Friday, May 30, 2008

Q & A

House destroyed in 2007.

The Planning Dept. held their second public workshop on Infill Thursday evening. Our Infill Study Go-To guy, Travis, did a good job of walking through the mine-field. FP learn a lot about Planning and Land Use terms and tools. The model he used showing the effect of various regulatory instruments was quite revealing. Of the 10 examples of what someone could build, the building envelope for Raleigh was pretty much full lot coverage with side setbacks of 5 and 10 feet. And, or course, Raleigh has one of the most generous heights in the county -- 40 ft to midline, not top, of the roof. Our neighbors in Apex and Cary are in the 30s.

Many questions were asked, and some feisty discussions took place. One question which keeps arising is why "people" assume that it is just "builders" who want property rights protected? And why, for heavens sake, are builders identified as the problem here?

Would someone like to take that question on?

Clue: If you do a search for property holdings by prominent members of the Renewal campaign, you may have to connect the dots to get the full story, but the holdings and sales are significant.

Fallonia has a question: how many of these neighborhood changes are driven by speculation and how many by a current homeowner? Isn't that the key difference between today's trends and trends of the recent past based on homeowner improvements?

What if this is about an emerging business model built on the loopholes in the zoning ordinances, which were designed for new development the 50s? RR can say it over and over, this is just about homeowner's rights, but it does not make it so. This is about cities catching up their zoning ordinances to current realities, to make sure these codes reflect the will of the City about who that City is. 

The city is allowing its once thriving neighborhoods to do hand to hand combat over the future of Our Town.

The combatants are, on one hand, the residents who bought and maintained their home in older neighborhoods because they love the ambiance of older neighborhoods. They are fighting to preserve their investment on the ground. And they have paid for that right through years of higher valuations.

The other side is fighting about the right to profit off investments. This is called speculation, no matter what the commodity.

Now, in Fallonia's world, if one group is fighting to keep from losing something valuable and irreplaceable, and the other side is fighting for the right to profit from something, you are looking at a winners and losers equation no matter how it is sliced and diced.

Such a pity ... this could have been a boon for everyone involved. The City owes it to ALL of its investors (is not the burden of support on the backs of property owners) to provide guidance through this in a timely manner. We are on the verge of messing things up for the people who live here -- big time. And that, my friends, will be a permanent loss, and the City will have to clean that up. 

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