Next Steps on Community Facilities Study Implementation
Since the Community Facilities Study Committee presented its recommendations to the County Board and School Board in November 2015, County and APS staff have been evaluating that report and its 21 recommendations to address the strategic challenges that Arlington is facing. The County Manager and APS Superintendent accepted online community input on the staff’s draft responses to the Community Facilities Study recommendations as well as input on a draft charter for a new advisory commission, the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC). The comment period has now ended. The County Manager and APS Superintendent presented the final staff responses to the Boards during a joint work session held on November 1, 2016, taking into consideration feedback from the Community Facilities Study Committee, several other advisory commissions and other community members. At that work session, the two Boards released a Final Draft charter for the proposed JFAC.
Community Facilities Study Recommendations
Joint Facilities Advisory Commission Charter
November 12, 2015
County and School Boards Give Direction on Next Steps
At a joint work session with the County and School Boards on November 10, the Study Committee presented their Final Report.
- View the key recommendations at-a-glance
- View the complete list of recommendations on page 20 of the Final Report
The County and School Boards voted to approve next steps for the process. The Boards instructed the County Manager and Public Schools Superintendent to instruct staff review the committee’s Final Report and provide initial responses to the committee’s recommendations no later than February 2016. Community feedback and formal staff recommendations will be due by September 2016. The Boards will reconvene with the committee to provide an update by the end of 2016.
The School Board voted 5-0 and the County Board voted 3-0-1, with Board Member Libby Garvey abstaining.
November 6, 2015
Tackling Arlington’s Scarcity of Public Land for Public Facilities
An 11-month effort by the Community Facilities Study Committee will culminate Nov. 10 when the committee presents recommendations to a joint work session of the County and School Boards on how better to manage the process of siting and prioritizing community facilities.
September 30, 2015
Study Committee Proposes New Facility Siting Process
In a joint work session on September 29 with the Arlington County Board and Arlington School Board, the Community Facilities Study Committee presented its recommendations for a new siting process for future County or School facilities or expansions. The siting process is intended to improve upon current practices and function as a project management tool to make siting decisions efficiently, effectively and with ample community input.
The Study Committee will present additional recommendations in its Final Report, which is scheduled to be presented to both Boards at a second Joint Work Session on November 10, 2015.
August 28, 2015
Study Committee is Looking for Long-Term Solutions
Arlington is changing fast. Our population is expected to grow from 216,700 to 283,000 people by 2040. Those are big numbers! Especially when you consider that we are limited to 26 square miles.
A growing population means increased demands for things such as public services, community facilities and open space. The Community Facilities Study is an opportunity for us to take a step back and look at the big picture. This means studying how we can maximize our facilities and resources over the next 5, 10 and 20 years. The 23‐person Study Committee and Resident Forum members have worked since January to evaluate County and School resources, prioritize challenges and draft recommendations.
The Committee is looking for long-term solutions to meet our community’s needs. One of the most important questions the group is tasked with, is what strategic community challenges are there that could threaten Arlington’s overall sustainability? They have identified five key challenges that they believe are the most pressing for immediate attention.
- Strengthening community dialogues – Arlington has a long history of citizen-led land use planning, however civic engagement efforts still do not reach all segments of the population. Particularly hard-to-engage groups include millennials, seniors, non-English speaking populations, low-income workers and business owners. We need to rethink how we communicate and engage the whole community in transparent planning.
- Sustaining Arlington’s economic model – Arlington has a well-diversified tax base. We enjoy a 50/50 split between commercial and residential real estate taxes – which means the burden to pay for public services is evenly split. We compare favorably to other jurisdictions in this area. However, the local office market is changing. A shrinking federal presence, shifts in the way businesses use office space and competitiveness in the region affects these changes. We need to strategically react to downturns in the office market, because it directly affects revenues. We are currently experiencing historically high vacancy rates which result in $34 million in lost annual tax revenue. Without solving this issue, the tax burden will shift to residential property.
- Land – Arlington’s scarcest resource – The County and Public Schools combined own 2.2 square miles for all schools, parks, police and fire stations and more. We are already experiencing increased demands for competing priorities and as we continue to grow, this gap will get larger. For example, we anticipate seeing 7,800 additional students enroll over the next 10 years. We need to carefully consider solutions such as vertical growth, shared uses and public/private partnerships.
- Planning for change – Arlington is a well-recognized model for growth planning along transit corridors. This has guided significant change over the last several decades. However, our forecasted population, demographic and employment changes will affect public service delivery and facility needs. We need to think about the needs of Baby Boomers, ages 51-69 today, they will be leaving the workforce and their retirement may look different than previous generations. Millennials, ages 15-33 today, are our largest population cohort and will be entering the workforce and starting families. To address these shifts, County and Schools need to closely collaborate on innovative solutions to meet future needs.
- Embracing diversity – Diversity is one of Arlington’s greatest strengths, however it has been decreasing in recent years. We need to plan for neighborhoods, services and amenities for residents at all ages and stages of life. This includes new employees entering the workforce, young families who are just starting out, seniors who wish to securely age in place and hardworking, low-wage employees who deserve opportunities.
The committee’s final reports, due in September and November of this year, will include recommendations organized around these key challenges.
With issues at this large scale, every Arlingtonian has a stake in the outcome. You can partner with us to encourage engaging dialogues with a broader audience of Arlington residents. Information about the Study has been compiled in a civic engagement toolkit to help Study Committee and Resident Forum members convey clear and concise information about the Study and its importance. Visit the civic engagement toolkit page to learn more about these resources.
June 10, 2015
Study Committee Hosts Successful Open House
The Community Facilities Study Committee hosted a Community Open House on Tuesday, June 2. Participants learned about the study’s findings, impacts and shared new ideas.
Throughout the day-long event, Courthouse Plaza was open with informational displays, feedback opportunities and study members were available for questions. Families attending with children were able to see fire trucks up close and benefit from book giveaways. A week-long virtual forum kicked off at the conclusion of the event to provide additional opportunities to share feedback. A live virtual chat with the Committee Chairs was also held on June 8.
- View display boards from the Open House
- View community feedback from the open house and virtual forum
- View a transcript from the live virtual chat with Study Committee Chairs
May 1, 2015
Key Takeaways: April Committee Meetings on Forecast Methodologies, County Vision and Facility Planning
April Community Facility Study committee meetings reviewed forecast methodologies, the County’s comprehensive plan and land use vision, past facility processes, the Public Spaces Master Plan and an inventory of land & facilities. County Directors & APS Assistant Superintendents discussed facility planning and future needs with the group.
Review of Forecast and Projection Methodologies
An external consultant team reviewed the methodologies used by the County to forecast population, housing units, households and employment and by APS to project student enrollment.
- Reviewers confirmed that the methodologies used by the County and APS are valid and appropriate, and that two different datasets are necessary to meet different purposes.
- Steps for improving accuracy and transparency in the near term include developing annual reports and improving the website (APS) and comprehensively documenting the forecast methodology (County).
- School enrollment projections could be refined by collecting and analyzing housing data such as unit type, number of bedrooms, and length of homeownership.
- A second phase of the consultant’s work could dive deeper into potential methodology improvements.
- View the complete report and consultant presentation.
The County’s Comprehensive Vision
- A community-based vision helped Arlington protect single-family neighborhood character while planning for growth and redevelopment in the Metro corridors. The Metro corridors account for 11% of the County’s land area.
- The result is a successful mix of commercial and residential development, which helps to balance the transportation network, create walkable urban villages and diversify the County’s tax base.
- The vision is implemented through policy and guidance documents. The Comprehensive Plan, which has individual elements including the General Land Use Plan (GLUP) and the Public Spaces Master Plan, is a primary decision-making tool for the County Board, Planning Commission and County Departments.
Facility Siting and Review Processes
The planning process for public facilities has three major steps: needs assessment (see next section), site selection and the development review process.
Past facility processes and criteria for site selection:
- 1993: a citizen working group developed siting process principles and procedures that were adopted by County Board.
- 1999: another citizen working group reviewed the 1993 process and presented recommendations for improvement. These were not adopted by the County Board.
- 2011: the County and APS signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the use of County land to meet APS’s school capacity needs.
Facility development review processes:
- The School Board appoints a Building Level Planning Committee to give stakeholders an opportunity to advise the Board on major school construction projects.
- The County Board appoints the Public Facilities Review Committee to advise the Board on both APS and County facility projects.
Land & Facility Inventory and Needs Assessment
- The County’s planned growth increases demands for public services, open space and recreational options, and schools within limited physical space and available resources.
- Combined, the County and Schools own 2.2 square miles out of 26.2 square miles in the County. Schools, parks and all County facilities share this space.
Arlington County Services and Facilities
- 89% of County residents surveyed are “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with overall quality of services provided by the County.
- Examples of key services provided: drinking water, waste water treatment, street maintenance, snow removal, ART bus, transit facilities, police & fire operations
- The County operates 105 facilities.
- 87 are County-owned (examples: Courts & Detention Facility, Arlington Trades Center, Glencarlyn Library, fire stations).
- 18 are leased (examples: Rosslyn Commuter Store, Courthouse Plaza).
- Facility changes planned for in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP):
- North Arlington Salt Storage Facility
- Fire Station #8 and OEM Relocation
- Lubber Run Community Center
- ART House Facility
- Trades Center Garage
- Future County facility needs:
- Parking & maintenance for transit vehicles
- Fire station relocations and additions
- Increased storage for County operations
- Trades Center services
Arlington Public Spaces
- The County does not have enough indoor & outdoor park and recreation facilities to meet current or future needs.
- Strategic partnerships between APS and the County have helped maximize current park and recreation uses.
- The Public Spaces Master Plan Update kicked off in February 2015. This ongoing community process will engage stakeholders to understand current and future needs, develop a classification system and include land acquisition strategies and key parcels to be acquired.
Arlington Public Schools Facilities
- Short term: APS must address urgent capacity needs immediately.
- Long term: The Community Facilities Study will help guide APS decision-making to address long-term capacity needs.
- Arlington has limited options for sites to construct new schools.
- School enrollment projections indicate
- APS needs a new elementary school in South Arlington.
- Middle school seats are addressed by changes to Stratford.
- Internal changes at neighborhood high schools will provide additional capacity.
- The APS CIP includes funds to change the Career Center into a capacity generating high school.
- Enrollment growth also increases the need for buses and other vehicles and parking spaces for APS buses and vehicles.
View presentation slides, videos of key speakers, meeting summaries, and other resources at the study documents page.
Download a printer-friendly version of Committee Meeting Key Takeaways.
Key Takeaways: March Committee Meetings on Demographics, Forecasts & Projections
March Community Facility Study meetings focused on looking at Arlington’s demographics, forecasts and school enrollment projections. Breakout discussions with the Resident Forum discussed key questions, such as how changes in demographics will determine the needs of different neighborhoods, who we want to be as a County and what steps or solutions we should take to get there.
What did we learn about demographics & future trends?
- Nationally, household growth and homeownership rates were in decline in past several years but are picking up.
- First time homebuyers will be a key driver as the housing market picks up.
- There is a growing demand for single-family homes, some predict millennials will choose a similar path as Baby Boomer and Gen X generations.
- It is difficult to “forecast” what any specific age group will do over time, including whether the millennials will remain in the inner-core communities like Arlington.
- Since 2010 in Arlington:
- Millennials were dominant generation
- 24-44; over 65; and under 5 cohorts have grown
- Migration in/out is highest for 18-34 year olds
Do the County and Schools use the same numbers when looking to the future?
- The County forecasts future development based on County plans/policies; meets Metropolitan Washington County of Governments requirement under Clean Air Act
- APS projects future student enrollment
These two distinct purposes for forecasts and projections need to be retained. However, opportunities for more collaboration between the County and APS in the future may build more informative data and result in better forecasting methods beyond the near term (3 – 5 years out). Consultants have been hired to assess the methodologies and identify potential improvements. Initial findings will be presented at the April 8 Study Committee meeting.
What did we learn about housing and student enrollment?
- Multi-family housing makes up 64% of the overall housing supply and 94% of the net new housing.
- Student generation rates are generally low for multi-family housing, and most growth in student population comes from single-family homes.
- Student generation rates have been increasing for almost all housing types including single-family homes.
- Single-family neighborhoods are changing; new, larger homes are replacing older homes throughout the County, although, on average, only 28 net new houses per year; and additions are more common and are increasing home sizes.
- The Affordable Housing Master Plan will establish policies, goals and objectives for the County’s future as a new Comprehensive Plan element.
Read a complete meeting summary from Committee Meeting #3 on March 11. A meeting summary and notes from table discussions at the March 25 meeting will be posted in early April.
View presentation slides and videos of key speakers from the study documents page under committee meetings #3 and #4.
Download a printer-friendly version of Committee Meeting Key Takeaways.
March 11, 2015
Key Takeaways: February Committee Meetings on Financial Resources
The Community Facilities Study kicked off with two February committee meetings that organized the group and provided baseline information on County revenues and the state of the region’s economy.
- The proposed schedule includes bi-monthly meetings on specific topics (see page 4).
- The Study Committee, guided by the charge, will operate as a whole and split into the following subcommittees to discuss challenges:
- Economic Sustainability
- Facility Needs
- Siting Criteria
- 200 participants have registered for the Resident Forum, a group open to all interested Arlingtonians that is intended to broaden the range of participants, provide expanded input to the committee and serve as a communications link to neighborhoods and organizations.
- Arlington’s revenue balance, unique compared to neighboring jurisdictions, is approximately a 50/50 percent split with half of revenues coming from residential uses and half coming from commercial uses. This balance provides revenue stability when the market for certain sectors is weak.
- Arlington’s financial management practices help the County provide a high level of services and provide benefits to taxpayers. The County holds triple-AAA bond ratings, strong reserve levels, a fully funded pension, funding plans in place for retiree healthcare and moderate debt limits.
- The County’s revenue streams have legal and policy limitations. Find out what tax sources the Commonwealth allows on pages 4-5 of the revenue overview presentation.
Our Region’s Economy
- Last year the Washington region under-performed all other regions in job growth. Average wages per job are decreasing.
- Arlington’s economy is heavily dependent on two employment sectors: federal government and professional businesses/services. Federal procurement spending has declined for three straight years. Arlington has seen a loss of 4,700 federal jobs since 2010.
- Arlington’s office vacancy rate is 10% above its 15-year historical average.
- The County has done well at expanding existing businesses and supporting startups. Arlington has competitive advantages in information services and financial activity business sectors.
- Arlington continues to aggressively pursue new tenants and will be looking at new markets to diversify. New economic development strategies and partnerships with neighboring cities and counties in Virginia will support repositioning in the market.
View presentation slides and videos of key speakers from the study documents page under committee meetings #1 and #2.
Download a printer-friendly version of Committee Meeting Key Takeaways.
March 10, 2015
Around Arlington: Arlington County Board and School Board Work Together to Engage Residents
Arlington’s Community Facilities Study was featured on the March 10 edition of “Around Arlington”. View the video here.
January 23, 2015
Arlington County, APS Launch Facilities Planning Effort
The Arlington County Board, in a joint work session with the School Board, adopted a charge, and appointed 24 members to the Facilities Study Committee for the Arlington Community Facilities Study, a long-range, collaborative planning effort that will build a consensus framework regarding the community’s future funding and facility needs. Read the complete news release.
January 1, 2015
Arlington County Launches Broad-based Facilities Study for 2015
Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hughes Hynes announced a broad-based long-range planning effort aimed at developing a framework for assessing the County’s public facilities and establishing criteria for locating new facilities and financing their construction. Read the complete news release.