Sunday, April 23, 2006

Senf Responds

Ken's sounding like a Republican chastising the opposition party in Washington.

Hell, Ken, did you ask us to participate? Did you ask us to explore the concept of providing affordable housing? First I heard of a Town Hall Meeting was from another Commissioner on the 17th.

No, you directed staff to create a density bonus plan and directed a consultant to find a way to support it. The staff and consultant are saying that "the commission" added areas Six and Seven.

City Staff applied for the re-zone of the Scotties site without ever asking any of the neighbors for their input aforehand.

When the neighborhood discovered what you were up to, they protested at every opportunity and were simply ignored.

The neighbors all support low impact development on that site and heard visions of two-story townhouses and retail establishments with living quarters above at several of the public hearings. But that all went down in favor of dense high-rise development and, now, bonus density to turn 36 units into four hundred and fifty.

Ken, most of your neighborhood constituency doesn't ride a segway and those of us with a bit of a back yard and breathing room value it highly - we've our life's savings tied up in that little postage stamp lot and it means a lot to us.

Your comment that "Experts world wide have said that density bonuses lower costs" was out of context and disingenuous. Some of those Young Professionals might have understood you to support the idea that increasing density will increase the likelihood they'll find an affordable home in downtown Sarasota, Florida.

Why, the very experts you paid $125,000 to for a report on the concept said it would not work in downtown Sarasota. Who are you going to believe? The "experts" you've but read about, or those you paid to study the matter for you.

By the way, I did a little study of my own using the Montgomery County Maryland efforts as the prime focus and found their experience anything but comparable to the situation in Sarasota. Indeed, in terms of their own criteria for "affordable housing," none of the density bonus/inclusionary zoning public private partnerships provided a single affordable home. Those achieved did so with significant public subsidies. Let me send you a copy of the report.

If you had wanted the community to come forward with proposals to enhance affordable housing opportunities within the City of Sarasota, why did you not ask?

Why, you could have posted a notice to SarasotaVoices. You could have taken time to make a segment for Channel 19 (they did one AFTER you made the decision to hire the consultant - I saw part of it). You could have asked the NPO to advertise the request for input through their newsletter and contacts on the various Neighborhood Associations and CCNA or CONA. You could have written a guest editorial for the SHT. You could have asked those assembled at the Kennedy-King Dinner when you had the floor.

Instead, you and the commission frame the debate and then chastise those who oppose the density bonus solution for not having hired their own consultant or ICARDMERRIL to come up with alternative approaches.

And, you did not listen to those of us who did offer suggestions. Despite my several smoke breaks, I heard a few.

Have employers of Young Professionals increase their salaries, contribute to their health insurance. The City has, itself, gone in the opposite direction by reducing the contribution to health care and holding salaries down despite increasing tax revenues.

And tax revenue should hit home for the Commission. The City has spent millions on the Van Wezel only to have them request trading it off and building a bigger facility. What an impact 20 million would have had on affordable housing had the City spent the money on acquiring property for housing.

Government tends to spend every dollar of tax revenue that comes to it. Instead of holding to a budget and reducing the millage rate for landlords, say, they take in the windfall and discover something to spend it upon.

I know I've missed several of the suggestions made by the "Nos" and hope those I missed will remind you of their suggestions via e-mail after hearing your assertions this evening.

CHARLES

Please don't infer a "tone" to my messages. It is the nature of e-mail to be perfunctory "short and to the point." In the instant case, the medium is not the message. CHARLES

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Mr. Senf speaks for a lot of people who were in the audience that night. Not only did they disagree with the decision on the density bonus, but then they were criticized for not offering alternatives. Not true and insulting to all of those who are working so hard on affordable housing alternatives and those who testified so thoughtfully at the meeting.

foursarasota said...

So here’s an alternate idea for affordable housing downtown:

The city’s Palm Avenue site. Affordable housing could be financially viable there because the city owns the land. A public/private partnership could be put together (might be a land trust with the City owning the land and giving a 99-year lease). The RFP could state the number of parking spaces, the amount of square footage of mixed retail and office space, etc., the number and assorted sizes of dwelling units on the upper floors, with a mixed variety of price ranges from low income to market rate, all in a building between 10 and 11 stories.

It just takes the courage and the foresight to put a well designed RFP together. Get some of the non-profit groups that are already working on affordable housing and involve them. And…how about some unique architecture, as we’ve had here in the past, rather than the tired old stuff we’re seeing.

Anonymous said...

Mike Jacobson of Habitat said his group will build to any density anywhere they can get the land donated and community support.

Why doesn't the City donate all its single-family lots to Habitat and allow one-story two-family villas to be built upon them?

These lots are scattered about the community and, since there's no hope left for a Hope Nine grant what better use for this condemned property is there?

Anonymous said...

Surplus Property for Affordable Housing

On July 22, 1996 the Metropolitan King County Council unanimously passed Ordinance 12394 which states that if a parcel, which is surplus to the county needs, is suitable for housing then it should be sold or leased for the purpose of affordable housing.

In accordance with this Ordinance, by September 30 of each year the Property Services Division will issue a list of any newly surplus property which is suitable for housing. Then over the course of the following year the Property Services Division in conjunction with the Housing and Community Development Program will request affordable housing proposals from both for-profit and non-profit developers. These requests will be advertised on King County's web page and local newspapers.

Please visit the King County Property Services Division web site for any current RFPs for surplus property, or contact Bob Thompson, Property Services Division, by e-mail or by phone at (206) 296-7494.

For more information contact:

Allan Johnson, Housing Planner
Housing and Community Development
Community Services Division
Department of Community and Human Services
821 Second Avenue, Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98104




206-205-6482
206-296-0229 (FAX)
TTY: 711 (Relay service)

Updated:
June 30, 2004
http://www.metrokc.gov/dchs/csd/housing/Affordable.htm#Surplus

Anonymous said...

References
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Brunick, Nicholas J. 2004a. “The Inclusionary Housing Debate: The Effectiveness of Mandatory Programs Over Voluntary Programs, Part 1.” Zoning Practice, No. 9 (September): 1-7.
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