Friday, August 23, 2013

A Search For Affordable Housing Solutions

 Housing & Sheltering Comm Co-Chairs: Greg Stutsman left, Nancy Gregg to his left

On Wednesday morning the Housing & Sheltering Committee voted unanimously NOT to recommend to the Amherst Select Board they support passage of House Bill No. 2225 "An act relative to the definition of low and moderate income housing."

The bill if passed would essentially water down the requirements imposed on cites and towns to maintain a 10% ratio of "affordable" housing stock by allowing mobile homes to be counted as affordable.

Co-Chair Greg Stutsman told the committee he "couldn't recommend trying to create a loophole."

After hearing public comment from knowledgeable observer Walter Wolnik the committee agreed to take up discussion at their next meeting of spearheading a campaign to modify the Pacheco Rule, which currently restricts UMass from working with private developers to build student housing.

In a recent column in the Amherst Bulletin UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy cited  UMass  as "the third-largest residential campus in the nation," and went on to declare "the university is committed to exploring the feasibility of a legislative remedy that would allow us to pursue public-private partnerships to address our housing needs."

Due to the overwhelming influence of higher education, college students make up over half the town's population.  And this demographic is inadequately served, as any large off campus housing proposal over the past 30 years must survive a gauntlet of well armed NIMBY opposition, which few have managed to do.

As a result single family homes dispersed throughout Amherst neighborhoods are snapped up by investors who subdivide the units into student rooming houses that sometimes mimic the antics of "Animal House".


Walter Graff said...

So Amherst wants it's cake and want to eat it too. You can have a college, you can pay me to work there but don't let any of your students live or breath where I live Funny for a town full of intellectual socialist liberals, they sure change their colors real fast when they perceive the only thing that keeps them in business is going to do something that needs to be done. Wonder how much their real colors would show if they found out the retreat was going to use a federal law that said 70% of it's residents will be low income minorities. I guess being black suddenly wouldn't be so cool to these selfish folks masked as earth-saving, people-loving bookworms. Can't have it both ways. And not unique to Amherst either.

Anonymous said...

This ones easy. Take Echo Village by eminent domain.

Dr. Ed said...

Walter, roads in the former Soviet Union had three lanes - and the people used to say that "when Communism arrived, we will be able to drive in the center lane too."

There are no "liberals" in Amherst -- they are way to close-minded and self-centered (if not outright fascist) to be called that -- they are "Leftists."

Remember: A "liberal" is one who believes in the principles of the Western Christian Liberal Enlightenment -- essentially John Locke's view that every human being has an inalienable right to his/her/its "life, liberty and property" -- and as "property" had two meanings in the 18th Century the way that "man" has two today, Jefferson changed "property" to "pursuit of happiness" for the same reason I changed "man" to "human being" above.

The way I look at it, there are those who "talk the talk" and then those who "walk the walk" -- and these are neither the same thing nor often done by the same people.

It is not uncommon for the "racist bigot" to be the person who actually stops to assist the Black child who, having fallen off his bicycle, is now dirty, bloody & quite scared.

While those who "talk the talk" consider it beneath them to get out of their car and comfort the scared child -- waiting with him for the ambulance to arrive -- it's the guy known to use "the 'N' word" who does.

He may justify doing it by saying that the child "is still a human being" and that "it was the Christian thing to do" but the reality is that he "walked the walk" -- which those who "talk the talk" wouldn't do.

And so who is the true racist bigot -- the guy who treated the Black child the way he would want someone to treat his own child in similar circumstances -- or the person who didn't? And when one remembers that there is a great deal of economic and social reward for being "Politically Correct", how many of the folk mouthing the PC mantra actually believe it and how many are just mouthing it for personal gain?

Like I said, "talking the talk" versus "walking the walk" -- and the MSP weren't exactly happy about how none of the people who saw the minority children on the back of the truck going down the highway, and who took pictures of them with their cell phone cameras, could bother to make a 911 call and tell them about it.

Anonymous said...

What the heck are you talking about?

Dr. Ed said...

Take Echo Village by eminent domain.

I actually would like to see this -- and the resultant SCOTUS decision of Eagle Crest v. Amherst in which the court "fixes" the mistake of Kelo.

Assuming, of course, this even got past the SJC, and I'm not sure it would. Unlike in Kelo, which was taking property for a perceived more productive use, in this case you would be taking property for the exact same use.

Rental housing is still used as rental housing, you just want to rent it to different people at a different price -- and assuming that wasn't interpreted to be de-facto "rent control" -- which is prohibited in the Commonwealth, it would be perceived as nothing more than eminent domain being used to reverse a merchant's decision as to whom he sells his goods to and at what price he sells them.

It would be the town seizing property because of a disagreement with decisions that management has made. (Does anyone disagree that this is exactly what this would be?)

What's next, taking St. Bridget's because you don't like the Catholic Church's position on abortion or gay marriage? Or how about seizing the JCA for the most basic of anti-Semitic reasons, their failure to recognize Jesus Christ? You don't like the decisions the Catholics and Jews have made, you don't like the values they express in *their* houses of worship so you seize them so that your values can be expressed instead?

Forgetting the First Amendment issues, it might be interesting to reflect on what happened in Ellsworth (ME) to Father John Bapst and what happened during that little thing called "the Holocaust."

And don't think that Jamie would need deep pockets here -- he wouldn't -- there not only would be numerous national organizations interested in taking this on pro-bono but because this includes both private property rights and aspects of governmental regulation of business decisions, there'd be a big fight between the libertarians and economic conservatives as to who would get to be lead counsel.

I'm not sure who'd win that one, but there'd be a lot of quite impressive outfits wanting to jump on board, and this could wind up costing Amherst a h*ll of a lot of money.

So "[t]ake Echo Village by eminent domain." I'd really love to see you do it....

Dr. Ed said...

What I am talking about is that Amherst is populated by hypocritical leftists who -- like the ruling elite in the former Soviet Union -- talk about equity & social justice but practice neither.

A lot of people in Amherst are little more than Intellectual Prostitutes -- they will believe and support whatever values that personally benefit them -- right now it is Political Correctness, tomorrow it might be Genocide.

That's what happened in Germany, that's how a basically decent people in a civilized culture could nonchalantly exterminate some 12 million of their fellow citizens for no good reason.

And one more thought on taking Echo Hill via eminent domain -- there are a lot of communities which do not want "medical marijuana dispensaries" -- do you think they should be allowed to use eminent domain to shut them down? How about abortion clinics?

Do you folks not see where this goes????

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember when Hitler tried to give the poor affordable housing.

Dr. Ed said...

Yes, I remember when Hitler tried to give the poor affordable housing.

Ummmm.... Hitler actually did that.

Not "tried to" but "did" -- in addition to the autobahn, his public works projects included building affordable housing for the poor.