Editor: After reading Sun Gazette coverage on the Arlington County Board’s meeting with the Arlington County Civic Federation and the discussion on housing, one must ask how anyone living in Arlington today could believe that “upzoning” low-density residential sites will solve the affordable-housing shortage.
Though Arlington is already building 10,000 to 11,000 new apartments roughly every 3 to 4 years, rents have yet to drop in any meaningful way.
Income inequality – a factor signaling the loss of middle-class residents – is fueled by the very densification policies that Arlington has pursued for decades. Increased density on sites (whether commercial or residential) inflates land values. With land inflation comes higher housing costs. This phenomenon isn’t unique to Arlington but occurs in city cores nationwide, wherever land is scarce and jobs are plentiful.
We’ve already seen the county’s densification policies economically cleanse poor residents from Arlington – the very people that the county is now desperate to re-import. How’s that worked out?
Next on the chopping block is the middle class, including seniors and others living on fixed or modest incomes, people who purchased single-family homes years ago when they were truly affordable. Today, these folks – the ones paying sky-high, ever-increasing real estate taxes – are considered by some to be squatters on their own land, ripe for displacement via the county’s latest upzoning scheme.
Think duplexes will be affordable? Think again. Consider the eye-popping price of a new duplex unit at 2027 North Dinwiddie St.: $1.2 million. Its twin, 2023 North Dinwiddie, sold for a bit more in December. Does anyone truly believe that duplexes costing over $1 million are affordable to anyone but the wealthy?
Upzoning, by any name, will not make Arlington’s housing more affordable. That’s the reality.
Suzanne Smith Sundburg, Arlington