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Alexandria rolls out timeline for massive housing reform project

House display outside an Old Town business, staff photo by Vernon Miles

The City of Alexandria is taking its massive zoning reform aimed at making housing more affordable to the community this fall.

In Alexandria, around 20% of households are paying over 30% of their income in housing, and around 10% are spending more than 50% on housing.

Zoning for Housing/Housing for All is an effort to rectify that. It’s a top-to-bottom housing reform project that aims to expand housing production in Alexandria, make housing more affordable in the city, and address current and past inequalities.

Among the changes are more incentives for developers to provide both market rate and affordable housing in exchange for bonus height or density and taking another look at how the city classifies single-family zoning.

That last point is reminiscent of the Missing Middle zoning changes — allowing multifamily structures in neighborhoods that were formerly limited to single-family detached homes — that sparked controversy in Arlington earlier this year.

According to the project website:

The initiative will evaluate the current limit of one household per lot in the City’s Single-family Zones and the potential benefits of allowing a greater number of households per lot in those zones. Staff will examine changing the number of permitted units as well as the definition of “family.” As currently conceived, this initiative will potentially amplify our housing production goals by enabling new typologies in neighborhoods where they don’t exist now, and/or are by their nature are less expensive, but this initiative will not be examining the potential for these new units to be “committed affordable” as we have interpreted that without specific tools or public investment to make them so.

Starting next week, the city is kicking off a whirlwind tour of town halls and hearings running up to a scheduled vote on Nov. 28.

“Launched in 2019, the Zoning for Housing/Housing for All initiative has a joint goal of expanding housing accessibility, affordability and availability across the city while also addressing equity in housing for all groups in Alexandria,” the city said in a release. “Prior to 2023, the City Council adopted three reforms under the initiative, including text amendments related to Accessory Dwelling Units, Co-Living and Auxiliary Dwellings Units.”

The schedule for this rollout is:

  • August 29: Zoning for Housing/Housing for All Panel Discussion
  • September 5: Joint Planning Commission/ City Council Work Session, City Hall (draft recommendations released).
  • September 14: Community meeting, Location coming soon.
  • September 23: City Council Public Hearing, City Hall (opportunity to comment)
  • September 24: City Council Town Hall (opportunity to comment) Location coming soon.
  • October 5:  Community meeting, Location coming soon.
  • October 12: Community meeting, Location coming soon.
  • October 14: City Council Public Hearing, City Hall (opportunity to comment)
  • October 21: City Council Town Hall (opportunity to comment) Location coming soon.
  • November 1: Planning Commission Public Hearing on Zoning for Housing, City Hall (opportunity to comment)
  • November 14: City Council Public Hearing on Zoning for Housing, City Hall
  • November 18: City Council Public Hearing on Zoning for Housing continued, City Hall
  • November 28: City Council Meeting, City Hall (scheduled vote on Zoning for Housing reforms)

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