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Enforcement 👮 Complaints about rental units


At a recent neighborhood meeting we proposed tearing down blighted buildings in an old industrial area and building housing in its place. These old buildings (total eyesores) are right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. I was amazed at the number of people who were adamantly against any housing that would consist of rental units. One woman went far enough to say, "That's why I moved out of the city. You're just going to bring the blacks here now." The racism and hypocrisy were unreal. A lot of the complainers live in a RENTAL building. I was so frustrated when the meeting was over.

Any ideas on how to combat/address these issues? These citizens want me to propose direct ways to prevent rental housing units from being built. I can't do that. Anybody have experience dealing with small-minded, racist views like these? I'm a fairly new planner and could use some advice.

mike gurnee

Welcome the the rational, objective, data driven, policies oriented world of planning and zoning! You also now know why there is sprawl. One facet of zoning is that it is expected to protect neighborhood stability and interests. There is probably some threshold percentage of rental units that tips a neighborhood to the "undesirable" point, but I have yet to find it. People fear the unknown, and they have been burnt badly by bad decisions in the past.

You say "we propose..." Will the public be in control of the project? (Never use the word project in your discussions of rental properties.) If so you can control the type of development. Can you make the future development a planned unit development or conditional use so that the neighbors can be informed of the details? That will help soften some fears.

Don't take the comments too personally. When less articulate persons not used to public meetings feel that the largest investment they ever made is threatened, all sorts of comments come out.