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Morning Poll: Widen The R-B Corridor?

by ARLnow.com March 19, 2012 at 9:56 am 6,576 263 Comments

Could Arlington’s insistence on preserving the single-family home communities along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor be the reason why it seems every new apartment building in the corridor is a “luxury” apartment building?

Last week Slate columnist Matthew Yglesais, author of The Rent Is Too Damn High, wrote about Arlington and suggested that the prevalence of expensive high-end rentals and condos stems from two factors: restrictions on building height and the width of the corridor itself, which is sometimes just 2-3 blocks wide, thanks to zoning restrictions intended to preserve the single family homes on either side of the corridor.

“What you see is a narrow thread of urbanism between Wilson Boulevard and Clarendon Boulevard, with a bit of a thicker blob of urbanism around the Metro station itself,” Yglesais writes. “I don’t really want to condemn this development paradigm because if you compare it to other suburban jurisdictions around the United States, what Arlington has done really stands out as practically best in class. But still the fact of the matter is that these single-family homes adjacent to the corridor of urbanism are sitting on some extremely expensive land.”

Yglesais suggests that opening up additional redevelopment along the R-B corridor would help bring cheaper market-rate housing options. Following up on our inconclusive poll from December — “Should Arlington Increase Density to Keep Housing Prices Down?” — should Arlington consider expanding the width of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor?


  • BC

    Yes, definitely. Arlington should use eminent domain to annex all of the houses in Lyon Village / Lyon Park / Ashton Heights so Archstone can add more buildings. It would be helpful to also eliminate the tax base in that area. While they’re at it, let’s desecrate the school system.

    I’m kind of confused why the R-B corridor has to be focus of the “Arlington is too expensive” argument. It is expensive because of it’s development – but there are plenty of places in Arlington where people can live at a lower cost. The R-B corridor is expensive and desirable – but (gasp) that doesn’t make it bad or wrong. I know that runs counter to today’s thinking.

    Ironically, the obvious intent on Columbia Pike is to come as close as possible to replicating it. I don’t hear people screaming about the process of pricing lower income Arlingtonians out of the Pike.

    • B-Rad

      I hear a fair number of people complaining about gentrification along Columbia Pike.

      I never heard anyone complain about it happening along Wilson Blvd over the past few decades. And there is a very obvious reason why.

    • Corey

      No one (except you) is suggesting using eminent domain for anything.

      • redstang423

        Corey – I’m not suggesting eminent domain is the right way to expand, but if that isn’t used, how would you suggest to expand in any effective manner? The developers can try to buy the plots of land from groups of homeowners, but in that case, the homeowners always take advantage of the situation (perhaps rightly so). Now suddenly, that block of land that 25 houses sat on needs to be purchased for about $50M. All that a developer may now be able to afford to put into place is “luxury” condos/apartments which sort of defeats the purpose of the idea anyway. Then if you have a stubborn homeowner that just refuses to sell, it can block the entire project.

        • Corey

          Read Yglesias’ post.

          He suggests re-zoning the neighborhoods immediately butting up to the urban strip to allow residential and commercial building. This would give developers legal permission to build there; BUT, they would still have to buy the land from homeowners.

          You’re exactly right, the price might be too high and they might over-react and build hyper-luxury condos/apartments in response. But the level of luxury inside apartments isn’t the main determinant of the price; the main determinant is supply, which is currently artificially low. Allow more building and no matter what the apartments/condos end up looking like, everyone can afford to live a bit more comfortably.

    • Tim

      Are you really suggesting that the government evict people for the financial benefit of a private company?

    • South Awwwlington

      I for one, hope Columbia Pike replicates all the good of RBC while implementing lessons learned there also.

      • Arlington, Northside

        What negative lessons are to be learned? Other than that a successful development means demand, which means costs a bit more?

    • Teyo

      Guys, I’m pretty sure he’s being sarcastic about the eminent domain.

      • FrenchyB

        Yeah, the ‘destroy the tax base’ comment makes the sarcasm pretty clear.

        • Corey

          People around here do say stuff like that, though.

    • Breathe, people

      As other folks have commented, there are still many opportunities for development within the currently defined R-B zoning corridor where the County has *largely* adhered to placing maximum density within 1/4 mile of Metro stops.

      Looking at the zoning map, the best argument for *incremental* future up-zoning appears to be SE of VA Square and, more importantly, N. of Fairfax between Clarendon and Courthouse (say up to Key Blvd).

      That stretch has much narrower zoning parameters and, as such, single family homes within a couple hundred feet of the Metro despite it being the dining & retail hot spot (won’t find that anywhere near Ballston or Rosslyn). Expanding zoning density in those areas (i.e. for townhomes up to Key Blvd and larger buildings closer to Fairfax) would more closely approximate the 1/4 mile guidelines employed elsewhere to reasonable effect.

      • Bemused bystander

        Have you tried that idea on the good people of that part of Lyon Village? It might go over especially well if you explain that the purpose of upzoning is to increase the supply of housing for people less well off than they are.

      • John Graykowski

        Not dense enough? Haven’t you had enough development over the last ten years with the attendant traffic hassles, sidewalk closures and general inconvenience. As a long time Lyon Village resident, one thing I fear most is what has been suggested, e.g. encroachment by the commercial district either from Wilson or From Lee highway, e.g. squeezing the single family homes into a very small footprint. his idea is terrific if he would like Arlington to begin resembling Houston with its tiny enclaves of single houses bordered and menaced by commercial buildings and high rises. In the twenty five years I have lived here, and almost forty in the area, Arlington has changed significantly but clings to retain some character. Further agree with the why here, what about up Lee Highway, or Wilson beyond Glebe?

    • TrueArlingtonPundit

      The author has a point, but why stop at Key Blvd? Let’s permit those wonderful County Board members who love to tax & spend give the developers the opportunity to really build in Arlington by annexing ALL of the homes in North Arlington! And please…don’t worry about decimating the Arlington school system — all 20K+ Arlington students will have the opportunity to be bused to Washington, DC.

      Having lived in Arlington for over 30 years (10 in South Arlington) it never ceases to amaze me how certain people whine over and over again about how expensive it is to live in Arlington. Note — they aren’t complaining about SOUTH Arlington, just North Arlingon. If I chose a career as an artist, do you think I’d have the right to bitch and complain about not being able to affford to live in on the Upper East Side in New York City or Beverly Hills? Pul–eze!

      Arlington is at a critical juncture. It makes sense to focus on future development where land is not exhoribant in price (e.g. South Arlington) rather than trying to squeeze every last square foot of space in North Arlington into another bar/restaurant/office building.

      Finally, it would be interesting to see the author’s opinion if the DC government enacted eminent domain in the block where the author lives. I wonder how he would feel about that?

      • Breathe, people

        Easy, trigger…I’m not advocating eminent domain seizures. I’m simply pointing out that that Arlington has made successful use of transit-oriented development in the R-B corridor, and there are a couple small areas where current zoning appears inconsistent with allowing increase density within 1/4 mile of Metro station.Changing zoning rules doesn’t cost much.

        I agree that the County should encourage development in South Arlington and along Glebe through efficient investment of transit dollars. I agree that the Board’s tax/spend policy is out of control, which is why I won’t be voting for Garvey and support articulated buses instead of streetcars on the Pike (same carrying capacity and transit times for 1/5 the price).

        The County could perhaps change my mind if it institutes a special taxing district (like in Crystal City) so businesses can repay the County’s investment in the streetcar over time *and* provide even greater-than-normal contributions toward affordable housing since a Pike streetcar will push out a huge remaining chunk of market-rate affordable housing in the County.

        I don’t want to hear the teacher/cop/firefighter argument….over over 6,000 rental units (14% of all rentals) in the County are “committed affordable” (taxpayer subsidized), about 2/3 of which are in N. Arlington.

  • redstang423

    Very mixed on this one. Making housing affordable is always a good thing. If this were to be done, care must be taken to avoid over-saturating the condo market and preserve the values of existing condos so Arlington does not face a mini housing crisis.

    • CW

      This is going to be the hard part. Supply has been so limited for so long that prices are absurd. So anything that comes on the market is going to have to be at the absurd price tier, or people will complain about erosion of value. Getting something in at a true entry level price point is going to be difficult.

      • redstang423

        Agreed. And given I just bought within the past year, I obviously have an interest to protect my investment. A start would be to have a developer build a condo building that doesn’t have to have luxury amenities. There is easily a market for condos that are lower priced that do not have all granite countertops, high end stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, rooftop pools, high end party rooms, etc. The problem is there is also a market for condos that DO have those amenities, and since those have a higher profit margin, economic reasoning will tend to win when the developer plans out a building.

        • Balderdash Champion

          There is a new condo building going up in Cherrydale, albeit small, that doesnt have a ton of amenities. I think we’ll see more and more places like that going up.

          • Keith

            And if you start marketing low end condos within 4 blocks of Metro, the people with the most money are still going to out-bid anybody else and start snatching up flats as speculation investments.

            They will buy the condos with bare-bones kitchens and finishes, upgrade them with the money they saved on the deal, and either flip them for more or rent them out for $2,500/month.

            The extra volatility this would put in the market is not exactly guaranteed to be a good thing.

          • outoftowner

            Amenities within a condo or apartment building aren’t as big a price driver as overall market supply and demand.

          • Arlington, Northside

            It is ALL about location. The amenities just makes something that much more desirable compared to the other places with the same desirable location.

          • GreaterClarendon

            Yep, that is exactly what I’d do. Give me a good 2 bedroom condo for $250K and I’d buy it to rent it out.

          • Balderdash Champion

            2 bed 2 bath for 250K??? I think everyone would buy that. Which is why the prices are closer to $550K in this area.

  • CrystalMikey

    No, keep the charm of the single family homes and slightly quieter streets.

    • Valerie

      +1

    • Corey

      People are paying for that “charm”, and it’s not you.

      • Arlington, Northside

        How is that? My tax assesment is pretty reflective of the price I would get if I sold. My mortgage totally reflects the level of charm at the time of purchase. So those folks that desire now, what I saw years ago are paying somehow and I am not?

  • novasteve

    I think the democrats only want people to live here who can either afford high rents, or NEEDS government handouts to be able to afford it. More people moving in who didn’t need government aid would be less likely to be democrats and grateful for the handouts.

  • Jacob

    It’s a joke that people want more “affordable housing” and then favor restrictive zoning such that only expensive luxury apartments are cost effective to build. If zoning is relaxed and some blocks of single family houses are replaced by apartment buildings or even compact rowhouses, that’s what the market wants. People who want to have their cake and eat it too can cry me a river.

  • Clarendon

    Simply expanding the higher density areas along the R-B corridor is a ham-handed approach to the issue. R-B is successful because of the integration of land-use and transportation planning. Station areas out to 1/2 mile max have the highest density because that is the radius where people will walk to a rail station (of course there are exception on both ends).

    To expand density in Arlington there must be new planning for new corridors or centers. Up in the northern part (Lee Hwy) is one potential and I think we should be looking at North-South corridors served by mass transit.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      +1

    • JohnB

      +100

    • Swag

      Sounds like we need more Streetcars….

    • Arlington, Northside

      Also, consider that rush hour trains on the Metro are already beyond peak capacity and the idea of making things anymore dense really need to be thought out. Unless you are creating jobs here for those folks in these apartments and condos to walk to, you are just adding to the road and rail congestion.

      • chipotle_addict

        Can’t they add more trains?

        • Thes

          Yes. They can add more trains, and they can add more cars to the existing trains — up to a point. And more trains on the Orange line during the peak of rush hour can only be done by diverting Blue Line trains away from Rosslyn. And once we have about 25 8-car trains per hour, then the Rosslyn-Foggy Bottom tunnel will be full and they can’t add any more capacity.

      • Corey

        That sounds like one of those good problems.

      • Breathe, people

        Rush Plus is adding 18% capacity to the Orange line (an additional 2,600 seats/hr) during rush hour starting in June.

        http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/rushplus.cfm?

        That doesn’t include upgrades to eight car trains, which Metro’s working on (I believe to coincide with the Silver line). All 8-car trains, combined with Rush Plus, could increase Orange line capacity from East Falls Church to DC almost 50% over where it is today.

        • Arlington, Northside

          But the Silver Line riders are going to add 75% to the load. The amount of expansion possible during rush hour is minimal. The Silver Train is already going to be a disaster for the line, adding more density to the R-B Corridor can’t help.

          • Southeast Jerome

            Most Silver line riders are already riding on the Orange Line. Just because the Silver Line is opening doesnt mean train loads of people will stop driving in that come from Reston/Herndon area.

            Instead of parking at Vienna or taking a bus to West Falls Church, they will take the Silver Line. For those in Arlington going into the city, it wont matter. There will be more capacity from Ballston–>Stadium Armory.

            It will be a help. The panic over the silver line is not warranted.

          • Arlington, Northside

            The Silver Line will add riders immediatly, might not be a ton of folks, but there will be a lot of Reston commuters that switch from their HOV allowed Prius to a work provided SmartTrip. That is just the near term. Within a few years of the completion of the stations, there will be a bunch of planned apartment buildings going in around the Reston and Tysons stations, that will signficantly add to the load. There is just not enough capacity to add for peak times the way the Metro is built.

            So, I guess there might be some relief for I-66 HOV commuters,

    • Bluemonter

      First well thought out and sensable post today.

      +1,000.

      North South and other East-West streetcar lines, BRT or some kind of people mover is key to Arlington’s propertiy and future.

      I like the idea of have a Path like system from Rosslyn into DC and Crystal City into SW DC.

    • Balzton

      Lee Highway is one of the few areas left in Arl that’s still remotely affordable for apartments. Expanding transit there will drive rents up. It’s already on the bus line.

      That’s the conundrum here: People want affordable apartments, but building them near rail transit means they’ll be expensive unless they’re income-limited units.

      The broader argument of leveling SFH nabes is an obvious pipedream and a nonstarter for most Arlingtonians–even the ones who live in apartments. Many of them aspire to own SFHs someday.

      • Corey

        Your conundrum is self-answering: allow more people to live around the transit lines by increasing the supply of housing around the transit lines.

  • Josh S

    Yes. If existing regulations are choking growth, it will simply go elsewhere, with a strong likelihood of moving out from the core and promoting sprawl, which is worse from a collective standpoint.

  • CW

    First, I’d rather put the pressure on the out-of-place businesses that are sitting on much more expensive land. I’m looking at you, used car lots, Japanese Auto Service, etc. We should incentivize them to collect the millions that their land is worth and move elsewhere rather than continue to change 2 tires a day.

    Secondly, in all the County’s power, how about they do something about developers who buy plots, do (or don’t do) demo, and then sit? Really can’t get something in the site plan that punishes them if they don’t move forward after approval? Sam’s Corner block, lot behind Whole Foods, and old Taco Bell (RIP) space, I’m pointing my finger at you guys…

    • B-Rad

      Agreed, this is a solution in search of a problem. Look at how much development is being approved for construction over the next few years. The corridor is still growing at a healthy rate, sustainable rate. There is still growth potential that has not been tapped within the current, unofficial, boundary of the development corridor. And also, the rent is not “too damn high”, because people are paying it gladly. Maybe he should check vacancy rates along the Orange line in Arlington.

      • Corey

        I am a former Arlington resident, who moved to the District. I would like to move back to Clarendon/Courthouse. The problem? I can’t afford it; and I make near six-figures and already pay serious gobs of money to live in DuPont/Kalorama.

        Get this: I looked at a 1br in “The Clarendon”, the building on Herndon Street. In July 2010, a 1br in that complex was $1600. I called back a month ago; it’s now $2000. $2000! For a 1br! That will undoubtedly go up 10% next year.

        I mean yeah, you can get all free-markety and say that because people are paying the rents, they must not be too high. But Yglesias’ whole thesis is that high housing prices constrain and distort all kinds of other things.

        • Keith

          Well if you are not willing to go the free markety way, you need to go the everything is all distorty way and be more specific about “all kinds of thingsies”

          • Corey

            The whole introduction of free markets in this context is absurd because the rents/prices in Clarendon/Courthouse are artificially high. Prices are kept artificially inflated by zoning and height restrictions (aka regulations) that mandate low-density housing two blocks off the R-B corridor.

            Relax the regulations and let the magic of the market take over!

          • CW

            I think it’s even more than that. Even if you relaxed all zoning and density limits, developers would keep supply artificially low. Why would they want prices to drop? It’s easier for them to build half the units at twice the price.

          • Corey

            Developers are not a monolithic bloc, and I haven’t seen any real evidence of them colluding to keep prices high.

          • Arlington, Northside

            Zoning exists in EVERY community in America. The situation here is not creating artificially high rents, they are preserving what was originally intended for the community. The height restrictions should be lifted, but allowing developers to build further out into the neighborhoods SHOULD be regulated/restricted. Our community, folks who have invested to live here over the past decades, should have the say in where things expand out, not developers living in McLean, Potomac, Georgetown, Clifton,New York and on the other side of the country.

          • Corey

            I’d be happy with relaxing the height limit; but I don’t particularly understand the objection to expanding the corridor, particularly given that it wouldn’t require any coercion or eminent domain or anything. Communities evolve and it would take a generation to even make a dent in the single-family housing.

          • Arlington, Northside

            The single family homes mean kids in the neighborhood. Kids that have a real sense of community ownership moving decades ahead. The apartments and condos generally mean and influx singles and DINKS, which bring in revenue but usually do not bring the community ownership. Arlington has maintained a good mix so far, I would hate to see us screw it up.

          • Corey

            Arlington Northside, there are kids (lots of them!) in Brooklyn and Manhattan too. Not saying that’s what Arlington should turn into – in fact I doubt it even could. But density does not equal no more kids.

          • J

            . . . + 1,000 . . .

          • Josh S

            Except for all those cities where kids live in apartments and neighborhood spirit lives on because of vibrant streets/shared history/markers of identity, whether those markers are a church, a park, a few blocks of restaurants, a plaza,/ etc /etc /etc.

          • Bluemonter

            Actually, zoning is outlawed in Texas. But don’t let that get in the way of arguing your point about EVERY community.

          • Arlington, Northside

            Texas Counties can not pass zoning regulations. Incorporated areas can. There are zoning laws in Texas, I have had to deal with them in Austin and Fort Worth.

          • drax

            Um, no, zoning is most definitely NOT outlawed in Texas.

            In Houston, there is no zoning, but there is a system of covenants that acts as de facto zoning. The rest of the state has zoning like anywhere else.

          • Keith

            Or, let the market continue to set the price, and leave the regulations alone!

          • Corey

            Keith, the market isn’t setting the price. I know you mean well here, but seriously; the prices are so high because of regulations about what people can build where.

            You can like the regulations but don’t call the prices that emerge from them a “market price”; they aren’t.

          • Keith

            I’m not sure you understand how markets work.

          • Arlington, Northside

            There is still a lot of land that is zoned mixed use, or commericial that could easily be changed to add residential, along the corridor. Alot of older garden apartments that could, and should be, redeveloped before we start knocking down neighborhoods.

          • Corey

            Keith, since you are apparently an expert on markets, can you tell me how a market could possibly be free if suppliers of a good are constrained, by law, from creating more of it?

          • Keith

            I never said we were discussing a totally free market. Or are you proposing they lift all restraints on construction?

            Stick to discussing the real estate market, which is always going to be a constrained supply market, wherever you look around here.

          • Corey

            Keith, yes, real estate is inherently constrained because we only have so much land. My (and Yglesias’) whole point is that we have additional, artificial constraints that act upon the supply of housing.

            The all-or-nothing thinking is disappointing here. No one’s suggesting “ban all zoning laws!” or “knock down all the single-family houses!”. What people are suggesting is, let’s relax the regulations a bit so that if you have a) a developer who wants to build and b) some homeowners who want to sell their land to that developer, they can do it. Right now, in the R-B corridor outside the strip, that is illegal.

            You’re thinking of the real estate market as is. I’m thinking of it the way it could be.

          • Keith

            Corey, my main objection to your argument is the constant drumbeat of the “artificial” term.

            It’s reasonable to say that there are constraints on housing growth. It is reasonable to say that you could ease zoning to allow more growth.

            What is completely unreasonable is to claim that one of those cases results in artificial limits while the other does not.

          • Corey

            Keith, this seems like a hair-split, but fine. Insofar as zoning is inevitable (which it is), zoning restrictions don’t create “artificial” shortages per se. But they do create unnecessary shortages, particularly when the zoning is too restrictive.

        • JamesE

          $2000/month is easily doable at “near six figures” income. Back when I purchased in 2007 I made much less and I managed just fine by controlling my spending.

          • Corey

            That’s a little less than half of my take-home pay; way too much for my tastes.

            In any case, Yglesias’ whole idea is that a) the high prices are artificial b) because of the artificially high prices, people have to “control their spending” which is c) undesirable, given the artificiality of the prices.

          • Josh S

            I wouldn’t call it easy. Or recommended. But yes, you can afford it if willing to sacrifice elsewhere.

          • ArlingtonChick

            You have to also account for student loan payments that, for some people, can easily be 1k$/mo. When many people in the area have masters degrees, their debt out of school equals the price of a house in most jurisdictions in the US.

            Oh, and I defintiely blame the government for this problem….when you create a subset of debt that is nondischargeable (or damnwell near), the price of an education will obviously go up quickly, since its like taking candy from a baby.

          • Arlington, Northside

            The government does not force you to reach for a higher education than you can afford. They provide you an education up to 12th grade, from there you get to choose what you want, and decide what and how you can afford it.

          • Balderdash Champion

            Sure that argument works – but not when employers wont look at you for a job unless you have an advanced degree. Its a double-edged sword. I am split on the issue.

          • Ballstonian

            True, the government doesnt force you to get a higher education, but they certainly make it enticing with their willingness to provide loans for said education. Its similar to the housing bubble in that the government, through Fannie and Freddie, actively encouraged home ownership regardless of ability to pay the resultant mortgages. Same with student loans: freely giving loans to people regardless of their subsequent ability to pay (not to mention the increase in tuition due in part to the amount of available loans for students).

          • JamesE

            The government and many employers will pay 100% for your higher education, assuming they hire you in the first place which may be difficult without higher education *head explodes*

          • Balderdash Champion

            Huge difference b/t Fannie/Freddie versus student loans Ballstonian.

            1. Student Loan rates are much higher. Grad school rates are 6.8% fixed. Govt is making very good money on that interest.

            2. Student Loan interest payments are not tax deductible after certain income limits, relatively modest limits at that. I know I cant dedut my $500/month payment

            3. Student Loans are not dischargable in bankruptcies and you cant sell yourself to pay off that loan. All you have as collateral is yourself.

          • Josh S

            $1K a month for a master’s degree debt? Huh?!? I guess it’s possible, but I think you’d be referring to a clear minority of possible outcomes. (Cherry picking the most expensive schools, those who relied 100% on loans, those who choose the most expensive payback option, etc.)

            In any case, to blame the government for student loan debt is absurd. As others have pointed out, no one forced you to take out the loans. And the argument about how many employers won’t hire you without a college degree adds nothing because again – the government does not set hiring standards. And your point seems to rest on the fact that you can’t discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy?!? So the government should adjust their guaranteed student loan program to make it easier for you to skip out on the debt?

          • Ballstonian

            Balderdash, I dont think that your points refute mine, but only highlight your opinion (presumably) that Student Loans are more of a bubble/problem than housing was. The fact remains that the government has contributed to the problem through its willingness to promote/give $ to people regardless of potential to pay that $ back.

          • Southeast Jerome

            Student Loans are a huge bubble. Glad someone is recognizing it!.

        • drax

          Maybe you will have to broaden your search beyond two of the most expensive areas in the DC region. Just a thought.

          • Corey

            No, I like my current place, and the only other place in the DC area I would move to (for personal reasons) is Clarendon/Courthouse. But my personal objections to the price of housing are sort of immaterial; the idea is that housing is artificially expensive and therefore it artificially keeps people out.

            If the land really were saturated with development (i.e. Manhattan), it would be one thing. But it isn’t and there are reasonable ways of allowing more building while respecting the rights of current homeowners.

          • JamesE

            Manhattan is artificially expensive due to wall street

          • Josh S

            Err, no.

          • JohnE

            No, your personal artificial limits on where you want to live are exactly the reason we do not need to change the zoning around Metro. There are plenty of options for you to buy a home in Arlington. You just are not willing to look anywhere but the most expensive area.

          • drax

            Zoning and height restrictions are part of what makes you want to live in these places in the first place, Corey.

          • Arlington, Northside

            This

          • DCCHughes

            +10,000

          • Corey

            Well, no, not really. It might be a part of why you want to live there, though. In any case, it’s not about getting rid of zoning or height restrictions and making the whole county like Manhattan, it’s about making small shifts at the margin that allow more people to enjoy the things that you do.

          • Ballstonienne

            You know, it is not like there is no more housing construction going on around there. Like people said, there are lots to still be built on and there are projects already approved and not yet built.

            I say we build out to the limits of current zoning and see how things look before we start inviting developers into the fringe neighborhoods.

    • JamesE

      How long has the Taco Bell lot been empty now? 4 years?

      • CW

        At least.

      • yup

        construction starts this month. The banks wouldn’t loan any money from what i understand

    • Arlington, Northside

      I think that the used car lots preserve a little bit of old Arlington, no need to speed their departure up to much. Eventually the market offers will do it on its own. But we really need to preserve the Japanese Auto Serve shop and other such service providers. It was great to give Sure-Fit my business last year when my headliner needed to be replaced, and it will be great to have them around to redo my seats next month. The next closest place to get this done is out on Pickett Road in Fairfax City, and they don’t do even close to the quality of work as Sure-Fit has been doing here for 65 years. http://sure-fit.com/

      • GC2

        Having worked for dealerships in the past, those used car lots are often fronts for laundering money – not naming any operation in particular – just generally they are a highly cash-based business that may have alternative revenue streams besides selling vehicles.

    • Burger

      Yes, screw you property owner who bought the land and maybe has some idea on what to do with it but is waiting for a better opportunity.

      BTW, some of that spots are actually owned by foreign embassies.

  • CM

    +1 to BC comment above. Consider myself progressive, but thought of creating low-income enclaves by forced expulsion of single-family homeowners sounds a bit Stalinesque. Actually there’s already precedent with the Views project near Clarendon Metro.

    • Corey

      Jesus Christ. Search for the words “eminent domain” in Yglesias’ post. He doesn’t suggest creating “low-income enclaves”, or “forced expulsion of single-family homeowners”.

      He’s saying, give the single-family neighborhoods on the edge of the urban area a more inclusive zoning designation, staggering it if need be. Developers would still have to buy the houses! No one would be forced to do anything!

      • BC

        yes, obviously (or, I guess not) I was being sarcastic with the eminent domain comment. However, many people in the neighborhoods (yes, including me) specifically wanted to be there because of the zoning/control that Arlington has done an exceptional job of leading. As the article points out, the R-B corridor is nationally heralded as a “smart growth” model. If that means that this area is unaffordable to some who would like to live there, it’s not a crime or moral outrage.

    • outoftowner

      Lol at Clarendon “low-income enclaves”

      • Arlington, Northside

        It was a serious low-income enclave in the 80’s and early 90’s. Those who bought then have done very well for themselves. Folks just have to find the next up-and-coming area on thier own.

        • DarkHeart

          Donaldson Run?

          • JamesE

            low housing costs but the flood insurance is killer.

          • Arlington, Northside

            I still see some profit potential in Donaldson Run for your newly minted millionaire. 😉

        • outoftowner

          That’s not the point. The OP was alluding to the fact that re-zoning would somehow turn these areas on the BRC into low income ghettos

          • Arlington, Northside

            No one is alluding to that, you are just reading into it too much. Rezoning however could drastically change the culture/feel of the area. Rezoning would also remove more inventory of single family homes in Arlington making it that much harder for a family to afford one, while making some apartments cheaper to move into.

          • Corey

            There is a continuum between high-rise apartment and detached single-family home. These changes would happen at the margin, too.

          • Arlington, Northside

            If they want to redevelop the garden apartments into high rises, I have little problem with that as long as they take care of the existing residents somehow. I do have a major problem with tearing down blocks of pre-war single family homes in established neighborhoods to put up condo or apartments.

        • dk

          Things changed pretty fast, then. When we were looking to buy a house in 1994-95, we were already priced out of anything w/in walking distance of the metro in Arlington. So we found an up-and-coming area we could afford–east Capitol Hill. And yeah, we made out like bandits when we sold a few years back. Still couldn’t afford Clarendon though, LOL.

          • dk

            (should clarify that we didn’t want to live any further out than Ballston. Probably we could have afforded something in the East Falls Church area.)

      • drax

        outoftowner obviously never saw Clarendon 20 or 30 years ago.

    • KalashniKEV

      Keep the low income enclaves on the Pike and ban “affordable housing” along the orange line.

    • drax

      NOBODY SAID ANYTHING about “forced explusions” or eminent domain, people.

  • brendan

    Yglesais is a smart dude but has some incredibly ideas…

  • Suburban Not Urban

    So it’s OK for the county to renege on their promises on the layout of the RB corridor but not OK for the Feds to renege on promises on the width of 66.

  • J

    . . . you know who can cry me a river? People like you.

    We moved into our house in 1978 after scraping together every penny we had in order to buy into a then shabby neighborhood (Clarendon) that we hoped would turn into a place that we would want to live. In the meantime, we composted our garden, mowed our lawn, improved our home, contributed to our community and paid our taxes. After about 15 years, it did turn into a wonderful, vital neighborhood. Prices are high – that’s the market. You want to live here? Start saving like we did years ago. So, until we’re ready to move, people like you who want MY cake and to eat it too – can just cry me a river.

    • CW

      I respect what you’re saying and would never want to take away what you’ve earned.

      As a theoretical exercise, however, where would you in your wisdom suggest that someone in the same shoes today that you were in in 1978 begin such an endeavor? That is, where are the places that are slightly shabby but not unsafe and are 10 minutes from downtown D.C.? Can you name a few?

      • Arlington, Northside

        Today, folks can invest in their first home in the Columbia Pike Corridor in the hopes that a street car will be built, and that said streetcar will bring the same unicorn happiness there that the R-B corridor enjoys today.

      • Balderdash Champion

        Cherrydale areas or some areas over by Rt 50 near courthouse.

      • J

        . . . there may not be anywhere within 10 minutes of DC. Living that close is a luxury that must be saved for and worked toward. I know it’s a dilemma. . . .

        • CW

          Ah yes, the old “I did it and so can you” bootstraps argument. All your scrimping and saving in 1978 was to get a place that cost, what, $200-300k in today’s dollars adjusted? And was 10 minutes from downtown. It’s not your fault that that doesn’t exist anymore. Values are high for a reason, not saying they shouldn’t be or that everyone “deserves” a SFH in an ideal location. But when you try to compare your situation back then to today’s world, you seem kind of silly. The world has changed.

          • J

            . . . the very basic “you can’t have what you can’t afford” is not silly. The world hasn’t changed that much . . .

          • CW

            I agree 100%, I just disagree with your soapbox preaching about how you worked so hard to do something that is effectively impossible today.

            Columbia Pike, I agree, is the closest analog that we have now.

          • J

            . . . why is it impossible today? It was hard then to save for what we wanted . . .

          • Arlington, Northside

            It might be impossible to do it in Clarendon, but it could be done along the Pike. Those that bought in Clarendon in the 70s and ’80s had to have a long term outlook, those that buy on Columbia Pike don’t need as long of an outlook to see positive change is on the way.

          • CW

            Northside, I agree with you.

          • Corey

            These arguments are circular. If the supply of housing wasn’t naturally constricted, more people would be able to afford the good of housing in Arlington.

          • Arlington, Northside

            The good of housing in Arlington is good because it is restricted to those that have to pay a pretty penny for it today, or had to hold on to it a longtime while keeping it up, thus providing pride in ownership. If it was easily affordable, the desirablity would quickly go down.

          • Corey

            Arlington Northside, I appreciate you saying what you (and probably others) actually think here: your objection to more housing is about keeping people out.

            I wish people would be more honest about it.

          • Arlington, Northside

            It is not about keeping people out. It is the fact that you are attracted to the place due to the very forces that you are opposed to. The place is the way it is because it developed within the constraints that zoning placed upon it. The funny thing is that you are probably too young to have seen the reactions of the folks in the area when they decided they would trench the entire way up Wilson Blvd from Rosslyn to Fairfax Drive, then trench up Fairfax Drive to build the Metro. An act the essentailly distroyed the surrounding neighborhoods for 15+ years for the build and recovery. Again, if it was not for the carefully zoned developed, this would not be an area that you would be attracted to. If folks can afford to buy a product, than they deserve to have the product. Every product that folks desire more than supplys can have some sort of artificiality to build up that demand, should it be marketing, zoning, or whatever. There is a balance in the free-market vs. personal property rights, when it comes to real estate, zoning provides that balance. You have the right to build a big building to supply housing units to as many folks as you can, but I have the right to at least some of that sunlight that existed when stretched to buy my house a few blocks from any existing apartment buildings.

          • drax

            It’s not about keeping people out, it’s about keeping them in. Like you want to be in Clarendon, Corey.

          • drax

            The world has changed a great deal since 1978. For instance, average wages for the bottom 90% have not increased faster than inflation. Housing price growth has exceeded inflation, especially in this area.

          • CW

            This is what I was getting at, thanks. As much as we like to wax nostalgic, the “it worked for me 40 years ago” argument rarely translates to anything of value. I know what worked for my parents and grandparents; I also know that it won’t work today.

            In order to succeed, one needs to be smart AND lucky. J, you were both. But it’s not an easy 1-2-3 formula that we can replicate in 2012.

          • Arlington, Northside

            In 1978 one could also not get financed for a house as easily as you could the last decade, except for the last three years, and not even close to as cheaply.

          • dk

            +100

          • Balderdash Champion

            yes but if you got a mortgage in 78′, you could have refinanced about 20 times and it’d be super cheap right now.

          • Arlington, Northside

            If you got a mortgage in 1978, it would have taken ten years before a good refi opportunity presented itself. It is all relative.

      • WeiQiang

        Douglas Park, Nauck, Long Branch Creek, Columbia Forest

    • J

      . . . the above was in reply to Jacob . . .

    • Corey

      Your contribution to the community is to be applauded. But the fact remains that the government created your high-priced property with a) a Metro! and b) severe restrictions on building in your neighborhood.

      You got lucky by getting in before they did those things.

      • Balzton

        That’s not really true. The Metro was built in 1978. Home prices rose only gradually thereafter and did not skyrocket to ridiculous levels until about 2000 or 2001. So clearly, the Metro was not responsible for this sudden increase in value.

        So what was? 1. Very high salaries of lobbyists and lawyers, who drive up SFH prices; and 2. the increase in the number of jobs in NoVa, particularly at defense contractors and IT companies.

        • Corey

          The metro alone didn’t “cause” it, but the combination of a) higher gas prices b) the relative desirability of the DC area in general (also fueled by government) and c) congestion certainly did.

          In other words, if they built the metro and there was no one who wanted to ride it, I’d agree with you. But things changed and it became more desirable relative to driving, ergo land in the area also became more desirable.

          I want more people to be able to live in this desirable place, is all.

          • drax

            I agree with you Corey – except I think that we should simply create more Clarendons instead of trying to expand the existing one (because that probably won’t work). We have lots of opportunities for smart growth in other areas near Metro, for example, East Falls Church.

          • Corey

            If you think these NIMBY fights are fun, I bet you can’t wait to redevelop East Falls Church (used to live there)

          • Arlington, Northside

            Gas prices had zero to do with it. Commuter Congestion is what drove folks to use the Metro and pay the primium to live close to it. It would cost me more to Metro than it does to drive.

          • drax

            Mostly true, except if using Metro means you can drop ownership of an entire car, you can save alot.

  • Arlington, Northside

    Ease the height restrictions as the corridor goes up the hill and away from the DCA flight path.

    Build Up, Not Out!

    • Balderdash Champion

      Judging by the heights of some of the proposed towers in Rosslyn, it doesnt seem like the flight path is an issue.

      • Arlington, Northside

        The developers in Rosslyn would have liked to have built twice as high, and in more than a few cases the County Board wanted to let them. But, the FAA put stop to them. There should be no such issue in Courthouse and Ballston.

        • Juanita de Talmas

          The FAA has no regulatory authority to prevent buildings from being built. They can only ‘recommend’.

          • Arlington, Northside

            FAA Height Regulations around airports have existed since 1971.

          • drax

            And I would recommend following its recommendations.

  • veeta

    It would help to know how many of the “luxury” condos are filled. What about Colonial Village? (which I considered affordable for 7 years while I saved up for a down payment on a house in S. Arlington.)
    Is there demand for housing stock period, or is there just demand for

    I don’t think anyone can take seriously the idea of ruining a lovely area–and that is what highrises do in my opinion, they create dark canyons of suck, as Rosslyn and Ballston demonstrate. How many highrises have availability in Rosslyn and Ballston. Without any facts or figures, this is all just typing into the air.

    • Balderdash Champion

      I know the managed rental buildings in Ballston (liberty tower, the archstone buildings) have around 95% occupancy rates.

      Condo side is similar, look at how fast the condos go. They are on the market for 2-3 weeks.

    • Arlington, Northside

      Keep the buildings in the corridor, but give them more height. You are not creating any new “dark canyons of suck”, you are just building man made foot hill with neighborhoods at the base.

    • DarkHeart

      I, for one, am against Dark Canyons of Suck.

      • drax

        Sounds like a good video game though.

        Or porn movie.

        Or both.

  • Burger

    Ah, good old Matthew Yglesais – the king of let’s get government involved because of unintended consequences of the last time government was involved.

    He wouldn’t know free markets if it was standing on his chest yelling “I am a free market.”

    Should there be removal of height restrictions in the RB corridor – maybe, but there are still empty spots available for development inside the RB corridor that should prevent any widening of the corridor. But, once those fill up, he is right that zoning will likely be changed – likely between Clarendon Blvd and Washington Blvd which is a nice angle.

    But, part of MY’s problem like many other people’s that talk about affordable housing miss how it plays out in the marketplace. Reserving X spots for affordable housing means developers need to charge that much more to break even and make money. That means the non-affordable housing condo’s are that much more expensive.

    • drax

      There’s now way to not have the government involved, Burger.

    • Corey

      He literally doesn’t address rent control or affordable housing in the book. from what I remember. I’ve read the guy for a long time and I doubt he even supports those things in any real sense. I think his position is, lower prices for everyone by building more units.

      Here’s a more general, non-Arlington specific take on what he believes http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2012/03/mixed-politics-urbanism/1525/

  • Justin Russo

    Matthew Yglesais doesn’t live in Arlington, so who cares what he thinks.

  • WeiQiang

    Wait a minute. This discussion is cherry-picking arguments to support/attack one approach: amend/keep zoning restrictions in RBC to affect and “artificially low” supply of affordable high-density housing.

    1. Developers are going to go with the highest margins. It’s business. Full-stop … unless they are required to build something else lower-end, which defeats the purpose of the “free market” argument. “Luxury” buildings/prices with be the norm. The same paradigm that caused the re-development of single family homes in Clarendon and other Metro-convenient neighborhoods is driving this arguement. It’s just that someone else wants the profits. Serving some mythical underserved market is window dressing. Which brings me to my second point …

    2. Density in ArlCo near East Falls Church Metro should be raised first, as that would have the largest immediate impact.

    3. Express Metro trains from stations past W. Falls Church would more quickly ameliorate the “commuter convenience” premium that’s paid in RBC.

    This is all about developer profits. To dump this argument on single-family dwellers is disingenuous. Give the developers higher buildings.

    • redstang423

      The points sort of work in theory, but I disagree with them working in practice. There isn’t much space within a half mile or so walk of East Falls Church metro. Much of the area to the south is parks (good luck getting that rezoned), and there is already a condo complex there where units didn’t fly off the shelves. To the north is already a few townhouse complexes and the rest is single family homes. As was mentioned in much much earlier posts, buying the SFH’s pose significant difficulties in purchasing enough to do anything meaningful. Part of the issue is if the area doesn’t also have commerce like Clarendon (shops, restaurants, offices, etc.), it just won’t be as desirable and inventory on high density buildings will not move as fast (and rental occupancy will be lower). The metro stops aren’t spaced as closely, so it can’t support the same type of development as the RBC is able to support. I think attempting to develop EFC would have significantly less of an impact than developing the empty lots in RBC.

      As far as the express metro trains… I don’t know what impact that would really have. First, I don’t believe the infrastructure could support it. Trains run too frequently now for the express and standard trains to share a track, and there’s minimal to no room to expand the number of tracks above ground. Below ground expansion would be an absolute nightmare, if not impossible at this point. It’s hard to tell where you suggested the express line run between, but if it is Vienna to EFC, you’re really no better off. Coming from Vienna, you simply bypassed two stations and saved maybe 4 minutes off your commute, then you need to jam into a regular car as you would’ve before. Any express train will only be of any real benefit to the group of people traveling between the start and end point – which would be a small minority. If they have any other final destination, it would almost certainly be better to just take the “regular” train.

      • Arlington, Northside

        There is a gas station, a bank, an oil truck depot, a used car lot/dumping ground, and a few other businesses along 29 that can easily be redeveloped, and will be. EFC has the potential to have a huge impact if it is allowed to be developed. This however will lead to even more morning train congestions. I seat can not be found on the Orange Line headed into town east of WFC already. Standing room won’t be available soon. There are only two tracks, true express trains are an impossibility.

        • Southeast Jerome

          Yeah – the transit infrastructure is a joke. Clearly expanding Metro is not an option. Yes all 8 car trains all morning will provide some breathing room for another 3-5 years. Long-term there needs to be expanded bus service along the Lee Highway corridor and some development in the Cherrydale area.

          Another option would be for Arlington to try and lure some larger employers into the VA Square area. It seems like people live there but its sort of a no mans land. There are some places development could be increased there (for offices) that may get some employers to relocate there and develop the live/work dynamic a bit better than it is now.

          All I know is, there is no silver bullet. And developing a strategy that is so METRO focused it bound for failure.

  • Corey

    More on the rent being too damn high. Hard to imagine folks disagreeing with this:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/the-rent-really-is-too-damn-high/254718/

  • TuesdaysChild

    Why don’t we just bulldoze all the homes in Georgetown and Dupont too?! Change their zoning and put tall buildings there. That would create lots of space for developers to put up more ugly development!

    Zoning is there for many purposes, and one of them is to ensure the overall balance and quality of the community.

    • Corey

      Proponents of this idea agree that DC neighborhoods should have higher densities (basically, taller buildings) at the margin, too.

      • Arlington, Northside

        I know of no one pushing to allow the destruction of historical town homes and brownstones in the District. These Arlington neighborhoods along the corridor are filled with pre-war historical homes. I shudder everytime I see a well kept one torn down to build a fill in, or in some cases two or three fill ins.

        • Corey

          When people bitch about the height limit in DC, that’s what they’re pushing for.

          • Arlington, Northside

            People bitching for height increase in DC are talking about downtown in the K St/Conn Ave area. No one is pushing for high rises in Georgetown or even into the neighborhoods of Dupont Circle that I have ever heard of.

        • Corey

          I live in a neighborhood with many of those “historical town homes” and I push for more density wherever I can.

  • sue

    WTF? In Georgetown do they think of demolishing all the rowhouses built in 1700-1880?? Hell no! They have a strong historic preservation association.

    My home is one long block back off of Wilson…I guess I may be one day sitting with a front door view of the Blvd…or mowed down.

    Hmmm…yes— we are sitting on very expensive land. Why the h*ll do you think I invested in this property a few years ago?

  • Clarendon

    Some of you may be interested in the topic of Land Value Taxation (LVT). Here is a very readable description

    http://www.earthrights.net/docs/kunstler.html

    The basic problem this address is that after a consensus is reached and a land-use plan is created, land still lays fallow for decades as property owners just sit on their land waiting for the value to go up – which in our current system usuallly only occurs due to redevelopment around it – which leads to a chicken and egg thing. LVT fixes this by taxing at the land’s potential value (ie the planned value) which incentivies people to make the plan happen.

    • Balzton

      In other words, it financially forces people out of their homes. Not something I think government should be doing.

      • Clarendon

        If you don’t want to increase the value of the land and as you say “force people out of their homes”, then you don’t plan it to change. Pretty simple. The point is to have the community’s plan implemented. Having the plan go 20 years without anything happening is not good either.

    • sue

      Most homeowners are not ‘sitting on the land’ waiting for the property values to go up. They are on that land for the amenities…good public schools, walkability, location, a yard, desirable neighborhood, etc. Keep on increasing density, traffic, polution and class sizes and that land is no longer so valuable to the home owner.

      • Clarendon

        Obviously. The land that most homeowners live on is not planned for higher densities and as a homeowner I think that is the way it should stay for the foreseeable future.

  • Burger

    –without anything happening–

    I mean if you ignore someone living there, maybe raising a family or just enjoying life…then I guess he has a point.

    • Clarendon

      Why would you want to ignore someone living there or raising a family ?

      • Burger

        I don’t but that Kunstler’s position to essentially tax potential uses.

        • Clarendon

          Right, but that’s why you don’t plan land for potential uses that you don’t want to realize.

  • NPGMBR

    Would have liked to have read his book on the matter but its only available in Apple’s ecosystem.

    • Corey

      You can get it on Kindle, too.

  • Arlington17

    Concur with Balzton. I would add that with the constriction due to space and zoning, the GS12-cntr-mil sector drives the price up for the apt/condo community. Every year we receive a 6% increase in locality or or housing allowance. Currently sitting at 2500 for GS13/ military. 1 bedroom apt/ condo rents quickly follow.

    • Balderdash Champion

      you get 6% increase for housing every year?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?

      WHAT!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Count Nocount

    Anyone not from Arlington discussing this topic doesn’t know we have County Board with a some democratic sentiments on social issues, but an absolute love of revenue and developers. Long time residents would be thrown to the wolves, and as to affortdable marketrate housing at metro- what a pundit’s pipedream. Ger real, you sillies! This is a burg that is Republican on all physical and fiscal issues. The Metro corridor is just a benign example of of the same old same old.

    • sue

      Yes. this is why my husband has declared he is voting Republican all the way across the Arl Co Board this year. This is becoming tiresome.

      We saw an 80% jump in our property tax bill (not having done anything to our property). The District has the ‘Homestead Exemption Act” which disallows such drastic increases in a taxpayer’s bill from year to year.

      • Thes

        Wow. I thought Arlington was required by law to assess property at its actual market value. Why is your home worth so much more? Or is it a clear mistake that you are currently in the process of appealing?

        • sue

          appealing it. lost last year. you think we were living in the Taj Mahal. Our house looks no different than all surrounding neighbors. We did the civic duty of allowing an assessor inside and we are paying the price for it….even though our insides are directly comparable to all of our neighbor’s interiors.

          • drax

            Did your neighbors’ assessments also go up by a similar amount?

          • sue

            No.

          • DCBuff

            good luck Sue. The county assessment and appeal process is inherently corrupt and incompetent to boot. And, neighboring assessments do not necessarily relate at all to your property, nor does any of this relate to the market, as required by VA law. I’ll never vote for a current incumbent Co. Board member again.

          • WeiQiang

            We had an appraiser come through our [1942 Arlington Ridge] house for a re-fi in 2009. She asked for the county appraisal. She said, “The appraiser hasn’t been in your house. Has he?”

            Nope.

          • Burger

            Nothing personal but barring you doing something legal your civic duty ends at your front door

          • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

            Always a mistake to let an Arlington County assessor into your house.
            They walk around looking for any excuse to raise your assessment and totally ignore any problems with the property.

            The board of equalization is just as bad….I think that the whole process needs to be changed.

            There should be at least one if not two people on the BOE appointed by homeowner associations not the county board.

    • Marie Antoinette

      Wait WHAT? SOME Democratic sentiments? My good man, this is the Socialist Republic of Arlington.

      BTW, for all those that complain about high rents? Let them eat cake.

  • Balzton

    Arguing that zoning creates an “artificial” demand is like saying that requiring a medical school degree and passing the MCAT, etc., creates an “artificial” high cost for medical care, because it would be so much cheaper if you let med-school dropouts do family practice in their garages. And it would be cheaper. But society has decided there’s value in ensuring consistency in the quality of medical care (as much as possible) and consistency over time in what is built in a given area.

    Also: If you completely got rid of zoning and then apartments got built smack dab inside SFH nabes, then yes, you’d have more supply of apartments and thus lower prices on them.

    But you’d also be driving up the price of remaining SFHs–which many people prefer to apartments, condos, or townhouses. (Otherwise, why do they almost always cost more per SF?)

    Also, let’s remember that there are plenty of small, non-luxury apartments in Arlington, in places like Buckingham. But few middle-income people want to live in Buckingham, because much of it is still reserved for low-income people and has the crime associated with that. So the artificially imposed low-income housing at a very high-value location is *also* limiting the supply of affordable housing for middle-income people who make too much to qualify for Section 8.

    • Corey

      Absolutely no one is suggesting dropping apartment towers in between single family homes. What people are suggesting is taking, say, the block between N. Fillmore and N. Garfield, behind Boulevard Woodgrill, and re-zoning it away from residential only and to a combination residential/commercial zoning. Guaranteed, the day after such a decision, a developer would come along and make an offer to the homeowners on that block. They would still have to agree to the sale! No one is going to raze their houses without their permission.

      There’s a serious enough discussion to have without needing to resort to hyperbole.

      Also, literally no one proposing a denser orange line corridor has suggested adding more section 8 housing. “Affordable housing” in this context just means more housing.

      • TuesdaysChild

        No. This would lead to encroachment. There has to be a line drawn and that line has to stay where it is. No change.

        • Josh S

          Why?

      • Marie Antoinette

        Corey,

        Just throwing this out there…if you spent as much time on your job as you do posting on this topic, I guarantee you could afford any house you desired in Clarendon.

        And for all those who complain about high rents? Let them eat cake.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        Try going to the corner of Washington Blvd and Sycamore St and see how well this works. When they decided to drop in 4 story townhomes and 2 home-owners decided not to sell. Looks great huh – NOT.

        • Josh S

          Who is “they?”

          Also, those homeowners have got to be regretting their decision now, don’t you think? Jesus, what a godawful place to live.

          • Arlington, Northside

            Nope, because the land is owned out right, and when the EFC plan comes to fruition, they are going to make a fortune more than what the townhome developers offered.

  • NVon

    Adding to the already stated banter- there are many LARGE lots that have been awaiting development for years within the current commercial boundaries of RBC. And lets be real about Red Top Cab- the guy is sitting on 10s of millions and he uses it to park taxis. I’d love it if he would sell but apparently he’s not interested (or so his cabbies have told me). I guess I can’t blame him when the longer he sits on it the more its worth.

    • Arlington, Northside

      He makes plenty off the cab revenue to not need to sell out. Eventually the right developer will come in with a plan to temporaly relocate him while they build and give him two floors of garage space when they are done.

      • Southeast Jerome

        ding ding ding we have a winner

  • Just Say’n

    Dear expansion / rezoning proponents: If you can’t afford to live in the corridor, then don’t live in the corridor. The reason the area is high-end and desirable is because its affluent and exclusive. That’s the way the folks there want it. There are plenty of other metro accessible areas, such as southeast DC, that are half the price. Move there and catch a neighborhood that is at a point its natural cycle that better suits you. If everyone in this world had the same things and planning were entirely centered around the ideal of an even playing field then it would start to look at lot like the communist grey box buildings sort of civilization (ok, I’m being a bit dramatic now, I know). The decisions on the county and neighborhood issues in North Arlington are made by the elected officials that the generally happy, relatively wealthy populace keep voting into office. If the community isn’t headed in the direction that you want it to, then you probably need to move somewhere that has more people ready to vote along with you. Zoning isn’t just about economics – its about creating or preserving good things that the majority of the residents in area agree are good. The wealthy have a foothold in this corridor now and they don’t want to look at your vinyl siding condo on Key blvd. You are too late. The good news for you is that we live on a large planet. Its really hard for anybody to look at the corridor and call it anything other than a great success story. The steady rise of values is a prime economic indicator and represents a booming local economy that has benefited many people of all classes directly or indirectly.

    • Corey

      “The reason the area is high-end and desirable is because its affluent and exclusive.”

      Adventures in circular reasoning!

      At least you’re honest.

      • Just Say’n

        The truth hurts, ay Corey? You actually underscore a real phenomenon. There really is something circular here. The chicken or the egg? Did rich people band together and take over the area by storm? No. The relative cost of living and relative household income rose together of course. What’s circular is the element of human nature whereby rich people tend to want to surround themselves with other rich people and with rich people stuff. And, the fact that something is expensive is in and of itself enough to make it appealing to a lot of people because in their minds it makes it exclusive. A circular dynamic.

        • redstang423

          Fantastic points

          • Southeast Jerome

            Sounds like something out of the book “Coming Apart”

        • Corey

          Hey, man, at least you’re honest. I think other people might find your argument (“we’re Arlington, and we want to stay exclusive”) well, sort of snobby and elitist, but at least you don’t try to dress it up. Kudos for that, I guess.

          • Just Say’n

            Corey: Would you live in Anacostia? I’m guesing not. Why not? Because by your standards, its not a nice area. Should the folks in Anacostia consider you to be a snob? Everything is relative. I actually agree with you that, right or wrong, there is some snobbery here. All I’m doing is making observations about reality and about the way contemporary, capitalistic societies work.

      • R. Griffon

        To be fair, it isn’t circular reasoning. It’s circular cause and effect. A self-reinforcing feedback loop, if you will. An area becomes more desirable for whatever reason. In response, prices go up. As prices go up, only people of higher socioeconomic status are able to move in. As they do, higher-end businesses (and developers) move in to support them. This creates greater amenities, and an increasing sense of exclusivity, making it yet more desirable.

        Lather, rinse, and repeat.

        This can happen in either direction as there are more than enough examples of blighted areas that just can’t break the cycle.

    • TrueArlingtonPundit

      +1

      Just Say’n’ : Well said!!!

    • Arlingtonian

      There is nothing good about the R-B corridor except its accessiblity to Metro. Some of the corridor’s rents and condo prices are too high. Other rents are low, but are restricted to low income people who face eviction if they improve their lots in life and increase their incomes. There is no middle ground.

      You can’t see the sky in the R-B corridor, unless you look straight up. You can[t see anything from your window except for another tall building and rather ugly streets cluttered with advertising signs, especially on weekends. A few snall trees grow on the sidewalks, but they die or are cut down before they become very large.

      Although Metro’s there, many people drive. They congest I-66 during peak periods, inspiring others to widen the highway in the misguided hope that things will improve. They won’t, because the population of the R-B corridor is still increasing.

      Traffic on local streets (such as Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd.) is not much better than on I-66 during peak periods. Although Metro was supposed to decrease traffic congestion, all of the development has increased congestion. The only new safety valve is I-66; without that relatively new road, construction of Metro and associated development would have brought traffic to absolute gridlock during peak periods.

      Metro is now crowded during peak periods. It will only get worse.

      All of the development and traffic in the R-B corridor increases energy usage and dependence on foreign oil. It also increases air pollution and inspires people to drive from the outer suburbs so that they can work in the corridor.

      The idea of allowing development to spread outwards from the R-B corridor is one of the stupidist around. Traffic and Metro congestion will increase. Energy usage and air pollution will also increase. You will see leven less sky. You will lose trees and green space.

      The new buildings will not be “affordable” to anyone except the wealthy. Developers will wait to construct them until their market value is high. That’s what successful speculation is all about.

      The only way to improve the R-B corridor is to construct more affordable housing limited to people with low incomes. That will increase crime. The crime will scare the timid away, slow development, and decrease property values and rents. It’s not a great idea, but it is probably better than what is currently happening. It’s certainly better than increasing the permitted densities in and near the R-B corridor.

      • JamesE

        I can see the sky just fine, and my place faces the small park behind the nature conservancy, a nice view in the summer and spring. The buildings in Arlington are nothing compared to a real city, you should get out more.

      • Southeast Jerome

        I had to get new blinds because the sun was waking me up in the morning. The sun in the sky.

    • Josh S

      All of which ignores the bigger picture of growth in the region as a whole.

      You mention a big planet. However, if all 7 billion were to try to live at the average standard of Americans, the planet could not support us all. Since most of those 7 billion are aspiring to live like us, things are getting more and more difficult. I’m no Malthus – I recognize the incredible power of technology to allow us to do more with less. However, governments at all levels (and individuals and companies, for that matter) should recognize the constraints when making decisions about the future. Frankly, we can’t really afford to preserve enclaves like Lyon Park. Because if you don’t allow the growth to happen close to existing infrastructure and job centers, then the cost to society is much, much higher when that growth happens out in Fairfax or Prince William instead, thus contributing to sprawl, an enormously inefficient growth pattern.

      So you can make your “we got ours, forget about everyone else” arguments about Lyon Park, but they’re not responsible and there are many forces lined up against you.

      • Arlingtonian

        Building tall buildings near Metro in Arlington has no effect whatsoever on development in Prince William County and other exurbs. The outer counties build highways and roads to attract developers that will convert vacant land to more taxable uses. When the developers build, people come. You get more land for your bucks in the exurbs, so people keep coming. Meanwhile, Arlington also becomes more congested, even as the exurbs are developing.

        It’s been happening for the last 30 years. It will continue.

        • Southeast Jerome

          When gas is $7 a gallon, will it continue?

          Gas was $1/gallon in 2000.

          Now its $4/gallon.

          In 2025? It cant continue, thats why people want to live close in.

  • T Xoxy

    A cruel hoax. Once again greedy developers raise the canard of “affordable housing” as a wedge to separate people from their homes. If this were in fact a concern these money-grubbing developers would not be tearing down Arlington’s existing stock of affordable housing and replacing it with luxury condos. Although there is plenty of undeveloped land within the existing corridor, they seek rezoning now in order to drive down existing land prices so they can acquire land even more cheaply.

    • Just Say’n

      Wow, business people are looking for ways to lower cost and increase revenue? That IS crazy! What has become of our nation? Let’s go set up an encampment downtown and pee in cups.

    • TuesdaysChild

      Excellent comment. I agree that this is driven by developer greed. The Board has been to fast and loose with changing zoning to help developers.

      • Arlington, Northside

        It is not developer greed, it is financial reality.
        Land in the corridor is desireable, with it comes a high price, to pay for that and make a reasonable profit buildings need to be built to a level of luxury that attracts the prices that cover those costs. There are developers who have been forced to sit on land for years, and decades even, who would disagree with your assertion that “The Board has been to fast and loose with changing zoning to help developers.” It has gone both ways.

  • Novanglus

    There’s no way this plan would reduce housing costs. Demand outweighs supply by a large margin, and that would still be true even if the R-B corridor were all 15-stories from Pershing to Lee Hwy.

    No developer will buy groups of $1M homes and replace them with affordable units — there’s no return on that investment. They’d need to build luxury buildings to make it worth their while. This proposal isn’t about affordable housing, it’s about expanding markets for companies like Archstone and Bozzuto.

    • Corey

      For about the millionth time, the “luxury” of a building is not the main determinant of the cost of living there (whether renting or buying). It is important at the margin. There are plenty of “luxury buildings” in Baltimore that cost half of what it costs to live in Arlington.

      The main determinant is supply and demand. Usually, an efficient market creates more supply of a good when demand rises; but in the case of the R-B corridor, creating more supply of that good is illegal. This benefits a select few at the expense of many and creates all kinds of market distortions. It makes everyone – save for the relatively few homeowners in the area – measurably poorer.

      • Ballstonienne

        Would you just quit with the supply and demand and artificiality arguments. Real Estate operates on a slightly different model. The lag time in market price adjustments and duration of supply construction mean the price elasticity behaves completely different from what you think you are talking about.

        You can not just run the assembly line 3 shifts a day to produce more widgets and feed demand.

        • Corey

          I don’t see how either of those things changes the basic argument that the rent is too damn high, and it could be made significantly lower by building more apartments. No one’s saying it would happen magically, overnight; it would happen slowly and at the margin.

          Do you see demand for the area abating anytime soon? Do you think that the county board or planners is better at accounting for shifts in pricing than the market is?

          • R. Griffon

            > the basic argument that the rent is too damn high

            Well then I think we can close out this whole argument. Are most/many of these units standing vacant? No? Then the rent’s not “too damn high.”

          • Josh S

            Blinders on, damn the torpedos!!

          • Arlington, Northside

            So do you plan on knocking these buildings down when the economy turns here and rent goes too low for the building owners to pay their bills and feed their family? You can not use the model of supply and demand that applies to disposable widgets or consumable fruit, to real estate.

      • Burger

        Actually, you are whining because you want back into a neighborhood and feel it is overpriced to pay the necessary cost to move here. Sorry, but lots of people do not feel that way.

        • DCBuff

          ++++++++1

        • Josh S

          Nah. It’s actually a little bit more nuanced than that. Can you handle it?

      • R. Griffon

        > Usually, an efficient market creates more supply of a good when demand rises;
        > but in the case of the R-B corridor, creating more supply of that good is illegal.

        It’s hyperbole to call it “illegal” to create additional housing. If your assertion were true, then there should be quite a few people headed for jail right now as I see many multi-unit buildings going up at this very moment. And there’s even more room to grow within existing zoning beyond what is currently built or on the way on the near horizon. There’s nothing illegal about it.

        Your perpetual contention throughout this thread seems to be that the R-B corridor market has some sort of unique artificial barriers to entry, which is only partially true. In truth, such limitations exist in EVERY real estate market. When people want more housing, one cannot (in most cases) simply conjure more land. And in nearly all markets, higher density is restricted by local code and zoning. And what density IS allowed can only be created with a lot of time and money. It’s not like simply making a bunch more iPhones or other consumer good.

        So this is nothing unique to the R-B corridor. It’s more expensive to live close to desirable amenities in nearly every market the world over. Which is why real estate in nearly every market has three things that are most important to valuation.

        Do you know what they are?

        • Southeast Jerome

          new buildings going up/finished recently in the area:
          1. washington & tenth street
          2. dittmar property in virginia square
          3. multiple new buildings have come online in courthouse in last few years (vista, palentine)
          4. lyon place
          5. condo in cherrydale by dunkin donuts on lee hwy
          6. two more condos on lee hwy by the village
          7. drycleaner site up Glebe is being redeveloped to apts
          8. apartments being built as part of Founders Square I believe (12 or 17 stories I believe)

          Corey and the rest- Exactly how is the market not responded to the demand?

      • Novanglus

        You can say something a million times and that doesn’t make it true.

        Market Common and the Palatine have much higher rents than Archstone’s buildings, which have much higher rents than Park Adams or Sheffield Park. Zoning or not, no one’s going to buy up a bunch of $1M homes to build $2K/month apartments or $300K condos.

  • LPS4DL

    If Arlington were in a stable location then it would make sense to widen the corridor quickly, and, yes, it will widen, albeit slowly, as the century progresses due to the single family neighborhoods’ resistance. But much of Arlington and DC will be under water by the end of the century. The Federal Government has not yet revealed any plans as to where the new nation’s capital will be. If it moves to the DC suburbs in Maryland or to Northern VA then Arlington’s remaining land above water will still be valuable. If the capital moves to another state, perhaps Nebraska or Oregon then Arlington’s real estate values will plummet. This is why the county should be basing all future development plans on a 50 to 80 year window and not plan on developments beyond 2080 until the Federal capital location gets resolved. We should know in the next few decades what the extent of the coastal flooding will be in the DC area so that should make it easier to gauge the timeline.

    • Just Say’n

      DC used to be under water. It was a swamp. I’m pretty sure we’ll figure something out. We’ll invent a giant bilge pump and and pump the nasty water in to some low-income neighborhood where the house prices are really reasonable.

      • LPS4DL

        I’m bettin’ on you, kid…

        • Southeast Jerome

          It’ll be fine, we’ll all be living on Newt’s moon colony then anyway

      • drax

        And we won’t pay a dime more in taxes to pay for this massive project!

    • Suburban Not Urban

      N.O. is below sea-level and they can keep it dry – just takes money and we know politicians always know where to get money – my and your pocketbooks.

      • Josh S

        If you’d prefer, the feds can decline any efforts at preventing flooding and you can pay for your very own sea-wall. Seem good?

    • Arlington, Northside

      The sea level would have to rise far more than predicted to reach past 17th street. The U.S. Capitol is safe for a thousand years, against flooding at least. But the Black Helicopters might get us.

  • MC

    Matthew Yglesais is wrong, stupidly wrong, just like the County Board is wrong when they assume they can influence close up hypothetical demand for cheaper housing through affordable housing projects. If Arlington was a remote entity, with no one living around it, and everyone living in it, we could use supply changes to decrease rental prices. But potential demand is always greater than potential supply. We could have all of Arlington high rise, and it would still be expensive, because new people would move here to live in the new places.

  • Matt B

    The last person who uttered the words “The Rent Is Too Damn High” was a raving lunatic. Good to see that this one is no different.

    • Sarcastic Individual

      +11111

  • Just Say’n

    I wish I could buy a new BMW for $15,000, but they start at close to $40,000. Should i stage a protest? The man is keeping me down!!!

  • Just Say’n

    Let’s build a huge wall between North Arlington and South Arlington. If people want to cross that border northward, they have to prove that their net worth is over a million dollars and that they drive a Volvo and eat organic quinoa salad. If anyone in the North complains about high rent, they get sent to live in the South to drink drip coffee with the rest of the riffraff.

    • drax

      Mitt, get off the Internet, you’ve got a campaign to run.

  • Marie Antoinette

    Through self-financing 3 degrees and working tirelessly for my american dream–a lovely little house with a white picket fence in Clarendon–i say ‘Let them eat cake’.

    Besides, Matthew is ugly compared to Julio and Enrique.

    • Josh S

      Gosh, just how much self-loathing do you have?

      • Marie Antoinette

        B’Gosh, Josh! No self-loathing here!

        My point is simple: Earn it.

        Contrary to the expectations of the pathetic Millennial “entitlement” generation (you know, the kids that won a 1st place trophy for just showing up to the game?), life can be brutal.

        This area (much like everything else in this life) is for any one to take. The question then is whether you have the stones to do what it takes?

        Until then, “Let them eat cake”

  • RJ

    Land in the R-B corrdior may be expensive, but it’s small fraction of the cost to build a new apartment building. If the “sticks and bricks” were cheaper, rents would be cheaper.

    • Southeast Jerome

      not accurate and a major generality. many of the plots of land here were bought many years ago. now people want to sell them to the evil developers for massive amounts.

      so you get $2000 1 bedrooms. but if they can rent them at that, then the rent is not too damn high.

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