Submit Content

Making Room: Arlington’s Neighborhoods Should Match Our Values

Making Room is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Your neighborhood is only as diverse as its housing stock.

That is my housing mantra. It is adapted from a line in Henry Grabar’s reporting on the 2018 city council vote in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to end exclusionary zoning and allow up to three-unit buildings on every residential lot. Minneapolis’s bold decision, made in the name of racial equity and housing affordability, has echoed throughout the country and we have started to hear the reverberations here in Arlington.

If you believe that our County, and your neighborhood and your block, should welcome residents of different backgrounds, you should advocate for diverse housing options, too.

Exclusionary zoning is the term adopted by progressive housing advocates to recognize the way residential zoning that only allows single family detached houses creates a barrier to entry for a neighborhood. Zoning was originally developed in the early 1900s to keep industrial and commercial land uses away from residential areas (and even then, generally only worked to keep unwanted uses away from white residential neighborhoods).

Since the Supreme Court upheld a ban on apartment buildings in a residential Cleveland suburb in Euclid v. Ambler Realty (1926), zoning has also been used to keep specific types of residential housing forms away from affluent people and their homes. The majority ruling in that case referred to apartment buildings as “a mere parasite, constructed in order to take advantage of open spaces and attractive surroundings created by the residential character of the district.”

That language is not far off from what I’ve heard at from public comments during County Board meetings in 2019.

Multi-family buildings, because they have shared walls, less square footage, and lower upfront cost of ownership, are nearly always less expensive than a detached home. This makes them accessible to immigrants, lower-skilled workers, single parents, young couples, and basically anyone in Arlington making less the median household income of $114,000 per year.

You might think that apartments belong in other parts of the county, but not on your block of detached, million-dollar homes. But studies show that the best thing to break intergenerational poverty is to give poor people access to low-poverty neighborhoods.

You cannot ridicule or exclude a type of housing without ridiculing or excluding the type of people who live there. If you say you don’t want less expensive forms of housing in your neighborhood, you are in essence saying you don’t want lower-income people in your neighborhood. That is the heart of exclusionary zoning.

It is time for Arlington to recognize the discrimination inherent in our zoning code and start taking steps to make our neighborhoods match our values.

Jane Fiegen Green, an Arlington resident since 2015, proudly rents an apartment in Pentagon City with her husband and son. By day, she is the Development Director for Greater Greater Washington and by night she tries to navigate the Arlington Way. Opinions here are her own.

Recent Stories

A man who was charged with a hate crime after allegedly shoving a restaurant employee in Crystal City and refusing to pay for his meal pled guilty to a lesser…

Many myths surround car maintenance and repair but CarCare To Go is here to debunk them and provide simplicity to car repair.

A new survey shows that a majority of Arlingtonians are satisfied with public transit, but their levels of satisfaction vary by geography. Mobility Lab, a division of Arlington County Commuter…

The work of Latin American entrepreneurs and how their cultures have inspired them is highlighted during Hispanic Heritage Month.

INF Care Virtual Concierge is a new and inviting option to remote assistance that leverages the best of what technology should encompass with quality interaction.

For the busy individual that needs a way to reduce stress and tackle caring for an older family member that lives alone.

or

For the maturing adult that just needs help with everyday tedious tasks, connectivity, and access to data on their everyday habits to pinpoint areas that need more attention.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Looking for a more convenient way to work out?

On the Go Fitness Pro offers in home personal training. We bring the gym to you, so you can save time and skip the hassle of going to the gym. Plus, our trainers are certified and experienced, so you can be sure you’re getting the best possible workout.

We provide all the equipment needed for a great workout or we can use the equipment that you have.

Schedule a free consultation today and see how we can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Mini Photo Sessions for Family & Pets

Mini Family & Pet Photo Sessions
Beat the rush and sign up to get your holiday photos now!

Bring your kids! Bring your dogs!

Check out the DeSilva Studios website. Look at the images and see if you like them

Vini Franchetti Wine Dinner

Join us as we explore Vini Franchetti & their two sister vineyards Passopisciaro (Sicily) and Vini Franchetti (Tuscany) for our Sicily/Tuscany Wine Dinner!

Sunday, Oct 9 @ 6pm

Special Guest: This wine dinner we will be hosting the wine maker

×

Subscribe to our mailing list