HRRA believes that everyone has a right to realize the American dream of homeownership. Homeownership gives people a sense of pride in their community and themselves. Unfortunately, more and more Americans, including members of the military, firefighters, school teachers, and police officers, are finding homeownership outside their grasp due to cost pressures.
In some cases this decrease is brought on by local governments’ attempts to control growth through a) exclusionary zoning practices that limit the amount of land zoned for residential development (e.g., large minimum lot sizes), and/or b) policies that increase the cost of developing new housing (e.g., proffers and impact fees). This creates a cycle in which people must move farther from the city centers to find affordable housing, which means longer commuting times, increased traffic congestion and a decreased quality of life.
We are committed to improving the affordability of housing, committed to the development and preservation of the region’s housing stock and making it available to the widest range of potential homebuyers. HRRA urges elected officials and local government planning and zoning staffs to consider affordable housing options in their comprehensive plans and zoning guidelines. Mixed use and mixed income developments that incorporate single and multi-unit housing options are an effective tool for providing affordable housing in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and without overburdening the locality’s infrastructure.
The growth of individual homeowners using online short-term rental platforms to rent their homes or rooms in their homes out has led to the General Assembly and localities dealing with the issue of how to regulate short term rentals (those of 30 days or less). In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly approved legislation supported by Virginia REALTORS® that provides guidance to local governments that want to enact regulations for short term rentals.
HRRA recognizes that there must be a careful, evenhanded approach to how localities address the issue of short-term rentals. The basic underpinning of any regulatory approach to short-term rentals must be premised on fairly balancing the property rights of home owners with the legitimate health, safety, and welfare concerns of the community.
HRRA believes that short term rentals should be a by-right use, subject to polices that address legitimate health, safety, and welfare concerns in the least restrictive manner possible. HRRA urges localities to refrain from polices that treat properties differently if they are used for short-term rentals versus longer term rentals unless the distinctive nature of the short-term rental itself gives legitimate rise to the need for the proposed policy.
The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act currently applies to 29 counties and 17 cities defined in the Act as “Tidewater Virginia” and requires local governments to incorporate into their local comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, stormwater management ordinances, subdivision ordinances and erosion and sediment control ordinances water quality protection measures which define and protect environmentally sensitive lands. HRRA is extremely concerned about achieving a balance between a healthy Chesapeake Bay and a strong, viable economy throughout the Commonwealth.
HRRA will support efforts that will seek to better protect one of our most valuable natural and economic resources, the Chesapeake Bay; in other words, HRRA supports expansion of the CBPA to include the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
HRRA recognizes the need for localities to raise revenue to address critical infrastructure needs, particularly for school construction. We believe that a dedicated, broad-based funding method, such as a local option sales tax, is the most equitable and efficient method to address these needs. HRRA opposes recordation/transfer taxes and fees for the following reasons:
- Increasing recordation/transfer taxes places an additional burden on homebuyers and sellers at the time of settlement and places an unreasonable burden on real property owners;
- Real estate transfer taxes are an unstable and unpredictable source of revenue. Because home sales are cyclical, downturns in the housing market cause revenues from recordation and transfer taxes to fall, creating added pressures for a tax increase;
- The transfer tax is also a regressive tax. In general, people tend to spend a smaller share of their income on housing as their income increases; and
- Increases in the transfer tax must be more severe than an increase in a broad-based tax designed to generate the same amount of total revenue. This is because the transfer tax base is very narrow relative to a more general tax, such as a local option sales tax, so fewer people pay the tax in a given year. Distributing the burden among a wider group of taxpayers would reduce the tax burden per taxpayer.
HRRA recognizes that a balanced transportation system that effectively moves people and products throughout the Commonwealth is vital to the economy and a high quality of life for Virginians. HRRA believes that our transportation system, provided by the state and in conjunction with local governments, must be fully funded by broad-based revenue sources. Furthermore, HRRA recognizes the significant and immediate transportation needs that exist in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions. Accordingly, HRRA supports:
- Dedicated long-term funding streams for transportation
- A Constitutionally protected and dedicated transportation trust fund
- Creation of regional entities that would collect and distribute public funds for transportation projects
- Improvements in transit systems across the Commonwealth, including development of or improvement to bus transit systems, light rail systems or Metrorail systems.