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June 6, 2022

Greens ask County Board to delay missing middle upzoning

Uncategorized — @ 12:59 pm

Letter to the Arlington County Board from Arlington Greens

Dear County Board members:
Arlington Greens ask that you delay any consideration of the missing middle zoning proposal until at least the Fall of this year.  We discussed and approved this position at our June meeting.

Greens are concerned that the proposal is not well thought out, may have negative effects on the environment of our county, and well not focused on affordable housing.   Loss of tree canopy and open unpaved surfaces in detached family neighborhoods will have the effect of greatly increasing storm water runoff, increasing the temperatures in Arlington in warm months, and may well negatively affect the air quality.

The “missing middle” proposal does not explicitly identify the income levels of beneficiaries of more “middle income housing,” but implicitly these are households in the middle bracket for income making about $140,000 to $165,000 annually.  In 2022, the median household income in Arlington is about $154,000, the median house is t $704,000, and the median rent is $2,000 a month ( Arlington, Virginia Population 2022 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs) (worldpopulationreview.com)

Presumably, the purpose of this zoning change is to increase the housing supply for households in the median income of around $154,000 a year.  A household earning $154,000 a year can today afford a 30-year mortgage (with standard down payment) on a residence valued at or below $704,000 or this household could afford a rent of about $4,000 a month (using HUD rental guidelines).  Zillow now lists over 200 homes for sale in Arlington for under $704,000 today (mostly condos and townhouses), and 320 rental units for $4,000 or less a month.  The private market today does provide a good supply of rental or home purchases choices if somebody makes $154,000.

There is no “missing” supply of rental or for-purchase units in Arlington County today for households making around $154,000 a year.   There is nothing missing in the supply today for somebody making $154,000.   Any argument to the counter is not supported by economic data on housing.  What is “missing” in the “missing middle” is logic and economic facts.

The real shortage of supply of housing options is for households making under $50,000 a year.  There are virtually no rental units affordable at that income level of an affordable rent of $1,200 a month, far below the median $2,000 rent.   Thus, the “missing housing supply” is for households in the bottom 25-percent income group rather than those in the 50-percent income group.

The missing middle proposal is based on bogus assumptions or faulty data or is designed for some other purpose than generating a supply of housing units for households making the median income in Arlington today.  In any event, this proposal is not ready for community evaluation and needs to go back to the drawing board.
Thank you for your consideration, the Arlington Greens