Saturday, December 1, 2007

Coming Soon, to a Neighborhood Near You

A local bi-political blog has opened the question of whether efforts by our city to deal with the issues of infill and refill in Raleigh's older neighborhoods is an effort to control growth in town disguised as neighborhood protection. In the post, the author suggests that it is "an odd thing" that any one would oppose redevelopment of existing neighborhoods with new higher priced homes. He suggests a building moratorium may be afoot.

To prevent further damage to Fallonia's sensitive inner balance, the following response was posted.

You raise a serious question here, but are minimizing the problems that can occur when a stable older neighborhood is changed drastically by new development. For the city to retain it's beautiful older charm, willy-nilly rebuilding is not in its best interest. A home that is built with respect to its neighbors will not elicit the same outrage as a home that is built only to maximize its profitability.

There is a balance to maintain so that people who have invested in living in their homes are not driven out because of rising valuations based on the recent sales of bigger homes in the neighborhood -- and the unpleasant conditions that constant construction brings.

For example, if the teardown movement gets next door to my house, the money I have invested in renovating my much smaller home may not be realized when I sell. Do I continue to care for my home (fix the foundation, pay big money to prune the trees, replace the windows) or do I just let it fall apart since it will be torn down now that the new neighborhood is unaffordable to me and my kind?

If everything unique about the city goes in the landfill, is the city still unique? Meeker and the city council are charged with care for the whole city, and this includes historic buildings, tree-lined streets, property and values. The dollar does not outweigh respect, and if some of the new infill was built with more consideration (and there is much that is built respectfully and creatively), it would have passed less noticed.

But this is not strictly about property rights or infill. Everyone in Raleigh needs to be paying attention, it can happen in any neighborhood if older well-priced stable communities can go down. What is going on is a turnover of ITB property to the highest bidder. Raleigh is not special in this regard, but to keep a mixture of population and housing near the city core, there will need to be some revision of the current code.

Atlanta did a good job of this. The architects and home builders worked with the city to come up with a better code for existing neighborhoods. The only way they were brought to the same table was thru a moratorium, however. Interrupting the flow of cash may be the only language that brings better outcome for all. [see Atlanta Infill Task Force on this blog]

From where I sit, the city would not want to cut off the flow of cash to them by being too strict in town, but could this be about trying to bring reason to the table?

If you have not done so, please let our City Councillors know your thoughts on this subject. A link is provided at the end of this frame.

Your way of life depends on it.

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