housing brings to candidates’?

  • JimPB

    The Devil is in the details.

    What number of housing units, what type and size, at what sale or rental cost to the residents, where, at what cost to government, direct (outlays) and indirect (lost revenue)?

    • bobco85

      According to the Arlington website (go to Residents > Housing > Affordable Housing Brief), there are just under 6,300 affordable housing units. They typically cost about 60% of the market price.

      According to City Data (http://www.city-data.com/housing/houses-Arlington-Virginia.html), there are 185,328 households in Arlington.

      So, using the data I scrounged from those sites, about 3.4% of housing is partially subsidized by Arlington. This is a very rough estimate, but hopefully it will help in understanding the whole situation.

      Disclaimer: I am currently benefitting from affordable housing and should be able to move into a regular apartment in about a year (I am also thankful that such a program exists).

      • Applause for success

        Good for you. That’s a small price for the county to pay to help our own residents succeed, and I wish you all the best in this New Year! Onward and upward.

        • Herbert Spencer

          The concept of “our own residents” is an artificial construct supported by the government. That is what a lot of people are trying to change. Even without support for affordable housing in Arlington, we would still have “our own residents” living in Arlington, and many others waiting for new housing so they can get in. But we would all be doing it without draining public resources on rent control, thus making Arlington a better place to live.

  • JackFan

    I agree with most of your post but I do enjoy the rich irony of your diatribe against “handouts” while acknowledging that you’re obviously relying on your parents for a “handout” as well.

  • South Awwwlington

    Is it just me….or does the questionnaire outright assume that ALL DEMOCRATS are for affordable housing…??? Well, we’re not!

    • Southeast Jerome

      Thank you for posting that.

  • JackFan

    My comment was meant to address Young Condo Owner.

  • JackFan

    Oh – and not everyone’s parents help them out. I did it on my own. A lot of us do. And for you to assume otherwise shows how out of touch you seem to be.

    • Young Condo Owner

      What, I’m supposed to apologize because my parents worked hard their whole lives, saved, and helped me get a place I can afford in North Arlington? How is that a handout? Handouts are what come from the government, not from your family. Blood is thicker than water, man, do you not believe in family sticking together? And don’t for a minute think I’m not grateful to them.

      I think Vladimir’s post above about the underclass is well taken. They can vote, but they often don’t, and they certainly don’t foot nearly the bill the rest of us do for County services.

      • RosRes

        If your parents helped you out, then YOU can’t afford North Arlington, your parents can.

        • Young Condo Owner

          Dude, in a few years, I will be TOTALLY on my own.

          • bemused bystander

            Lots of luck with that, friend.

          • Young Condo Owner

            Thanks, man. I know I can do it. My parents set me up on K St., I totally have this organized. Three years, max. And I am very grateful to them!

          • charlie

            YCO — I’m with you. I earned my money the hard way — I inherited it.
            That is why there are economic classes in this country. Those who help their young and those who eat their young.
            Fortunately you and I were born into the right group.

          • Southeast Jerome

            And then you have the baby boomer generation that is helping each other eat their young by running the country into the ground

          • LOL!

            “My parents set me up on K St”…..This parody is hilarious

          • dk

            LOL!

  • BlueFlipFlops

    If affordable housing means allowing Arlington’s teachers, firemen, and police officers to be able to afford living in their own communities, I’m all for it. If it means recruiting section 8 thugs out of PG, then no way.

    • Vladimir

      Agree totally.

      • Young Condo Owner

        But where does this stop? Public safety officers, ok, they’re valuable. Teachers, yes without question. But are you going to extend this to other people who “work” here, too? Housekeepers? Construction workers? Artists? Come on. Government can’t subsidize all of that. It’s a slippery slope, I think.

        • South Arlington

          Exactly. Is there really an issue with a teacher living across the county line in Seven Corners, Skyline, Falls Church, etc.?

    • Sure

      I agree. If the very earnest firefighters and police who wanted to change the form of government a year and a half ago had actually LIVED here, people might have taken them more seriously.

    • South Awwwlington

      Income limits of 40, 50 and 60 percent ensure you will have very few teachers and cops living in your building….however your street will be littered with cabs and your hallways will be filled with one mean stench of burned whatever…Nothing BUT drivel regurgitated at County Board meetings in order to make the entire escapade palatable to the community at large.

    • charlie

      well i’ve dealt and worked with some of the folks living in affordable units in buckingham. while most of them are wonderful hard working people there are people who are scamming the system. working jobs without declaring the income and one guy taking handouts from the County charities (furniutre mostly) and then selling it on craigslist. at least he used the money for more drugs and was gone and back on the street real quick.

  • fairgrrl

    Between 1995 and 2005 the cost of a dinky condo in Fairlington, Libby Garvey’s own community, almost tripled – from $150,000 to $400,000. She said and did absolutely nothing. She also did and said nothing about affordable housing in Shirlington Village where no affordable housing was ever constructed between 1995 and 2008.

    • Juanita de Talmas

      What was she supposed to do?

    • South Arlington

      Why should she? The property owners were seeing great gains on their property/investment. I’d be furious if I owned in Fairlington and she DID do something.

      • Bender

        A great gain on their investment . . . if they SOLD the property.

        But if they held on to it, then the only thing they gained was having their property taxes tripled. A HUGE benefit to greedy County government, not so much to the person who wants to stay in his home.

        • South Arlington

          Boo-hoo! Their personal real estate wealth tripled. Wealth is wealth. Triple the value of my house and I guarantee I won’t be crying about the extra few sheckels I have to pay as property tax each year.

          • Ricardo

            I guarantee that you will.

          • James

            It’s paper wealth.

            If you did not learn this during the facade of the last 10 years then you’re a moron.

            Real wealth is when you cash out…otherwise it’s all on paper.

        • Young Condo Owner

          True, but than gain will still be there when the eventually DO sell, and plus a lot. Lowering property taxes is a huge issue, and I support doing so, but the person who stays in his home will definitely benefit in the long run – and that thanks to no “affordable housing” being built in the neighborhood. Think long-term, man – we’re playing chess.

  • MC

    Where’s the crisis? Arlington has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. Why are the candidates assuming people can’t afford to live here? Jobs are filled, and housing units are filled as well. Most jurisdictions would be begging to have our situation. The County trumpets that Arlington shares with Manhattan the highest incomes in the country, but the candidates naïvely act as if people shouldn’t have to spend a high portion of the income to live here, as they do in Manhattan. They might as well be complaining that most Arlingtonians make too much money, which is driving up the costs of housing.

    • Young Condo Owner

      EXACTLY. Since I can’t find a candidate who is willing to admit to being anti-“affordable housing,” I will go for the one I think is most likely not to mean what s/he is saying. Looks like it’s Garvey, or maybe Fallon.

    • FreakEconomist22204

      Why doesn’t Arlington County see if they can finish the “ghettoization” of Columbia Pike and all of 22204 by shoehorning even more affordable housing (AH) units into every square inch of the ZIP Code? Perhaps they already are: Not content with the proposed “Arlington Mill Residences” (901 S Dinwiddie with 122 AH [100% of a new construction development] apartment for 60 years http://www.apah.org/PDFs/ArlingtonMill20211.pdf), the latest plan three blocks west is to demolish the Shell station at Greenbriar and Columbia Pike and put up even more AH! AHC Inc. owns the land to the right of the Shell Gas Station and would need to demolish the park at Harvey Hall for this development. AHC Inc. is seeking Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Funding for this project which is a planned 6-story mixed-use building with ground floor retail along Columbia Pike with (70) 2-bed room units, (15) 1-bed room units featuring Underground parking. Of course it goes without mentioning to most 22204 residents that all of Greenbriar is affordable from the Pike to S 7th Road, with just a couple of exceptions. If you don’t believe it, just drive by the area and take in the grandeur of the cabs and white panel vans that so beautifully grace the neighborhood streets.
      Every market rate property owner in 22204 should be aware that their real estate investment is being artificially deflated as a consequence of this market manipulation. For every person that is subsidized, there is a dead weight loss of housing resource for a productive person that would have paid market rate for the unit. More disturbing for property owners is the opportunity loss arising from a neighborhood comprised primarily of subsidized housing which restricts the buyer interest and artificially depresses real estate resale prices.
      If people can’t afford to live in Arlington that’s no crime nor is it a social problem that is very compelling — there are busses that run up and down the Pike every day to bring them into the area if they want to work here.

      • SoArl

        I was furious when I heard about the shell station proposal, which is just a few blocks away from the Arlington Mill residences. I bought in the area expecting to renovate and then buy a bigger place. Now, the county seems set on making sure my mortgage remains underwater while the rest of Arlington is recovering from the housing crash.

        • Young Condo Owner

          That is the kind of thing that drives me absolutely crazy. This social engineering in Arlington is so wrong. If that were my condo, I’d be up in arms, too. White paneled vans and cabs = minus at least $100k of your property value.

  • Bender

    **the loss of two-thirds of its affordable housing since 2000**
    _________________________

    Which coincides exactly with when the County government really started moving hard to the left.

    If they really cared about affordable housing, they would not have torn down all of the housing that they did, they would not have eliminated the competition that that low-cost housing provided in the market. By being in bed with developers, the County government has effectively destroyed the affordable housing market.

    • Young Condo Owner

      In bed? Dude, the board hates developers. Who, by the way, bring us higher property values.

      • bemused bystander

        Give an example or two of the Board hating developers.

        • Young Condo Owner

          Everyone knows they all hate developers, except Fisette. And Favola, but she’s gone.

          • South Arlington

            For all the talk of the board being anti-business, they most definitely are not anti-real estate/developer (which in Arlington, is one of the biggest businesses). The Zimster supports the developers quite a bit, and the streetcar plan will create tens of millions of dollars (at least) in developer wealth (not to mention tens of millions in wealth for nearby land owners).

    • Josh S

      Gosh, I don’t ever remember seeing Zimmy out there with a hard hat.
      In what way did “they” tear down housing?
      (Not to mention I am willing to bet that the total number of housing units in ARlington has increased substantially since 2000, so should you be claiming that “they” BUILT housing?)

      Your argument appears to be internally inconsistent. First, you claim the county government “really started moving hard to the left.”

      Then, you later claim they are “in bed with developers.” Not a group normally thought of as having strong liberal viewpoints.

      Which is it?

      • IG

        You do know that several of Barbara Favola’s major campaign contributors were developers, right?

        And seriously, what political viewpoints do developers usually have?

        • Josh S

          Viewpoints that favor business interests. Again, not exactly a banner that lefties are traditionally lining up under. It just strikes me as an internally inconsistent rant.

          • IG

            Lefties do not favor business interests. Ok, just wrote that one down. Learning something new every day!

          • Keith

            Last time I checked developers were businesses, so saying they are pro-business is kind of redundant. And since the tenants of developer’s projects are usually businesses or residents who work for a business, I think you have really shed some fascinating insight on this topic.

  • JimPB

    The ARLCo firefighters are already largely non-residents of ARLCo. I recall several years or so seeing a report on how many ARLCo firefighters lived in ARLCo. The number was a single digit out of a total of something like 350+.

    ARLCo police might be different. I regularly see ARLCo police cruisers parked in front of several homes here in No. Arl: two of the homes are original ramblers, the third a just completed rebuilding and upgrading to a second floor. But what is the total number of the entire force who reside in the county that they serve and protect? I’m glad to have ARLCo police officers (and their families) residing in the community — and the visible take home police cruisers.

    Yes, there is a strong negative correlation of street crime with SES. I feel sorry for the majority of folks in these areas who are hard-working, honest folk, and who are most likely to be the prey for the predators of the street (most street crime occurs close to the residences of the perpetrators).

    But, the really costly crime is associated with the professionals, executives and the like. They work where the BIG money is, and so the cost of white collar crime is staggering. Then there is sexual assault and victimization. That the sites of such offenses are not the street, a park or a car doesn’t change the nature of the act. If the law and justice were dollar and power even handed, the courts docket would be filled with white collar defendants, the costs of operating the judicial system would soar since those with money use that money to get the most favorable justice for themselves that money will enable, sentences for white collar crime would be long and the prisons would have large ranks of white collars in orange or striped outfits.

  • Irony

    I love how the picture is from last summer, yet includes a sign for Garvey. What *hasn’t* she run for? Other than school board, has she ever won?

  • JimPB

    An analysis exercise re: affordable housing in North Arl.

    The lots for the original ramblers are selling for around $600,000. After demolishing the ramblers and building a McMansion, the properties are selling for $1,600,000 and up.

    Now, instead of a single family home for $1,600,000, put four modest-sized townhouse units on the property — 2 units side by side, 2 on the street level, 2 on the 2nd level. Split the basement four ways (washer, dryer, storage). Problem: parking for families would be on the street. Four to 8 or more cars there will agitate the neighbors even more. But moving on. In theory the sale price per unit would be $400,000. What annual total gross income would be required to pay that price plus utilities, insurance, principal and interest, mortgage insurance and the fee for care of common areas if the total of housing costs is limited to the recommendation of no more than 30% of total gross family income?

    • CW

      A good-looking analysis, EXCEPT that developers are too greedy and too smart to let that happen. They know that the barrier to entry to townhouse ownership is pegged at, I’d estimate, 700-800K right now. So if they did that exercise, they’d charge market townhouse prices, not 1/4 of SFH prices. They’d actually make more money. Of course, if enough developers did this, then prices would come down. But this is where you get into the conspiracy theories. I honestly think that the county is intentionally keeping a lot of space undeveloped and keeping density low to keep prices and exclusivity up. Arlington has more wasted space than any other similarly developed (high density around transit, etc.) area I’ve ever seen.

      • Josh S

        I think you’d have a hard time building any kind of factual case at all to claim that anyone is “keeping density low” in the county. Last I checked, no one was making more land in the county. Yet the population continues to go up. Ergo, density goes up.

        And the “more wasted space than any other similarly developed area” comment is just strange. I don’t know if I even understand it.

        • CW

          Go to any other place where condos are $500k and up and see if there are as many vacant lots, used car dealerships, commissary kitchens, fenced-off buildings, two-story retail, etc. as in Arlington. We have a lot of wasted space. Jerome highlighted a couple examples below. I don’t know if it is zoning or what but yes, while we have increasing density, we don’t have the kind of density that we could. Whether transit could accomodate that is a different discussion.

          • Young Condo Owner

            The owners of those properties would probably love to build there, but would be required to incorporate so much “affordable housing” into their buildings that they have concluded it’s not worth it. Honestly, those sites are really eyesores, why can’t we just build the office/retail/condos and be done with it, instead of having to wait years for the developer to give in and subsidize lower-income people? If they lived there, where would they eat, anyway? Clarendon restaurants aren’t cheap, and I don’t see them shopping at Whole Foods . . .

          • Josh S

            I imagine you can find empty lots in freaking Manhattan or Tokyo or London. (Beijing, maybe not….) I don’t see how this has much significance. Especially when we note, again, that Arlington has grown substantially in recent years. I don’t know how you could grow any faster. (Again, unless you’re China.)

          • Southeast Jerome

            It depends on how you define “recent years.”

            If you look at condos, there has hardly been any new supply to the area with the exception of the very high end (Gas Light Square & Turnberry). Other than that, there hasnt been a whole lot of new condo development recently.

            For apartments, the story is similar there as well with the only new delivery being that building in Clarendon that is super high-end relative to say an Archstone property.

      • Southeast Jerome

        The lot by Whole Foods b/t Courthouse & Clarendon, as well as the lot by that Irish Pub and the Red Top building in Clarendon are great examples. There are also multiple places along Lee Highway that could be built on.

  • Paco Wellington III

    “since 2000”

    Hmmm? Property taxes have doubled since 2000. For any residents on the margins, those always increasing taxes likely help drive them away. Landlords pass along the property tax to the renters.

  • MC

    The tragedy of Arlington County is that home ownership is so low compared to the national average, especially given the affluence of the County. Why isn’t the Board doing more to encourage home ownership, instead of expecting property owners to subsidize low income renters? Over half the Arlington population are renters, and over half the population will live in Arlington less than 5 years. Too few residents directly pay taxes (specifically real estate taxes, which account for the bulk of our County government’s billion dollar plus budget), which erodes government accountability and promotes the transit culture that dogs us. I don’t believe everyone should necessarily be an owner, but Arlington is clearly failing when it is so far from the national norm.

    • Young Condo Owner

      I agree, owning should be subsidized in Arlington, and renters should be discouraged from running for elected office in Arlington.

      • Josh S

        Owning is subsidized.
        Nationwide.

        • Ricardo

          No, mortgages are subsidized. Owning is taxed. The older you are, the less likely you are to have a mortgage.

          • Josh S

            Well, since 99% of owners have or had a mortgage, I think the distinction is trivial.

    • SoArl

      I’m not sure they could do much to change the transient nature of Arlington because so many people come to Washington expecting to move on after a few years but the county sure as heck shouldn’t be trying to screw over those of us that do own property.

      • Young Condo Owner

        But don’t you think they should try and change the transient nature of Arlington? Surely the board can incentivize those who stay longer, by some kind of property tax rebate. You know, a little social engineering, but on the *good* side. Honestly, I agree with MC, so many renters is a big problem.

        • SoArl

          I think it would be a losing battle. Huge numbers of people move away, with other renters moving in, every time there is an election. It’s just the nature of the DC area. We already get tax credits for our mortgage interest, and I don’t see what the county could, or should do to sweeten the pot.

          • Young Condo Owner

            I see. That sounds logical. So maybe the County isn’t so bad?

          • SoArl

            I’ve lived here for a long time so I guess I’m a happy resident. However, if the board would stop concentrating their affordable housing efforts right around my place, I would much happier.

          • Young Condo Owner

            I agree! Affordable housing is awesome as long as it’s not right around me. Right on!

        • Josh S

          So is social engineering good or bad? Please make up your mind.
          Oh, it’s only good if you agree with it?
          I see.

          • Young Condo Owner

            Why so snarky? We all like our entitlements, I’m sure you do, too. Mine just don’t come from the government is all. At least, not directly, like “affordable housing” does.

          • Josh S

            Oh rly?

            And there is a difference between subsidies and entitlements. So please be careful how you throw around your terms.

          • Young Condo Owner

            As you note above, distinctions are trivial.

  • SoArl

    I can’t even tell if you are being sarcastic or not.

  • Yep Uhuh

    I think Young Condo Owner is Andy Kaufman.

    A brilliantly sustained performance today. Kudos.

  • Bob

    VAN HALEN!

    • Ricardo

      “This is home…. this is Mean Street.”

    • dk

      Everybody wants some.

  • charles

    Members of the County Board should be required to live in public housing. I mean, instead of merely recoiling in horror at the thought of it.

    • Josh S

      I always preferred Charles to Charlie, myself.

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