“Transit oriented development” areas downtown outlined in red in the proposed inclusionary housing ordinance on tonight’s agenda.
Here’s a recap of live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting.
By: Bill Smith
Inclusionary Housing Ordinance amendments
Mark Muenzer, commuity development director, says staffers Dominic Latinovic and Sarah Flax have looked at all 500 inclusionary housing ordinances around the country.
Flax does presentation (slides available online).
Every transit stop looked at individually, Flax says. All at least extend 1/8th mile from the station. Some reach as far as a half mile. And Chicago Avenue, because it has many transit stops is a continuous TOD corridor.
Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, asks about recently approved buildings? Would they be affected?
Flax says at any point you make a change it will affect all development from that point on — like requiring sprinklers.
Fiske says this amounts to giving an advantage to developers who have just built versus future ones.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, is there a way to provide bonuses for existing buildings who might include affordable units.
Flax says no mechanism in the ordinance.
Grover — but if somebody in the pipeline now …?
Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, says it’s simply time to do this — shouldn’t surprise any developers.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, asks about how to establish standards for smaller-than-typical units? Don’t want a unit that’s significantly different, she says. Also asks how get variety of unit sizes — so aren’t all studios.
Flax says each project has to do market research. Says inclusionary units should be proportionately the same mix of unit types. Says the property standards code specifies minimum size standards for different types of unit.
Wynne asks whether this would changing parking requirements across the city.
Muenzer says would have to do subsequent amendment to parking ordinance. Haven’t moved that far yet, he says.
Wynne says places vary in parking demand — people still own cars — have to make sure don’t congest streets unnecessarily.
Muenzer says have RTA grant to come up with new parking recommendations from a consultant.
Alderman Ann Rainy, 8th Ward, says if have lost 3,300 units of affordable housing would need to have developers create 33,000 new housing units to replace those.
Muenzer says are somewhere in the 1,000 to 1,500 count of units that could come online in the next five years.
Rainey says need to take a look at how many units would generate.
Says need to look at existing housing units to provide more affordable housing.
Says this is not a very efficient way to do this. It’s not necessarily a bad way, but it’s not efficient.
Says in reviewing all the information — work done was fabulous, whether you agree with it or not — on the affordable condos … would you include co-ops as well?
Asks how the condo associations would afford the maintenance costs for the “affordable” units. Says a typical two bedroom unit in a new development might have a maintenance charge of $400 a month.
Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, wants total units of housing in the city and total units of affordable housing. Also wants to know how soon the other aspects of possible housing rule changes will come along
Wants to see how maintain market rate affordable housing. Says these programs take away the upside –the primary benefit of home ownership. Wants to create more opportunities for that.
Muenzer says doesn’t have a time line for imposing development fees on single family new construction or other provisions.
Wilson also allowing units in coach houses.
Wlson says also need to see that this doesn’t violate Illinois condo act, which he says requires that owners pay a pro-rata share of maintenance costs.
Bret Lortie, Unitarian Church pastor, says he is concerned about church member who had to move to Rogers Park because couldn’t afford to live in Evanston any more.
Jennifer O’Neil of the League of Women Voters praises the process for public comment on the ordinance, especially the meeting last June. Says LWV supports the ordinance and its adoption.
Brendan Saunders, staffer with Open Communities, says he and his wife have to live in Kenosha, Wis., because they can’t afford to live here. Says dramatically raises transportation cost to get to his group’s office in Winnetka.
(Total of 16 people scheduled to speak.)
Tina Paden says the in-lieu fund means won’t necessarily get more units. Says much of the affordable housing need is for larger, 3 and 4 bedroom units, while may end up with many smaller units. Says doesn’t do anything for small landlords like her family that are already renting to tenants who need affordable housing. What are you doing for the landlords who are already here, she asks.
Carliss Sutton says he’s a landlord in the 5th Ward outside of the TOD area, says needs more loans available to landlords. This ordinance doesn’t address that, he says. Says need to slow down or stop the gentrification that’s already happening in the community.
End of public comment
Fiske asks whether students are eligible for affordable housing?
Flax says was talking about graduates who have student loans.
Says traditionally students who aren’t part of independent households aren’t considered eligble for affordable housing units (assuming they’re still dependent financially on their parents.
Grover says ordiance will help but can’t solve affordable housing needs — also need coach houses, single family home impact fees, and other steps.
Says would like to establish goals and have regular reviews of what impact it’s had. What development isn’t happening? Wants to know short and long-term impact.
Tendam says its time to send the proposal on to council and get it approved. Says also good way to test incentives. Says will need to work on compliance. Says that’s been the downfall of many programs.
Rainey says we have no proof that there will be 1,500 units in the next year, two years or five years. If they were in the pipeline now they’d be exempt from the ordinance.
Says city has collected the payments in lieu from several developments — and haven’t created one affordable unit as a result.
Says this won’t come close to affecting people who are minimum wage or on general assistance. For a family of four at 60 percent of income –that’s families earnly $41K.
Says average income across the nation is about $44K.
Says there’s a whole boatload of people who won’t be affected by this at all.
Says this will create a disincentive for devleopers. Might be thoughtful of ways to incentize developers to do this–rather than having them take less.
Holmes says units have been lost on the west side. Says like an elephant –can’t eat it all at one time. Says will work very hard to make sure low and moderate income people are taken care of.
But says have talked so long and havne’t done anything. Doesn’t think this ordinance will be hurtful — but helpful.
Vote to introduce the ordinance is unanimous.