Public Hearing on Housing in Burlington

Tonight, Heavenly and I attended the Public Hearing on Housing in Burlington at C.P. Smith School. The turnout was quite good. However, the number of people speaking up was minimal. I think a lot of the people there were expecting a less formal discussion where the people could hear what the committee is up to, what they are considering and what their ideas are so that the people could ask questions and respond.

I think something similar to the recent Moran Plant public forums would have been better where the people along with the authorities involved broke up into small groups, had discussions and then reported to the full group.

Some of the comments made are similar to what have been said many times before at city council meetings.  They include:

Barriers to Affordable Housing:

  • Inspections every 3 years
  • Certifications of compliance
  • Costs of doing business in Burlington are too high
  • Rental registration fees
  • Design Review Board causes infighting between gov’t offices
  • Zoning – difficult to do business with.
  • Developers – say even when on friendly terms with the city, it’s extremely difficult to do business.
  • Little Parking flexibility in high density areas.

Also stated was that the city needs to set goals of what is needed and where we want to go and stop saying it cannot be done.

I feel that what is needed to increase affordable housing is simple. The city needs to lower property taxes, and reduce the regulations and fees, which hurt the ability to provide affordable housing. (which were mentioned above).

I have said it many times before, that similar communities to Burlington, where I have lived or heard about, have far less taxes and regulations than we do and have far more affordable housing, better jobs, lower cost food, gas, services and other products, and better health.

I believe they already know this. Many citizens have spoken up in the past about this, but I don’t think its what the committee wants to hear as it would require the city to give up some of its control.  The city would far perfer enacting laws and regulations that force people to provide affordable housing (which just doesn’t work) than allow the market to provide it.

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