Feels Like Public Process in Lower Hill is Waddling

PenguinsAttended the Hill CDC meeting Monday evening and when I came in at 7 pm (meeting began at 6 p.m.)  roundtables were being held looking for participants to weigh in on  what appeared to be the 5 principles of the Master Plan (see prior post). I went to the housing roundtable and one of the questions asked was “what strategies might support housing affordability and home ownership, which provoked a response from one of the folks at the table of “shouldn’t you be telling us the answer to that question?” Councilman Lavelle was at our table and I shared this comment with him. He responded that while he was not a housing expert (I had said we could benefit from housing experts to help us get more sophisticated) inclusionary zoning could be one route. The comment I put on the piece of paper I was given was that we could include language in the zoning of this special planning district (again, see prior post) that 30% of the housing in the Lower Hill must be affordable. This was one of the comments that was shared when our table’s comments were reported out to the rest of the room, but this information is well-known to both the CDC and Councilman as it is benchmark in the Master Plan, a rallying cry of the Hill District Consensus Group (of which my wife is co-director and I am an active member) and something I have raised as a member of the Hill CDC’s sub-committee on the Lower Hill’s PLDP. I have asked our CDC and Councilman why the PLDP cannot “simply” include the specific benchmarks that are already in the Greater Hill District Master Plan in the form of anti-displacement strategies and its benchmarks of 30% affordable housing and 20% businesses led by Hill District residents, but so far have not gotten an answer and may try and follow up. There is a Lower Hill District Working Group that is meeting with the Penguins 1-2 times a week where discussions are being held but the content, nature or goal  of those meetings has not been given much explanation  in any of the meetings I have attended. My wife, Bonnie, was a part of this group but as an individual and not as a member of the Consensus Group and when Councilman Lavelle communicated that the Lower Hill meetings were not public at that stage, she declined to participate further. Monday’s meeting closed with nominations of community members to serve on the working group, so maybe there will be greater public communications at that point as to what is happening in these discussions as they relate to the PLDP process and the benchmarks around such issues as housing that are in the Greater Hill District Master Plan. Interestingly, although no Penguins representative made any closing comments re: next steps, my sense is that they and their intentions for the Lower Hill had a very strong presence in the meeting. Maybe this is why the process feels to me like it is waddling.

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