Herald Times Questionaire
What strategies do you believe we are employing that are currently working/not working?
Cost-sharing, subsidizing by the City, utilizing City-controlled land, and leveraging other funding mechanisms both private and governmental are proving successful. For future affordable housing to be effective in targeted areas (such as the former hospital site), we should also consider density incentives for developers.
Mayor Hamilton with Council support have helped create over 600 affordable units throughout the city in the past three years. We have focused on a variety of housing types and needs of the residents. For example, use of City controlled property has been integral to B-line Heights development with 30-year affordability in the Trades District, using HUD subsidy and tax credits.
Through a planned-unit-development process, we have successfully assisted in the development of pocket, high-density and cooperative living arrangements such as Bloomington Co-housing, that also allows seniors to age in place in a supportive community.
Evergreen Village, a new affordable assisted living facility of 115 units that takes Medicaid is a successful model to address an affordability gap for seniors.
The City is currently targeting $6 million is further affordable housing investment, utilizing the Housing Development Fund (HDF) and Tax Increment Financing (TIF), leveraged by the CDFI Friendly City effort.
This comprehensive approach, spearheaded by Mayor Hamilton with City Council support will significantly provide capital for affordable housing development.
Affordable housing can mean different things from workforce housing to providing housing for very low-income residents. What type of affordable housing do we need more of and can you explain why?
We currently need all kinds of housing as we develop, from multi-family to the “missing middle” of duplexes and triplexes, to single-family homes.
For the most vulnerable residents need of housing, I favor City assisted projects such as Crawford 2 where City committed $400,000 in HOME funds to assist Life Designs, and the Jack Hopkins Committee has also provided support with its construction. The already mentioned Crescent development that received $1 million in assistance from our housing fund for 117 permanently affordable low-income units is another example.
Live/work housing is another form of potential homeownership. It is a traditional style of housing where a person lives and works at the same location. Combining these spaces would offer a more affordable format that would encourage business as well as homeownership. We can still find this type of building that was constructed in the 1920s in Bloomington for this purpose.
We particularly need to focus on affordable single-family homes where people can build equity. The existing stock of these homes are under threat as development pressures grow, and we first need to protect what we have, and then incentivize those areas of infill, or revitalization (such as the hospital site) where we could place more.
What policy changes/site development opportunities do you think can be taken advantage of to increase the stock of housing you mentioned above?
The Comprehensive Plan, that was extensively amended by the current City Council, directs residential development to 1. The former hospital site on 2nd St., 2., the West Clear Creek Focus Area (in the southwest area of the city), and the South Corridor of Walnut/College. These three areas alone could meet much of our housing needs in the coming decades.
The City control of the hospital site is great opportunity for a variety of housing types, as well as a local hub of commercial/retail.
The policy changes for these areas must include incentives for affordable housing, as mentioned above, but also provide opportunities for local goods and services to be nearby. City planning should also network good alternative and bus transportation for these areas for them to be successful.
How do you propose addressing the issue of needing more parking space for visitors and downtown business, while meeting the goal of reducing single-passenger vehicle traffic?
Policies that the have been implemented by the Mayor and City Council have already had an effect in reducing single-passenger traffic, with a reduction in single occupancy of 5% in six years. In that same period, commuter transit ridership increased by 14%, walking increased by 23% and biking to work increased by 70%. A multi-modal strategy of good bus transport, biking and walking trails, sidewalks and car-sharing is paying off, and I intend to continue investing in these alternative transportation strategies.
For instance, Platinum Biking Taskforce which I chaired for over a year aimed to bring the city biking service rating granted by the League of American Bicyclists to a Platinum level. We recently were awarded Gold level certification, and so our investments are bearing fruit.
The City Council is awaiting a Traffic Demand Management study, due to be release in July that will evaluate our parking needs as well as recommend strategies for reducing vehicle miles traveled, and for evaluating the need for more visitor and commuter parking. I will work to implement the recommendations of the report to make certain that our downtown remains vibrant, and accessible to all Bloomington residents.
Council approved rebuilding the Fourth Street parking garage. How would you like to see that structure developed?
Because of the profound level of deterioration of the structure, it could not be repaired with any confidence that it would remain open. Several downtown businesses indicated that they would re-locate from downtown if parking supplied by the 4th St. garage was unavailable, and I resolved to
support the construction of a new facility. The rebuild that was approved with an additional 200 spaces was to safeguard the needs of existing businesses downtown, and anticipate the future needs of the expanding civic/convention center.
While agreeing for the rebuild, I initiated the negotiation of green features as a condition of design. These include the coverage of the upper deck with photovoltaic panels, the addition of electric vehicle charging stations, with conduits that would accommodate expansion for charging at every parking space, 50 bicycle parking spaces (the number may be expanded), and first floor commercial retail. Council also stipulated that the building be designed to be architecturally significant, and be no more that 78 ft. in height. Because of the green features required for the project, it is likely to be the first ParkSmart Certified garage – the gold standard of sustainable design for garages.
What are your thoughts on building or retaining other parking garages? (There is discussion about keeping the parking garage at the hospital site and there is the parking garage planned for the Trades District)
We should build them judiciously, as the parking and traffic demand management studies indicate. The downtown must remain accessible to thrive, and it is by far more sustainable to focus economic development downtown rather than sprawl into the county and so that must include parking. But, mindful of climate change, we must invest in alternatives to driving as well. Utilization of existing garages to maximize efficiency would be a wise investment, so for instance a downtown no-fare circulator that would allow those using garages, such as the Hospital and Trades District garages, to park and ride anywhere downtown in a matter of minutes is in active consideration by the City Council.
Work on the UDO is ongoing. What would you like to see included as part of the draft to address housing and business development in Bloomington?
The current draft expedites much of the petition review process. In the interest of citizen input and transparency, I am critical of fast-tracking important design and development decisions.
There is a palpable need for better architecture and design review for especially large-scale buildings and projects. I would advocate for a resident architect and a design review committee to provide input during the planning process so that we achieve the best quality and aesthetic design of buildings, that after all, will be a permanent feature of our community.
Although there’s ample discussion in the current UDO draft about alternative housing forms for more affordable housing the UDO concentrates almost exclusively on the rental forms rather than affordable choices in homeownership. More language could be added to encourage townhouses, row-houses, Co-ops and condominiums as an alternative to single-family houses. These would give options for more affordable home ownership in a compact urban form.
Bloomington is rich in homegrown talent but short for options for these young talented people to buy an affordable starter house. Many of these people have been renting since they were 20 years old and are ready to set down their roots. To keep and attract the next generation of entrepreneurs we need to have housing that meet their needs. This means protecting the entry level housing stock for ownership as well as building more small footprint homes.
Can you share your thoughts and/or concerns with the latest draft?
There are good features about the current UDO draft, such as the step-wise gradation of development densities within new sites. However, one feature that must be amended is the by-right (permitted use) of duplex, triplex, and fourplex dwellings in existing single-family zoned neighborhoods, and residential core neighborhoods. This imposition of density would fundamentally alter what are now cohesive neighborhoods, by expanding rentals to a significant degree. It could place what are affordable single-family homes in jeopardy of being torn down and replaced with multi-family structures that would:
- Remove what homes are now affordable to be replaced with multi-unit dwellings that would rent at market rate, and
- bid up land values in neighborhoods where this conversion could occur.
Furthermore, this proposal runs counter to numerous directives within the Comprehensive Master Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2017.
Density has its place as we develop, but not as an automatic use within existing neighborhoods. I am opposed to this current proposal, and will work to remove it.
What are other top issues you are focused on as part of your campaign and why?
A top issue of my campaign is to demonstrate that campaign finance reform is feasible. I self-limit contributions to a maximum of $25 per individual, and do not take money from special interests.
I introduced Sustainability as a guiding theme of City policy in 2003, which is now fully integrated within our Comprehensive Master Plan, and City operations. We now need to ensure that our land use code, the UDO, reflects this goal. As stated in the Executive Summary of the Comp Plan, that I introduced by amendment, we should not simply seek growth in the size of our community as an indicator of our well-being, as this comes at a cost, but we ought to focus on enhancing our quality of life by protecting the integrity of our community, focusing on a vibrant local economy, proper development that serves our needs, affordable housing and the best in city infrastructure and services.
Top issues issues that are addressed by a focus on sustainability include:
- Working for the best quality development, in the proper context with the best architecture and aesthetics.
- A Lake Monroe Protection Plan, to safeguard our only drinking water source by preventing pollution inputs that jeopardize the lake.
- A comprehensive Carbon Reduction Plan, to bring the city to zero net emissions as soon as possible, focusing on sources (energy production, such as waste to fuel for buses), sinks (sequestration by trees and plant root biomass), and conservation (tightening building envelopes, investing in high quality bus transport).
- Strong City and community support of social service agencies.
- Promoting a resilient local economy that substitutes inputs with local goods and services when possible to build wealth in our community.
- Living wage jobs.
- Keeping downtown vibrant, unique, diverse and pedestrian-scale.
- Continuing our efforts for an inclusive city that provides for everyone, and that celebrates our diversity and local culture.
How can the public reach your campaign to learn more about these issues?
Visit https://daverollo.com/, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and 812-272-2207.