Managing Our Growth

    Managing Our Growth

    • Welcome growth but better address its impacts in a fiscally responsible and environmentally sustainable manner, and involve the full range of stakeholders from the start
    • Conduct development impact studies to better anticipate future facility needs rather than our current practice of playing catch-up
    • Widen the range of possible developer contributions to help address growing demand for new schools, parks, and infrastructure


    A growing Arlington is a sign of our success as a great place to live and work. But we have few bigger challenges today than managing our future growth. Our population is at an all-time high and projected to continue to grow over the next 20 years.

    We need to shape new development in a way that is environmentally and fiscally-responsible – in a manner where everyone can benefit, and in a way that addresses honestly and responsibly the impacts on our schools, green space, infrastructure, and more.

    As a first step in this direction, I secured the unanimous support of my County Board colleagues this spring to direct the Manager to craft cost-benefit analyses for our development decisions, a key recommendation of our 2015 Community Facilities Study. Other Virginia localities conduct such studies and find them of great value in both making individual development decisions and in planning holistically for community infrastructure needs as a result. They are essential in providing detailed, objective input into difficult planning and budgeting decisions – both long and short-term. We need to anticipate future facility needs rather than always playing catch-up.

    We also need to broaden the range of allowable developer contributions we negotiate for new development projects, to include funds for schools, parks and other new facilities.  This is done in Fairfax and the City of Falls Church. But in Arlington, we restrict benefits to within the development site itself. However, new development also means material impact on our already bursting schools, limited green space, public safety resources and more. And we must get ahead of this growing demand.

    Also, we must be mindful of the negative effects of increased impervious surfaces on storm water run-off, green space, and our tree canopy. We need to be smarter about building up and over, rather than out.

    Finally, we need a “no surprises” community engagement policy that brings a greater diversity of voices to the community table. Development impacts are better addressed when the full range of residents and stakeholders are made part of the discussion from the start rather than being an afterthought. This makes growth possible that broadly benefits the community.