At a recent Beacon Hill Area Neighborhood Association meeting, neighbors came together to talk about the proposed updates to our Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD5) design standards. These design standards were originally developed by area residents in 2005, in partnership with City staff, to address the demolition of craftsman bungalow homes in favor of more subdivision-style homes. This was a grassroots effort to preserve our neighborhood housing stock and to inform future development.
The recent and overdue work to update the design standards was a result of changing development trends and the City’s focus on high-density infill which allowed for multi-storied single family condos to be built on a lot zoned for multi-family development. The updates also addressed issues that included porch requirements, fencing, height, and setback limitations. Many of the NCD standards were actually loosened.
There were many opportunities over the past year for residents and businesses to participate and provide input. Feedback ranged from “The City shouldn’t be able to dictate what I do with my property,” to “How can we protect our neighborhood against indiscriminate flippers and developers?” But the most commonly heard and loudly voiced concern was over residents’ ability to stay in their homes in the face of wildly increasing property taxes, partially caused by the new high-density infill developments and flipped houses in their neighborhood.
“I don’t know how much longer many of us can hang on,” one anguished neighbor said to a crowded room. His neighbors vigorously agreed. The frustration and fear were palpable.
At a recent breakfast organized by the Mayor’s Housing Summit, the executive vice president (name?) of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) stood before a packed room and denounced neighborhoods as the NIMBYs who would deny affordable housing development in our communities because our design standards make it more difficult for developers to…