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Notes: Neighboring Arlington embroiled in single-family zoning fight Alexandria has avoided… so far

Good Wednesday morning, Alexandria!

Today’s weather: Rain throughout the day. High of 54 and low of 38.
Tomorrow: Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 50 and low of 36. Sunrise at 7:21 am and sunset at 5:22 pm.

🚨 You need to know

The big topic of conversation today has been just north of Alexandria, where neighboring Arlington is divided by arguments over a “Missing Middle” housing plan.

Arlington County has proposed zoning changes that would allow the construction of multifamily buildings with up to six or eight dwellings on lots currently zoned for single-family housing — along with duplexes and three-unit townhouses.

A meeting on Monday on the topic packed the County Board headquarters with nearly 200 people delivering hours of public testimony — so much so the County had to shorten speaking times. Those conversations continued yesterday and are scheduled to continue today.

The change is intended to help boost the housing supply in Arlington County, but it has been decried by some locals who say it will overcrowd Arlington’s suburban neighborhoods that were built with single-family housing in mind. Some of the County Board conversations around the topic have gotten heated over the last few days.

Alexandria is no stranger to contentious zoning discussions, but so far city policy discussions have carefully navigated around the issue of single-family housing. While Alexandria has been going through its own project aimed at rewriting zoning laws and boosting affordable housing, nothing like Arlington’s “Missing Middle” housing reform has been proposed in the city.

Some advocates have spoken at city meetings in favor of eliminating single-family zoning as a classification, but Alexandria leadership has shied away from the issue in favor of more modest increases to density in single-family neighborhoods like loosening restrictions on accessory dwelling units and codifying residential dwelling in commercial spaces.

“I think everyone gets caught up in different terminology,” said Mayor Justin Wilson said at a meeting last year. “When people say they want to eliminate single-family zoning, they assume we’re coming to take your single-family homes. I live in a single-family home, I’m not planning on giving it up: I like my home. But what we are doing and will continue to do is look for tweaks for all zoning in the city to meet some of that housing demand.”

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