Your Views: How about a population cap?

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Your Views: How about a population cap?
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To the editor:

Get ready for a more costly city with more and taller structures, less open space, more people, their cars and youngsters and more schools in which to educate them. This result is attributable to a years-long effort by affordable housing advocates. The future they plan for you, whether or not you want it, was on full display at their day-long celebration on Tuesday, hosted by the City of Alexandria.

The contretemps in next door Arlington, inexplicably described as the “Missing Middle,” is a precursor to what’s in store for Alexandria. What its advocates declare missing is affordable housing to accommodate the many purportedly clamoring for it. The Missing Middle therefore means Arlington wants more accommodations which, perforce, will make it ever more densely populated.

What’s also missing is common sense.

Cramming more structures to house more people into the defined space called Arlington or Alexandria is not going to make housing costs more affordable. These costs, whether for building materials, sites on which to build or for the resulting rents, are determined by market forces, i. e., supply and demand.

Here’s what these two forces foretell for the champions of equity, inclusion and whatever else is agitating them to make Arlington and Alexandria more densely populated: More population density makes Alexandria and Arlington more costly.

To attain this epiphany, there is a simple process that anyone now residing in either city, or in any metropolitan city for that matter, can utilize. You don’t need to read an academic study replete with footnotes and convoluted syntax to acquire it.

All you need is a measure of curiosity, a vehicle and a free day. Just jump into your EV – the very one whose batteries are filled with components made by China and electricity made by fossil fuels – and drive at least an hour away from your current domicile, the further the better.

And here’s what you’ll find: Apart from fewer people, less congestion and more greenery, you’ll also find less costly food, fuel and housing. Briefly stated, the smaller the city, the fewer the residents, the less costly it is, a simple fact likely not on any chart at the affordable housing love-in. Nor will there be one showing more people trigger the need for more city services, school rooms and teachers.

Perhaps the tradeoff should be more entry-level housing in exchange for a population limit. It’s not as if either city lacks the tools. They have zoning restrictions galore stipulating how many people can occupy buildings, even rooms within buildings. They can just as easily craft one to mandate how many people can reside in either city.

Without a limit, the future of Alexandria and of our neighbor Arlington will be something akin to Manhattan, an expensive city with lots of people crammed into a defined space, the surface of which is mostly concrete. Should this happen, then forever lost will be the charm that attracted people to reside in Alexandria and Arlington in the first place.

-Jimm Roberts, Alexandria

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