GRDadof3

The "Affordable Housing" Discussion in GR

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On 8/15/2017 at 2:12 PM, Onekama said:

A few new construction "small" houses just hit the market this week in downtown Holland for $110k.  488 sq. ft, 1 bed, 1 bath.  Would this ever fly in GR?

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/385-395-Central-Ave-Holland-MI-49423/2093156508_zpid/

http://www.hollandsentinel.com/entertainmentlife/20170131/jubilee-ministries-busy-constructing-small-homes-in-holland

 

1 hour ago, GRDadof3 said:

In my truly honest opinion, barring a major economic crash (which nobody wants), the housing affordability issue in Grand Rapids has passed the point of no return.  The only solution is to get out ahead of it in neighboring cities like Wyoming, Kentwood, Walker, etc, because that's where everyone is going to go, who can't afford GR. I did see recently a massive new development being planned for the city of Kentwood. I can't remember the last time I saw that. 

WARNING – maybe a little off topic, maybe not.

For something different the other day for my daily long walk I chose to walk in some of the ageing early post war neighborhoods of Wyoming.   Now that all the affordable housing for the non-rich is gone from all the hip neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, the idea popped into my head that maybe the new hot area in a few years might be Wyoming.  Wyoming isn’t cool (but then neither was East Hills) and the houses are small, some ridiculously small, but they are affordable.

Here are two little white houses, side by side, that I walked by that were on the ridiculously small side.  Each is 396 SQ FT:

Google view 3741-3745 Michael

One was built in 1940, the other in 1947.  Not sure what the political entity was back then but I doubt if you can build a house that small in Wyoming or anywhere today.  Of course, these weren’t for sale, not many houses I saw on my walk were. 

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12 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

associations have some of it right: will adding duplexes and accessory dwelling units really bring prices down, or add lower priced residential units to the market? Is there data to support that? Maybe not. Probably not. Splitting big HH homes back up again into 3 and 4 units would. 

There is some hard data.  I don't have time to dig the link back up, but about 20% of the ADUs in some city or another where they built quite a few of them--Portland or some city in California, I think-had rent that was either nothing or less than 20% of market.  Even if you assume that is a family member, that opens up the space that person otherwise would have been occupying.  

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http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2018/03/developer_plans_to_replace_chu.html

This seems like a good example of the city not caving to some hair on fire residents resistant to change, and allowing a developer to add housing.  I am hoping they end up doing the same for the housing now initiative.  

It seems like no matter where you are there will always be loud voices that resist change at all costs.  These same people are the ones who resort to deceitful, and downright despicable tactics to impede progress.   I don't see how some of those voices at the city meeting last night are any different.   I would imagine the vast majority of residents are not opposed to making the city dense.   I've always found it unfortunate that the fringe makes their voices louder than the masses.

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55 minutes ago, MJLO said:

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2018/03/developer_plans_to_replace_chu.html

This seems like a good example of the city not caving to some hair on fire residents resistant to change, and allowing a developer to add housing.  I am hoping they end up doing the same for the housing now initiative.  

It seems like no matter where you are there will always be loud voices that resist change at all costs.  These same people are the ones who resort to deceitful, and downright despicable tactics to impede progress.   I don't see how some of those voices at the city meeting last night are any different.   I would imagine the vast majority of residents are not opposed to making the city dense.   I've always found it unfortunate that the fringe makes their voices louder than the masses.

I guess the neighbors should have stayed in church.  The poor church is down below 100 members.  

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8 hours ago, x99 said:

I guess the neighbors should have stayed in church.  The poor church is down below 100 members.  

They all go to Ada Bible Church now, which I think has 4 campuses now.  :blink: One recently opened on East Paris where East Hills Athletic Club used to be. 

21 hours ago, walker said:

 

WARNING – maybe a little off topic, maybe not.

For something different the other day for my daily long walk I chose to walk in some of the ageing early post war neighborhoods of Wyoming.   Now that all the affordable housing for the non-rich is gone from all the hip neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, the idea popped into my head that maybe the new hot area in a few years might be Wyoming.  Wyoming isn’t cool (but then neither was East Hills) and the houses are small, some ridiculously small, but they are affordable.

Here are two little white houses, side by side, that I walked by that were on the ridiculously small side.  Each is 396 SQ FT:

Google view 3741-3745 Michael

One was built in 1940, the other in 1947.  Not sure what the political entity was back then but I doubt if you can build a house that small in Wyoming or anywhere today.  Of course, these weren’t for sale, not many houses I saw on my walk were. 

I definitely think Wyoming is one of the next frontiers. Heck, maybe someone will actually build a mixed-use project at the Southern end of the Silver Line, which I never thought would happen. 

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2 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

They all go to Ada Bible Church now, which I think has 4 campuses now.  :blink: One recently opened on East Paris where East Hills Athletic Club used to be. 

I definitely think Wyoming is one of the next frontiers. Heck, maybe someone will actually build a mixed-use project at the Southern end of the Silver Line, which I never thought would happen. 

Does that mean that their "downtown" project on 28th will actually get built out? One can only hope.

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On ‎03‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 11:28 PM, walker said:

 

WARNING – maybe a little off topic, maybe not.

For something different the other day for my daily long walk I chose to walk in some of the ageing early post war neighborhoods of Wyoming.   Now that all the affordable housing for the non-rich is gone from all the hip neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, the idea popped into my head that maybe the new hot area in a few years might be Wyoming.  Wyoming isn’t cool (but then neither was East Hills) and the houses are small, some ridiculously small, but they are affordable.

Here are two little white houses, side by side, that I walked by that were on the ridiculously small side.  Each is 396 SQ FT:

Google view 3741-3745 Michael

One was built in 1940, the other in 1947.  Not sure what the political entity was back then but I doubt if you can build a house that small in Wyoming or anywhere today.  Of course, these weren’t for sale, not many houses I saw on my walk were. 

Wyoming was Wyoming Township until 1959 when it became the City of Wyoming

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12 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

They all go to Ada Bible Church now, which I think has 4 campuses now.  :blink: One recently opened on East Paris where East Hills Athletic Club used to be. 

I definitely think Wyoming is one of the next frontiers. Heck, maybe someone will actually build a mixed-use project at the Southern end of the Silver Line, which I never thought would happen. 

There's plenty of land along Division, south of 54th in the form of trailer parks. I count 7 separate trailer parks in that stretch. Imagine a Main Street type of mall off of the highway there that consists of retail, restaurants, condos, and apartments. It could kickstart a revival of southeast Wyoming/southwest Kentwood/Cutlerville.

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1 hour ago, GRLaker said:

There's plenty of land along Division, south of 54th in the form of trailer parks. I count 7 separate trailer parks in that stretch. Imagine a Main Street type of mall off of the highway there that consists of retail, restaurants, condos, and apartments. It could kickstart a revival of southeast Wyoming/southwest Kentwood/Cutlerville.

Division between 28th and 54th is a massive area begging for denser development along it.

It is already walkable along many parts of it. Has several schools as well!

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On 3/29/2018 at 11:14 AM, arcturus said:

Wyoming isn't exactly undiscovered.  Zillow the Oriole Park area for recent sales.

I'm saying for new developments and infill. 

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On 3/29/2018 at 11:14 AM, arcturus said:

Wyoming isn't exactly undiscovered.  Zillow the Oriole Park area for recent sales.

Let's keep something in mind here.  It is not Wyoming or Kentwood that have housing affordability problems.  The only reason anyone is living there is because it is close downtown and the rent is cheaper--i.e. it is already affordable. Well, and that very small contingent that buy a bargain-priced 20 year-old house and send the kids to parochial school.  The public schools in either locations are not a draw to most families.  So who is going to live in new construction there?  People without kids who would probably rather be closer to downtown anyway.  I still think if we can find a way to accommodate growth within city limits, we're much better off.  It is not as if Grand Rapids is built out like a real city would have been in a past era.  The neighborhoods with a few minor exceptions are basically built out like a suburb on 40-60 foot lots.  

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14 hours ago, x99 said:

I still think if we can find a way to accommodate growth within city limits, we're much better off.

Agree, but I think we just got a resounding answer to that question.  Land-use reform is not possible here. :(  

And I expect an anti-urban coup of the Planning Commission following this disaster of a process.  Infill is going to get harder, not easier.  If you have a project in the works - get it approved now.  Just imagine a Planning Commission packed with Neighborhood Association types.

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1 hour ago, whitemice said:

Agree, but I think we just got a resounding answer to that question.  Land-use reform is not possible here. :(  

And I expect an anti-urban coup of the Planning Commission following this disaster of a process.  Infill is going to get harder, not easier.  If you have a project in the works - get it approved now.  Just imagine a Planning Commission packed with Neighborhood Association types.

Are you trying to give me nightmares?

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3 hours ago, whitemice said:

Agree, but I think we just got a resounding answer to that question.  Land-use reform is not possible here. :(  

And I expect an anti-urban coup of the Planning Commission following this disaster of a process.  Infill is going to get harder, not easier.  If you have a project in the works - get it approved now.  Just imagine a Planning Commission packed with Neighborhood Association types.

I don't know if I'd call them "anti-urban." In fact, they'd probably consider themselves urbanists to the core, when I look at who has signed some of these letters. I know and respect several of them. I think they're more "anti-change." They equate everything to urban renewal and believe everything should be preserved as it is today. They also appear to all hate evil developers. :) They probably forget that the very neighborhoods they sit in were developed by money making builders and developers at one time. In fact, if you saw how neighborhoods were built back then in the early 1900's, by completely clear-cutting entire forests and filling in all wetlands, you'd be horrified. But that's what it took to build gridded street systems. And that was before the EPA and DEQ. I can only imagine how much nasty runoff went into the Grand River to build Heritage Hill. Gross.  It only looks heavily wooded now because it took 100 years to bring it all back. 

But I digress, lol. 

Again, I think the battle is lost in GR. There are still probably opportunities for low-income housing with a lot of creativity. Some of the proposed infill projects will still happen, but fewer and fewer of them. And you're probably right, at a time when MORE creativity is needed to create more housing opportunities in the city, I think you'll see a different planning commission that will just say "no" to more development period. Or everything will get "tabled" until further review which will never happen, or even a moratorium on new developments that don't precisely fit the current zoning/master plan, which rarely does any infill. 

 

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3 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

they'd probably consider themselves urbanists to the core

Yes, I know that.  And if one listens to them for very long the absurdity of that becomes apparent unless one has a meaninglessly wide definition of Urbanist.

3 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

I think the battle is lost in GR.

Yep.  You captured it with "tabled until further review which will never happen".  I've been here my entire life; nothing comes back from tabled.

The best hope now lies with the State.  States overriding zoning and land-use policy has become a recurring pattern nation-wide as municipalities demonstrate the inability to govern themselves responsibly.  I will be writing letters, perhaps that is something some raving property-rights Conservative can be talked into taking up.

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A lot of memerbers in the neighborhood associations don't know what it's like to live in actual urban areas. They view their neighbourhoods more like the suburbs and less like an extension of downtown. If people are concerned with mix used infill projectes being constructed and an influx of renter in their neighbourhoods they should just move out to Ada or Rockford already. 

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10 hours ago, tSlater said:

Are you trying to give me nightmares?

The zoning appeals board is chockablock with neighborhood association types (and at least one wrote a letter opposing this) because that's where they thought the action was...  I think they all just realized the planning commission holds the purse strings.

8 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

In fact, they'd probably consider themselves urbanists to the core, when I look at who has signed some of these letters. I know and respect several of them. I think they're more "anti-change." They equate everything to urban renewal and believe everything should be preserved as it is today. They also appear to all hate evil developers. :) They probably forget that the very neighborhoods they sit in were developed by money making builders and developers at one time.

True.  There's got to be a lot of cognitive dissonance going on with a lot of the old crusty (and even the less crusty) Midwestern progressive types when it comes to their own little slices of heaven.  The repeated hatred of "developers" and "profits" was particularly rich, particularly when it was coupled with griping about ADUs, which are owner occupied dwellings.  

Some of this might be the "urban renewal" mindset, but I'm not as charitable.  Most of the noisiest complaints came out of Heritage Hill.  The homeowners there seem to be very concerned with their "voice" and that any proposal to increase "density" requires their "voice".  Most development is by right, except for rental housing.  So most of what that "voice" can be used for is to whine about rental housing.   It's the same crap zoning was used for 60 years ago--keep out some population group you would rather not have.  Now it's just dressed up in progressive newspeak about "profit-seeking-developers" (who rent to the guy you don't want next door and who otherwise doesn't have enough dough to get into your neighborhood).  

There are a lot of things I can deal with, but well-off "progressives" harping about relaxing rules that keep out less wealthy people is not one of them.   

Edited by x99
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1 hour ago, x99 said:

 

There are a lot of things I can deal with, but well-off "progressives" harping about relaxing rules that keep out less wealthy people is not one of them.   

Agreed. They don't even realize that they're no different than people who live in Catamount (a gated Ada community) who have their own personal gate to their home. Gated within gates. They may vote for different Presidents but they're a lot more similar than they are different. 

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On 4/3/2018 at 8:20 PM, GRDadof3 said:

Agreed. They don't even realize that they're no different than people who live in Catamount (a gated Ada community) who have their own personal gate to their home. Gated within gates. They may vote for different Presidents but they're a lot more similar than they are different. 

They are different.  The people in Catamount are honest about it.  They spent a lot of money to live there and don't want a low rent guy down the street or even inside that gate unless he is cutting the grass.  :P  I don't understand why the loudest whining came from homeowners in Heritage Hill complaining about getting more neighbors like the ones they already have.  It's absolutely insane, unenlightened, ignorant nonsense which is rooted in the fear campaign the neighborhood associations whipped up.  It's like someone in a new subdivision complaining that the developers just keeping putting up more of those stupid houses everywhere...

 

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14 hours ago, x99 said:

They are different.  The people in Catamount are honest about it.  They spent a lot of money to live there and don't want a low rent guy down the street or even inside that gate unless he is cutting the grass.  :P  I don't understand why the loudest whining came from homeowners in Heritage Hill complaining about getting more neighbors like the ones they already have.  It's absolutely insane, unenlightened, ignorant nonsense which is rooted in the fear campaign the neighborhood associations whipped up.  It's like someone in a new subdivision complaining that the developers just keeping putting up more of those stupid houses everywhere...

 

:rofl:

I've actually heard that before in my line of work. "We want to build a home but we don't want anyone building behind us."  Forgetting that they're building a home that now "blocks the view" of the person who built before them.   Or when people in a new neighborhood fight another new neighborhood from going in next door. They conveniently forget (or are oblivious to the fact) that their neighborhood was fought by the surrounding neighbors before them. 

If you want to control what gets built around you, then you need to pony up and buy all the property around you, lol. Zoning and master plans are pretty much just "guides" in a fast-growing area.  Overly restricting growth only causes problems downstream. 

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After June 12th, I will be able to post and comment a lot more on this site on issues related to zoning, planning, housing, and development.

To get the ball rolling, I encourage you Grand Rapidian UP'rs to read this great article about a group in Seattle looking to flip the script on their housing woes:

A Must Read Housing Article - Politico.com

To whet your appetite for these discussions here are a couple of money quotes from the article:

"But that tech-fueled demand has tended to overshadow the other driver: insufficient supply. Since the end of the financial crisis, Lubarsky says, Seattle has added roughly 100,000 jobs, but barely 32,000 new homes and apartment units. “We’ve underbuilt every year since 2010,” he adds. And a big part of that deficit, Lubarsky says, is due to neighborhoods like Wallingford, where zoning laws make it almost impossible to build anything other than a single-family house."

"Predictably, the campaign has provoked a fierce backlash from homeowners, many of them Baby Boomers who arrived in the 60s and 70s. They’ve sued to block the proposed “up-zones” to their neighborhoods, which, they warn, will kill the very “character” that makes Seattle’s housing so charming to newcomers in the first place. But to Lubarsky, that cherished neighborhood character was always false advertising, given how few people can actually afford it. “My generation is never going to have that,” he says, gesturing to a tricked-out Craftsman with a tidy yard and paved driveway. “There are too many of us to live like that.”

"When homeowners say they’re fighting to protect neighborhood character, Lubarsky says, “it really feels to me like they just don’t want young people in their neighborhood.”

"Known variously as urbanism, practivism and YIMBYism (Yes In My Backyard), the movement argues that the urban housing crisis has grown so severe that traditional approaches to affordability, such as rent control or state-subsidized housing, are wholly inadequate. "

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40 minutes ago, KCLBADave said:

After June 12th, I will be able to post and comment a lot more on this site on issues related to zoning, planning, housing, and development.

Wow—it's so considerate of you to resign your position so you can get back to the constituents that matter. :D

I have conflicting thoughts on these issues. On the one hand, we have (as you've said) a crisis on our hands. However, many of the things we're doing will have impacts that will far outlast this crisis—as well as all of us. In my neighborhood, we're losing a beautiful (albeit neglected over the past ten years) 115-old church to make way for housing. Once that building is torn down, it can't be put back.

I've seen two kinds of reactions to proposed projects in my neighborhood: some people really do want to keep the "undesirables" out, but many do seem genuinely concerned about the physical infrastructure that drew them to their neighborhood in the first place.

Also, I think it would be a grave error to focus solely on physical infrastructure to solve social problems. We need to be asking why so many people—even those working steady jobs—can't afford to live here. The solution needs to be multifaceted.

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26 minutes ago, organsnyder said:

Also, I think it would be a grave error to focus solely on physical infrastructure to solve social problems. We need to be asking why so many people—even those working steady jobs—can't afford to live here. The solution needs to be multifaceted.

I totally agree with you in that we need to place as much emphasis on finding solutions to the economics as it relates to finding reasonable ways for folks to earn more.  I also agree that the solution needs to be multifaceted.  

At the same time when one considers economics we cannot ignore the economics of development as well.  As has been well discussed in this forum it costs about $250,000 to build a 1,300 square foot reasonably designed home.  If that home is not worth $250,000 then we cannot build, in the traditional sense, our way out of this housing crisis.

What I appreciated about this article is it really touched on all aspects of the problem.  

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