The rally was spearheaded by The Coalition for a Livable Alexandria, a group founded this year by residents to talk about complex issues. If approved, the zoning plan overhaul would reshape a number of zoning ordinances, including a bonus height amendment that incentivizes developers to add affordable housing to projects in exchange for two additional stories of construction in areas where height limits are 45 feet or more.
Roy Byrd, chair of the coalition, said that the organization wants more affordable housing throughout the city, but is concerned about density. He also said this was not about residents “fighting the power.”
“Residents who have a different viewpoint, residents who have concerns, residents who ask tough questions are not the enemy,” Byrd said. “We just want to make sure we do it in the best way possible and that we work together.”
The city launched its zoning for housing plan last November, and over the summer it went through a community engagement phase. Council is expected to vote on the initiatives in November. A city-led Zoning for Housing/Housing for All panel discussion is scheduled today at 6 p.m. in the Holiday Inn Carlyle (2460 Eisenhower Avenue).
Mayor Justin Wilson says that the proposed policies will desegregate Alexandria, which passed a number of zoning ordinances in the 20th century that divided the city by race. He’s also recently posted repeatedly on social media photos of multi-family properties built around Alexandria, some of which could not be built today under current zoning regulations.
Will Shen, the coalition’s treasurer, said that the city intends to bring in tens of thousands of new residents through its zoning plan, and that the quality of life in Alexandria is about to change.
“With so many people using our already inadequate infrastructure, nearly everything in Alexandria will cost more and take longer,” he said. “But that assumes you’ll still be living in Alexandria in a couple years… which may not be the case.”
Alexandria is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and lost 90% of its affordable housing stock between 2000 and 2017. The city has pledged to produce or develop thousands of units to meet 2030 regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
That means that the city is going to have uncomfortable conversations about zoning, said City Council Member Alylia Gaskins.
“It is complex and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Gaskins, who was the only member of Council to attend the rally. “We are going to have to have uncomfortable conversations. We are going to have to have tough decisions. It really does bother me and frustrate me that so many feel that they’re not being heard. I think we are trying to expand our community engagement and opportunities to make new pathways to hear as many people as possible.”
According to the city, the initiative includes:
- Bonus height text amendment — This initiative would incentivize more use of Section 7- 703 of the zoning ordinance that allows additional height in new residential projects in exchange for affordable housing. Current law allows the provision to be used in areas with a height limit greater than 50 feet, and the proposal is to allow it to be used in areas with height limits of 45 feet or more. A goal of the initiative is to expand housing choices and dispersion throughout more areas of the City in a manner that is harmonious to the surrounding physical context of the visual depiction of community
- Historic development patterns — The purpose of this initiative is to identify land use patterns, such as the mix of uses and building types found in historic neighborhoods (Del Ray, Rosemont, Old Town, and Parker-Gray) that can no longer be built under existing zoning. Characteristics of historic land use patterns that are desirable would be identified along with recommendations for changes to the Zoning Ordinance to allow these patterns to be considered
- Coordinated Development Districts and affordable housing — CDDs establish the zoning for large tracts of land planned for redevelopment. The purpose of this initiative is to ensure that the creation of affordable housing is supported in each new CDD. The recent CDD for the Potomac River Generating Station site is a model that staff will examine for potential application in future CDDs
- Expanding housing opportunities in single family zones — This initiative will propose a zoning framework to expand housing options in single family zones by enabling new typologies in neighborhoods where they don’t exist now. These options may by their nature be less expensive than the typical new single family home, 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
- Analyses of industrial, townhouse and multi-family zones — These initiatives will seek to create a common set of rules for industrial, townhouse and multi-family development and reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers to construction
- Expansion of transit-oriented development — This initiative will review existing permitted densities within the walksheds of existing and planned Metro stations and bus rapid transit stations. It would further analyze any existing barriers currently in place that limit increased densities around transit stations
- Office-to-residential conversions — This initiative will review Alexandria’s recent experience with office-to-residential conversions, including an evaluation of the impacts of conversions from a variety of perspectives, including housing supply, economic development objectives, and fiscal impact. The project will determine whether the Zoning Ordinance includes impediments to office-to-residential conversions and whether there are areas where we want to encourage or limit conversions
A bit of a slower news week in Alexandria. The fight over the Potomac Yard arena was still ongoing and Metro funding got tied up into the mix. Over the…
A new pilot program to step up parking enforcement in Old Town netted 4,000 citations in its first month. A staff memo (page 8) to the Traffic and Parking Board…
The Alexandria School Board approved its fiscal year 2025 $384.4 million combined funds budget on Thursday night and it is asking City Council for $21 million more than the previous…
A 4 BD/3 BA brick townhome with a gas fireplace, floor to ceiling windows and a 2 car garage is featured in Just Listed.
Are you looking to work on health and fitness from the comfort of your own home?
Skip the big box gym and try out our in-home personal training service. We bring the gym to you so that you can save time and avoid the hassle of going the the crowded gym.
We bring all the equipment you need for a solid workout and if you have a community gym we can use that too.
We offer programs that will help with weight loss, strength, flexibility, more energy and overall feeling better.
Peace in Gaza: Prayer Liturgy and Community Discussion for Peace in Arlington VA, Sunday, Feb. 11, 10:15 AM
Prayer, liturgy, and community discussion for peace in Gaza, an immediate cease fire and resumption of humanitarian aid will be hosted by Nova Catholic Community. The focus will be Pope Francis’ call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, resumption of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, and peace talks for a lasting and just peace for all people in the region.
Discussion will follow at Noon on US military role in the conflict and appropriate steps the US should take to foster peace and rebuilding. Light lunch served.
Again this year, The Critical Mass, LLC, the Made in ALX store and local Ukrainian-American artists are throwing a Pysanky Party — and partnering on a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization Razom for Ukraine.
The free event, from 5 –