CT Land Use System Forum - Shared screen with speaker view
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Thanks to everyone for participating in this conversation. We would love to hear more from you and have you engage - and shape - what we’re doing. More information and a sign-up for our mailing list is at www.desegregatect.org
I’m not so sure! The historic preservationist in me thinks it may not be compatible. :) But yes, architectural character can be articulated through the law. We have a form-based code in Hartford that works very well. :)
Local control in areas that are tourist dependent and have resort industry businesses must be aware of Air BnB rentals in ADUs. Will Duration of ‘Rental be allocated to localities? If owner occupied requirement is undone, it becomes even more important. See Sedona, AZ for an extreme case where State regs overrode local controls. Short term rentals do not solve housing problems and desegregation.
@Bob Friedman - This is a great point. The issue of short-term rentals seems to arise in the towns near NYC and on the shoreline. Short-term rentals (and prohibitions thereon) would seem to be something that should be decided at the local level. What we’ve been thinking about is really the ability to create the unit itself; we’ve found that they are only allowed in about half the towns.
Duplex is not a building type. It is a type of dwelling unit. The architectural style can be anything.
The other issue on ADUs that we have heard about is that towns are reluctant to allow them because *they contribute to the denominator of units that are counted for 8-30g.* In other words, if you produce an ADU, it adds a unit to your overall housing supply. If the ADU isn’t deed-restricted affordable, it doesn’t “count” for 8-30g. This seems to be something that can be addressed by a tweak to 8-30g. By their size and nature, an ADU should probably be considered to be either exempt from the 8-30g totals or considered to be de facto affordable. But again, that’s something we’ve been thinking about including. Thoughts welcome.
Please note that all questions for the Q&A at the end should all be directed to Alexis. Thank you!
I’ve run the numbers for my town and even with 30% of any new construction of dwellings required to be 8-30g affordable deed-restricted, we will never get from ~2% to 10%. We will adapt to new housing density without focus on that as a goal.
@Bob Friedmann - I think many towns are in the same situation - including towns in NECCOG. In other words, they don’t have the physical capacity (or frankly, market demand at this point) to achieve 10% affordable housing under 8-30g. Our question is, can we solve multiple issues at once? I know this is not necessarily a popular view among 8-30g proponents, but perhaps, perhaps we should consider giving towns a specific menu of regulatory reforms that they can do to show they are advancing fair housing, and use that as an alternative to (or better articulation of) 8-30g. Our effort is open to creative ideas that can help us get our housing diversity/housing supply goals.
Joe: I would love to know who those legislators were.
Sara - the Old Saybrook Zoning Commission is working on that. We wondered shy property owners along Main St. have not availed themselves of regs allowing dwelling units above commercial. 2 units wasn’t enough, so we are working on how to do 3 with at least on deed-restricted. Time will tell.
@BobFreidmann - that’s great, thank you for the note. We’ve heard from some folks in Old Saybrook and I know you would have some allies in that conversation.
@JoeDelong is right that there is a lot of misinformation. (One of the op/eds he mentions is full of factual errors.) We’re working on an FAQs page to try to correct these.
fact or opinion?
I believe there are 25 towns or so in our state currently that forbid multi-family housing by zoning regulation.
Stephen Hudecek - Does it matter if it is fact or opinion? Education may never change a fixed opinion, but it can clear up what is factual.
As an aside, I also want to clarify that DesegregateCT is NOT involved in the federal lawsuit or the threatened state lawsuit in Woodbridge. (That’s another organization that has had the lawsuits in the works for a while.) But as we said in a recent newsletter, the threat of these lawsuits really means that it’s possible that COURTS will decide what towns must do. What we are trying to do is to convene towns and the State to work together to find win-win solutions (which do exist). LEGISLATIVE solutions can be tailored to towns’ needs. But when the courts get involved (e.g., in New Jersey), things get really messy.
Great job Joe!
Reinforcing @Dwight Merriam’s point, Sean Ghio wrote an op/ed this week about the changing demographics for the current generation: https://ctmirror.org/category/ct-viewpoints/this-is-not-my-dads-deal/
Is there a desired shape of curve for housing types? Windham County has a curve from high to low (single fam to multi-fam. Should there be a bump in the middle housing segment?
Sean’s organization, Partnership for Strong Communities, released ALL towns’ data today, for anyone interested in exploring: https://housingprofiles.pschousing.org
For anyone on Twitter, by the way, you can follow DesegregateCT at @desegregatect (and I’m at @sarabronin), if you want to keep connected * keep up with the latest.
Spoke to a multi-fam builder in Hamden that has a very large project of over 300 units and there were only 6 school age students currently residing there.
Alexis - My observation, as a former municipal and regional planner, and a current private sector planner designing residential and mixed use communities, is that many towns still have PZC commissioners who want to maintain the status quo of large SF homes on large lots. And they also want any multi-family units to have few units with more than one bedroom, in order to limit the number of children, to keep school costs low. They often oppose MF housing, and make the process more difficult. This is not helpful. An underlying current is also that they perceive MF units as occupied by people who don't look like them, and they are uncomfortable with that. We need legislation that allows higher density housing, with a variety of sizes and bedroom mixes, and ADUs, especially within pedestrian distance of transit, parks and downtowns with amenities.
@Peter Maille, thanks! Would love your insights through our group as we refine our proposals…
On the point of children in CT housing, I think it’s important to point out that CT has a significantly aging population. Check this out here, and scroll through the images: http://aging.ctdata.org
On the point about who shows up at hearings, I would STRONGLY encourage you to watch Katherine Einstein’s presentation last week, about her book “Neighborhood Defenders,” which is online at www.desegregatect.org/events.
Declining population of school age children is common in southern CT. There has been a push for regionalization of schools to get enhanced efficiencies compared to small districts. More kids may preserve the status quo for schools.
Infrastructure includes sewage treatment plants. Soils-based density (health department, not zoning) prevails. Raising the gal/day number to keep DEEP at bay will not make a big difference.
Connecticut has not had a new regional school district since 1987
I think it is important to keep in mind that family size is smaller than it has been in the past so all types of housing are housing fewer people and therefore fewer children. This trend means the people require more units but do not all want, need or can afford the same large spacious McMansion. Also, many people are developing an interest in minimalism - not buying as much stuff as they want to enjoy experiences instead of paying for stuff and the space to store it and then pay taxes on this space. We will have an ever increasing number of too large homes -- why not use that existing space so we don't have to eat up more raw land for every new housing unit. Of course there is a need for new units (for greater variety and in different locations) but allowing the configuration of the exisitng dwellings to be adjusted to meet the needs of the market can help our towns, help our local businesses have both employees and customers. Think of how many housing types this audience has lived in in their lives
this goes to show that people just like us need these housing types.
Also we are seeing inclusionary zoning measures baked into POCDs without builder incentives, essentially making cost prohibitive to build multi-fam in those towns.
Eric Santini and his firm have created excellent MF communities. I have had family members who resided in them, and loved the environment. I was sorry to learn that his recent MF proposal in Vernon was denied in the face of neighborhood (NIMBY) opposition. We need to address this.
My town has high land cost, yet has approved five 8-30g developments without any $ subsidies. Why should town $ be required to build what is needed?
@DeliaFey - Yes, agreed. Our hope is that we will be able to achieve both - first, reconfiguration of some existing units (including the most obsolete ones), and second, enable the creation of the kind of housing we know the market wants. One big issue, which @EricSantini talks about, is that the commissions don’t understand necessarily the extent of their decisions. They may be well-meaning but they are untrained and don’t realize how much their decisions are impacting the state. They don’t have an incentive to make their neighbors mad to change their codes. That’s why we have to have a broader approach based on data and information. It’s imperative for all of us to try to make a good faith effort to try to work on this.
Unless a MF zone change application is made under 8-30g, it is nearly impossible to overturn a denial in the courts. Very risky.
IF you mean a regulation text change, I agree. If the regs allow MF with local design as-of-right, then there should not even be a denial.
Inclusionary zoning is a tool that can be misused, but every 10 market-rate units that get built in my town generate the need (under 8-30g) for 1 additional affordable unit. Why not pass some of this burden onto the housing developer?
I read an early draft of Sen Anwar’s proposed legislation. One item about sign illumination has no business in legislation regarding any kind of housing whatsoever.
For those interested in inclusionary zoning, take a look at how Stamford does it. They periodically calibrate their requirements to the market to make sure that the requirements are not overburdening development such that development slows, but also to make sure that affordable housing production is as high as possible. They also have a fee-in-lieu option which subsidizes other affordable housing development. Some places would not have strong enough markets to support affordable housing production through inclusionary zoning (i.e. subsidies would be needed).
To John's points, it's worth noting that HBRA is currently in discussion with DPH with regard to their technical standards for septic systems to encourage greater flexibility and better use of land for multi-fam developers. Talks surround GPD/per bedroom, set back requirements, reducing serve areas, etc.
I feel terrible that I must jump off before the Q&A. Today is my wife's and my anniversary and I've been at the office since 8:30am. So I need to get home if I want to make it to next years anniversary. If anyone would like to reach me please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Thank you!
Thank you for an excellent and informative panel discussion. I hope you make link available to us.
Can you unmute me?
CTN will be re-broadcasting this forum in the near future
Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America
LISC Connecticut runs a program called Housing Connections that specifically helps rural and suburban towns develop affordable housing. Nearly all of these developments are small in scale. You can see examples at their website: housingconnections.org
https://www.nwcthousing.org/ is a website with several examples of affordable housing built in small towns in NW CT. The good work of many small housing groups operating in that part of the state.
slight correction to Sean's post: https://housingconnectionsct.org/
In Old Saybrook a 186 unit development (under the ‘former’ IHZ regs) with 38 deed-restricted rentals is now in the top five taxpayers in town.
Thanks everyone! Again we are online at www.desegregatect.org. Please sign up and keep in touch. :)
Thanks everyone! Great discussion.
thank you to the panelist. great discussion!
Excellent forum. Thank you.
Thanks for this informative conversation and chat!