Before four panelists could jump into discussing Missing Middle housing, moderators of Arlington County Civic Federation‘s forum last night (Tuesday) did something unusual.
They laid out ground rules for civil discourse, as other community discussions of the county’s proposed zoning changes have gotten loud, and even rowdy.
Arlington County is gearing up to make a decision on whether to allow low-rise, multifamily dwellings to be built on lots currently zoned exclusively for single-family homes. Leading up to the decision, the county and local organizations have been holding many discussions about the potential impacts of these changes.
Panelists, who spoke for themselves, couldn’t discuss their “feelings” and would instead have to provide a citation for every fact or projected outcome, co-moderator Nadia Conyers said. Speakers needed to seek common ground and respect areas of disagreement, and could not attribute motives to what other speakers were saying.
The panelists reviewed each other’s presentations to ensure facts were not misrepresented, co-moderator Jackie Snelling said.
“We spent a lot of time planning this discussion, which is a little different from how our normal discussions go,” she said.
Those in favor of Missing Middle said Arlington’s housing shortage requires the county to do something.
Michael Spotts, the founder of Neighborhood Fundamentals, who has researched housing for the last 15 years, said Arlington as it is currently zoned is running out of developable space. Meanwhile, developers are tearing down starter homes to build so-called McMansions, while certain neighborhoods north of Route 50 are essentially off-limits to renters, he said.
“I believe Arlington does need to grow and continue to add new housing,” Spotts said. “Aside from the economics, I don’t believe it’s fair to say certain neighborhoods shouldn’t have to contribute to meeting the growing need for housing.”
While not a panacea for all of the county’s housing concerns, he says the zoning changes would add units, increase ownership opportunities and marginally cut down on sprawl development in Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William counties, which in turn has environmental impacts in Arlington.
He and Eric Berkey, who chairs Arlington’s Housing Commission, said the changes would help undo the lasting effects of last century’s exclusionary and racist zoning policies. After racially restrictive covenants became illegal, Arlington County used economics to segregate Black people by banning the construction of row houses and creating zones for exclusively single-family detached houses.
“Missing Middle can provide opportunities for more families to live in not just the three or four neighborhoods where we have duplexes, but the entirety of the county in the long term,” Berkey said. “Characters make the neighborhood. It’s important for the county to get rid of these exclusionary housing policies and make sure folks can live in the entirety of our community.”
Opponents Anne Bodine, a member of Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future, an advocacy group concerned about rapid growth, and Julie Lee, a member of a coalition of 15 civic association presidents opposed to the framework, said more housing is needed, but Arlington does not need to pick up the slack for a region-wide shortage.
“We cannot solve all of the region’s housing issues, but we should set lofty goals, and we must implement a plan that would achieve our desired objective,” Lee said. “The Missing Middle plan does not do that.”
They argued that the zoning changes won’t make it easier for people of color and low- and middle-income earners to buy here, despite assertions to the contrary by the local chapter of the NAACP and others.
“The county says offering a diversity of housing types is a key Missing Middle goal. Why do we need diverse housing types that don’t promote racial and economic diversity?” Bodine said. “A household needs to earn 118% of the area median income to afford the cheapest Missing Middle unit of $416,000. Looking at current Arlington populations, senior, Hispanic and Black median household incomes fall short. It doesn’t mean none of these groups can afford Missing Middle units, but it shows how slim the chances are.”
Arlington County will host a community event on June 6th to discuss how technology will impact the future of work. Tell us what you think.
For the past two years, Arlington County has been named the Top Digital County in the nation by the Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties.
A cornerstone of this recognition has been Arlington’s initiative to envision the County’s future through its Defining Arlington’s Digital Destiny campaign.
Arlington’s Digital Destiny is an ongoing series that brings together a broad and diverse group of residents, businesses, technologists and members of the not for profit and higher education communities to discuss what the future might hold for Arlington.
The Digital Destiny series has focused on mobility and transit, learning, aging independently, energy sustainability, and security and privacy in a digital world, among other topics.
These conversations have been a foundation for Arlingtonians to raise awareness of the impact technology will have on their community and to share different perspectives that can serve as guideposts for future visioning and strategic planning.
If you’ve missed some of the earlier discussions, you still have a chance to take part in a new talk titled The Future of Work in Arlington on June 6 at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N Quincy Street).
Panelists for this event will include Anne Khademian, presidential fellow at Virginia Tech; Dr. Yahya Shaihk, an associate at Johns Hopkins University and senior consultant at Connected Health, FCC; Jason Drake, a manager for training and organizational development at Arlington County Government; and Steve Kenny, regional VP at Gartner, LLC.
Guests can arrive at 6 p.m. for networking and light refreshments. The panel and breakout discussions will kick off at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. Simply register to attend or join us live via Twitter.
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.
Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.
Tuesday, March 13
Trivia Night: Are you smarter than a Catholic sister?*
Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 6:30-9 p.m.
Test your pop culture and general knowledge against a team of Catholic Sisters, with drink specials and free appetizers. Prizes for top trivia teams.
Wednesday, March 14
Shaping Arlington for a Smart & Secure Future*
County Board Room (2100 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Listen to a panel discussion on how technology will shape Arlington, featuring government and cybersecurity experts. A reception with light refreshments will also be held.
Arlington Committee of 100 Virginia Hospital Center Expansion*
Marymount University (2807 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7-9 p.m.
The Committee of 100 is hosting a panel discussion on Virginia Hospital Center’s expansion, the county’s population growth and evolving community healthcare needs. Optional dinner served.
Thursday, March 15
Parenting Lecture: Parenting an Anxious Child
The Sycamore School (4600 N. Fairfax Drive)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Dr. Christine Golden will discuss the challenges of parenting a child with anxiety and offer some helpful strategies for managing behaviors. The lecture is free to attend.
Friday, March 16
St. Agnes Soup Supper*
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
The church will offer meatless soups and a noodle dish, and more every Friday during the Lenten holiday. Guests are invited to stay for confession and the stations of the cross afterwards.
Saturday, March 17
Whitlow’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
Whitlow’s On Wilson (2854 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 9 a.m. – Close
Live Irish music and an open rooftop welcome you at Whitlow’s On Wilson’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Special Irish menu and March Madness games on the TVs all day.
WJAFC Open Day*
Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street)
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
A co-ed, free clinic to learn the Australian football game. Kids from 5-15 will learn starting at 9 a.m., with an adults clinic and co-ed non-contact game at 10:30 a.m.
Guinness and Gold*
Ten at Clarendon (3110 10th Street N.)
Time: 12-5 p.m.
Tour the Clarendon apartment building with a free Guinness and cash in on leasing deals. Leasing specials are subject to terms and conditions.
Osteria da Nino (2900 S. Quincy Street)
Time: 6:30-10:30 p.m.
Join Tre Monti winery over a four course meal with five wines, including theThea Passito 2012 Romagna Albana DOCG raisin wine. Tickets are $75 per person.
Yorktown High School Presents “Almost, Maine”*
Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Boulevard)
Time: 7-9:30 p.m.
Students will be performing John Cariani’s “Almost Maine,” about a remote, mythical town and the effect of the northern lights on the lovestruck residents. Tickets are $10.
Sunday, March 18
St. Joseph’s Table Celebration
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 1-4 p.m.
Join the church following the noon mass for a procession to celebrate this feast day with a potluck lunch, live music, and a kids woodworking shop.
*Denotes featured (sponsored) event
Anyone who wants their pet to get more followers on social media can learn how to do just that at a panel discussion next week.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington will host a panel discussion called “Insta-Pets: How To Make Your Pets Instagram Famous,” from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 31 at its 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive headquarters.
Speaking will be the owners of some of the most popular animal Instagram accounts in the D.C. area, including Izzy the Chow, Sebastian and Luna, and Navy the Corgi.
“Is your dog the cutest thing since sliced bread, but they still only have 15 followers on Instagram?” organizers wrote. “Does your cat do more tricks than Penn & Teller, but only your mom and dad are seeing the amazing feats? Have you set up the cutest Instagram account ever for your animal, but you can’t get over your follower plateau? AWLA is here to help!”
Tickets are $15 and are available online.
Photo via Facebook
Arlington may have a relatively low crime rate and a reputation for being a idyllic “urban village,” but there are still gangs — including the notorious MS-13 street gang — operating in our midst.
An event next week will remind residents that Arlington is not without gang activity and gang-related violence.
On Tuesday, April 17, Leadership Arlington will be holding a panel discussion entitled “Arlington County Gangs: Exploring the Shadows of Our Urban Mayberry.” Part of the organization’s spring speaker series, the event will focus on “the threats that gang activity present to the Arlington community,” “contributing factors to youth participation in gangs” and “initiatives in place to address gang-related violence.”
The speakers include Robert “Tito” Vilchez of the Arlington County Task Force, a member of the Arlington County Police Gang Unit, and Meredith McKeen of Northern Virginia Family Services.
Gang activity might not be visible to many residents, but it is to many of Arlington’s youth. One in six Arlington Public Schools students know at least one person who is involved in gang activity, according to the event invitation.
The panel discussion will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the WETA building (2775 S. Quincy Street). Tickets are $40 for the general public and $30 for Leadership Arlington members. Lunch is included in the price of admission.
The video is long (nearly an hour) and the audio is low, but the county’s television channel has posted a video of an fascinating panel discussion on this history of rock and roll in Northern Virginia.
Featured in the video are five men who promoted local concerts in the ’60s and 70s: Derwood Settles, Teddy Bodnar, Michael Oberman, Mike Schreibman, and Bud Becker. The discussion, organized by cultural historian Jeff Krulik, was held in the Artisphere in November.