It’s easier to be progressive

When it doesn’t inconvenience you or change your life in any way.

Despite a growing push for denser housing, these decisions can be tough to pass. In fact, after backlash in Gainesville, Fla., city commissioners recently moved to reverse last year’s decision to end single-family zoning.

On a Saturday in January, Arlington’s County Board strapped in for five hours of public comment from more than 150 people. Community sentiment on the missing middle plan was sharply divided.

“Our street can’t handle that,” said opponent Michael Lynch. “The neighborhood can’t handle that. The school system can’t handle that. And the city infrastructure can’t handle that.”

Many current homeowners fear added density will lead to parking nightmares, fewer trees, overtaxed county services, and more impervious surfaces that could cause flooding. They also worry it will change the character of their neighborhoods, and they prefer that apartment buildings stay in dense commercial corridors.

“We don’t have the space to incorporate a city, or urbanized living, within this small village of a community that we have,” says Julie Lee, president of a neighborhood civic association and founding member of Arlingtonians for Upzoning Transparency, a group fighting the plan.