NIMBYs Fight The Sardine Can Master Plan While Silicon Valley Refugees Look For A Place To Call Home

by William Skink

I am not surprised by the density of housing developments popping up in different pockets of Missoula because the sardine can master planning being done by Florida consultants Dover and Kohl says that’s what should happen.

In Grant Creek, local opposition to a 400-unit apartment complex led to the planning board scuttling the project. My parents live in this area and were opposed to this development, which makes for fun dinner time conversation.

Don’t be like my mom and dad and just ignore me when I say the sardine can master planners are coming for a neighborhood near you.

For example, Lower Miller Creek NIMBYs are lawyering up to fight an announced apartment complex, but that ship has already sailed:

Miller Creek residents don’t want a 27-unit apartment complex in Lower Middle Creek, but they might not have a choice.

Ward 3 council members John Contos and Stacie Anderson have received dozens of call and emails about the apartments, but council has no say and the developer is legally allowed to build them.

“Unfortunately, at this juncture there is no opportunity for community or even city council input because this issue came before a prior council and they approved the zoning that is currently in place,” said Anderson.

Some residents have hired an attorney to see if there’s a way to pause construction.

And toward my neck of the valley, plans to do some planning are brewing:

Plans to guide nearly 20 years of development in a growing area of Missoula continue to move forward, offering what planners hope will provide an array of transportation and housing options that could keep a lid on rising costs.

Missoula city and county planners joined consultants on Tuesday night to offer members of the Consolidated Planning Board an in-depth look at the Mullan Area Master Plan. After four hours, the planning board opted to vote on the plan later in October.

Gee, I wonder who could be helping the planners plan? Could it be?

Planners are looking to avoid urban sprawl and provide housing in what many are calling the “missing middle,” which includes more affordable options ranging from condos to apartments.

“What we’re trying to do is reintroduce all these different options in the middle,” said Jason King, a planning consultant with Dover, Kohl & Partners. “You have to couple a physical plan like this with a housing plan that ensures affordability. That’s work that’s still ahead, but we’re hoping to revisit that and encourage that.”

Current growth projections estimate that Missoula will add between 1,000 and 2,000 people a year. The pressure on housing is already high given the city’s limited supply, and housing and land costs have continued to rise over much of the past decade.

“This next round of housing is going to be more expensive by every indicator,” said King. “In terms of affordability, what we’re offering is affordability by design. A lot more units will help satisfy your affordable housing problem, for a period.”

I added all that emphasis because… 1. of course it’s Dover Kohl and 2. isn’t it cool the guy planning our future has the last name KING and 3. what is exactly meant by that for a period qualifier?

Meanwhile, the narrative coming from realtors, like former Council person Annelise Hedahl, is that it’s a hyper-inflationary frenzy out there in buyer land where a Facebook person is eying Missoula over California because she can drop serious over-market cash on a house:

Hedahl has a client who works for Facebook who decided she can work from home and is trying to buy a house in Missoula.

“Her budget is pretty healthy,” Hedahl said. “She said she doesn’t think she’s ever going back to (Facebook headquarters in California), but she doesn’t plan on retiring. She might commute back and forth and maybe Airbnb the house or rent it and keep it as a summer home.”

While NIMBYs do their thing, and realtors ride the pandemic wave, our very woke County Commissioners are using their power to fight systemic racism by fiddling with how the County rates vendors it does business with. Not only does this move signal how very woke they are, this preemptive strike should insulate our county leaders from future accusations, should they arise.

Which, if the only people who can afford to live here are silicon valley refugees, they won’t.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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1 Response to NIMBYs Fight The Sardine Can Master Plan While Silicon Valley Refugees Look For A Place To Call Home

  1. S Brennan says:

    Here’s the other side of the rural coin, from somebody who left Seattle about decade ago.

    In my neck of the woods, the born-here locals took a 1.3 million dollar economic development grant from the State of Oregon and lit up three daytime ballparks.

    The riverfront ballparks are along the highest plateau the city has, at about 140ft, the light towers are another 70ft. The city of Brookings also cleared the trees that boardered the river edge; which would have obscured some of the light coming from the towers. Now, everybody for miles around gets to see the towers and have their skyline lit up with blue-green light. It looks like a vast prison complex. I’ve told visitors viewing the complex that it’s a prison. I’ve told them it’s built to the new standards set in Portland/Salem…every prisoner is require to have a room with a view. Only when I start laughing do they think I am pulling their leg about a room with a view…but they still assume it’s a prison complex.

    This isn’t outsiders, this is born-here locals giving their collective finger to their neighbors on the other side of the river. Apparently, Jesus’s 2nd, of only two commandments, is not taught in the local Baptist churches. As the Parks Director* told me, you people [meaning those who live across the river] don’t want to be park of Brookings, well, you don’t have any say in the matter, we are The City and we can do whatever we want.

    And they do, many nights all the lights are on but nobody is playing, other nights they leave the lights on all night for all the out-of-staters that camp out together at the complex for a big beer drinking softball festival. Yes, it’s a perfect California scene, just one thing wrong with it…no Californians. BTW, on 90-95% of the weekends, during the day, the softball fields are empty, it’s almost as if it’s a mix between a SoCal and vampire culture.

    Blaming the “other” has been popular throughout history, but my life experience tells me before a man takes what is not his, first he must vilify the victim. In this way a man can be virtuous and still a thief.

    *For a city of 6,000, Brookings has four full time parks employees plus the “Director” and it has two parks, the other one is about an acre. Accordingly, Brookings tax assessments run almost three times higher for new residents, than across the river. Born-here locals have property values/taxes set in the 1960’s…a special form of welfare. The idea is to get residents who weren’t born here to pay the lion’s share of the taxes.

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