“Missing Middle” Statement: Slow Down, Get Housing Right
On March 18th, I joined with other community members in giving testimony about the “Missing Middle” ordinance changes. I wanted to share my public testimony with you on how I would approach housing issues. Arlington needs to slow down and get housing right.
You can watch my public comments here and read them below.
Public Testimony on Item 33, “Missing Middle” proposal, Arlington County Board Meeting, 3/18/2023
“I am Susan Cunningham, a 25-year resident and candidate for County Board.
Thank you Board, staff and all of our neighbors who are in this room or online today. Please connect and listen to each other, and the many more neighbors who are juggling kids, aging parents, multiple jobs this morning. I just left an eviction prevention fair, where our faith community, lower income residents, landlord, safety net, and county are rolling up their sleeves, bringing resources together, and solving problems. That is the collaboration and problem solving we can do as a community and I hope we will slow down and take that same spirit to working together to get housing right.
Missing Middle is a mess.
The goals have been unclear and shifting. Our community is Confused. Divided. Mad. Sad. Exhausted. Maybe you all are too.
First, we need to slow down and create a common sense housing plan that builds on decades of successful smart growth. We do not need a one-step, one-size-fits-all zoning change. We DO need a comprehensive approach that adds in long-overdue updates to lot coverage and tree ordinances, property tax relief for aging in place, pilots around home ownership and preservation (esp. in our historically African American communities), and investments in truly affordable homes. All of this before encouraging new unchecked by-right development.
Second, respect and collaboration are mandatory. Democracy has had some tough knocks these last few years. We can get it right here in Arlington, but we need to slow down. We need our whole community working together, using transparency, thoughtful engagement, and real collaboration to get the problems on the table and work together to solve them. At the same time, we can’t let housing distract us from other critical needs: stabilizing our youth, balancing a challenging budget, and preventing evictions. We can get housing right, but a one-step, one-size-fits all zoning change will do more harm than good.
More news coverage of the “Missing Middle” housing issue facing Arlington:
Full meeting video, Arlington County Board — March 18, 2023
“Arlington County Board expected to vote this evening on Missing Middle,” ARLnow — March 22, 2023