Don’t Kill Your Own Project

Here’s a lesson I learned a long time ago: Never ask for special permission on an affordable or workforce housing rezoning request. It opens the door to killing your entire project.

From the piece:

“A group of Manassas City Council members is looking to kill a proposal for workforce housing, saying the project would be too dense for the surrounding area and that it would change the neighborhood’s character….

[T]he property would need a rezoning to the B-3.5 mixed-use, city center designation. Bringing the 2.62-acre parcel to 60 total units would exceed the allowable density on the site, but in return, Elm Street is proposing to set 12 of the renovated Manassas Arms units aside as affordable housing, specifically targeting city and city schools employees.”

A link to the piece is found here

Brothels & Affordable Housing

I’ve always said “It’s easier to get a brothel approved for development than affordable housing” but maybe I was wrong 🙂

From the piece:

“On the corner of Northeast Cully Boulevard and Killingsworth Street, Portlanders can find another kind of crossroads. A place that used to be home to a strip club and prostitution ring, is now home to 140 units of new, affordable housing.”

A link to the piece is found here.

Endless Studies: NIMBY Tactic to Discourage Development

This is how they do it. Affluent towns like New Canaan use endless “studies” to discourage affordable housing development. And they often create “committees” purportedly to produce more affordable housing, but in reality to kill any new proposals.

I’ve even seen cities purposely rezone low-lying and swampy areas for affordable housing, knowing they will never be buildable. That way, they can look good on paper (zoning map) while systematically discriminating against lower income families.

This is the modern face of bigotry.

From the piece:

“In a letter to the town, Karp’s attorney Christopher Smith argued the WPCA is trying to prevent more affordable housing from being developed in New Canaan and the delay has nothing to do with global warming.”

A link to the piece is found here

A New Approach to Workforce Housing Development

This is the way to do it.

The city has the tools for fast-track approvals and the issuance of bonds. Private companies like mine can bring the technical expertise to design and manage these developments for cities who choose this approach.

From the piece:

“City staff is working on a plan that would have the city build and hold its own workforce housing.”

A link to the piece is found here

Linking Housing Development with Economic Development

There’s the old adage: “You always get less of what you tax.” That’s why an affordable housing tax on developers is such a bad idea.

In reality, the creation of workforce housing should be linked to job creation. It should be treated just like any other public improvement.

For example, a large manufacturer comes to town and the city determines what new infrastructure will be needed to support the new facility. The city issues bonds to extend water, sewer, gas, and electricity and contracts the construction of these new utilities.

While they’re at it, why not evaluate the manufacturer’s housing need and issue bonds for it, too? This, along with fast-tracking the zoning approvals for a sufficient number of workforce housing units, would be a good aporoach.

Cities have all of these tools at their disposal. Proactively using them instead of doing the bidding of the short-sighted NIMBY crowd is the solution to our workforce housing problem.

From the piece:

“Starting in 2017, all new apartment buildings built in Portland with more than 20 units must dedicate a portion of their units to low and moderate-income housing. But some developers are choosing to pay a penalty instead of creating affordable housing.”

A link to the article is found here

HousingThink – Episode 21

This is the first episode in a series that looks at the challenges developers face from municipalities and neighborhoods when proposing affordable and workforce housing developments. Jeff Carroll and Phil Erhardt present examples of the most often used arguments against developers. Jeff outlines a successful methodology he has used over the last 20 years to respond to objections.

Not In My City

“You can work here, but don’t think about living here.”

This is the mantra of affluent cities relying on less affluent cities to provide for their affordable housing needs.

From the piece:

“Manteca is Brentwood’s affordable housing plan…. All of the solutions being discussed were essentially aimed at solving the affordable housing of Bay Area cities and not that of Manteca.”

Parking requirements and foundations are driving up the cost of multifamily housing

“In this article, we explore strategies to improve the efficiency of constructing apartment buildings through cost savings in site preparation, substructure work, and parking. This is the third piece in a series on how innovations in design and construction can reduce the costs of multifamily housing. Prior articles discussed cost categories for different building typologies and proposed strategies to save money on land and soft costs.”

Flexible zoning and streamlined procedures can make housing more affordable

“This article is the second in a series examining how innovations in design and construction can bring down the cost of building apartments. The first article discussed how costs vary across different multifamily typologies. In this piece, we address potential cost savings in two categories: land costs and soft costs.”