Alexandria could end single-family-only zoning, in plans to increase affordable housing

The “look” of Alexandria, Virginia, could soon change, as the city considers a proposal that would eliminate single-family-only zoning, in attempts to increase affordable housing supply.

In 2020, Alexandria began its “Zoning for Housing” plans, which city planners presented to the city council Tuesday. The plan would require approval from the council.

If single-family-only zoning is eliminated across the city, that would make it easier to build townhomes, duplexes and buildings with up to four units in neighborhoods that until now have had just one house per lot.

Neighboring Arlington County became the first jurisdiction in Virginia to pass its “Missing Middle” plan, to add more moderately priced homes in the area.

In Alexandria, with a population of approximately 158,000, the median single-family house sold for approximately $851,000 last month, compared with $570,000 for all types of homes, according to Redfin.

Other initiatives in the city’s plans include eliminating requirements for off-street parking in areas near Metro stations or rapid bus transit.

In addition, officials in Alexandria are looking at whether zoning laws include “impediments to office-to-residential conversions and whether there are areas in the City where conversions should be incentivized or discouraged.”

Even before the proposals were announced, some longtime residents in Alexandria have voiced opposition to eliminating the single-family-only zoning requirement.

During September, October and November, several city council hearings and community meetings will provide opportunities for public comment.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on “Zoning for Housing” reforms on Nov. 28.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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