Houses generic real estate homes neighborhood pixabay

For the second time in as many weeks, candidates in Arlington’s July 7 County Board special election had an opportunity to offer specific thoughts on the future of residential zoning in the county.

And with the exception of one rather imaginative, if perhaps somewhat impractical, suggestion, the trio reverted to generalities:

• “It is important that we have diversity of housing,” independent Susan Cunningham said at a June 16 forum sponsored by the Arlington County Civic Federation. “We need to give folks choices.”

• “Housing affordability is a critical challenge,” Democrat Takis Karantonis said. “We live in a supply-starved market.”

• “I’d like to see more creative thinking to get us all where we need to be,” Republican Bob Cambridge said.

Those boilerplate-style remarks were in line with similar comments made a week before when the candidates faced off in a Committee of 100 debate. The contenders appear disinclined to take a firm stance on whether Arlington’s previously sacrosanct single-family-zoning districts should be opened up to wider development opportunities in order to increase housing stock.

There was some tiptoeing up to the issue, however. But not much.

“Some zoning changes will be appropriate,” said Karantonis, although he suggested efforts should be focused in Arlington’s more urban Metro corridors and the Lee Highway area.

“We need to allow a bit of change,” acknowledged Cunningham, but cautioned that it needed to be “carefully calibrated.”

Perhaps the only tangible out-of-the-box idea in the discussion came from Cambridge, who suggested that rather than going up toward the heavens, development move in the opposite direction by providing underground living spaces.

“It does sound a little flaky,” the Republican nominee acknowledged, but pointed to Terraset Elementary School in Reston, a 1970s-era facility that is mostly below ground.

Despite the recent takeover of the state legislature by Democrats, Virginia remains largely a property-rights state. As long as property owners do not need changes to the existing zoning on a particular parcel, local governments have only a limited say in the design of new properties.

And because of Arlington’s location, the trajectory of growth is likely to continue ever upward.

“I don’t see us stopping,” Cambridge said. “There’s probably going to be a lot of development.”

“Growth is something that the market and our economy demands,” Karantonis acknowledged, but said the county government deserved praise for its efforts over the past half-century.

“Arlington has one of the best records in the nation in managing growth,” he said. “We are really good at this.”

(14) comments


I did a white pages lookup of Arlington's "missing middle" VIPs. They come in 3 flavors: those who own expensive homes in neighborhoods zoned for single family homes, those who live in condos or town homes and own second homes elsewhere, and a few who own or rent a small apartment or condo and actually live there.

Allen Muchnick

This information and verbiage was previously posted on the Arlington Yupette blog on June 6. Are you plagiarizing that material?


[yawn] "Missing Middle" VIPs live in expensive single family homes in neighborhoods zoned single family residential? Like AHS's Executive Director and Board Chair?


[rolleyes]Arlington's biggest bigmouth for raising 2 kids in a tiny condo owns a rancho deluxe in an artsy resort area in a Western state. Who could she be?


Then there's Arlington Board of Supervisors Chair "Lexus Liberal Libby" Garvey. Lives in an actual Urban Village on the Arlington-Alexandria border (Lexus dealer's just down the street) and rubber-stamp approves mixed-use gentrification in-fill in neighborhood after neighborhood.


[unsure] Anyone who is remotely in touch with Arlington Democratic Party politics who believes Takis Karantonis still lives in a tiny townhouse he owns in Arlington Village obviously still believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Try a SFH in Georgetown DC near Georgetown Hospital.


LOL[rolleyes] Typical New Urbanists. They all want growth...but not in THEIR back yards.


I want growth and damn well in my backyard. Quite hiding behind "property values and "character of your neighborhood". Single family zoning needs to be banned everywhere in the county.


Ignore the mess of comments with emoji's they're all by the same kook.


[beam]Hi Allen


Ignore trash comments by surrogates of the SG's chamber-of-commerce booster so-called "Journalist". New Urbanism has become a cult of in-fill gentrification that's destroying the County's diversity and livability, neighborhood by neighborhood, except for the Smart Growther VIP neighborhoods, of course.


The Publisher of Arlington's other news blog has at least 10 puppet commenters.

Allen Muchnick

Except for one comment from "Inside Commenter", every other comment above was posted by the SAME individual.

Why does Inside NoVA's comment moderator still allow this insanity, yet delete my clearly identified comments when I try to point this out?


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