Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The PCID and Dunwoody and TODs


At last night's council meeting we had very little public comment. Here's a link to the video.  The only public comment came from the PCID spokesperson.  She expressed her pleasure with council approving a measure that puts a parks bond and a land acquisition bond on the ballot this November.  The PCID would love for more green space in Dunwoody (not necessarily in the PCID proper, but close enough that people living and working in the PCID can access this green space).  She did not comment on the issue of impact fees being dropped from the agenda.  Still waiting for someone on council to put this back on the agenda.  If you want green space to accompany multi-family units in the PCID, better put it on the books now via impact fees or forget about it.

The PCID representative did not want council to waste time focusing on percentages of jobs versus apartments from the PCID study.  Sure, let's just let PCID set the rules and percentages.  Go ahead and give them their own sign ordinance as well. (side note: How does a hardcore FarmHouser go from being anti-sign to the mouthpiece/sign guru for the PCID?)

A few posts ago I touched on a PCID study.  I mentioned the "mixed income" text from the document, and stated that low income housing (Section 8) would soon follow.  My gardening buddy Farmer Bob was quick to snap at me for using a scare tactic like "Section 8".  My point is that in the southeast USA apartment rents do not increase with time - they go lower.  Let's look at the Walmart area.  A new apartment unit is built and rents for $1,200 a month.  Two years later something newer opens in the same area.  They charge the going rate of $1200 a month.  So who wants to pay $1200 for something older when the newer units 100 yards away are the same price?  The $1200 unit becomes $1000 a month.  A year later, yet another complex goes up and charges $1200 a month.  The $1000 a month unit drops to $800, and so on and so on.

Let's get back to an examination of the PCID Transit Villages.  Afterall, people would much rather live next to a MARTA station than in the shadows of a big-box retail store, right?

MARTA and the Feds (HUD, FTA, etc.) have set guidelines for these Transit Villages.  Grants are available for these mixed income housing developments, as long as you play the game according to THEIR rules, not Dunwoody rules.

So the PCID is interested in these Transit Villages.  Take a look HERE at the MARTA web site.

POLICIES FOR IMPLEMENTING MARTA’S TOD GUIDELINES
ADOPTED BY THE MARTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
NOVEMBER, 2010

Scroll down to page 5 of 7, item #4.

For those of you too lazy to click the link, here you go:


4. Affordable Housing

As stated on page 48 of the TOD Guidelines, MARTA believes that residential and mixed-use TOD projects should include a significant component of affordable housing. Achieving this will require a collaborative effort among multiple stakeholders—the municipal and county zoning jurisdictions in the MARTA service area, their housing authorities, the state of Georgia, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for-profit and non-profit developers, lenders, community groups, and MARTA itself. Together, these stakeholders must be prepared to apply a diverse affordable housing “toolbox”, including land availability, zoning, housing finance subsidy programs, and infrastructure improvements. MARTA intends to be an active participant in this process.

To that end, MARTA will apply a policy goal of 20% affordability, on average, to joint development projects undertaken subsequent to the adoption of the TOD Guidelines. As defined by MARTA, affordable housing includes workforce housing, as well as housing affordable to seniors with low, moderate, or fixed incomes and persons with disabilities. Workforce housing, in turn, is defined as rental housing affordable to households earning 60% to 80% percent of the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area Median Income (“AMI”); or for-sale housing affordable to households earning 80% to 100% percent of AMI.

Joint development projects with 10 or more residential units will be subject to the following requirements. On a project-by-project basis, MARTA will establish a minimum percentage of affordable units. The percentage will reflect market conditions, zoning, and the availability of federal, state, or local housing finance incentives. MARTA may specify that a portion of the required affordable units shall consist specifically of workforce housing. The minimum percentage of affordable units established for a given project will be considered a “floor”, and developers will be encouraged to propose additional affordable units through the Request for Proposals (RFP) scoring criteria. Similarly, the AMI percentile used to define workforce units will be considered a “ceiling”, and developers will be encouraged to provide units affordable to lower AMI percentiles.

Within the density allowed by zoning (including any zoning relief or modification which may be associated with a project), MARTA will use both higher densities and reduced parking requirements as financial incentives for the inclusion of workforce units. MARTA will encourage zoning jurisdictions to adopt reduced parking requirements for TOD housing in general and affordable housing in particular, reflecting lower average car ownership among transit-dependent households.

The affordable housing requirements for each project and any applicable incentives will be clearly stated in the Request for Proposals. The affordable housing terms offered by the designated developer and agreed to by MARTA, will be included in the Joint Development Agreement (“JDA”). The JDA will also include specific procedures to ensure that the designated affordable units are delivered on schedule; are designed and built consistent with the standards required by MARTA; are marketed on a fair and transparent basis to households earning no more than the AMI percentile and household size associated with each unit; are maintained as affordable for an extended period of time; and cannot be used as speculative investments.

Now I could be on the wrong track here.  Perhaps the PCID version of a Transit Village is different than the MARTA guidelines stated here.  I'll stand by and wait to here from the PCID folks......I'll pack a lunch. 

The MARTA document states "Workforce housing, in turn, is defined as rental housing affordable to households earning 60% to 80% percent of the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area Median Income"

From the HUD web site
Section 8 rental subsidies are provided to project owners on behalf of families that are eligible low-income families at the time of their admission by the project owners to the program. Under the Housing Act, "low income families" are defined as those families whose annual incomes do not exceed eighty percent (80%) of the median income for the area in which the project is located, adjusted for family size, as determined by HUD at least annually

The big issue we will face with Transit Villages is the PCID's definition of workforce housing. The workforce in the King and Queen buildings?  Or the workforce driving the cabs at the North Springs MARTA station?

I'm sure someone from HUD or the ACLU or some other alphabet organization will tell me the 'official' difference between Section 8 and WorkForce Housing.  I'll keep you posted.

From Page 6 of MARTA document:
 Zoning approvals, relief, or modification. MARTA joint development projects, like all development in Metro Atlanta, are subject to zoning and land use controls at the county or municipal level. MARTA will support zoning approvals for its joint development projects, and may at its discretion advocate for zoning relief or modifications which are needed to facilitate specific joint development projects, or project objectives such as mixed uses, affordable housing, or sustainability. MARTA may advocate for such outcomes on its own initiative or in support of a designated developer, as appropriate in a given circumstance.
How will your next mayor and council (and the city manager) deal with issues like this in the future? A few people have announced they are running for office.  Ask them about their viewpoint on the PCID and density.  Ask if their financial support (campaign funds) came from PCID connected people.  Ask them why a planned increase of jobs versus apartments in the PCID.  Remind them this is not China - we drive cars here.
Peachtree Dunwoody Road at Abernathy Road, 2025

Some of you may think the Transit Village idea is awesome, some of you won't.  These Transit Village plans are straight out of Europe. You like the Europeanization of the United States?  Put F.A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom on your summer reading list. Metro Atlanta is not Europe, yet, but keep an eye out for a Transit Village coming your way. For those of you in favor of TOD (Transit Oriented Development) read here to prepare your oral arguments.

Look for the Dunwoody/Perimeter Gare du Midi to open in 2020. Farmer Bob and I will help start a community garden there for the Section 8 Workforce residents.

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