City council members failed to follow the lead of fellow council-member Kiki Miller last Tuesday resulting in a lose-lose-lose situation for Coeur d’Alene. Relevant issues include the comprehensive plan, the housing shortage and affordability crisis, and the definition of the term “adjacent.”
Kaufman and his team appealed the two decisions from the planning commission, covered here and here, regarding his proposal to build twin homes on a two acre lot. Twin homes are two homes separated by a firewall and platted individually allowing two distinct owners per structure. Kaufman’s goal was to create entry-level home ownership options in the community.
During the hearing council member Kiki Miller, a champion for solving the housing crisis, floated the idea of working with the developer to find amenable conditions for the project that would help ensure the homes remain affordable. None of the city council members entertained the idea of conditions with the developer and upheld the denial from the planning commission.
The results are as follows:
The neighbors lose. The developer can build eight duplexes with 16 units. This results in nearly the same density that neighbors oppose.
The city/community loses: After months and years of developing a framework for development agreements and a future land use map, respectively, council members seemed to ignore guiding documents and focus on (mis)constructing the word “adjacent” to mean “abutting.” With so much opposition to building, it is hard to imagine where infill projects can occur in the future.
The developer loses: Affordability is not achieved. Only up to eight owners can buy the properties and they must pay 700k-900k per duplex. Kaufman was hopeful that sixteen families could own their own entry-level home. Now 18 families will rent.
With such a bad decision, who wins? Landlords and incumbents. With no relief in sight through innovative and affordable housing options, many will be forced to continue renting. Higher demand will continue increasing rent price pressures. Council members currently running for reelection steered clear of constituent ire by denying this proposal. Neighbors of this project may gratefully vote for English, Gookin, and Wood next month.