Princeton Council now discussing ADU ordinance that would allow separate ownership of the primary and accessory units. Some very good comments from the Council members at the outset...there will be a vote tonight. NIMBYS are lined up against it.
Council member Eve Niedergang just said that "much zoning has racist and classist origins, aimed at excluding people" 👏👏
Council Member Michelle Pirone Lambros seems to be very much in favor. She says that we need to add smaller units if we want to preserve affordabilty. The lady talks sense!!!
Nat Bottigheimer lambasts NIMBYs who talk about 'evil developers' and yet live in homes built by...developers.
Joseph Weiss, a well-known density opponent, says that the ordinance will "unalterably alter" his neighborhood and "drive out" his friends and neighbors.
Next four public comments are all supportive...this is going pretty well!!
Five more comments in support of the ordinance. This is a tidal wave of pro-housing sentiment. Where is all this support coming from? Are ADUs the 'one weird trick' of housing??
John Heilner says that this ordinance is aimed at maximizing developer profits, and encourage developers to tear down existing homes and build multiple-family dwellings using as much space as is allowed by law. He says the town should fight to the bitter end against the reform.
Maya Erenoff believes that creating smaller homes will help reduce racial wealth gaps...she is in favor.
Mayor Lempert wants a break from reading out all the pro-ADU comments that were sent in by email. She has opened the meeting for oral comments. Maria Juega is speaking in favor of the ordinance, says building more ADUs will help provide an alternative to McMansion construction...
Zenit Tech-Czarny, who is on the Planning Board (liaison from the Princeton Environmental Commission), says he wants to clarify his stance on the ordinance: he wants to make it clear that he very much supports the ordinance and thinks it will strongly benefit the town.
Dosier Hammond, a resident of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, says that the ordinance might have negative consequences on his neighborhood. Says that the ordinance will cause housing price inflation at the lower end of the Princeton housing market.
Matt Lazko, a member of the Matthew Desmond 'Eviction Lab' at Princeton University, is speaking in support of the AUD ordinance. He thinks it will help lower-income people to subdivide their properties to retain a foothold in Princeton, when they might otherwise be forced out.
Lazko is really good. Really high-level wonk comment from him.
Michael Floyd says that all the conversation about the ordinance should not happen on one night. We need to 'step back'. He says his 'stomach gets tight' when he hears people talking about improving income equality through the ordinance...
Cecilia Tazelaar, of my favorite organization, the Princeton Historical Commission, is speaking now. They have speedily drafted up a memo, and submitted it to Council. But Council member Mia Sacks says that the memo clearly misrepresents the proposed ordinance! Boom!
It seems that the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission has serious doubts about the proposed ordinance, about how it might impact historic streetscapes in Princeton. 🤬
Former Mayor Yina Moore, a prominent member of the Witherspoon-Jackson African American community is speaking now. She says that the purpose of an ADU ordinance is to allow homeowners to generate income by renting out a unit in their home, not to address housing needs.
Yina Moore says that the proposed ordinance is "nothing more than a zoning change to create two-family zoning throughout a neighborhood, allowing single-family lots to be converted into condominiums"
Yina Moore says it is "urban renewal removal, just by another name"
Kim Dortman says she appreciates the thought that people are putting in to making Princeton as accessible to as many people as possible, but she feels it is being rushed and she doesn't understand why the process needs to be so quick.
got my comment in!! i said that we need to do something fast to create missing middle housing in Princeton, because we haven't done anything for 30 years, and there is now almost no modestly-priced owner-occupier housing in town.
I said "for those of us born in the 1980s and 1990s, we can quite reasonably ask 'why have you done so little, to create a pipeline of more reasonably-priced homes?'" I said we need to enact the ordinance now, instead of messing around with more 'studies'.
My neighbor Kip Cherry is now saying that the proposed ordinance is going to harm historic districts and has no prospect of creating affordable housing. She thinks we need to wait and have more 'public process' before making this 'major change'.
Virginia Kerr says that she has concerns about how the ordinance will affect historic neighborhoods and she thinks that the ordinance is only being advanced to settle a court case.
She thinks that "a lawsuit should not accelerate the timetable." Left unsaid here is the reality that if Marina Rubina hadn't sued the town, the town would never have gotten round to proposing this ordinance.
The opponents of the ordinance are taking a narrow approach, arguing the merits of Marina Rubina's court case, whereas the supporters are talking about it in terms of the increased affordability and housing options that could come from the reform.
Mayor Lempert is reading emailed comments now. One from Valerie Haynes, supporting the ordinance. She argues that the ordinance would help create a diversity of housing ownership options.
The Mayor just found another trove of emails about the ordinance and she seems to be losing the will to live. She has to read them all out herself. Meanwhile Council Member Mia Sacks is rebutting comments from Virginia Kerr.
Representative of the Mercer Hill Historic District have sent an email expressing concern that the proposed ordinance could lead to creation of new homes on existing single family lots. Yes, that is exactly the point. They want the ordinance 'rejected or sent for further study'.
My neighbor George Stein is apparently getting the last word. George is great. He supports the ordinance because it will help make more missing middle housing, he cites examples in the town where there is already split ownership on the same lots, and which are highly desirable.
Mayor Lempert has closed public comment and it is now the Council members turn to comment before voting. Council President David Cohen says home ownership helps protect people against rent increases, and protects their tenure. Not sure about that, but I'll go with it...
Now David Cohen makes a good point. He says that when seniors have to act as a landlord for tenants in an ADU on their property, that is a burden. He is right. Being a landlord is actually hard work! He says that allowing them to divest the ADU would be an advantage for them.
Cohen is clearly a yes on this. Mia Sacks is clearly a yes. Michelle Pirone Lambros is going to be a yes. Eve Niedergang is going to vote yes. Four votes appear to be their to pass this. It's going to require major opposition from Leticia Fraga or Dwaine Williamson to sink this.
Leticia Fraga says she is in favor of increasing housing options, and she is in favor of allowing homeowners to create extra units to help support their income in retirement. She's a Yes. However, she expresses enthusiasm for the idea of some kind of rent controls. Brrr...
Mia Sacks is speaking. Says she has heard from many people who have expressed hope that Council will do something to allow them to remain in Princeton. She says she finds the opposition abstract, and there are real people who will experience real benefits from the ordinance...
Mayor Lempert has now reopened the public comment phase to allow Shirley Satterfield to speak. A prominent member of Princeton's Black community, she is also firmly opposed to the ordinance. Wants to know where people will park, and says her community is not a commodity.
We have a problem here, because there is a lot of support for the ADU ordinance, but several prominent members of Princeton's Black community want nothing to do with it.
Aaaand Dwaine Williamson, the only Black member on Council, says he is a No based on the concerns expressed by people in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. Says that Black people in that community have been harmed by unintended and intended effects of planning decisions.
This is going to put the other Council members in a major bind. Dwaine Williamson is calling for delay.
Leticia Fraga appears to be wobbling. She is asking about what the impact of a delay would be. The town attorney is saying that the town is in a difficult position, because they may be about to lose the court case that has driven this ordinance.
What we are seeing here is something that seems to be happening on the west coast as well: possible measures to increase housing availability are being opposed and defeated by representatives of minority areas who don't want developers messing with their neighborhoods.
Council President David Cohen is arguing that existing protections would prevent widespread disruption to Princeton's historic African-American Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood from any ADU reform.
Cohen also points out that increased availability of smaller homes in other neighborhoods in Princeton would help relieve gentrification pressure in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood.
The problem is that the case that has driven this proposed ordinance involves a lot in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, so residents there are probably right to assume that their neighborhood would be affected by ADU reform.
Eve Niedergang says she is moved by the testimony she has heard tonight, but she has been convinced by discussions with David Cohen that sufficient protections exist in historic neighborhoods to protect them from undue harm from any ADU reform.
I think this is going to pass 5-1. Maybe 4-1-1.
I also think that Dwaine Williamson is likely to be Mayor some time soon.
Mia Sacks says there comes a time when Council members have to decide how they want to vote, and now is that time...
They're still discussing...they are now talking about whether it might be possible to exempt the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood from the proposed ordinance...Mia Sacks is talking about setting up a commission to explore this, oh my god.
The municipal attorney is pointing out that passing an ordinance that potentially exempts the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood is not going to help her in defending the town in a court case involving a lot in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood.
Attorney urges Council to pass clean ordinance, noting that Council can always amend the ordinance in the future. This seems like a good point to me.
That was a point that I made in my public comment: just pass the ordinance, and if it turns out to have loads of bad effects, then repeal it. The reality is that most of the imagined bad effects are just that: imaginary.
Mayor Lempert ask for a motion to pass the ordinance. Pirone Lambros proposes it. Cohen seconds.
Sacks yes
Niedergang yes
Cohen yes
Fraga yes
williamson "51% yes to 49% no, so yes"
Pirone Lambros yes
Motion passes unanimously!!!
Mayor Lempert thanks everybody for participation, and says the town will continue to watch carefully about the impact of the ordinance...
The town of Princeton now has one of the most radical Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinances in the USA! ADUs no longer need to be owned by the owner of the primary residence, and can be sold separately from it!
You can follow @YIMBY_Princeton.
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