A new report released by three local civic associations says tenant protections, more housing options and community amenities would make the 22202 zip code livable.
But significant barriers — including a history of exclusionary zoning to a lack of political will from leaders — are holding the area back, the neighborhoods say.
The report was produced by Livability 22202, a coalition of the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City civic associations.
“We want to ensure our neighborhood reflects the vision of an inclusive community and that residents’ voices are heard in a rapidly changing environment,” the report’s authors wrote. “By learning from the past and planning for a realistic future, we can ensure our shared values and visions as a 22202 community hold a promise that all are welcome to find a home here.”
The report coincides with heavy redevelopment and the construction of Amazon’s permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City. It also comes as Arlington County studies the lack of “middle housing” — duplexes and other smaller-scale multifamily housing — and sponsors discussions on the effects of race-based policies in County’s past.
“We believe that the adoption of our policy solutions, together with other livability objectives, will contribute to making our neighborhood an even better and more inclusive community to live and work in,” said Susan English, of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association, in a statement.
“As the County embarks on a process to overhaul its policies and practices to fill the housing ‘missing middle,’ our report and its recommendations provide a comprehensive roadmap for change,” said Tarsi Dunlop, of the Crystal City Civic Association, in a statement.
The authors predict Amazon and the other commercial and residential development will displace existing residents, and recommend assistance and policies at the local and state level for renters and owners.
The Livability 22202 members said the group will now push for their recommendations to be adopted.
In a statement to ARLnow, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said she appreciates the hard work and the recommendations, many of which are consistent with the County’s goals.
“The County, too, wants to avoid displacement, increase the housing supply, and diversify housing choices,” she said.
In response to the assertion in the report that the County lacks political will to remove housing barriers, Garvey said county staff and the County Board are working with the community to do so while avoiding political backlash that could set them back.
“We are building political will,” she said. “The Board sees increasing the housing supply and access to housing as critical to Arlington’s long term sustainability and success as a community.”
The report is the result of workshops with renters, homeowners, experts and historians, as well as a study of the history of zoning and land use in the area and current barriers to adequate housing.
In addition to housing-related recommendations, the report also makes recommendations aimed ad strengthening local community cohesion.
Those recommendations include “creating both physical and digital spaces for community building, including a full-scope community center,” and “developing policies and processes to better include renters in the community, particularly addressing barriers to information sharing with residents of high-rises.”