Panel makes recommendations for addressing housing affordability in Prairie Village

Teardown Rebuild in Prairie Village

Prairie Village will look into several housing strategies as recommended by a six-month ad hoc committee. Above, a teardown rebuild off Nall Avenue. Photo credit Juliana Garcia

The Prairie Village City Council on Tuesday unanimously directed city staff to begin work on implementation of attainable housing strategies as recommended by a city committee.

Why? These recommendations were borne out of the ad hoc housing committee, which Mayor Eric Mikkelson charged with focusing on how to diversify the city’s housing stock and preserve its currently available attainable housing options.

  • A 2021 Johnson County Community Housing study shows Prairie Village renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent, which qualifies them as cost burdened by housing.
  • Prairie Village is often referred to as “ground zero” for the teardown-rebuild trend in Johnson County, which is when smaller homes at lesser prices are torn down and replaced with bigger homes.
  • These bigger homes eventually price people out of these neighborhoods.

The strategies: City council thoroughly discussed the recommended strategies for more than an hour at the June 21 city council meeting, which can be watched in its entirety here. While there are several strategies, all are summarized in the following three categories, as outlined in city documents:

  1. Amend Prairie Village zoning regulations in a way that allows attainable housing to be built in more zoning districts, specifically missing middle housing.
    • The zoning regulations would allow, potentially, for accessory dwelling units, courtyard patterns or row houses.
  2. Support rehabilitation of the city’s existing housing stock in an effort to preserve its existing attainable housing options.
    • Some specific methods for this include raising the income threshold for the property tax rebate program and increasing the percentage match for the exterior home grant program.
  3. Keep participating in regional initiatives about housing attainability and transit connectivity.

Background: The city’s ad hoc housing committee, chaired by Councilmember Ian Graves, met from September 2021 to April 2022 to develop strategies that secure attainable housing options.

What’s next: City staff will look into the recommendations and strategies the housing committee developed to determine how these strategies could be implemented.

  • This will start a back-and-forth with the planning commission, which will consider these recommendations.
  • Public input via public hearings and other opportunities will also be included in this process.
  • From time to time, the planning commission will send items related to these recommendations back to the city council for review or final approval.

Key quote: “Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Prairie Village, right,” Graves said. “This isn’t something we’re going to fix this year, next year, it’s something we have to get ourselves on the right path and get moving in a good direction. This is kind of the first step to start a long series of conversations between us, planning commission, staff and the public.”