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GRDadof3

The "Affordable Housing" Discussion in GR

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2 hours ago, Angel Mckinney said:

That's highly misleading. While the county doesn't appropriate general fund money to the land bank, the KCLBA receives 50% of the property taxes from every property it sells for five years. So you get the money before the county does, along with money from every other entity that would otherwise get it... cities, townships, library districts, schools, etc. $340,000 this year alone (as of November, according to your financials, and over $400,000 in 2017). And you don't in any way break down on your web site which entities you're preemptively getting that money from, so we have no clear idea which local governments are being impacted and by how much.

If the KCLBA was taking blighted, vacant properties and turning them into livable properties, I guess I don't get where the net loss is for the county. You're not making any less off of that land than you were before and after five years you're actually making more due to the increased value. Also, the statement that the KCLBA never received a dime of money from the County (emphasis on the capital C) is correct. The county government did not have to allocate any money toward the operation of the KCLBA. 

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4 hours ago, Angel Mckinney said:

That's highly misleading. While the county doesn't appropriate general fund money to the land bank, the KCLBA receives 50% of the property taxes from every property it sells for five years. So you get the money before the county does, along with money from every other entity that would otherwise get it... cities, townships, library districts, schools, etc. $340,000 this year alone (as of November, according to your financials, and over $400,000 in 2017). And you don't in any way break down on your web site which entities you're preemptively getting that money from, so we have no clear idea which local governments are being impacted and by how much.

I think he's saying there's no budget earmark for the Kent County Land Bank. They only get paid if they're successful (sort of like trial attorneys).  

The question is, would the county have collected the $340,000 if the homes had gone to auction and been used for rentals? Considering that these tax auctions are pretty scary for buyers in that you can't preview the properties, and you have to pay cash because the titles are a mess and you can't get a mortgage. That means these tax auctions attract primarily bottom feeders and out-of-state investors with no ties to the community, who (from according to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation) for the most part do not do anything to fix up the properties. These are homes that were foreclosed  by the county sheriff because people stopped paying their property taxes.  They're not exactly immaculate homes taken care of by good homeowners. 

I know for several non-profits in the area that work in the realm of affordable housing (like Habitat), it's very very difficult to get theirs hands on properties, even with the help of the Land Bank. Now it will be even harder, possibly impossible. 

 

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2 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

The question is, would the county have collected the $340,000 if the homes had gone to auction and been used for rentals? Considering that these tax auctions are pretty scary for buyers in that you can't preview the properties, and you have to pay cash because the titles are a mess and you can't get a mortgage. That means these tax auctions attract primarily bottom feeders and out-of-state investors with no ties to the community, who (from according to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation) for the most part do not do anything to fix up the properties. These are homes that were foreclosed  by the county sheriff because people stopped paying their property taxes.  They're not exactly immaculate homes taken care of by good homeowners. 

The more I review the subcommittee oversight reviews and reports (which I just read), the less surprised I am that this action was taken.  It was not "hasty" as some are claiming. The most recent report is here:  https://www.accesskent.com/Departments/BOC/pdfs/2018-KCLBA-Report.PDF.  A prior report is here:  https://www.accesskent.com/Departments/BOC/pdfs/Reports/2017-06-30_FINAL_KCLBA_Report.pdf.  Here are a few points that were made June of last year by the subcommittee: 

2. Mission Creep. The KCLBA should avoid expanding its mission in an attempt to address other areas that impact home ownership and housing affordability. Focus should remain on the central mission under which the KCLBA has operated since its inception, including addressing blighted and significantly distressed properties.  

7.  [...]Specifically, the Subcommittee recommends that the County request the State Legislature remove the mandate that land bank authorities receive the full 5/50 tax revenue without the ability to return it to the taxing jurisdiction, and require that any specially voted millages (including school millages) remain with the taxing jurisdiction.

In recent years, the Land Bank was apparently gobbling up EVERY SINGLE tax foreclosed property in Grand Rapids.  No wonder the real estate community was incensed.  The land bank was also carrying half a million dollars in administrative overhead.  It was funding itself (in part) by siphoning off half of the property tax revenue for the next 5 years (thus stripping it from operating funds, schools, etc).  Granted, that is how the statute works, but when you combine that with buying up every single property so that you can siphon the tax revenues, it becomes an increasingly big deal.  Granted, GR probably promoted that, but there's a simple reason:  They derive comparatively little of their operating budget from property tax revenues.  If the increase continued, I suspect it was evident to the commissioners that the land bank would soon be pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in property tax revenues foregone by other entities, and appeared to be using it for stuff that was outside of the bounds of what the Commission supported.  In the grand scheme of things, it is not fair for anyone to state how much "positive economic impact" was generated by the land bank without looking at the opportunity cost of that impact.   And that is a difficult project. 

Given the recommendations that were made by the subcommittee appointed to exercise oversight, it seems to me that the land bank basically decided to play chicken.  It lost.  I don't think it was probably so much the idea of a land bank that was problematic, it was how this land bank increasingly chose to conduct itself.  At this point, they still have a year to wind down.  It's entirely possible that the commission might setup a new land bank within that period with a more heavily circumscribed mandate.  It could perform important functions that aren't otherwise easily performed in the private market.  In fact, that wouldn't surprise me that much at all, and would probably be a good idea.  Lessons learned all around, I suppose.

Edited by x99
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All I can say is memories are short. I do remember those days when the tax sale list was just pages and page of properties. This helped make some lemonade out of a large quantity of lemons.  I would say there appear to be legitimate concerns but not to  have open discussion and discuss possible changes and corrective action is BS.  But then it's the same in Lansing so what more can we expect.

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Here's an interesting couple of articles about the affordable housing crisis in Salt Lake City, where the median home price has shot up to $388,000 (was $345,000 when this article came out earlier this year). The median list price of a home in SLC right now $425,000.  "Affordable" in this context does not mean "low income" housing, but it refers to the growing disparity between the cost of housing vs the median household income in a particular sub-market.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/06/21/as-utahs-housing-crisis-worsens-business-leaders-launch-a-campaign-to-change-public-sentiment/

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/05/24/utah-led-the-nation-in-housing-growth-but-would-be-buyers-are-feeling-the-pain-census-reports/

In Grand Rapids, the median value is $188,000 and the median list price is $249,000. The median home sale price according to GRAR year-to-date is $225,000.  It's now officially more expensive for housing here than in Detroit, due to job and population growth. 

The median list price in Denver (for instance) is $540,000. 

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My point here is that the Co

Quote

My point here is that the County has absolutely no say in how their land bank operates.  In light of this the County Commission recommends that the KCLBA not get involved in the development of affordable housing...seriously?  The KCLBA is a vital tool in creating more affordable housing but the County Commission tells the board to stop this activity.  Who in their right mind instructs this with the housing crisis facing our region?

The rest is mostly whataboutism.

The land bank was extremely non-transparent. Virtually nothing about its operations are on the web site. This was something the county commission committees pointed out over and over and nothing was done. Of course when we see a government entity operating with impunity (as your statement above shows, this was an organizational value), people start to question it. The very entity that authorized the land bank (the county comission) started questioning things. Multiple times. You ignored them. Completely. What do you expect? Frankly, it's very arrogant. Ken Parrish's interview on Mlive was the same. Very arrogant and dismissive of the county commission.

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Last, Chair Saalfeld has stated over and over and over that the KCLBA was formed only to deal with blight.  Frankly this is simply not true.  It is a straight forward motion to authorize the County Treasurer to enter into the IGA with the State land bank to operate with all the authority and actions granted a land bank in the State of Michigan.

Maybe it was the county commission's error in not specifically building the blight issue into the intergovernmental agreement, but EVERYONE who was paying attention at the time was told it was about addressing blight. Your own statements to the Grand Rapids business journal validate this:

Quote

“I want to be really clear: These are bad properties. These are severely blighted with lots of code violations. We take them and get them cleaned up, and these developers buy them. And we sell the properties to them based on the amount of investment they’re doing,” said Allen.

https://www.grbj.com/articles/76889-kclba-views-local-banks-as-vital-to-its-operation

And I remember seeing the presentation made to the county commission when the land bank was approved. Blight was the thread that ran through the entire thing. You and Parrish now seem to want to pretend that didn't happen.

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51 minutes ago, Angel Mckinney said:

My point here is that the Co

The rest is mostly whataboutism.

The land bank was extremely non-transparent. Virtually nothing about its operations are on the web site. This was something the county commission committees pointed out over and over and nothing was done. Of course when we see a government entity operating with impunity (as your statement above shows, this was an organizational value), people start to question it. The very entity that authorized the land bank (the county comission) started questioning things. Multiple times. You ignored them. Completely. What do you expect? Frankly, it's very arrogant. Ken Parrish's interview on Mlive was the same. Very arrogant and dismissive of the county commission.

Maybe it was the county commission's error in not specifically building the blight issue into the intergovernmental agreement, but EVERYONE who was paying attention at the time was told it was about addressing blight. Your own statements to the Grand Rapids business journal validate this:

https://www.grbj.com/articles/76889-kclba-views-local-banks-as-vital-to-its-operation

And I remember seeing the presentation made to the county commission when the land bank was approved. Blight was the thread that ran through the entire thing. You and Parrish now seem to want to pretend that didn't happen.

You and your cronies won Angel McKinney. Now go do something positive with all of that "passion" you have.  Since you're so passionate about housing, there's a crisis of epic proportions going on that the free market won't fix (will actually make it worse).  

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12 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

You and your cronies won Angel McKinney. Now go do something positive with all of that "passion" you have.  Since you're so passionate about housing, there's a crisis of epic proportions going on that the free market won't fix (will actually make it worse).  

Yes, Angel, please be sure to stop by again and let us know how you plan on addressing the lower class to lower middle class housing crisis. We're all ears. 

Edited by GRLaker
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1 hour ago, GRLaker said:

Yes, Angel, please be sure to stop by again and let us know how you plan on addressing the lower class to lower middle class housing crisis. We're all ears. 

I think it's interesting Hibma is behind this decision by the county, as a major campaign donator. He's the Grand Castle developer and husband of uber conservative Terry Lynn Land. He even admits he doesn't buy homes at the auctions, he was just against it on principle. (maybe an Ayn Rand "Who is John Galt crusade?")

From 2014 where Hibma filed several lawsuits against the land bank. He was also at the meeting the other day where it was voted down. 

https://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20140112/NEWS/301129999/land-bank-or-land-grab-experiment-in-kent-county-has-some-raising

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2 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

I think it's interesting Hibma is behind this decision by the county. He's the Grand Castle developer and husband of uber conservative Terry Lynn Land. He even admits he doesn't buy homes at thd auctions, he was just against it on principle. (Who is John Galt crusade?)

Well the more people there are living on these properties, the less people there are lining up at York Creek and the like .

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You're all dogging on Dan Hibma, but whether he's involved in the grandville castle or not, that's part of the solution. The "free market" is addressing things. That's 552 new homes on the market. Yeah, it's hideous and an eyesore and Dan Hibma is shady, but those are 552 brand new homes, starting at $775 a month. 2BR at $1300 a month. The market needs more housing, and it's being built feverishly. The more housing comes on the market, the more prices will come down. It's absurd to say that the market isn't addressing the problem.

And how precisely was the land bank addressing this? There's *no information whatsoever* on the web site regarding sales prices of houses it has rehabbed or built.

I know a lot of people out there rehabbing like crazy and providing nice homes to people with lower incomes. Lots. They just don't get headlines and subsidies. It's happening and it takes time.

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6 hours ago, Angel Mckinney said:

You're all dogging on Dan Hibma, but whether he's involved in the grandville castle or not, that's part of the solution. The "free market" is addressing things. That's 552 new homes on the market. Yeah, it's hideous and an eyesore and Dan Hibma is shady, but those are 552 brand new homes, starting at $775 a month. 2BR at $1300 a month. The market needs more housing, and it's being built feverishly. The more housing comes on the market, the more prices will come down. It's absurd to say that the market isn't addressing the problem.

And how precisely was the land bank addressing this? There's *no information whatsoever* on the web site regarding sales prices of houses it has rehabbed or built.

I know a lot of people out there rehabbing like crazy and providing nice homes to people with lower incomes. Lots. They just don't get headlines and subsidies. It's happening and it takes time.

I don't know if you're looking at the same website I'm looking at:

Listings:

http://innova-lab.org/property-listings/

They have monthly financial reports available. Monthly (!) lol. That's pretty unprecedented.

http://innova-lab.org/kclba-financials/

I was referring specifically to the Kent County tax foreclosure auctions. History has shown that the free market investors do a very poor job with these properties. Buying them in bulk and not renovating them. Anyone remember the Becketts who went bankrupt?  How about several Chicago investment firms that own hundreds of rental homes in the area who are now licking their chops at the prospect of getting tax foreclosures. 

"It takes time." Time requested but apparently not willing to be given to the KCLB. lol.

Moving on. (I am anyway). 

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On 12/23/2018 at 9:36 PM, GRDadof3 said:

You and your cronies won Angel McKinney. 

I'm not sure anyone really "won" here.  I don't think the County really wanted to get rid of the land bank that badly.  At least, not what they thought a land bank should be.  I think they wanted to get rid of what this land bank seemed to be becoming.  At its core this was probably a personnel dispute that was resolved by using an overly large hammer, since it was the only tool available to them.  ModSquad is right -- The KCLB didn't have to listen to a word the County said and they had effectively zero control over what the KCLB was doing.  The KCLB arguably chose to rub their noses in that, to at least some extent. The County responded with the only tool it had, and squashed them like a bug.  Hopefully this won't impact the city's efforts to address the "missing middle" too much.

Edited by x99

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6 hours ago, x99 said:

 

I'm not sure anyone really "won" here.  I don't think the County really wanted to get rid of the land bank that badly.  At least, not what they thought a land bank should be.  I think they wanted to get rid of what this land bank seemed to be becoming.  At its core this was probably a personnel dispute that was resolved by using an overly large hammer, since it was the only tool available to them.  ModSquad is right -- The KCLB didn't have to listen to a word the County said and they had effectively zero control over what the KCLB was doing.  The KCLB arguably chose to rub their noses in that, to at least some extent. The County responded with the only tool it had, and squashed them like a bug.  Hopefully this won't impact the city's efforts to address the "missing middle" too much.

Unfortunately that’s exactly what is going to happen. 

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10 hours ago, ModSquad said:

Unfortunately that’s exactly what is going to happen. 

I was really confused by this article. Maybe between you Dave and @x99 you guys can decipher it (?)

https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/a-decade-without-single-family-residential-zoning-in-grand-rapids

Why was there all that hubbub about ADU's, etc. when there's apparently technically no real single family zoning in GR? 

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59 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

I was really confused by this article. Maybe between you Dave and @x99 you guys can decipher it (?)

https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/a-decade-without-single-family-residential-zoning-in-grand-rapids

Why was there all that hubbub about ADU's, etc. when there's apparently technically no real single family zoning in GR? 

The answers lay between what is possible and what is practical.  Whenever I would communicate to City leadership the need for any changes or modifications to zoning I could alway plan on getting a very long dissertation from Suzanne about why my requested change was not needed because whatever it was I proposed was already possible in GR.  Included in her response would be a detailed step by step description of how one would go about getting the type of building approved.

The process always includes an application for either a zoning change or usually a special land use permit.  The latter being the suggested course of action 90% of the time.  If the form of what I would be proposing to build fit within the form based code (or as Suzanne often calls it “form based lite”) but the function did not fit I would be required to submit an application for a Special Land Use.  This basically requires me to pay an application fee (I think it’s $1,500) and usually hire an architect to do a site plan and preliminary elevations to show my proposed development.  Depending on the size of my project this can cost a pretty penny, architects don’t work for free on spec projects.  Once the application goes in then you get on the merry-go-round with the notification to the neighbors of the proposed development.  

So when Suzanne states in the article that 90% of all applications are approved, instead of coming to the conclusion that there is then no need for a change in zoning, to me the question that should be asked is how many potential projects are never brought forward because our process is either too risky or cumbersome?

As it relates to the public outcry from the proposed zoning changes put forward by GR’s  HOUSING NOW initiative, from my perspective everything seemed to be moving along fine with the suggested changes which would have allowed more density in traditional neighborhoods to be built by permit.  In fact affordable housing groups, non-profits, neighborhood groups, and developers were all around the table developing these ideas.  It was not simply a group of developers huddled together making these changes as the neighborhood associations eventually charged.   Everything changed, however, when (whether intentional or unintentional) Suzanne at a meeting with a group of neighborhood association leaders chose to use the terminology “Build By Right” when referring to these changes.  Let’s be clear they are the same thing.  But to a neighborhood association and neighborhood activists,  developers having the right to build without a long drawn our community input proceed is grounds for a fight and that’s what we got.

I remember quite clearly a battle cry went out on social media literally during the meeting with Suzanne,  

Suzanne is 100% correct in that article. But to me it’s a matter of semantics it “can” get approved and developed, but will it in the current system?

Edited by ModSquad
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8 hours ago, ModSquad said:

The answers lay between what is possible and what is practical.  Whenever I would communicate to City leadership the need for any changes or modifications to zoning I could alway plan on getting a very long dissertation from Suzanne about why my requested change was not needed because whatever it was I proposed was already possible in GR.  Included in her response would be a detailed step by step description of how one would go about getting the type of building approved.

The process always includes an application for either a zoning change or usually a special land use permit.  The latter being the suggested course of action 90% of the time.  If the form of what I would be proposing to build fit within the form based code (or as Suzanne often calls it “form based lite”) but the function did not fit I would be required to submit an application for a Special Land Use.  This basically requires me to pay an application fee (I think it’s $1,500) and usually hire an architect to do a site plan and preliminary elevations to show my proposed development.  Depending on the size of my project this can cost a pretty penny, architects don’t work for free on spec projects.  Once the application goes in then you get on the merry-go-round with the notification to the neighbors of the proposed development.  

So when Suzanne states in the article that 90% of all applications are approved, instead of coming to the conclusion that there is then no need for a change in zoning, to me the question that should be asked is how many potential projects are never brought forward because our process is either too risky or cumbersome?

As it relates to the public outcry from the proposed zoning changes put forward by GR’s  HOUSING NOW initiative, from my perspective everything seemed to be moving along fine with the suggested changes which would have allowed more density in traditional neighborhoods to be built by permit.  In fact affordable housing groups, non-profits, neighborhood groups, and developers were all around the table developing these ideas.  It was not simply a group of developers huddled together making these changes as the neighborhood associations eventually charged.   Everything changed, however, when (whether intentional or unintentional) Suzanne at a meeting with a group of neighborhood association leaders chose to use the terminology “Build By Right” when referring to these changes.  Let’s be clear they are the same thing.  But to a neighborhood association and neighborhood activists,  developers having the right to build without a long drawn our community input proceed is grounds for a fight and that’s what we got.

I remember quite clearly a battle cry went out on social media literally during the meeting with Suzanne,  

Suzanne is 100% correct in that article. But to me it’s a matter of semantics it “can” get approved and developed, but will it in the current system?

Ah that actually makes total sense. The barriers to entry pretty much make the possible and plausible, implausible. 

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22 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

I was really confused by this article. Maybe between you Dave and @x99 you guys can decipher it (?)

With an SLU (Special Land Use) you can do a lot in a residential zone in GR, that is not the same as exclusively single family zoning like many cities have.  In other cities you have to rezone a parcel, which is a longer more expensive practice.  On the other hand ~40% of new development occurred in Single Family Zones in Minneapolis.   Basically more process simply makes development only available to the very wealthy.

Quote

Why was there all that hubbub about ADU's, etc. when there's apparently technically no real single family zoning in GR?

Neighborhood Associations do not want their land-use authority diminished.  And most NAs have a powerful anti-renter bias.  The hub-bub was about power.
See below;  S = Special Land Use, P = "by-right"

5.5.05B.png

22 hours ago, ModSquad said:

So when Suzanne states in the article that 90% of all applications are approved, instead of coming to the conclusion that there is then no need for a change in zoning, to me the question that should be asked is how many potential projects are never brought forward because our process is either too risky or cumbersome?

THIS!!!!!!!  And how many "normal" people are intimidated away from investing in their own neighborhoods.   Add "too obnoxious" to "too risky" and "too cumbersome".  I sat in one of the Housing NOW meetings where an old grump from an NA told a younger person "yes, I should determine what gets built in my neighborhood",  this was in response to the younger person talking about having to spend hours and hours debating the NA about his property.  And there was the lady from an NA talking about "crack houses" the entire time the lady from the city was talking.  And the two cracking wise to each other about which houses in the neighborhood should be torn down.  If people from other NAs found that obnoxious or had objections to the tone they never said a word - I was the sole person in the meeting who raised an objection to their behavior - and the city promptly cut it off.   We need to be honest about how this process works.

Fortunately my neighborhood's association was/is moribund.  And I am a white, English speaking, fourth generation resident.  So getting an SLU for my project, an ADU, was easy.  Most places in the city I would not advise anyone to try, or go to all your neighbors before their NA gets wind of it.   However that is a lot of work, having plans, going to all the neighbors on a couple of blocks, submitting the paperwork - - -  not to mention ~$5K even for something as small as an ADU - - - all to get to ask.  A Neighborhood Association makes that much riskier.

Part of getting an SLU is "community outreach".  I made three passes going  door knocking to every home within a 1 block radius of my parcel,  showing people plans, answering questions, and getting signatures.   Imagine doing that if you aren't white?  Or English is not your native language?  Or even just if you aren't familiar with the experience of going door-to-door?  (and the NAs are so concerned about Equity...)

Aside: the predominate feedback I got going door-to-door?  That's easy: "WTF".  Every single person who commented felt the process was absurd and I shouldn't have to be doing what I was doing to put a two story building in the middle of a block of two story buildings.   The city doesn't help its credibility with normal people by catering to the control-issues of the NAs.   Some people didn't comment, because they didn't feel the whole things was even worth caring about.   Several people wanted my opinion on building on their lot.

13 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

But to a neighborhood association and neighborhood activists,  developers having the right to build without a long drawn our community input proceed is grounds for a fight and that’s what we got.

THIS!!!  Those long drawn out "input" periods are their principle source of power, that gives them time to send out inflammatory letters to neighbors, time to get their base ginned up.

Edited by whitemice
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On 12/27/2018 at 5:26 PM, GRDadof3 said:

Ah that actually makes total sense. The barriers to entry pretty much make the possible and plausible, implausible. 

I'll confirm that.  ModSquad is right.  Suzanne and the article were technically accurate.  Well, sort of.  See below.  Also, I would add that the SLU fee is now up to nearly $2000. Plus, as ModSquad noted, the thousands for surveys and drawings that are inevitably required.  And if you lose after the local neighborhood association gets their pants in a knot, there isn't a refund for any of that.  It's a death knell for small projects.   Like ADUs... and don't forget about the size restrictions!  After all that, with an average sized house you might get what, 400 square feet for the ADU?  It's a joke.  While Suzanne avoided talking about it in this fluff piece, she knows SLUs and the host of other rules kill off small-scale projects.  That's why they tried to make some changes.

So, where is the article wrong? It's actually misleading to claim there are not "single family" zones.  For all practical purposes, LDR is very much a single family zone.  Unless you have a lot with a parcel size which does not exist, or a house which is so large that probably fewer than 20 of them exist, on just the right street, you cannot build any new multifamily in an LDR, and you cannot convert into multifamily.  You also cannot convert any existing single family into a two family without a zoning variance.  You can build a brand new one with a SLU, but then again you need that weird vacant lot that is bigger than all the others on the block.  Good luck finding one.  In that respect then, it's not true that there are no "single family" zones.  All of the LDR zones are most accurately described as single family zones with an extraordinarily narrow and almost impossible to use set of exceptions.  Putting up a traditional corner lot 4-plex or duplex with almost no yard to worry about?  Probably impossible.

To compare what Grand Rapids has to "allowing at least three units in all properties that are currently permitted just one" as Minneapolis proposes is completely disingenuous.  Grand Rapids does nothing of the sort.  Having even a single instance of that occur is, in fact, impossible without a zoning variance.  Well, unless you have a 5000+ square foot single family mansion sitting on half an acre with nothing else like it within a few blocks.  In that impossibly rare and perhaps nonexistent case, the thrust of the article would actually be true.  Once you pay a few grand for the SLU and the drawings, and have a hearing.

Edited by x99
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Our ADU project was approved at the same Planning Commission hearing as @whitemice's project. Before us on the agenda was a project by D.A. Blodgett to build a 55,000 sqft structure and 172-space parking lot. Our ADU projects required the same paperwork (with a ton of detail irrelevant to our projects) and the same fee (now over $2k) as the D.A. Blodgett project.

The actual hearing was extremely smooth. My neighborhood association (Garfield Park) is very strong, but they have had a decidedly YIMBY stance to the zoning reforms—unlike many of the NAs in more trendy neighborhoods.

I understand the desire to have provide an opportunity for neighbors to express concerns about projects nearby—living in a historic neighborhood (though not officially designated as such), I share the desire to protect the "neighborhood fabric". But the SLU process is simply the wrong tool for projects such as ADUs. We are fortunate to have the means to make it over this high barrier to entry; it's no wonder there have been so few ADU projects, even though the ordinance has been on the books for quite some time.

BTW, I think there could be a market—if zoning reforms are passed and the right investors step up—for a company to build ADUs with a similar model that solar companies offer: The company builds a new two-story garage+ADU at no cost to the homeowner, with an agreement (attached to the deed) that the company would be able to rent out the ADU for a certain length of time (10 years? 20?) to recoup their investment and make a profit. The property owner would get a free upgraded garage and improved property value (since income/use of the ADU would revert to them at some point in the future). The community would get increased housing density with no demolition or modification to existing houses, as well as the replacement of old dilapidated garages (some neighborhoods are full of garages that are close to falling down).

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On 12/28/2018 at 2:25 PM, x99 said:

Like ADUs... and don't forget about the size restrictions!  After all that, with an average sized house you might get what, 400 square feet for the ADU?  It's a joke.

The City Commission did change that particular rule on December 18th, 2018.  The ratio is now 40%, which is far more practical.
http://urbangr.org/GRADURegs2018r2 : "The floor area of an Accessory Dwelling Unit may not exceed 40% of the gross floor area of the primary structure; with a maximum size of 850sq/ft. [5.9.03.G]. Your primary structure's gross floor area is likely larger than your "square footage" as the square footage frequently referenced is "Residential Square Footage" and does not include space below grade (the basement) - if your basement ceiling is at least 7ft high you may include that space in your calculation regarding the 40%. The 40% boundary is not a significant barrier to ADU development; prior to December 2018 the ration was 25% which was problematic. Under the 40% rule any lot with a primary structure over 1,000 sq/ft gross floor area can meet the minimum 400sq/ft size. The normal size range for ADUs in other cities is 500sq/ft - 650sq/ft which corresponds to a primary structure size of 1,250 sq/ft - 1,625sq/ft; this is the range of average home sizes in Grand Rapid's traditional neighborhoods."
 

On 12/28/2018 at 2:25 PM, x99 said:

While Suzanne avoided talking about it in this fluff piece, she knows SLUs and the host of other rules kill off small-scale projects.  That's why they tried to make some changes.

I know, that nothing was mentioned of the wide-spread recognition of that was disappointing;  that is what makes that article read like a puff-piece.

On 12/28/2018 at 2:25 PM, x99 said:

Well, unless you have a 5000+ square foot single family mansion sitting on half an acre with nothing else like it within a few blocks.

This restriction was also removed on December 18th;  now you only need to meet the minimum lot size of your zone district.  That is a good step.  However, it likely makes little difference.  With the green space requirements and minimum set backs it is unlikely to work on small lots anyway - and those requirements are never going to change .  Personally I am ambivalent about the green space requirements, I get what is being aimed for there.  The suburban setback requirements are stupid - wall-to-wall garages, not permissible today, exist all over the TN neighborhoods, in places where ADUs would fit in very well [i picture essentially ADU row-houses, we already have auto row-housing!].

But as I wrote here - http://urbangr.org/critiqueOfNowADU-201810 - as long as the Owner-Occupancy requirement remains ADUs are going to be rare.  Owner-Occupancy requirements break the banks.   The Neighborhood Associations hate renters too much to ever let the O-O requirement go.   Realizing that made me much less interested in the Housing NOW proposals; they are incidental, I doubt anything really significant is possible.  We'd need a mayor and commission willing to stand up to someone, anyone.  The "conversations" around NOW were soooo depressing.

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20 hours ago, organsnyder said:

The community would get increased housing density with no demolition or modification to existing houses, as well as the replacement of old dilapidated garages (some neighborhoods are full of garages that are close to falling down).

That would be nice.  Garage blight is a real thing, I tried a couple of times to bring that up . . . no interest what-so-ever in all these out-of-compliance structures, or even all that unavailable parking.  :)

garage-blight.thumb.jpg.13c212701cdf267fbe75eff9b8cdca8a.jpg

Some of those e-mail exchanges did make it pretty clear the back-lash was about protecting the Single Family Home, and not about how the NOW changes failed to guarantee affordable housing in perpetuity  [aside:  nothing what-so-ever can guarantee affordable housing in perpetuity, that's an absurd (and disingenuous) standard].

I dread the thought of the Master Planning process in the hands of this commission.

 

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