When Homeowners Near Good Transit Refuse to Share the Neighborhood

This video from the Minneapolis-based satirical site Wedge LIVE sends up the not-in-my-backyard resistance to infill development that could help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing affecting a growing number of American cities.

Anton Schieffer at Streets.mn lives in Whittier, the neighborhood where the much-feared 10-unit rental building would be built. It’s close to downtown, has good transit access, and makes perfect sense as an area to focus new development.

Schieffer says he was “surprised by the amount of vitriol” from nearby homeowners against this rather modest project. Casting themselves as opponents of gentrification, they’re actually perpetuating the lack of affordable housing options in the city, he writes:

Nowhere is the upward trend on property values more apparent than in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood, where land values often exceed the value of the structure on the property. One recent example is at 2008 Bryant Ave S., where a developer purchased a duplex for $275,000 near Franklin and Hennepin for the purpose of tearing it down to build a 10-unit apartment building. Nearby neighbors showed up at the Minneapolis Zoning and Planning Committee to rail against the project…

Many who showed up to speak against this apartment project are nearby homeowners, who obviously have no use for an apartment building since they do not rent. Many of them have invested a lot of money to live in large single-family homes in this neighborhood. That’s fine, as a diversity of housing stock is healthy for a neighborhood.

But when a single-family home is on a lot where many people could live but do not, we need to acknowledge this fact: amid the cries of gentrification from well off homeowners, it’s these houses, not new apartments, which are luxury housing. It is a luxury to live in a 6-bedroom, 3-bathroom 3,000 square foot house, especially one that is close to downtown and in a safe and walkable neighborhood. I don’t begrudge it, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But it should be acknowledged.

Elsewhere on the Network today: PubliCola looks at how the two Democratic presidential candidates are faring in different cities. Spacing‘s Dylan Reid highlight areas he calls “safe crossing deserts,” where pedestrians have to make long detours to find a signalized crosswalk. And Plan Charlotte considers how Charlotte can apply lessons from former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and her new book, Street Fight.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Livable Streets or Tall Buildings? Cities Can Have Both

|
Kaid Benfield’s new blog post on density is getting a lot of buzz over at NRDC’s Switchboard blog. Benfield, a planner/lawyer/professor/writer who co-founded both LEED’s Neighborhood Development rating system and the Smart Growth America coalition, has some serious street cred when it comes to these matters. And on this one, he’s with Danish architect Jan Gehl, […]