Friday, July 6, 2007

How did they know?

From Dallas Texas comes this effort, speaking directly to us.

We’re familiar with the phenomenon. A speculator “flipper” makes a fast-buy offer and tries to get a commitment to buy a house on an established residential block before it even appears on the market. Usually by approaching a retiree or the estate of a recently deceased resident. A developer then gets a large loan and levels the house, quickly erecting a new 5,000+ square foot house which consumes most of the surface area of the lot, and towers over neighboring houses. A certain type of realtor then sells the “supersized” house to an incoming suburbanite or someone from outside of Dallas who values the proximity of the house to the city. The parties involved can make anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000 per house.

Neighboring houses are now “overshadowed,” and since they are now expected to follow suit by selling, the value of the existing smaller houses is reduced to the raw land value.

While many neighborhoods have broad constituent sympathy for the idea of limiting construction that disrupts a neighborhood, people are often unaware how to do anything about it. Neighborhood associations typically are not touching the issue for fear of creating a “hot potato” by offending certain individuals with an economic interest in the redevelopment. Well-spoken and well-funded representatives from the development and realty industry say a zoning overlay would severely limit individual rights, and have attempted to delay any action and dissipate Dallas into smaller neighborhood groups that have little collective influence.

The citizens group Dallas Citizens for Responsible Development (DCFRD) will be launching a broad awareness campaign to promote the idea that new development in existing neighborhoods needs to be “better, not bigger.” ... The goal of the group is to educate Dallas citizens on the reality of their property rights, and demonstrate to the Dallas government that citizens need an effective tool in place to provide some reasonable limits to new construction in existing neighborhoods....

The goal of DCFRD is to get a Zoning Overlay passed by demonstrating a visible level of support within Dallas and disseminating information through the site that educates homeowners and provides suggestions on how to show support for responsible development.

In addition to the outward signs of the awareness campaigns, many citizens are working directly and meeting with their council members, the zoning commission and other government bodies to ensure that reasonable building limits and controls are part of the proposed zoning overlay.

A zoning overlay is not intended to stop homeowners from renovating or improving their own houses. In fact, it encourages the expansion and/or improvement of existing houses. In addition, each neighborhood will still determine its own standards once an overlay is in place.

Nor does the overlay halt new construction and improvement of neighborhoods. But development companies are attempting to spread the idea that the zoning tool would create a “block war” within communities that have differing opinions on what limits should be. In reality, the overlay would primarily affect only new developed houses and simply limit their overall size, setbacks and height to proportionate levels in comparison to neighboring houses. It would eliminate that quick-flip profit of a larger house, which isn’t a popular notion for certain developers and realtors currently enjoying the lack of zoning controls.

Unregulated construction not only destroys the character of a neighborhood, it provides little economic benefit except for the parties who profit from the sale. Unregulated development is now rampant on many Dallas streets, with development companies running hundreds of crews to feed the teardown boom. The unregulated construction is not only disturbing and hazardous to existing residences, it is fueled by a low-interest economic housing “bubble” that has spiraled out of control and will leave behind an inconsistent legacy in many neighborhoods.

Let's read that again.

Unregulated construction not only destroys the character of a neighborhood, it provides little economic benefit except for the parties who profit from the sale.

No comments: