Group opposing Alexandria zoning reform hosting rally tonight in Old Town

It wouldn’t be Alexandria without a contentious fight over zoning and density.

As the city begins to roll out plans for zoning reform to create more housing and affordability ahead of City Council review this fall, a new group opposing some of the new proposals is hosting a rally in Market Square (300 King Street) tonight (Monday).

The Coalition for a Livable Alexandria says its rally at 6 p.m. today seeks to “educate Alexandria residents regarding city plans to greatly increase building density through radical changes to the city’s zoning code,” the group said in an event listing.

The group said all sides of the issue are encouraged to attend and discuss the zoning reforms.

The Coalition for a Livable Alexandria’s website criticized the timetable of the project rollout:

The city plans to fast-track its package of sweeping zoning changes starting this fall, leaving limited time or opportunity for public input or action. the city’s proposal amounts to a blank check for developers. While no one disagrees that more affordable housing is needed in Alexandria, the reality is, this proposal will not make a significant difference in the affordable housing supply. instead, the new framework disenfranchises residents, while giving a greenlight to overdevelopment, and gentrification.

The Zoning for Housing project got started in late 2022, with the start of the civic engagement process in March.

The city’s website says the initiative will “propose a zoning framework that adds to the housing supply now provided by Single Family zones,” including reevaluating the current limit of one household per lot and reexamining the city’s definition of family. The site likewise says the initiative will “explore use of bonus height provision in zones with height limits of 45 feet or more.”

In both cases, however, there’s no concrete information yet on the new regulations for single-family zoning or bonus height provisions, saying that both would be further explored as part of the Zoning for Housing/Housing for All project.

A city-led Zoning for Housing/Housing for All panel discussion is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. in the Holiday Inn Carlyle (2460 Eisenhower Avenue). The meeting can also be attended via Zoom (login information is on the city website).

The Coalition for Zoning has already gotten some pushback from Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, who spent Sunday driving around the city highlighting multi-family housing built around Alexandria, some of which could not be built today under the current zoning regulations.