Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of the August primary. Based on the (ample) input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for mayor in Shawnee.
Today we share the candidates’ responses to question five:
Does Shawnee need more affordable housing options? If so, what strategies should the city be looking at to make such options available?
Michelle Distler (incumbent)
The term affordable housing is another one of those that can be interpreted differently by many folks. A good mix of different types of housing is important for a community like Shawnee to grow. The feedback I have received over the years is a need for more housing for those 55+, more ‘millennial’ focused lifestyle living, more ranch homes, more cottage style homes in downtown Shawnee. Shawnee has a special balance of tradition and innovation and despite differences in age, background, or circumstances, Shawnee is home to all of us. We want Shawnee to be a community for everyone.
Affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges facing the metro today, and Shawnee is certainly no exception. Too often I’ve heard from folks who work in our local businesses – or even for our city – who can’t find a viable living option here; this must be addressed. We have a need for the full spectrum of housing options, but particularly the “missing middle” segment that falls between traditional, single family homes and large-scale multi-family units, as well as additional quality apartment options.
In the last few years, we’ve updated our zoning in the downtown corridor to allow for more non-traditional housing options, such as smaller, cottage-style homes, but there is more to be done. Shawnee’s comprehensive plan has not been updated since 1987. We must change this. We need to work together with the residents of our community to establish areas that are most logical for such developments, while also providing greater certainty to those who purchase a home in nearby neighborhoods. A diverse complement of housing options is both good for our residents, as well as our city’s bottom line, as it will help stimulate growth and diversify our local economy.
I think that our city always has the option to work with housing developers for sustainable solutions for our long-term issue of providing affordable housing for our residents. United Community Services has made it clear that this is the most important issue facing our county, and Shawnee can fix this by examining zoning options that would allow for higher density in portions of new developments that will allow for the costs of development to be absorbed within more traditional new single family dwellings. Shawnee also needs to consider allowing for new guidelines in lot size and setbacks for infill that is likely to occur in revitalized areas of our city.
Did not respond.