Welcome to FIVE FOR FRIDAY: A weekly roundup of Public Policy Issues and Headlines from around the Northern Virginia Region, the Commonwealth and on Capitol Hill.
1. Arlington County Board Expands Ground Story Uses along Columbia Pike
The County Board voted 5 to 0 to approve zoning updates that will help realize the vision of Columbia Pike as a walkable “Main Street” by providing greater flexibility for commercial, office, light industrial, and agricultural uses—including animal boarding and craft beverage production—on ground floors along the Pike.
The changes approved at the Saturday, Nov. 13, Board meeting will enhance the variety of businesses serving the Columbia Pike community, attract new customers for area businesses, and increase opportunities for first-time and minority business owners. County staff recommended the changes based on over a year of research, analysis, and engagement with residents, property owners, and the business community.
2. Manassas zoning review to focus on affordable housing issues
The Manassas City Council is rethinking its zoning code, with local planners saying that a number of its restrictions limit the supply of housing in the city and drive up housing costs. Following two work sessions on the barriers to homeownership and housing affordability, the council voted Nov. 8 to begin a staff review of the city’s zoning codes and ultimately produce amendments to them aimed at raising the city’s homeownership rate and “improving housing affordability.”
3. Metrorail Silver Line Phase 2 Construction Reaches Major Milestone
All aboard – in the near future – to Reston, Herndon, Dulles International Airport and beyond.
Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) announced substantial completion on Phase 2 of the Metrorail Silver Line extension project, which consists of 11.5 miles from Reston to Loudoun County.
4. Arlington County Is Studying ‘Missing Middle’ Housing. Here’s What That Means
Arlington County used to be known as a less expensive alternative to pricey D.C. With the average single-family home in Arlington now worth an estimated $968,000, those days are mostly over.
That’s one reason planners in the affluent suburb began a comprehensive study on how Arlington can spur the construction of additional, lower-cost housing options over time. Called the “Missing Middle” housing study, the effort is about to enter its second phase, after county staff presented their initial findings and recommendations to the county board Tuesday.
5. NAR President Comments on FHA Report to Congress
"Realtors® are encouraged by the robust progress in the FHA's book of business. The financial health of the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund continues to improve, and the FHA's outlook is equally strong despite lingering concerns. FHA should begin to look at ways to responsibly help homebuyers with its excess resources, such as eliminating the life-of-loan feature of the mortgage insurance premium or instituting the Homeowners Armed With Knowledge (HAWK) program, while maintaining stability in the market."