Category: Alexandria

Take Action: Tell City Council you support transit, walking, and biking

City Council is set to vote on Alexandria’s updated mobility plan following a public hearing on Oct. 16. This plan is critical for more sustainable and equitable transportation in Alexandria — focusing on increasing walking, biking, and transit options, while making our streets safer for all users and modes. Let’s make sure it’s approved! If you haven’t yet, tell the City Council that you support the updated mobility plan.

Send an Email Today

In addition to sending an email, you are encouraged to speak at the upcoming public hearing in support of the plan’s goals for mobility in the city. 

City Council Public Hearing – Oct. 16 at 9:30am – Sign Up to Speak

The Alexandria Mobility Plan (AMP) is the result of a community-driven planning process that identified key priorities and recommendations to improve reliability, safety, and travel options in the city. The AMP strives to:

  • Give all Alexandrians convenient options in how they travel
  • Make transit easy to use and more reliable 
  • Continue towards Vision Zero designing safer streets and reducing speeding
  • Complete missing pedestrian and bicycle connections
  • Utilize technology to improve safety and efficient use of the street network
  • Proactively and equitably manage curb space for different needs (dining, bikeshare, loading/pick-up, parking, etc.)

The updated mobility plan will set a course for Alexandria to continue moving towards a more equitable, sustainable, and livable city. You can review the final draft of the AMP and learn more at the project website here

CSG comments in support of the Alexandria Mobility Plan

October 15, 2021

Alexandria City Council
301 King Street, Room 2300
Alexandria, VA 22314

RE: Comments in support of the Alexandria Mobility Plan

Dear Mayor Wilson and Members of City Council:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) in support of the draft Alexandria Mobility Plan (AMP) with a few recommendations. CSG is the leading organization in the DC region advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.

The overall draft AMP is very good and builds on and expands Alexandria’s existing transportation policies, setting a course for the city to continue moving towards a more equitable, sustainable, and livable city.

I appreciate the updated plans focus on peoples’ mobility to truly give everyone who lives, works, and visits Alexandria convenient options in how to travel. To realize this improved mobility and accessibility, the plan appropriately calls for continued work towards Vision Zero designing safer streets, reducing speeding, and completing missing pedestrian and bicycle connections; making transit easier to use and more reliable; utilizing technology to improve safe and efficient use of the street network; and proactively and equitably managing use of curb space for different needs, such as dining, bikeshare, loading/pick-up, parking, etc.

While the AMP touches on the notion of reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT), it should establish a specific target for per capita VMT reduction and call for specific actions to attain it. The targets should be based on the findings of the MWCOG’s Transportation Planning Board’s Climate Change Mitigation Study, which Alexandria’s Energy and Climate Change Action Plan should similarly support.

To help reduce VMT and expand transportation choices, I recommend that the AMP explicitly call for moving away from using a level of service modeling that focuses only on vehicle delay and identify better methodology that assesses level service for people walking, biking, and using transit too.

Ultimately the AMP goals will help improve safety and connectivity for people walking, biking, and using transit making it better for those already reliant on those modes but also making these sustainable transportation options a more convenient choice for others. This would serve to shift more people from single occupancy driving helping to alleviate congestion and still accommodating those that need to drive. Overall this plan would have a positive impact on climate and environmental impacts as well as mobility.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my feedback.

Sonya Breehey
Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager

Take Action: Speak up for Better Transit along Duke Street

You have until this Saturday to provide input! The City of Alexandria wants to hear from you as they develop a plan to improve transit along Duke Street. The Duke Street in Motion project is intended to improve mobility options from Landmark Mall to the King Street Metro, including plans for bus rapid transit (BRT). Take the survey to tell the City how you travel along Duke Street and share your ideas on how to improve transit in the corridor. 

Take the Survey

Your feedback will be used to develop the plan’s vision and goals for transit, street design, and safety improvements. While transit improvements are the primary focus, the study is considering all modes of travel. It’s important to note that related issues like the Telegraph interchange will be addressed in other city studies with the information helping to inform the Duke Street study. 

The Duke Street BRT is one of three BRT routes envisioned for the city, including the Metroway on Route 1 and the West End Transitway. BRT provides much better frequency and reliability, and reduced travel times, making it a more attractive and easier way to travel. Alexandria certainly can’t handle more cars and all the parking it requires. By providing more sustainable transportation options like better transit, biking, and walking, we will reduce driving and congestion, and help fight climate change.

You can learn more about the project on the Duke Street in Motion website. There you can find links to the recent public meeting recording and presentation, as well as the survey. The survey closes this Saturday, July 31st.

RE: Support for Accessory Dwelling Units in Alexandria

January 23, 2021

Alexandria City Council
301 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


RE: Support for Accessory Dwelling Units in Alexandria

Dear Mayor Wilson and Members of City Council:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG), the leading organization in the DC region advocating for walkable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities. CSG appreciates the City of Alexandria’s efforts to develop an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) policy and writes to convey our full support of the proposal. CSG has become a leading expert on ADUs through our work in DC and our just-released DC ADU homeowners manual.

Accessory dwelling units can offer less expensive housing options than renting or buying a single-family home because of their smaller size. They are great for an aging parent you are caring for, offer a home for your recent college graduate, or a young professional just starting their career. ADUs can also offer a stream of income for homeowners, including lower-income homeowners and retirees on fixed incomes.

CSG is enthusiastic about the strong provisions being proposed that will help make the City’s program a success, such as allowing ADUs citywide, and enhance their feasibility and affordability by not requiring off street parking in our transit-rich, walkable city, and not requiring owner-occupancy on site.

An owner-occupancy requirement lacks flexibility for the homeowner and may limit one’s ability to build an ADU. It can make it difficult for homeowners to finance an ADU. This may serve to exacerbate income and racial inequities by limiting the ability of homeowners to construct ADUs to those with sufficient equity in their homes. An owner-occupancy requirement would also be limiting to people who must move on short notice, such as military and diplomatic families, who often choose to rent out their primary residence. We also note that single-family homes today are already frequently rented out by owners who are not living on site. The owner-occupancy requirement would be a barrier to constructing ADUs and undermine the goal of increasing the supply of ADUs in the city.

We encourage the city to include requirements for regular review, reporting, and recommendations by city staff on refinements to the program. This could include creating an affordability program for low-income renters or buyers, assessing size limitations and setbacks and their impact, whether or not the program has exacerbated or improved racial and income inequalities, and recommendations to address any other barriers towards creating new housing through ADUs.

We understand that some Alexandria residents who are opposed to ADUs and previously opposed the Seminary Road safety project have attacked CSG and our supporters as being outsiders. CSG is a longstanding, 24-year-old regional organization advocating for transit, safe streets, transit-oriented development, and affordable housing throughout the DMV and were honored with the Council of Governments’ (COG) Regional Partnership Award in 2017. Our staff live in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC and work with local advocates in each jurisdiction. We sent emails about the ADU program to our Alexandria members and subscribers encouraging them to participate in the ADU study process and to contact the City Council, and we remind our supporters that the emails on Alexandria issues are focused on Alexandria residents. At the same time, local elected officials meeting at COG have agreed that housing, like transportation, is a regional issue, requiring shared effort by every jurisdiction.

CSG believes the proposed ADU policy is a bold step forward in establishing a strong program that will help provide more housing options in Alexandria. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director

Sonya Breehey
Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager

Take Action: Speak-up for Accessory Dwelling Units in Alexandria

The City of Alexandria is developing a policy to make Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) a viable option for providing more affordable housing in the city. They just released draft ADU policy recommendations and want to hear what you think. Please take a moment to complete a short ADU survey to show your support for making accessory dwellings a success in Alexandria. 

COMPLETE THE SURVEY TODAY

ADUs can offer less expensive housing options than renting or buying a single-family home because of their smaller size.They are great for an aging parent you are caring for, offer a home for your recent college graduate, or a young professional just starting their career. ADUs can also offer a stream of income for homeowners, including retirees on fixed incomes.

Overall, the draft recommendations are very good. The owner occupancy requirement is one area that could be improved. While this requirement is common among local jurisdictions, it lacks flexibility for the homeowner and may limit one’s ability to build an ADU. Eliminating this requirement would encourage more ADUs. 

Here’s a breakdown on the draft recommendations:

  • Allows detached ADUs (ie. garage apartment, backyard cottage) and interior ADUs (ie. English basements) on properties zoned for single, two-family and townhouses city-wide. This is great!
  • Establishes an owner-occupancy requirement. Eliminating this requirement would offer a stronger ADU policy. 
  • No additional off-street parking is required for the ADU. We support this helfpul provision that prioritizes using valuable land to house people. It also helps reduce the amount of impervious surface needed on the property.  
  • Restricts ADU occupancy to one family. This provision seems reasonable since Alexandria’s zoning code permits not only a family related by blood but also includes nontraditional families and roommates for up to four unrelated people. 
  • Requires an administrative permit for the construction of an ADU. This is less onerous than making ADUs a special exemption that requires a more costly and time consuming process. 
  • Establishes a maximum ADU height and square footage that won’t exceed the main house. This is a reasonable approach to ensuring the ADU is smaller in scale to the main house and compatible with the neighborhood. 
  • Maintains setback requirements and floor area ratio exclusions consistent with current building and zoning codes for other types of accessory buildings, like garages.
  • Current city policies allowing short-term rentals will be applied to ADUs also. 

Take the ADU survey today to tell them what you support and suggest how they can make it even better!

The City is taking feedback on its draft ADU policy recommendations through this Friday, November 6. Input received will further refine final recommendations for Planning Commission and City Council consideration in December. Visit Alexandria’s ADU webpage for more information. 

Thank you for your support,

Sonya Breehey
Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager