To the editor:
Regarding the recent “Zoning for Housing/Housing for All” the Alexandria Times has been reporting on, we find this city initiative quite confusing. The staff report available online to be discussed at the November 1 meeting was 142 pages. The proposal is difficult to assess and understand either the proposed changes or the impact they will have on the citizens of Alexandria.
If understood correctly, the concept is to enable the creation of 3,000 additional housing units over a 10-year period with 75%, or 2,250 units, recommended to be affordable for households of low-to moderate-incomes and located near activity and transit centers. This increase is on top of the 8,000 units projected in this time under existing conditions. Translating to a total of 11,000 new units built by 2030.
Some of the questions this raises for us are:
• Why does the city of Alexandria need to “broaden its toolbox” to the extent of a 142-page Master Plan/Zoning Text Amendment (2023-00005 and 2023-00007) to accommodate a 0.3% annual increase beyond the expected organic growth of housing in the city?
• Why did the city not share the extent of the expected Zoning changes, and associated costs, with the citizens before agreeing to the Regional Housing Initiative?
• Why hasn’t the city provided a full, understandable explanation of these changes to the citizens of Alexandria? What does it mean to citizens/ residents in various parts of the city?
• Is there a clear explanation of the impacts to existing infrastructure such as sewers, roads, and schools plus city services? As we are all aware, the existing infrastructure of the city is in dire need of repair or replacement. On our block alone, the sewer is outdated and was slated for replacement in 2024 – though it is not clear if that is still on track. Other infrastructure initiatives have been canceled over the years, such as the undergrounding of wire utilities.
• How does the city ensure that private developers abide by the requirement for a percentage of the units to be affordable?
This initiative does not seem fully thought out. It seems to be using the regional housing initiative as a red herring to allow the city to eliminate many zoning elements for the benefit of increased density and developers’ wish lists.
If the 0.3% increase in housing is the true goal, can’t the city develop a simple plan for accommodating this growth under existing zoning as well as within manageable infrastructure accommodations?
-Twig Murray, Harry Mahon, Alexandria