On Saturday, November 11th, the Arlington County Board adopted the long-awaited Langston Boulevard Area Plan. The plan presents a new vision to transform the Langston Boulevard corridor in north Arlington to allow for more housing, mixed-use development, and investment in infrastructure and pedestrian improvements. The vote concludes a nearly decade-long public planning process with residents and county staff, and marks the first significant land use update for the corridor since the adoption of the county’s first General Land Use Plan in 1961.
APAH staff testified in support of the plan in recent board meetings. First, APAH Project Manager, Jordi Fabian, spoke at the October 14th Request to Advertise hearing. APAH President and CEO, Carmen Romero, also spoke in favor of the plan at the final County Board hearing on November 11th.
Testimony by Jordi Fabian, Project Manager, APAH
Hello, my name is Jordi Fabian, and I’m here representing APAH, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. As you probably know, APAH is one of the county’s largest owners and developers of affordable housing, including several properties near Langston Boulevard. I’m here today not just to talk about those properties, but also about APAH’s broader support for more housing along Langston Boulevard. We applaud the Arlington County staff’s work on this plan, which we believe will lead to a more affordable, walkable, and sustainable corridor. The current iteration of the plan represents a positive step forward. It is the latest in a broader effort to remake the county’s planning and zoning laws in ways that support more equitable development.
The land-use vision for the corridor has largely not changed since the introduction of the General Land Use Plan in 1961. Since that time, Arlington has added tens of thousands of new people and jobs, mainly along narrowly-defined metro corridors. This economic growth has resulted in unprecedented levels of prosperity, but also a need for more homes, especially affordable homes. And because the Langston Boulevard corridor has been mostly off-limits to building new homes, it has become exclusive, only available to those lucky enough to have bought in many decades ago or wealthy enough to afford one of the rapidly appreciating homes that already exist. That’s why this plan is so important for affordability and equity. It represents an opportunity to benefit not just present-day Arlingtonians looking to move but also future newcomers who need a place to live. And new committed affordable housing, the work we specialize in, can only happen where we allow new development.
Even with the current plan, there is enormous work left to do. Although it’s a step in the right direction, the plan as written does not meet the county’s own stated goals for committed affordable housing for the area. That’s why we urge the county board to consider additional actions after plan passage, including co-location of affordable housing on publicly-owned sites, swift updates to the East Falls Church and Cherrydale plans to allow for more housing, and continued investment in the county’s affordable housing investment fund.
Lastly, we are pleased to see an implementation framework, including GLUP amendments, being adopted concurrent with the plan itself. The county has been reviewing the plan for nearly 5 years, and the community many years before that. During this time, the urgent need for housing has only grown more intense. So now is the time for action – to pass the plan and get started on building new homes. And in the months to come, we urge the county board to take additional measures to meet the affordable housing goals for this area.
Thank you for your time.