Today we continue publishing the Fairway mayoral candidates’ responses to our general election questionnaire. The third, and final, item is:
The Mission Highlands and Mission Valley areas of Ward 4 seem to be the new frontier for teardown-rebuilds. This original homes in the neighborhood are typically single-story, two-bedroom homes. The new houses are often more than twice as large. How do you propose making current residents feel wanted and welcomed in these changing neighborhoods while still making the area inviting for those who want to build new?
Each ward is unique. Ward 4, as the question indicates, needs a special look. It is extremely important that ordinances currently in place addressing green space, building height, set back restrictions, etc. be closely followed and adhered to as strictly as possible. Homes built that are in character to the neighborhood is very important. Change is difficult but our City needs to listen to the concerns of current residents while encouraging progress which allows our City to stay vibrant and welcoming to new families. It is important that all wards be represented on the Planning Commission with members keeping an open mind to all suggestions. Current residents are encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meetings to voice their opinions as well as communicate often with your City Council representatives. Your concerns will be heard.
The teardown and rebuild phenomenon is not new to Fairway. It has been going on in other parts of the City for some time. The experience with these earlier teardowns was instrumental in the most recent revision of the City’s building codes. Among other things, this revision increased the percentage of permeable ground that is required on all lots. One of the reasons for this change was to better reinforce the existing scale and patterns of neighborhoods.
As it happens, the average lot in Ward 1 is of a similar size as a lot in Ward 4. The original houses that were built in Ward 1 were typically 1 ½ story with two bedrooms, an unfinished attic and a single car garage. Many were subsequently remodeled or expanded; however, those that were not altered sufficiently to be attractive in today’s market and/or not maintained in good condition became prime targets to be replaced with a new and, yes, larger structure. The same thing is now starting to happen in Ward 4.
Not everyone has been happy with these changes in Ward 1. In some cases it has meant that an older house is dwarfed by its new larger neighbor, some of which would not be allowed under the latest code revision. However, it is clear that the renewal of the housing stock in the area has had a beneficial effect on the desirability of the area and the market value of the old as well as the new houses.
As noted above, the response of the City has been to tighten some of the design standards. However, today’s market demands certain amenities. If we as a city tried to restrict housing in Ward 4 to what currently exists, it would depress property values and put a stop to any redevelopment or even the remodeling or expansion of existing houses. Furthermore, such action would invite litigation if the restrictions were not applied proportionately throughout the City.
For Fairway to remain an attractive and viable residential community, it must allow change in its housing stock. This does not mean that anyone is unwanted or unwelcome. It simply means that those who wish to upgrade their property in a reasonable manner are free to do so. All who own property in the area will benefit from the positive effect that such upgrades have on property values in the surrounding area
That was our final item for the Fairway mayoral candidates. Thanks to both for participating!