Monday, April 29, 2013

People Of Hope and Wishful Thinking

Read the column here.

First, a nod to my colleagues over at Flagpole; the entire People of Hope thing has been below the radar for a good while, save these recent pieces by Blake and Allison:

Second, I must admit to being surprised at the lack of response to this column in the Banner-Herald’s online comments section – I was expecting some rather intense blowback – though I guess something may appear as a letter to the editor at some point.  Not that I write things so as to be intentionally contrarian; on the contrary, I write what I really think (for good or ill).

Concerning “affordable housing” generally see this, lifted verbatim from my 2006 campaign web site:

“The Commission should establish a separate and dedicated zoning category specifically tailored to mobile homes, which comprise the best market-based solution to the issue of affordable housing. Unfortunately, since city-county unification, the Commission has all but excluded mobile homes from most areas of the county. Class A mobile homes (multi-sectional or doublewides) are limited to existing parks or large lots in the AR zones. Class B mobile homes (single-wides) have been restricted to existing parks for years. While recognizing that mobile homes may not fit in with traditional stick-built home neighborhoods, we have done the low-income among us no favors by excluding from the county the best housing option available to them.”

“I feel that efforts to mandate ‘inclusionary zoning’ in the county are misdirected. The resulting housing would not be “affordable,” it would instead be subsidized. Someone other than the person paying the submarket rate mandated by government will be required to make up the difference, whether it is the other residents of a given development or the taxpayers.”

“For what it is worth, I remain convinced that the rezoning of land for the People of Hope, contrary to the recommendation of the Planning Commission and requiring alteration of the Comprehensive Plan, not to mention the subsequent sanitary sewer line extension to that park, would not have been approved for any other petitioner. The Commission did the right thing, but for the wrong reason.”

Needless to say, these were/are not the dominant opinions in the Classic City.  Also needless to say, the manner in which local ordinance serve to drive up housing costs is all but universally ignored (except by me and a couple of others): conservation subdivision ordinance; “green belt” ordinance; one-size-fits-all stream buffer ordinance; tree cover ordinance; grading ordinance; definition of family ordinance, etc.  I’m not arguing that all of these ordinances are inherently bad, but rather that their roles in driving up housing costs are never acknowledged by the powers that be.

Be that as it may, see this letter to the editor in which I actually defended the Commission against a charge of “ethical” criminality for not foolishly going the moratorium route:

See this news article about a particular Commission meeting, where I explicitly told City Hall that its treatment of People of Hope was rooted in politics and that no one else would get approval to put a trailer park in peripheral Clarke County (much less one necessitating a rezoning, an amendment to the future land use map, a sewage pump station, and a sewer line extension):

Note that I spoke against both the rezoning/future land use map amendment and the sewer line extension, not because I thought that they were the wrong things to do in and of themselves, but because People of Hope got approvals that no one else would have.  See the minutes for the cited Commission meetings:

December 2003
See pages 30-32.  Ironically, at this same meeting that the Commission approved the People of Hope rezoning, by another unanimous vote it also approved an ordinance that explicitly banned Class A mobile homes (doublewides and multi-sectionals) from the county’s agricultural residential, single family residential, and commercial zoning classifications. Placements of Class B mobile homes (single-wides) have been limited to existing mobile home parks for many years.

October 2004
See pages 2 and 5.

That news article review of funding includes (and I daresay that it is incomplete):
-Federal housing grants – $377,500 (as best as I could determine this included $175,000 in
-HOME funds and $202,500 in CBDG funds)
-Presbyterian Church (USA) – $150,000
 -Affordable Housing Program of the Federal Home Loan bank – $446,443
-Governor’s Discretionary Fund (Roy Barnes) – $10,000
-Georgia Community Loan Fund – $25,000
-Other private donations from individuals, business, and churches – $200,000

“HOME” would seem to indicate an acronym, just as CBDG stands for Community Block Development Grant, but all I could find was HOME Investment Partnership Program.

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