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The big selling point of this project to both the public and some City Councilors who admitted concerns about scale, was the affordable housing. 55 units out of 270 units are proposed as "affordable" but reports on their actual cost have me feeling that people have been duped. Is $950 for a studio and $1050 for a one-bedroom affordable? The housing crisis is actually an affordability crisis. In the last 2 years the vacancy rate has increased from around 1.5% to over 3% due to the many new buildings that have popped up in Burlington and surrounding areas. There seems to be a lot of market-rate housing available but it's not helping most people, and the beefed up supply isn't creating more truly affordable housng. There is a large segment of our population who are not eligible for subsidized housing but can't afford Burlington's market rate. The BTC does nothing to help that problem. The housing discussion needs clearer language. The term "affordable" is used far too casually to be descriptive of reality.
It's a sad commentary on the state of the media that a reporter decides to grab something out of context in order to make the news more sensational. I think the real story of a concerned citizen who decided to make a run for City Council against a long term, well funded and political machine-backed incumbent AND got 47% of the vote in that effort, is far more interesting. If reporters were like friends they would ask - what do you mean by that? A deeper understanding would be revealed rendering the "sound bite" version inaccurate.
We've got an independent (Roof) being paid by progressive and democrat incumbents (Knodell and Shannon) to manage their campaigns. We've got newcomer, Deane also benefiting from the City Council political machine. Roof even left his full-time job to spend much of the summer and fall advocating for two ballot items involving the Burlington Town Center redevelopment. Weinberger's agenda is providing quite a focus for this cadre of City Councilors. With this kind of political nepotism it's no wonder TRULY progressive and independent voices are hard to come by. It's time to break up this comfy group and bring in new ideas. Vote for Simpson, Winkleman and Grill. With the exception of Tracy and Bushor and maybe Giannoni, we've got a full fledged old boys/girls club on our hands and we are overdue for a shake up.
The idea that parking is what it in the way of infill development is rather short sighted. For one, Plan BTV suggests there is ample downtown parking but the challenge is letting people know where and when parking is available. This seems easily solved by a good app. Other obstacles exist as suggested by Beck and White, which has me wondering.... why weren't those issues addressed to allow infill/density rather than a wholesale zoning bust to allow over 14 story buildings in the downtown core? I think the Weinberger administration has goals beyond infill or density or even affordable housing.
This quote from Making Cities Livable International offers some insight into what may be driving our current administration: "High-rise provides investors and developers with the biggest return on investment when the economy is strong. Shopping malls and big box retail stores similarly offer large returns. These profits go to wealthy investors, banks or multi-national corporations. [Conversely] Small footprint shops and apartments in a fine textured urban fabric yield smaller profits, spread out among many individuals and businesses in the community."
Excellent point about Weinberger and Knodell, Chris in S. Burlington! In fact the push for zoning to allow too-tall buildings in downtown Burlington was largely justified by the benefit of increased affordable housing. Those 55 units were touted as a boon to the affordable market. Meanwhile how many houses have been torn down in South Burlington already, and how many more are threatened? The Lily Lane CHT housing is both perpetually affordable, and energy efficient and I understand these perfectly good family homes are threatened as well. Perhaps Burlington is really only interested in housing that increases tax revenues in their city. This suggests more interest in financial gain than a real concern for the affordable housing needs. Until we have a housing solution that is county-wide, we are going to see the Weinberger administration saying all the right words but with little effort toward honestly altruistic solutions.
In listening to the mayor's speech at the Democratic party caucus, I'm troubled by his over simplication of dissenting voices and his name calling. In black and white thinking it may be easier to simply label those who oppose specific issues by saying that they are essentially "anti-everything". But in doing so the opportunity is lost to learn what nearly half the voters expressed in November. I ask the Mayor and our elected representatives for some honest curiosity about other viewpoints rather than broad brush negative labels. It will make for a much more interesting and productive dialogue.
After months of dialogue and city council speeches, those who opposed a zoning change to allow 14-story buildings are reduced to sound bites of "no growth", anti-growth" and in this forum, "anti-everything". There is an unwillingness to listen and acknowledge the voices of nearly half the voters. Growth is good when thoughtful, and it follows true public process - when it takes the most vulnerable citizens into account along with a changing climate. PlanBTV, our guiding public document was ignored when it came to a handshake with a developer to re-zone the city center. That pre-development agreement was essentially unchanged by public opposition. Now the mayor demonstrates further misunderstanding of citizens. The "fringe" he talks of, are all the hard working people in Burlington who have trouble affording market rate housing and living on less than livable wages. I'm delighted that independent thinkers have stepped up to represent the citizens and provide an alternative to Miro cronyism.
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