Proposed Affordable Housing Overlay Detrimental to Yalecrest
By Lynn K. Pershing, Ph.D., President of K.E.E.P. Yalecrest
I understand the need for affordable housing. I do NOT believe the current AHO proposal is the right tool to accomplish that need. As it is written, it destroys successful neighborhoods. Lessons from the 1970’s insertion of row apartments into mid-block faces in the Lower Avenues need to be studied and heeded by the current administration. It should never be allowed again. Those actions destroyed a lovely neighborhood with a grand identity and devalued property for over 50 years. Read, understand and appreciate history, lest the “bad” lessons of the past repeat itself. 1. As a City we have the ADU Ordinances to address “affordable housing” for under-resourced persons needing housing with specific regulations. Those ADUs are readily approved as both internal (attached or basement) and external (unattached ADU garages and independent buildings). But they are most frequently used as AirBnB, and VRBOs without any consequence. How does this activity “jive” with the City Planning policy that promoted ADU’s as affordable housing? The City needs to address the inappropriate use of approved ADUs as short-term rentals before embarking on more density zoning increases. 2. In its current form, the AHO will result in eviction of under-resourced persons from current affordable rental properties allowing demolition of those existing buildings with new construction and a 3x fold increase in rental price. AHO should not progress until Gentrification Ordinance is finalized. The AHO could result in more homeless persons. 3. Incentivizing the renovation of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) is another alternative to demolition of houses and new more expensive construction. Investment into NOAH with CITY and County tax credits would provide family housing for much less cost than new higher cost construction. 4. As a City, we have Planning Department that approves “everything and anything” allowing minimal mitigation from impacted property owners. The current AHO removes all public input from density zoning except in Local Historic District. So why do we have a Planning Department? There seems nothing for them to do-just approve “everything and anything” 5. When persons buy a single family-zoned residence, they anticipate that what they see is what they get in terms of the property itself and its surrounding environs. It will be their most substantial financial investment. They understand that the City has zoning that regulates what can and can’t be done with the property, when permits are needed to alter that property, etc. They don’t anticipate that their City government will change the use of their property or their neighbors property that impacts them. Would they choose to live next door to a multifamily building that is 1-2’ away from their house? Most would say NO, but they will have no ability to submit comments on the issue in the AHO. There is NO public input, design review nor mitigation allowed. How is this equal representation? 6. As a City we have Master Plans and a Preservation Plan (2012) but continually ignore them. Mass, scale and design compatibility is cited in most Master Plans, but the AHO obviates that except for Local Historic Districts. Streets listed on the National Register of Historic Places have NO protection against demolitions of historic homes and new construction of 3-4 unit Multifamily housing. Heed the Master Plans. Insure mass, scale and material compatibility with established housing design review, allow public input on multifamily housing development on their street 7. Insertion of a 25’ (and likely will be higher) Row house of 3-4 units midblock in R1-5000 neighborhoods destroys block face cohesion, continuity and identity in terms of design, scale and massing of most single family residential areas. Put MF housing on the corners. Better yet increase the use of single story duplexes on corners of blocks (like in Yalecrest) which are better accepted by single family residential neighborhoods. 8. Many blocks in Yalecrest have low roofline Bungalows and English Cottages, which together represent more than 72% of housing styles. The majority of housing in Yalecrest (66%) is 1 story under 25’ that is used in the AHO. Given the propensity of Planning Commission and Planning Dept to grant taller heights despite the ordinance standards, there is little public trust that the 25’ height at the roof ridge will be enforced for approval of developments. 9. The AHO states that multifamily housing wilI be approved for installation along arterials and streets that are within ¼ mile of high frequency public and mass transit. High frequency public transportation is stated to be “every 15 minutes” The Map of affected areas in the Yalecrest neighborhood (Boundaries: NS-Sunnyside Ave to 1300 South and E-W 1300 East to 1900 East) identify all streets from 1300 East to 1500 East between Sunnyside Ave to 1300 South as well as all of Sunnyside Ave, vast majority of 900 S, Homes along the Miller Bird Reserve and Nature Park and all streets north of that to 900 S. While 1300 S carries considerable car traffic and Sunnyside Ave is an arterial—there is NO public transportation on those streets. Further, and most importantly, the bus route #213 frequency is only every “30 minutes”. No other bus route in the area comes close to “every 15 minutes” The provided map is inaccurate for the stated conditions of AHO. 10. It is not clear which Overlays will take precedence. The Yalecrest Compatible Infill Overlay (YCIO) predates the AHO. It stipulates a variety of issues, but importantly, a maximum height of residential buildings. Will the AHO or YCIO height restrictions take precedence in current and new construction? 11. The City’s rapid changes in increasing zoning density and the lack and speed of enforcement is resulting in a generalized public distrust of their elected and nonelected City Officials to represent their interests. Single-family residential property owners are feeling “under siege”. While we all understand the need for Affordable housing, the proposed AHO isn’t the right tool to insure it.