City reps hear views on ‘mastering density’
by Jonathan Partridge
Feb 20, 2008 | 295 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Density does not always come cheap, speakers stressed.

Bill Anderson, director of city planning and community investment for the city of San Diego, noted that land and construction costs, parking and other fees can make higher-density projects an expensive endeavor.

If the market is right, sometimes those projects will pay for themselves, Anderson said. However, sometimes they require subsidies.

Jason Wittenberg, a planning supervisor for the city of Minneapolis, mentioned ways his city had helped with high-density projects, such as creating a written housing strategy and using city financing, housing revenue bonds and low-income-housing tax credits.

In terms of design issues, Anderson said there is nothing wrong with cities coming up with their own list of standards to ensure attractive dwellings.

Patterson City Councilman Dominic Farinha was among a handful of listeners nationwide who had questions answered by conference speakers. He faxed in a question about how speakers would introduce the concept of density to smaller communities that resist it.

“I don’t go into a community like that talking about 60 units an acre,” Hinshaw replied.

Instead, he said, planners should identify members of the community — grandparents, students, single mothers — who would prefer smaller homes.

“People recognize that those are our neighbors,” Hinshaw said.

Simpson noted after the meeting that many of the issues addressed by the speakers applied more to urban areas. For instance, Patterson would never build 60 homes per acre these days.

However, he said, some topics that were discussed, such as walkable communities and a diversity of housing types, applied locally, too.

The existing general plan already has details about village nodes, areas that have schools, parks and commercial businesses within a short distance of homes. The approved 3,100-home Villages of Patterson — which is planned for northeastern Patterson — is an example of a project that uses that model, Simpson said.

He said he thought the topic of density would be useful to the city’s elected and appointed officials, particularly as the GPAC is about to reconvene to discuss the general plan.

Farinha said he felt Hinshaw did a good job of answering his question, noting that there often is a negative stereotype about increased densities.

Patterson has people of various ethnicities and income levels, and the city needs to provide housing products to accommodate their needs, Farinha said.

To reach Jonathan Partridge at the Irrigator, call 892-6187 or e-mail him at jonathan@pattersonirrigator.com

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