At Saturday's Coalition of City Neighborhood Association (CCNA) meeting, the members voted to ask the city to remove the proposed "attainable housing density bonus" comprehensive plan amendment from the current comp plan change cycle.
There are several related issues at the current time and the feeling of the CCNA members was that this particular proposed amendment was too complicated, not understood by the public, the benefit was unclear and there was considerable question about whether our current infrastructure could support this amount of increased housing.
In addition a comment from the consultants report makes one wonder about this approach: "This analysis leads to the conclusion that under current and foreseeable market conditions, even a significant density bonus is unlikely to result in new development of attainable units downtown."
Concurrently there are proposed downtown zoning district changes for several "downtown edge" areas. These proposals are pushing downtown zoning further into the neighborhoods - downtown creep, if you will. The Comp Plan amendment would allow a 4X density increase in exchange for 10% of units being affordable to residents whose income is 60% - 120% of the area median income.
A proposal for the Scottie's property on the east side of Payne Park is an example. This approximate 9.2 acre site could have about 170 units under its current zoning. If the future land use and zoning is changed, as the developer is asking, the new Downtown Core zone designation would allow 460 units. If the attainable housing density bonus were also allowed this would go to 1840 units. Of these 10%, or 184, would have to be "attainable."
This would result in a major change in the quality of life for the residents of the Alta Vista neighborhood where this is located.
The ERA Report (consultant hired by the city to draft a proposed amendment to the Comp Plan) indicates that if this amendment were enacted, it could result in an additional 28,000+ units downtown. It was estimated by the consultant that a maximum of 230-470 of these would meet the attainable housing cost requirement. This seems to be an inefficient way to achieve more attainable housing units. The comment was made that it would be less costly to the city (when infrastructure is accounted for) to just purchase the land and subsidize a developer to build 200-400 attainable units in or near downtown.
John Susce, from the Park East neighborhood, voted against the request for removing the proposal from this year's cycle. The Park East neighborhood is working with Harvey Vengroff on a large affordable housing project. Susce indicated that he had concern that if this proposal was not enacted, his neighborhood's project might not go forward.