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Arlington waters down, passes accessory dwelling legalization

After hearing numerous arguments by residents against legalizing accessory dwellings, the Arlington County Board passed the proposal, but not without first watering it down further. According to the Sun Gazette, the Board amended the proposal to only allow 28 accessory permits per year (the number planners had estimated people would apply for) and to require an owner to live in the house for a full year before adding an accessory unit.

Arlington Republicans campaigned against accessory dwellings. Photo by Blacknell on Flickr.

The plan had already taken many steps to preserve the single-family character of neighborhoods, including requiring owners to live in their houses (so investors would not buy houses to subdivide) and limiting the number of people in a unit to two (in effect keeping lower-income families away from neighbors that don't want them).

Nonetheless, this very limited accessory dwelling law is a big step in the right direction. "It will benefit the elderly, students and young professionals - it's going to be good for everyone, I believe," said supporter Sharon Williams. (Everyone without children, that is.) Opponents, of course, still hate the plan.

Via Ryan Avent.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Ironic that "Republicans" who supposedly favor limited government favor such a regulation.

Oh well, just another reason why the stars on the GOP logo point downward!

by Douglas Willinger on Jul 20, 2008 3:53 pm • linkreport

These aren't conservative values, they're Nimby values. I say that without any sarcasm, as I am and continue to be a conservative.

Glad to see however that they passed the measure, a foot in the door is a good thing.

by Boots on Jul 20, 2008 5:40 pm • linkreport

Well, it's a start, at any rate. I think it's rather time that North Arlington learns to accept that it's an urb, not a suburb.

by dcseain on Jul 20, 2008 8:38 pm • linkreport

I've gotta find the transcript of that meeting so I can figure out the name of the idiot who (in opposition to the accessory dwelling plan) said,"Just because you work in Arlington, you don't have to live here." What a douchebag.

by MB on Jul 20, 2008 8:46 pm • linkreport

MB- I wonder what hat person's opinion is on widening inside the Beltway I-66?

by Douglas Willinger on Jul 20, 2008 9:59 pm • linkreport

I think this article can do without the (parenthesis), especially when they are incorrect. 1) Arlington has many low-income families. No where does it say that we want to keep anyone out. 2) Low-income families (with their children) can live in the main dwelling, with the owner living in the smaller one.

Not all Republicans opposed, not all Democrats supported. I know there were plenty of Democrats that opposed Accessory Dwellings, and I feel there is nothing wrong with that. It's our right! We all have them! Stop judging.

This is, by far, the worst news article I have every read.

by MCabrera on Jul 20, 2008 10:38 pm • linkreport

The meeting agenda is posted here (#47 a long way down):

Also look at the board reports posted along with it, they have all research and pertinent information.

Perusing said info, it seems the NIMBYs are really making mountains out of molehills here. The units would be limited to ONE unit, not dozens as they imply. And the rate of ADs is relatively small 1 per thousand (Santa Cruz CA had a high rate mentioned in the data as 3 per 1000.

For 28000 single family homes even at that rate there would be 100 new units. For a city of 200,000 thats really small potatoes.

by Boots on Jul 20, 2008 11:32 pm • linkreport

For those who live outside of Arlington (or, for that matter on the swanky north side) this proposal may seem like the greatest thing since sliced bread. As a knee-jerk, bed-wetting liberal homeowner in South Arlington, I can tell you this is a BAD idea, watered down or not. There is NO evidence that this will result in more affordable housing (look for homeowners to charge upwards of $1000/mo in a jurisdiction with apartments routinely rented for more than $2K). What will happen is parking headaches, more traffic, greater strains on infrastructure like sewer and solid waste removal, and the dumbest growth imaginable. The house behind me that was purchased as a two bedroom one bath cape is now a mammoth box of a place with seven bedrooms and four baths, plus one bedroom in the windowless basement that lacks direct access to the outside. This is reality, and the Board only gave permission for more.

by ACBOutofControl on Jul 21, 2008 5:18 pm • linkreport

In Fairfax, we already have Accessory Dwellings. It's called illegals living in anything and everything that has a roof. In the garage. In the shed in the back. In the basement.

Call Fairfax Zoning. They will tell you.

It's out of control. Do not let this turn into an illegal boarding operation. Your neighborhood will turn into a major slum. Many have here.

Thank GOD, Fairfax started the zoning strike teams.

by Frederik Jipolati on Jul 22, 2008 8:49 am • linkreport

My neighborhood already has a two group houses for a religous organization. Why not allow Frat houses in addition to accesory dwellings. If the commissioners had any stones they would have put this proposal to a vote. There it would have been overwhelmingly defeated by Arlington homeowners.

by LetsVote on Aug 1, 2008 1:01 pm • linkreport

Great article, I see the opposition to ADUs are having their say without any evidence or proof behind their doomsday-scenario claims. IMHO it's so expensive to live in Arlington as it is. I suppose the affluent with deeply-vested interest would like to keep it that way.

by CP10 on Jul 18, 2014 9:35 pm • linkreport

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