Is It Deceit Or Ignorance That Animates Missoula’s Illuminated Braintrust When It Comes To Their “Intentional” Housing Policies?

by William Skink

When members of our enlightened braintrust claim a lack of tools to deal with the housing crisis, like City Council person Gwen Jones recently did, it’s important to understand she is either ignorant or lying.

Even worse than the ignorance/deception of purposely ignoring mechanisms like inclusionary zoning, which I have written about here and here, is the fact that the Mullan area master plan will ensure LUXURY homes will be the types of homes predominantly built on the precious, diminishing land available for development west of town.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s David Gray, an architect, raising the alarm in a recent report from NBC Montana:

Gray said he thinks the proposal lays out a nice community, but character and design are where he has concerns.

“What they’ve added into the zoning requirements is going to add a considerable amount of cost to the people who are trying to build out there,” said Gray.

Isn’t using zoning to ADD COST the OPPOSITE of what our illuminated brian trust claims to be doing with their INTENTIONAL policies? Here’s more:

Gray said when he looked over the plan, he noticed a minimum height requirement for some units to be 14 feet. He also noticed some requirements for windows.

The plan boasts over 6,000 housing units across seven neighborhoods. It says they’re designing buildings that can adapt to future needs. An example in the plan is a rowhouse with 14-foot ceilings that could serve as housing now but become a small business later.

Gray said requiring minimum ceiling heights and windows for design purposes strips away the affordability for residential and commercial spaces.

Developers say they’re offering affordability by design and that more units means the affordable housing problem will be fixed, but Gray isn’t too sure.

“It’s OK if someone wants to put that in because they’re taking the risk, but now you’re saying everyone has to do basically high-end luxury as the bare bones minimum and, in my opinion, that’s not the place of zoning,” said Gray.

If you’re confused about why a community that pays tremendous LIP SERVICE to addressing the affordable housing crisis is allowing policy to be enacted that will produce the OPPOSITE effect, that’s probably because you missed Bob Oaks op-ed all the way back in October, like I did.

To bolster my claim that members of our braintrust, like Gwen Jones and Eran Pehan, are either duplicitous deceivers or ignorant pawns when it comes to the shoulder-shrugging complaint that the meanie state of Montana is tying their hands, here is an excerpt from the op-ed (emphasis is mine):

In January of 2018, “Making Missoula Home: A Path to Attainable Housing,” was presented by the Santé Fe Consultant, Werwath and Associates to the Missoula Community. Largely funded by the Real Estate and Development industries, and colloquially referenced “The Realtors’ Report,” that study informed the base of Missoula’s new housing policy, “A Place to Call Home.” In keeping with The Realtors’ Study, much attention is given to exploring strategies that might increase housing supply, but much less attention is given to potentially powerful regulatory tools.

There were a few voices (like mine) claiming, at the time, that Missoula was stubbornly refusing to learn the lessons Bozeman had already learned by not using inclusionary zoning as one of the tools to tackle this affordability crisis.

Well, it’s 2020, and we’re still having the same damn conversation because our illuminated braintrust are adamant that they know better than the pesky public does, so instead of doing what needs to be done, we get shit like Missoula County HIRING ANOTHER FUCKING HOUSING SPECIALIST:

For the first time ever, Missoula County intends to hire a full-time housing specialist to focus on affordable housing amid a worsening affordable housing crisis.

Meanwhile, the county is also putting out a Request for Proposals for the development of a county-wide affordable housing strategy.

At this point anything these intentional policy makers do is just going to make housing MORE EXPENSIVE. Hiring people grows government and GUESS WHO PAYS? Just like passing bonds for butterfly housing grows debts and GUESS WHO PAYS?

If you’re tired of paying people to deceive you and condescend to you about their brilliant and intentional plans for our little college town, then how about taking some responsibility, Missoula, because YOU ELECTED these people, and until you wake up and remove them from office via the ballot box, don’t expect them to do anything different than what they’ve been doing, year after year.

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
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply