Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Council to Single Family Neighborhoods -Fuggedaboudit!

In case you missed the city council meeting on Monday (28 January), your new representatives, who were joined by their colleagues left over from the last council, stuck a pencil in the eye of homeowners in the single family neighborhoods. Your reps refused to second a motion by Louise Bjornson to add a simple but meaningful statement to Mayor Pike's resolution regarding the Urban Growth Areas that would have affirmed maintaining the "character of single family neighborhoods." This is another indicator of the apparent hollowness of that phrase which was used by all of those who ran for office last fall. Remember?

Regardless of each representative's take on the Mayor's resolution, a statement in support of the integrity of single family neighborhoods would have been welcome. I am especially surprised that Terry Bornemann, author of a motion (8 Oct) to force the city to develop a process to enforce single family zoning, did not, at least, second the motion by Louise. Luckily, the city staff work required by that motion is still in progress but one wonders now what will happen when the city management reports its plan to the "new" council.

Also troubling for the neighborhoods was the re-emergence of those (Jack Weiss comes to mind) touting accessory dwelling units (ADU) as a means of infill for single family neighborhoods. We are now not only talking about ADUs which are part of the house (the "mother-in-law" apartment) but also construction of out-buildings or renovation of existing structures (read garages). These buildings are euphemistically called "cottages" by those who wish to prettify the notion. ADUs are also now being pushed as a means of "ownership security" whereby the homeowner would be assisted financially by the income from the ADU, making homeownership affordable. The problem is that taken to the logical and monetarily justifiable end, the owner would move into the ADU and rent the main house at a much greater rate of return. And we know where that can lead - illegal rooming houses - as the financial pressure to rent to a group (whose members can afford to pay more while getting a bargain as individuals) overrides renting to a single family. You can find additional blog entries from me on the subject of rentals and ADUs by clicking here, here , here, here and here.

A note to the Mayor: I still expect that you will adhere to your promise to enforce the single family zoning code. I saved your September 2007 email to me on the subject. Click here to read the Mayor's declaration.


Anonymous said...

Well Zonemaven, in regards to Mayor Pike's e-mail to you about enforcing zoning, isn't it the case that politicians will say anything prior to getting elected?
I personally did not vote for Mr. Pike as he was backed by the Realtors, a group that has a large number of rental property owners in their ranks.Go figure...

zonemaven said...

For the moment, I will take Mayor Pike at his word. I know this is a quaint notion in this day but I want to see what his actions are on illegal rooming houses will be before making a condemnatory statement. As for the Realtors, I am aware that there are among their ranks, as well as in the ranks of society in general, some shady characters. Having been a Realtor, I experienced some of that first hand from so-called "colleagues." However, that is in no way a condemnation of the real estate industry in its entirety. For that reason, I would not criticize the mayor (yet) merely by association.

Terry said...

As a low-income renter with no hope of buying a conventional 3BR single-family detached home, I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to rent or (preferably) buy a cottage.

What's the problem?

Are property rights for ALL Americans or only for the middle and upper classes?