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by ARLnow.com April 19, 2018 at 9:55 am 0

Petition in Support of Affordable Housing Project — The website Greater Greater Washington is helping to promote a petition that intends to counter resident complaints about a proposed affordable housing project on the former Red Cross site along Route 50. Neighbors are concerned that the project might “defile” the Buckingham neighborhood, with increased traffic and school overcrowding and a loss of green space. [GGW, GGW]

‘A Friend’ Writes Thank You Note to ACPD — From the Arlington County Police Department Twitter account: “To the citizen who left this unexpected note on one of our cruisers, thank you. ACPD is grateful for the support we receive from the community and small gestures like this mean a lot to our officers.” [Twitter]

Arlingtonian Places 23rd at Boston — Among other impressive finishes by Arlington residents at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Graham Tribble finished 23rd with a time of 2:30:06, the fastest among the D.C. area contingent at the prestigious race. [RunWashington, Patch]

High Schools Students Learning How to Spot Fake News — “At Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, some high school seniors are bent over their laptops, engaged in a digital course called Checkology that helps them figure out what makes news and information real, misleading or just plain false.” [Voice of America]

Elementary Girls Heading to Int’l Problem Solving Competition — “An all-girls engineering team from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals where they will compete with students from nearly 25 countries… The team of fourth graders from Glebe, who are all ages 9 or 10, became state champions last weekend at the Virginia Odyssey of the Mind competition, which was held April 14 in Newport News.” [Arlington Public Schools]

ACPD Forms ‘Restaurant Liaison Unit’ — The Arlington County Police Department has formed a “Restaurant Liaison Unit” to work with local bars to tamp down on drunken and sometimes violent incidents. One Clarendon bar in particular had police responding to it for a call almost every other day in 2017. [Washington City Paper, Twitter]

Glebe Lane Closure Causes Backups — Commuters heading northbound on Glebe Road today faced major backups due to a lane closure near Ballston. Washington Gas has been performing emergency repairs in the roadway since Wednesday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Rex Block

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 19, 2018 at 11:55 am 0

Arlington Cultural Affairs plans on surveying artists within a 50-mile radius of the county as part of a proposal to bring affordable artist housing to Arlington.

feasibility study said that such a survey would “definitively reveal whether a market for artist housing exists and whether an affordable housing-funded model… would be considered affordable by prospective, income-qualifying tenants.”

The survey will ask artists to “express their interest” in the affordable housing project and detail their “current and future needs in a live/work space,” according to an event page for a presentation and question and answer session which will kick off the “Arts Market” survey.

That presentation, on Thursday (March 22) from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center, will precede a reception where artists can take the survey and mingle.

The survey is expected to cost between $30,000 and $42,500 and would be paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, which also paid for the preliminary feasibility study.

Artspace, the national arts non-profit based in Minneapolis, Minn., that is collaborating with Arlington Cultural Affairs, has so far led four focus groups to discuss area artist housing needs, according to the study.

The feasibility found that “affordable housing and live/work space was expressed as a need, particularly in the context of anticipated rising rents and the increasing lack of affordable for-sale housing” and cited community feedback that there wasn’t a central artistic gathering place.

That study pointed out four potential neighborhoods for the project — Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, and the Four Mile Run Valley — but specifically noted that central Rosslyn didn’t make sense for the project because of the density and traffic congestion.

Artspace has already finished two projects in the area, in Washington and in Mount Rainier, Md., and is set to launch another in Silver Spring, Md., later this year.

“It is clear that area jurisdictions are finding that communities are strengthened and made vibrant by a strong arts presence,” wrote Jim Byers, the Arlington Cultural Affairs marketing director, in an email to ARLnow.com.

“The Arts Market Survey is the next step towards determining how Arlington might best leverage the creative energies that exist in our region and encourage still more artists to make their home here.”

File photo

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 28, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a $7.9 million loan to redevelop Queens Court, an affordable housing building in North Rosslyn.

The Affordable Housing Investment Fund loan would help build 249 affordable units at what will be called Queens Court South, yielding “a net gain of 388 bedrooms over the existing 39-unit building,” according to a county press release.

The existing Queens Court structure, built in 1940, has studio and one bedroom apartments. Queens Court South will have those configurations as well as two and three bedroom units, with more room for families.

The project also dedicates 9,000 square feet for a northern leg of Rosslyn Highlands Park, with a planned playground and tot lot.

The redevelopment is part of a Western Rosslyn Area Plan adopted in 2015 that will add a new fire station and public secondary school. Current Queens Court households will be relocated, and the new building will be required to remain affordable for 75 years.

County Board Chair Katie Cristol said the Board was “delighted to help” the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, which is redeveloping the property.

Here’s more from the press release regarding the project’s financing:

APAH will apply to the Virginia Housing and Development Authority for competitive 9 percent low income housing tax credits for Queen’s Court South, which will contain 90 affordable units. If APAH is awarded the 9 percent low income housing tax credits by VHDA, the Board is expected to consider a second AHIF request of up to $11.8 million for the remaining 159 units this fall. Although Queen’s Court North and South will be separated into two land condominiums for financing purposes, the development will be built in one phase, with all 249 units in one building.

After the Board approved its Site Plan in February 2017, APAH submitted an AHIF application for $24 million as part of the County’s Fiscal Year 2018 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process for affordable housing funding, to redevelop the property. Staff selected the Queen’s Court project to move forward with AHIF negotiations and the public process.

During the negotiation process, APAH reduced the AHIF request for the entire development by $4.3 million. The AHIF reduction was a result of APAH working with VHDA to increase the amount of certain VHDA low interest loans that are being layered with the VHDA senior loan. APAH also agreed to contribute another $2 million in equity to the development resulting from the transfer of the property into the tax credit partnership.

by ARLnow.com February 9, 2018 at 8:30 am 0

Democratic County Board Field at Two — Military veteran Chanda Choun was the only candidate for County Board to announce his candidacy at the Arlington County Democratic Committee last night. Choun joins fellow Democrat Matt de Ferranti in the race to challenge incumbent John Vihstadt. A primary will be held June 12, ahead of the general election contest against Vihstadt in November. [InsideNova]

Affordable Housing Stats for FY 2017 — “Arlington County added or preserved 556 affordable housing units for low- and moderate-income households during its 2017 fiscal year, bringing the Countywide total to more than 7,700 units.” [Arlington County]

Government Shuts Down Briefly — The government was shut down overnight as Congress failed to pass a bipartisan budget bill until around 5:30 a.m. [Politico]

HERricane Applications Accepted — Applications are being accepted in February for Arlington County’s HERricane program, which helps girls ages 13-17 to pursue careers and leadership roles in emergency management through a week-long summer camp. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com December 18, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

Board Votes for Housing Conservation District — The Arlington County Board on Saturday voted 4-1 in favor of the creation of Housing Conservations Districts, which will make it more difficult for property owners to convert multifamily buildings into single-family homes. The Board says there is an urgent need to preserve market-rate affordable apartments, though critics charged that the Board rushed a decision that will restrict the rights of private property owners. [Washington Post]

Volunteers Place 245K Wreaths at ANC — “The weather was chilly but that didn’t stop huge crowds from heading to Arlington National Cemetery to help out with the annual wreath laying Saturday. Traffic was jammed and sidewalks were packed with long lines of volunteers.” [WTOP, Twitter]

New Fire Station 8 Moving Forward — The County Board approved a zoning change that will allow the creation of a new Fire Station #8 on Lee Highway to move forward. [InsideNova]

Doctor Charged With Spiking Drink with Abortion Pill — A doctor who had recently moved to Arlington was arrested in May and charged with spiking his pregnant girlfriend’s drink with an abortion pill, which then caused her to lose the baby. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County jail, awaiting trial. [Fox News]

Bridging the Biking Gender Gap in Arlington — “Despite overall growth in the number of people biking to work, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed by cities, organizations, and employers for more women to bike more often.” [BikeArlington]

Children Visit Incarcerated Parents — Children of inmates at the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse were able to visit and play with their incarcerated parents during the jail’s annual holiday party. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Phil

by Chris Teale December 14, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

Residents at the Arlington Mill Residences affordable housing complex could be set for free wireless internet access.

The Arlington County Board will consider a plan to offer the free service to tenants at 901 S. Dinwiddie Street as part of a new initiative called Arlington Digital Inclusion.

The initiative by the county’s Department of Technology Services and Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, will use the county’s dedicated network of dark fiber to provide free broadband internet for three years.

“Currently, there are 122 committed affordable units at Arlington Mill Residences and 159 children are currently residing at the development,” county staff wrote in a report. “About half of all households (61) do not currently subscribe to an internet/data service. This program would provide free, in-unit high-speed Wi-Fi access to every unit. It would also help alleviate the cost of Internet/data service (which can range from $50-$75/month) for those households currently paying for the service.”

Staff said the initiative would particularly help the children that live there to close the “homework gap,” where students find it difficult to access online resources at home.

The total cost of the project over three years is just over $140,000, funded in part by $95,400 in grant money from the county through allocating Columbia Pike Tax Increment funds that help pay for affordable housing. The remaining cost of $44,809 is provided for free by service providers as what staff called a “goodwill contribution.”

The Board will vote on the plan at its meeting Saturday (December 16). Staff recommended approval.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com December 13, 2017 at 8:30 am 0

Arlington Ready for Possible Snow — The chances of “meaningful accumulation” have since gone down, but Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services crews started applying brine to county roads Monday night in anticipation a “potential snow/ice this Wednesday evening/Thursday.” [Twitter, Washington Post]

VDOT Pleased With I-66 HOT Lane Data — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss tweets: “Doesn’t look like @VaDOTNOVA plans to change anything about the I-66 toll lanes. They say their data shows commutes were faster and more reliable.” [Twitter]

Dems Want Satellite-Voting Centers — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee could again be at loggerheads with the county’s elections office over whether to provide satellite locations for absentee voting in non-presidential-election years.” [InsideNova]

ARLnow T-Shirt Now Available — Need a gift for the ARLnow.com fan in your life? Show your Arlington pride with this long-sleeved t-shirt from the county’s No. 1 local news source. [Amazon]

ACPD Officers Helping in Puerto Rico — The Arlington County Police Department is among the departments nationwide sending officers to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to provide emergency assistance. The third ACPD team to rotate in is working on the island through Dec. 18. Officers who’ve gone say many challenges remain but there are hopeful signs as well. [Arlington Connection]

Westover Townhouse Battle Continues — Arlington County is weighing both a historic district and a “Housing Conservation District” for Westover, to protect aging but affordable garden apartments from being redeveloped into $800,000 townhomes. [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Chris Teale November 30, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

A report has shown that areas of wealth and disadvantage exist very close together in Arlington, sometimes just blocks away from each other.

The report by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, entitled “Getting Ahead: The Uneven Opportunity Landscape in Northern Virginia,” identifies what it calls 15 “islands of disadvantage,” where people face multiple serious challenges.

Those challenges include the levels of pre-school enrollment, teens out of high school, whether people have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, the level of English spoken in a household, unemployment rate, child poverty rate, health insurance rate and more.

Of those “islands,” three are either wholly or partly in Arlington: one near the county’s border with Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners; another along Columbia Pike in the Douglas Park neighborhood; and another in the area of Buckingham and Fort Myer.

The report also found that neighborhoods separated by one thoroughfare can have very different demographics, housing and poverty levels.

“A striking example was near Ballston Common [Mall, rebranded as Ballston Quarter], where residents in two census tracts on either side of North Glebe Road — tracts 1019 and 1020.01 — faced very different living conditions,” the report reads. “In census tract 1019, east of N. Glebe Road, 85 percent of adults had a Bachelor’s degree or higher education and the median household income exceeded $160,000 per year.

“Just west of N. Glebe Road, in tract 1020.01, 30 percent of teens ages 15-17 years were not enrolled in school, only 38 percent of adults had a Bachelor’s degree and 48 percent of the population was uninsured.”

It also found that life expectancy can vary by as much as 10 years across the county, “from 78 years in the Buckingham area to 88 years in parts of Rosslyn and Aurora Highlands.”

To help improve conditions, the report recommended better access to health care, education and affordable housing.

“In today’s knowledge economy, advancement requires better access to education — from preschool through college — and economic development to bring jobs with livable wages to disadvantaged areas,” it reads. “And it requires an investment in the infrastructure of neglected neighborhoods, to make the living environment healthier and safer, to provide transportation, and to improve public safety. What is good for our health is also good for the economy and will make Arlington County a stronger community for all of its residents.”

Courtesy image

by Chris Teale November 29, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board approved an additional loan Tuesday night to help redevelop an affordable housing complex near Four Mile Run.

The Board loaned $13.5 million from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund to the Berkeley II project at 2900 S. Glebe Road to help with the cost of construction.

Approved in 2016, the project will redevelop the Berkeley Apartments into two new buildings, known as Berkeley I and Berkeley II.

The Board approved a $7.4 million loan for the Berkeley I building to nonprofit developer AHC, which owns the property, earlier this year from AHIF’s FY 2018 budget. This latest loan is from the FY 2019 budget.

When built, the buildings will have more than 250 committed affordable apartments. Currently, the Berkeley has 138 units, and Board member John Vihstadt said the redevelopment will be a “huge boost and a lift up to that community.”

Current tenants will be relocated during construction, with AHC required to adhere to a relocation plan approved last year. Tenants on the Berkeley I site received 120-day notices to vacate in July and August, and those on the Berkeley II site should receive their notices this fall.

“AHC’s goal is to find housing for all eligible Berkeley residents at either AHC sister communities in close proximity to The Berkeley or at other nearby rental properties,” county staff wrote in a report on the loan. “Any existing Berkeley resident who is in good standing and who meets the income qualifications will be given first priority to apply for an apartment in the new buildings.”

At the County Board meeting, AHC officials said they expect ground-breaking to begin in April on the new buildings.

by Chris Teale November 29, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

The Arlington County Board voted to allocate the just-over $11 million in surplus funds to five “near-term” needs, but clashed over its use for affordable housing.

Board members voted 4-1 to follow County Manager Mark Schwartz’s recommendations and allocate the funds in the following ways:

  • Affordable Housing Investment Fund: $5.2 million in one-time funding to be set aside for the FY 2019 budget.
  • Critical Life Safety Needs: $2 million for unanticipated security system upgrades to the county’s Justice Center in Courthouse.
  • Employee Compensation: $1.75 million to reflect changes in federal law on several position classes in public safety.
  • County Manager Operating Contingent: $1.25 million to address “unforeseen needs that arise during the fiscal year without reprioritizing or cutting other programs.”
  • Facility Studies: $900,000 to primarily fund additional site analysis at the Buck and Carlin Springs sites, as directed by the Board.

Board member John Vihstadt voted against the proposal, and instead tried to free up the funds for three items — the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF), the manager’s operating contingent and facility studies — for next year’s budget cycle. Vihstadt said those three recommendations were not emergency needs.

“These may well be necessary and appropriate, but this is not reason enough for me to short-circuit the extensive and robust budget process the manager has already begun just because the money is here now,” Vihstadt said. “It doesn’t mean that every penny should be spent. Let’s hold this up to the air and the light and the sun and consider everything holistically as part of the budget cycle that comes in the next few months.”

But Vihstadt’s plan failed on a 4-1 vote, while a similar plan by Board member Libby Garvey to not allocate the $5.2 million in AHIF funding and instead give Schwartz room to make a decision on where it could go went down 3-2.

Fellow Board members were critical of the proposals. Vice Chair Katie Cristol said it is imperative for the facility studies to advance, while Board chair Jay Fisette said denying money for affordable housing was “undermining a key priority to the community.”

“In my view, Mr. Vihstadt’s alternative proposal undermines the current Board priority on affordable housing,” Fisette said.

At the same meeting, the Board provided its budget guidance to Schwartz for FY 2019, and asked him to propose a “balanced budget within the existing tax rate.” The guidance also calls on Schwartz to “include expenditure or service enhancements that are fully offset by reallocations or fee revenue increases.”

The Board approved a 1.5-cent property tax hike for FY 2018 earlier this year, and expects to see moderate revenue growth for FY 2019.

“However, there is uncertainty regarding the impact of the state and federal budgets, as well as potential legislative changes to federal income tax policy, on the County, and real estate assessments are not yet known,” the Board wrote. “Further, the projected moderate increase in revenues is not keeping pace with budget pressures in expenditures, creating an expected budget gap of $10-13 million for FY 2019.”

Board members called on Schwartz to maintain affordable housing funding, and allocate 46.6 percent of county revenue to Arlington Public Schools, consistent with previous years.

They also said Schwartz should include funding for Metro that does not exceed the proposed 3 percent cap on annual increases in funding, and assumes that a new state or regional funding source will cover higher capital costs.

The budget process, which is already underway for FY 2019, will kick into high gear in the new year.

by Chris Teale November 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board voted 4-1 at its Tuesday meeting to loosen the rules around homeowners adding “accessory dwelling units” to their properties.

The revisions adopted by the Board would, among other things:

  • Put no limit on the size of an ADU located wholly within a basement
  • Require that an ADU take up no more than either 35 percent of the combined floor area of the property, or up to a maximum of 750 square feet
  • Allow detached ADUs in existing accessory buildings (like a garage) and assess more options for setback requirements for new detached accessory dwellings
  • Remove the annual limit on the number of ADUs that can be created in the county
  • Require any requirement for the owner to occupy the property, but if the owner does not occupy one of the dwellings, the entire property may be occupied by no more than one family

Only about 20 ADUs — defined as a second place to live on a property, with a kitchen, a bathroom and a separate entrance — have been approved in Arlington since 2009.

A proposal to relax rules in the county’s Zoning Ordinance had been under discussion since earlier this year as the county looks to encourage more ADUs, also known as “granny flats” or “mother-in-law suites.”

“The ordinance we passed in 2008 failed to generate accessory dwellings,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “We are committed to creating more affordable housing in our County, and to making it easier for Arlingtonians to age in place. An accessory dwelling could create an additional income stream for those on fixed incomes. These revisions will give homeowners more opportunities to create accessory dwellings, while maintaining the character of our single-family neighborhoods.”

Board member John Vihstadt voted against the plan, citing “anxiety” from residents worried about neighborhoods being taken over by ADUs, as well as the worries of some about the impact on trees, stormwater management and other environmental aspects.

During their deliberations, Board members wrestled with how to direct County Manager Mark Schwartz to study requirements for new detached buildings that could be built to house an ADU. Existing structures are allowed to house ADUs right away.

Vihstadt tried to widen the study beyond setback requirements — how far back the ADU should be from the edges of the property — to look at building height and other aspects, but that brought opposition from Fisette.

“It seems to me you’ve opened up a lot more conversation here that will become far more complicated in the days ahead,” Fisette said, urging his colleagues to keep things simple and just study setback requirements.

“Just because a policy is simple to understand doesn’t make it any more sound than if it’s more complicated,” Vihstadt responded. “These are important characteristics that are taken into account in Arlington and elsewhere.”

Board members voted to direct Schwartz to only study setback requirements, and he is expected to provide his findings to the Board in the coming months. Members agreed that needs more work before a final decision can be made.

“Certainly, I think the desire to make sure we are working with homeowners to allow existing buildings to be used for this purpose makes a lot of sense,” Board member Christian Dorsey said. “But moving forward with new buildings, I’m not sure we’ve considered all options available to us to account for the different uses that we are entitling compared to when the Zoning Ordinance was created and as it’s been refined over the years.”

by Chris Teale November 28, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The Arlington County Board will vote in December on allowing the creation of “Housing Conservation Districts” to protect affordable housing and make it harder to demolish and build townhomes in some areas.

A proposal by staff would help create the districts within the county’s General Land Use Plan, the primary policy guide for new development that also establishes the character and extent of land uses. It would also add the districts to the county’s Affordable Housing Master Plan and the Zoning Ordinance.

Earlier this year, county staff found in a report that affordable apartment buildings and complexes tend to be located in the following nine general areas:

  • Along the edges of the Rosslyn Metro station area
  • Along the edges of the Ballston Metro station area
  • Central Lee Highway
  • East Lee Highway
  • Westover
  • Lyon Park
  • Shirlington
  • Penrose
  • Nauck/Long Branch Creek/Aurora Highlands

If approved, HCDs would be allowed in areas of the county planned for low-medium and medium residential use, and zoned for multi-family homes like apartments. Any proposed district must also contain two or more apartment buildings or complexes, or one large one.

The HCDs would allow for what staff described in a presentation to the Board as “context-appropriate renovation, addition, infill and redevelopment projects in exchange for affordable housing.”

Development of townhouses would be reclassified as a special exception use within HCDs, meaning it would require site plan approval by the County Board on a case-by-case basis. That change comes after a spate of by-right townhouse development to replace affordable apartment buildings, including in Westover.

“The Board is considering this action to encourage the preservation of affordable housing,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement.

This plan is the first phase of adding HCDs. Subsequent phases could include giving tax- and zoning-based incentives to developers.

The Board will hold a public hearing on the plan at its December 16 meeting, with the Planning Commission also holding a hearing on December 4. In a letter, Joan Lawrence, chair of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, said the group supports the planned HCDs.

Image via county presentation

by ARLnow.com November 28, 2017 at 8:00 am 0

County Board Approves Affordable Housing Loan — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Board approved a loan that will help preserve the 294-unit Park Shirlington Apartments as affordable housing. The $6 million loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund will allow a pair of developers to buy the complex, rehabilitate it and preserve as much affordable housing as possible. [Arlington County]

Ten Die in Va. Thanksgiving Weekend Crashes — “With overall traffic fatalities already on the increase, the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday weekend proved to be a deadly one… on Virginia’s highways. During the holiday… traffic crashes claimed the lives of eight drivers, one passenger and a pedestrian.” [Virginia State Police]

Video Shows Helicopter Search of Crane — A video, posted by a Pentagon City resident, shows the Fairfax County Police helicopter using its spotlight to search a construction crane Sunday night, as part of a death investigation that was still ongoing as of Monday evening. [YouTube]

FCC Chair Reports Harassing Signs —  FCC chairman and Arlington resident Ajit Pai is again being targeted at his home by activists who oppose changes to net neutrality and media ownership rules. This time, signs outside Pai’s home have reportedly referenced his children. The Arlington County Republican Committee called the alleged harassment “disgusting.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Education Tech Company Sets Up Clarendon Studios — “Higher education is getting the star treatment… in Clarendon. Headquartered in Lanham, Maryland, [education technology firm] 2U recently revamped the former Henninger Media space off Wilson Boulevard to create a satellite office with eight TV studios, where visiting professors can spend a whirlwind three to four days taping lectures and other multimedia course materials designed to supplement live classroom chats and streaming video.” [Arlington Magazine]

Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton

by Chris Teale October 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the county’s just-over $11 million surplus be spent on several “near-term needs & County Board policy priorities,” including affordable housing.

County staff said $11.1 million is left over, 1.4 percent of the county’s FY 2017 General Fund budget, excluding money appropriated to Arlington Public Schools.

The county collected just over $1.022 billion in revenue from property, business, sales taxes and other sources, having projected in April it would collect just over $1.004 billion. That is 1.8 percent more than projected.

“It is the lowest as a percent of total budget in recent years; in FY 2016, available funds totaled $17.8 million, or 2.4 percent, and in FY 2015 available funds totaled $21.8 million,” staff wrote. “This reflects diligent focus on executing the adopted FY 2017 budget.”

Schwartz is recommending the Arlington County Board use the leftover funds in the following ways:

  • Affordable Housing Investment Fund: $5.2 million in one-time funding to be set aside for the FY 2019 budget.
  • Critical Life Safety Needs: $2 million for unanticipated security system upgrades to the county’s Justice Center in Courthouse.
  • Employee Compensation: $1.75 million to reflect changes in federal law on several position classes in public safety.
  • County Manager Operating Contingent: $1.25 million to address “unforeseen needs that arise during the fiscal year without reprioritizing or cutting other programs.”
  • Facility Studies: $900,000 to primarily fund additional site analysis at the Buck and Carlin Springs sites, as directed by the Board.

“As was started with housing grants as part of the FY 2018 budget, it is important to move to a higher level of ongoing funding for AHIF in the future,” staff wrote. “This transition to a higher amount could take several years, and the transition can be eased with reliance on available one-time funding.”

Certain community members and some County Board candidates have criticized the closeout practice in Arlington, and instead suggested the extra money should be given back to residents and businesses as tax relief, or at least applied to the next year’s budget.

The County Board will consider its options at its recessed meeting tomorrow (October 24), although numbers are preliminary until the county’s independent auditors complete their work at the end of the month.

by Chris Teale October 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

A plan to make it easier for homeowners to add an “accessory dwelling unit” to their property could be set for an Arlington County Board vote as early as next month.

The proposal has been under discussion since earlier this year as the county looks to encourage more ADUs, also known as “granny flats” or “mother-in-law suites.”

Only about 20 ADUs — defined as a second place to live on a property, with a kitchen, a bathroom and a separate entrance — have been approved in Arlington since the ordinance first came into effect in 2009. Local advocates have previously said that relaxing regulations could help ease the county’s lack of affordable housing.

“While accessory dwellings will not alone solve the housing affordability issue, as the Plan notes, it is another tool to provide a typically lower-priced housing alternative,” staff wrote in a report on the proposal.

Staff said they are proposing the following revisions to the ordinance on ADUs, “in order to increase opportunities for residents to add accessory dwellings, while maintaining the residential neighborhood character.”

  • Allow for ADUs in detached buildings (like a garage)
  • Increase ADUs’ maximum occupancy from two to three
  • Increase the maximum square footage from 750 square feet to 1,000 square feet for a basement ADU
  • Remove the minimum lot width requirement and area requirements
  • Remove the requirement that a resident must live in a home for one year prior to applying for an ADU
  • Remove the annual limit of 28 new ADUs in the county

Staff recommended that the following requirements remain largely unchanged:

  • Owner occupancy requirement
  • Parking requirements
  • Compliance requirements
  • Design requirements, although some revisions are proposed to allow for additional flexibility

On Saturday, the Board will decide whether advance the plan for public hearings at the Planning Commission on November 6 and a hearing and vote at its November 18 monthly meeting.

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