Young families don’t support ZFH

Young families don’t support ZFH

To the editor: 

I love Alexandria. I grew up here, and three years ago, I returned here with my husband and two young children. And while I don’t love stepping into polarizing issues, I feel compelled to write this letter urging City Council to defer the vote on ending single-unit zoning, to allow more time for all Alexandria residents to voice their views on this important issue. 

Young families are the lifeblood of any city, and Alexandria is no exception. We specifically returned to Alexandria once our children were toddlers because we wanted to live in a community full of other young families, with less traffic, lower stress and deeper connections with our neighbors and our city. 

With the proposal’s final text only released a mere weeks ago, many residents have been deprived of appropriate time to review and be heard on such a significant proposal. This has particularly affected young families who have struggled to be heard in this debate given the rushed timeline. 

Indeed, I was not even aware of the ZFH proposal until this fall, and many young families I have spoken with were not aware of it either. While the city was able to send a mailer magnet for snow plow information, it did not send a mailer about a once-in-a-generation zoning change that will not be put to a public referendum vote. 

I tried to speak at the Planning Commission’s final hearings; however, my husband was out of town for work. I had no childcare Wednesday night and had to take my daughter to Girl Scouts Saturday morning. 

Watching from home on Wednesday night, I saw two main groups: older residents with adult children and younger residents without children. Young families were unrepresented, no doubt for the same reasons that I could not attend. 

But we want to be heard on this question. We are deeply concerned that ZFH will not achieve its goal of increasing affordability but will line the pockets of property developers at a dramatic cost to the city’s existing residents. 

Already, traffic has gotten so tortuous that if we leave a minute past 7:55 a.m., my kids won’t make it to school on time by 8:20 a.m. – despite attending a school only 1.5 miles away. I expected this when we lived in Washington, D.C., but that’s exactly why we left. I can’t imagine the city willingly signing up to make it worse. 

I urge Council to defer this vote so that the many young families and other Alexandria residents have time to make their voices heard. 

-Katherine Goodman, Alexandria