Dear City Council,
Below is an analysis of the components discussed , or to be discussed, in your April and May study sessions for use table changes to be applied to the Opportunity Zone and Citywide.
The following provides an overview of our observations.
A. The simultaneous development of citywide use table changes with the Opportunity Zone use table changes and the effort to complete all of this during the summer of 2019 is short circuiting the public engagement process. In other word, it’s moving too fast for citywide application – the public is ill-informed and the timeframe is too short to adequately vet the far ranging changes and to understand their ramifications. It would be better to charge ahead with the OZ and provide more time for public input with regard to the city wide changes.
B. We question the wisdom of the premise that the use table changes can be applied citywide. Certainly some may, but the presumption should be that one size probably won’t fit all. It would be better to consider changes that are desirable and then evaluate where they will work best.
The extent of changes is considerable. The current draft plan for use table changes for just the newly proposed “L” Limited Use category affects 33 current use categories across 26 of 27 city zoning districts. That’s a total of 173 use conditions affected by just the “L” category changes. It is clear that the changes are a large scale and far ranging change to zoning, it is happening largely under the radar and because the changes are so complex, the public is largely unaware and the ramifications of the changes are not widely understood.
C. There has been scant consideration given to value capture for satisfying critical community needs. Where use changes result in value creation for property owners, the City should capture that value for priority community needs such permanently affordable housing
D. The BVCP addresses preservation of affordable business space and affordable market rate housing and Council has expressed support for applying these policies in the OZ. We think the use table changes should and could enable application of these policies in the rest of the city as well. The City could apply two test to all development:
1. Will a proposed development or redevelopment result in reduction of number or percentage of housing units available to low to middle income residents and their displacement. If so, to what extent?
2. Will a proposed development or redevelopment result in reduction of number or percentage of affordable spaces for locally owned businesses and their displacement. If so, to what extent?
The tests should result in no significant loss of units or displacement people or businesses.
E. City Council must pay close attention to the effects of expanded non-residential uses in residential zones, on housing costs in those zones. Similarly, Council must anticipate the effects of expanded residential uses in non-residential zones, on the availability of non-residential lease space for certain uses that might not be compatible with landlords’ interests to maximize their rents from higher yielding residential space. This is especially of concern in Industrial zones with service uses that are noisy, malodorous or otherwise may have a depressing effect on adjacent residential rents.
F. This code change discussion is occurring in isolation of where the City’s population is currently and projected to be in the near future relative to the population planning target of 103,000. The essence of planning is that it is done to guide growth and land uses according to where you want to be at some specified point in the future. That isn’t happening with this project, or generally.
It is our hope the Council will afford the public the time to adequately understand the prosed changes
and provide Council necessary feedback.