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TAKOMA PARK — Following up on a process started in 2016, the Takoma Park City Council began to finalize its objectives for the city’s housing and economic development plan on Jan. 23.
“This is a housing affordability plan as opposed to an affordable housing plan with the intent being to provide appropriate housing opportunities attractive to individuals across the economic spectrum,” said Housing and Community Development Director Sara Ann Daines.
Objectives of the plan, which is yet to be voted on by the council, are to: ensure home-ownership and rental opportunities; maintain long-term affordability and physical condition of the existing housing stock; offer various housing types across the affordability spectrum; encourage construction of new moderate – and higher – density infill development and mixed-use residential redevelopment, and advocate for local; and advocate for county, state and federal decisions, policies and legislation.
The plan defines the final goal as: “To ensure that a range of safe, quality, affordable and stable housing options and opportunities that meet the needs of all people are available in neighborhoods throughout the community.”
Daines explained that the plan relies on several measurable indicators, which include home-ownership rates, rental rates, housing costs, the amount of vacant housing units, maintenance code violations, the amount of housing across the income spectrum, construction of new high-density housing units, and the percentage of annual operating budget accoladed for housing affordability.
Development recommendations include the city’s pursuing development along the New Hampshire Avenue Corridor and Takoma Langley Crossroads, along with large in-fill redevelopment and small in-fill subdivisions development.
The plan also recommends the city pursue home-buyer and home-owner programs, providing support to tenant associations and condominium associations.
Advocacy recommendations include ordinance amendments, zoning text and map amendments, conditional-use permits, the establishment of special taxing districts and property tax credits.
Wednesday’s discussion followed a process that began in Nov. 2016, when the city issued a proposal for an external contractor to examine the city’s housing and economic development situation. Data analysis took place throughout 2017, through listening sessions, forums, and open houses in the intervening period, followed by several council discussions in 2018.
Daines said the next steps for the council would include developing the implementation plan, finalizing housing indicators, and adopting a resolution on the plan.
City manager Suzanne Ludlow reminded the council that the plan could change some neighborhoods but also explained that “If we don’t do something bold, we will not have housing that’s affordable for the residents.”
“I would hate to have gone through this … multi-year process and end up with something wimpy,” Ludlow added. “It’s got to be something that says ‘Yes. We’re going to have housing affordability in Takoma Park.’”
The council will consider the finalized plan for the FY2020 budget.