Chamber Insider Blog

Loudoun 2040: Bad Sci-fi Or A New Hope

Blog post written by Grafton deButts, VP of Membership & Government Affairs
To learn more about the Public Policy Committee, click here.

First things first, let’s be honest, unless you’re reading the local newspaper’s government column or hanging out with me on the weekends you have no idea what Loudoun 2040 is.  That’s fair, no judgement here.   The sci-fi like name, Loudoun 2040, doesn’t scream “easy to understand and relatable.”   Though perhaps we can learn from the mistakes of previous sci-fi films and better prepare for the future we want for Loudoun County in 2040.

Have you ever noticed futuristic sci-fi movies always uses far-off years like … 2001?  Now we watch those movies and think, “They were wayoff!”  Back to the Future’s prediction of 2015 offering hover boards have yet to become a reality[1]Terminator 2 predicted that by 1997 machines would be self-aware and launch a nuclear attack.[2]  This year was supposed to be the year that we go to phone booths to make video calls in Blade Runner. [3]

Loudoun 2040 – or the Comprehensive Plan as it will become known once approved this summer – is also attempting to make a bold prediction for the future.  It will be predicting the needs of our community over the next 20 years and laying out the guidelines for our leadership, business community, and our citizens to grow into over that time. Our nine member Board of Supervisors will decide what predictions for the future they wish to prepare for and which ones will be left of the cutting room floor.

Here’s two future predictions for Loudoun 2040 that we hope are addressed in the final cut:

  1. Lack of Housing Stock: My neighbor’s home just sold in two-days. It took two days because they waited to receive multiple offers. Simple supply and demand dictates that when supply is low, demand is probably high.  This is a win if you are ready to cash out and move out of Loudoun, but for the rest of us it presents a very real challenge.  George Mason University released a study[4] recently that laid out a compelling case that Loudoun County will be short almost 20,000 housing units [5] by 2040 unless we do something to increase our housing supply.  The new Loudoun 2040 plan must seek to increase housing density in areas that make sense for Loudoun, while still preserving our agri-tourism and agri-business communities that thrives on rural landscapes.
  2. Lack of Housing Options: Let’s be honest, another reason my neighbor’s home sold in two days was because it fell into what is referred to as the “missing middle”. The missing middle could also be considered the starter single family detached home or townhome.  A home for a member of our workforce moving into Loudoun County, seeking your standard 3 bed, 2.5 bath home in Loudoun at a price that is relatively affordable to the job they’ve taken- let’s say $250,000 – $500,000[6]. A quick Zillow search today[7] will show 38 homes in that price range in Loudoun County.  If you add in townhomes, there’s a total of 119[8]. 119 is a drop in the bucket to meet the needs of our growing workforce in Loudoun.  If you are a young family moving into the area with a max budget of $350,000, today there are 17 townhomes and no, zero[9], single family homes on the market.  As an employer, how do you compete in recruiting talent into your business if this is all the housing you can provide them? Loudoun’s leaders must put more opportunity for our home builders to diverse housing options for all spectrums of incomes and needs.

Without preparing for this future, we won’t suffer under a robot led apocalypse or even a horrible hover-board accident[10], but we will be facing a reality of housing that our local workforce cannot dream to afford. Business will move out of Loudoun or never move in because they cannot find workers once they get here.  And our children that receive a world-class education in our county, won’t be able to afford to return home to begin their career.

If you agree, please take time to share your story with us, and consider attending an upcoming public hearing to tell our Supervisors that you’d like to see an increase in our housing stock, diversity, and an increase the opportunity for our business community to thrive.

For more information on this, please consider checking out our Loudoun 2040 webpage to get involved.

 

Footnotes:

1. At least not in the way that we hoped.

2. Misguided prediction on their part, considering that the movie was made only six years before.

3. Half credit.

4. Here’s a link to the full 267-page study.  See page 8.

5. Assuming every household averages 2.5 kids, we could be talking about an additional 80,000 residents and 10,000 hypoallergenic dogs over what we’re currently prepared for.

6. Yes, $500,000 is considered the middle of the market.

7. March 18, 2019

8. And a majority are on the market for less than one month.

9. Nada, zippy, zilch.

10. See footnote 1

 

Photo via Google Images

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