Letter to the County Board regarding the adoption of the Affordable Housing Plan
September 18, 2015
Chairwoman Hynes & County Board
Arlington County Board
2100 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
Re: Amendments to the Affordable Housing Master Plan
Dear Chairwoman Hynes and Members of the Board:
The Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks organization was recently formed with the mission of providing a voice and keeping the neighborhood and County informed of issues affecting our neighborhood parks in 22202 near Pentagon City. Although FoAHP was only formed in August 2015, this grassroots effort already counts nearly 60 members and is growing in large part due to concerns about increasing density and facilities and impacts on our parks.
FoAHP is generally supportive of affordable housing initiatives, but strongly urges the Board to address two items that we believe would adversely affect residents’ access to parks and green space.
- Remove the “stand-alone” language in policy 3.5.2 that would allow an affordable housing building to be “attached” to our community centers and libraries, for example, and over our limited and very valuable parkland.
- Furthermore we encourage the County Board to consider making it mandatory and provide incentives for affordable housing to be integrated into existing or newly built apartment buildings to continue the Arlington tradition of “Smart Growth” and building up and not out. This would avoid reducing much needed land for open green space that would be better used by the residents of the buildings and shared by neighbors. We have a land crisis and we need to be creative with our solutions.
Simply put, supporting any type of residential development on parkland reduces already pressurized park space and at the same time further increases the population that needs this space. This would be a disastrous policy adversely affecting livability for allArlingtonians.
Arlington is a Smart Growth county, let’s make sure that growth includes policies that protect our environment and our prized natural resources and community spaces in every policy-making decision. Green space once lost is rarely ever returned.
President, Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks
From our friends at Arlington Parks Coalition:
County Board’s Affordable Housing Plan Puts Parks At Risk
The Arlington County Board is scheduled to adopt the “Affordable Housing Master Plan” this Saturday (Sept. 19th), which contains a loophole enabling affordable housing to be built on parkland. Please email the County Board today and ask them to remove this loophole. More information and a model email are below.
Thanks for your support of Arlington’s Parks!
Arlington Parks Coalition
Nearly two years ago, under the guise of “Public Land for Public Good,” Arlington County proposed building housing in Arlington’s parks. Rosslyn Highlands Park, Lubber Run Park, and land purchased with park bonds for Jennie Dean Park were the first sites targeted. Doctors Run Park, Drew Park, Fields Park, Glencarlyn Park, Gunston Park, Quincy Park, Virginia Highlands Park, and Woodstock Park were all listed as sites that should be considered in the future for building housing.
Trying to bring an end to the year of discord caused by this ill-advised proposal, on January 27, 2015, the County Board voted unanimously to “withdraw the Public Land for Public Good reports from further consideration.”
However, the Public Land for Public Good (PLPG) policy makes a stealth reappearance in the draft Affordable Housing Master Plan as Policy 3.5.2:
“3.5.2 Consider affordable housing needs and goals when planning for major capital investment in new or redeveloping existing major community facilities, taking into account the neighborhood context. The County Board does not support the placement of stand-alone affordable housing in officially designated parks or existing natural areas.”
The unnecessary inclusion of the modifier “stand-alone” creates a loop-hole big enough to drive an apartment building through. The County Board could simply approve a plan to build housing on a park in conjunction with another project; thus the “stand-alone” language has no meaningful effect. Just two months ago, the County Board showed its inclination to build on parks when it voted to approve the Western Rosslyn Area Plan that would include leasing a major portion of Rosslyn Highlands Park to the Penzance Companies to construct a multi-family housing, office and retail complex.
With only six weeks until the election that will fill two seats on the County Board, it is important that the County Board understands that parks advocates did not fade away over the summer and that we still oppose building housing on parks.
Please email the County Board (CountyBoard@ArlingtonVA.us) and ask them to remove the language that threatens parks from the Affordable Housing Master Plan. A model email, which we encourage you to personalize, is the following:
“Dear Members of the County Board,
After a year of public discord, on January 27, 2015, you voted unanimously to withdraw the Public Land for Public Good reports from further consideration.
Unfortunately, the Public Land for Public Good policy, which targets parkland for development for affordable housing, reappears in the draft Affordable Housing Master Plan. The unnecessary inclusion of the modifier “stand-alone” in Policy 3.5.2 reinforces the view that the County Board sees parks as acceptable locations to site housing.
Please amend the draft Affordable Housing Master Plan by deleting the modifier “stand-alone” from Policy 3.5.2.