- Spring 2023 Update: Work will continue through the Zoning for Housing/Housing for All initiative. More information can be found on the main project website.
Related Information: In June 2022, staff presented the proposed Bonus Height Zoning Text Amendment to the Planning Commission. At that time, the Planning Commission requested staff to undertake more research and analysis to illustrate if and where the proposal could be viable. Staff acknowledges that while a 2022 map of zones with 45 feet height limits and above was developed, the use of the proposal in those zones would still be subject to existing regulatory standards and other considerations. As a result, a property owner would have to meet those standards before using it, if approved. Additionally, the Bonus Height provision, as it currently exists and as proposed, would continue to be subject to a public hearing Special Use Permit. The additional analysis that is currently being conducted is testing utility of the proposal given the other regulatory standards that apply in the zones.
View Map. For those areas that are hatched, a feasibility study of sample sites is underway to determine viability of this proposed tool with results anticipated in the fall phase of Zoning for Housing.
- Fall 2022 Project Status: At the Tuesday, November 22, 2022 City Council Legislative Meeting, City staff updated City Council on next steps for the Zoning for Housing Program and the companion Housing for All Equity Program.
- Summer 2022 Project Status: On June 23, 2022 the Planning Commission deferred action on the draft Bonus Height Text Amendment. Staff is currently reviewing community and Planning Commission input regarding future work and goals for the overall Zoning for Housing initiative. Robust outreach for community participation and input will be a centerpiece for future efforts around Zoning for Housing initiatives.
Purpose of the Proposed Text Amendment
The City is proposing a Draft Text Amendment for the community’s and policy makers’ review to the Bonus Height provisions of Section 7-700 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow bonus height to be utilized in zones with 45 foot height limits.
This proposed text amendment is part of the City’s Zoning for Housing initiative, a tool that has been added to the City’s Housing Master Plan toolbox to expand housing production and affordability in Alexandria.
Housing Need in Alexandria and the Region
Approximately 15,000 low- to moderate-income Alexandria renter households are estimated to pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs in the city (American Community Survey 2016-2020 5 Year Estimates). Approximately 7,200 of these households with incomes up to $50,000 were acutely housing cost burdened defined as spending 50 percent or more of their combined income on housing. There is a need for additional market-rate and affordable housing in Alexandria, and in the region as a whole, to expand housing supply and help bring housing costs down. The demand for housing in this region is driven by strong employment growth and other factors such as stagnant wages in some fields. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) estimates the need for 75,000 additional new housing units over the 320,000 which the region is estimated to produce over the next 10 years. Recognizing that this is an area with a high Median Area Income, 75 percent of those units are to be affordable to households of low- and moderate-incomes.
In response to the overall need, the MWCOG adopted the 2020-2030 Regional Housing Initiative in 2019-2020, with participating jurisdictions sharing in the production of the additional units. Alexandria joined the effort and is seeking to increase its annual housing production from approximately 800 units to approximately 1100 units per year. Alexandria’s effort will raise both market rate and affordable production, using a variety of tools in the City’s Housing Master Plan toolbox, including Zoning for Housing, to accomplish that. Of the approximate 800 units currently produced in Alexandria per year the City has averaged approximately 200 affordable units.
Section 7-700 of the Zoning Ordinance
Section 7-700 of the Zoning Ordinance allows for increases in floor area ratio, density and height and reductions in required off-street parking as incentive for provision of low- and moderate-income housing. Section 7-703 specifically addresses increases in floor area ratio, density and height:
- 7-703 - (A) “Floor area ratio and density may not be increased pursuant to this section 7-700 by more than 30 percent of the floor area ratio and density otherwise permitted by this ordinance, unless a greater percentage increase is specifically designated in a small area plan chapter of the Master Plan. The increase permitted under this section 7-700 is exclusive of any other floor area ratio and density increases allowable under any other section of this ordinance.”
- 7-703 – (B) “Height may not be increased pursuant to this section by more than 25 feet beyond the height otherwise permitted by this ordinance; provided, however, that no building located in any zone or height district where the maximum allowable height is 50 feet or less may be allowed to exceed such height limits.”
Contact the interdepartmental Zoning for Housing team at ZoningforHousing@alexandriava.gov.