WMCAT's Housing [not] NOW Report

The WMCAT presentation to the City Commision with the results from the community out-reach events is available as PDF or ODP. The "original" Google Drive document is here.

The presentation to the City Commission on October 9th, 2018, is available on Youtube.

A Critique of NOW's ADU Proposal

It has been more than six months since the Housing NOW related zoning proposals were released, and then indefinitely tabled. I have yet to encounter a detailed critique of the proposals. Given the disappointing condition of the debate I've decided to offer one here for the topic of which I am most familiar: Accessory Dwelling Units [ADUs]. Are there problems with is proposal? The answer is "yes".

Oct/Nov 2017, Many Documents

October and November (2017) have been active months. A collection of interesting documents have been created or brought into active conversation concerning both housing and mobility.

ADU Regulation Reform

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission is hosting a community discussion about possible changes to the zoning code related to Accessory Dwelling Units (aka: ADUs). This conversation is the result of a report of possible policy changes created by the Housing Advisory Committee.

The related documents from Housing Advisory Committee are:

Fulton Place Construction Officially Underway

The Fulton Place ground breaking occurred yesterday.

Getting Around & The Michigan St Plan

In January [2015] the Grand Rapids city council performed tentative adoption of the Michigan St Corridor Plan. Final adoption is scheduled for March 11th, 2015 following a 42 day comment period.

First some terms: "mode share" is the portion of all people taking trips using a given type of transportation [including walking]. "multi-modal" trips are trips taken using multiple modes. Everyone takes multi-modal trips. For example if you drive to the airport, fly to Dallas, and then take the DART (Dallas' light rail line) downtown to your hotel - then you've used four modes. You drove, flew, used transit, and you walked (the last few blocks to the hotel). "Mode shift" is when people change from regularly using one or a few types of transportation to using another type of transportation, or a different mix of types of transportation.

As would be expected of any plan having to do with a street there is an emphasis on transportation. And the transportation related aspects of the plan have caused the biggest stir. In response to the plan's transporation oriented objectives MLIVE published a post entitled "How you'll get to Grand Rapid's Medical Mile in the future". This story included a few data points from the plan:

  • ~90%-95% of the trips currently taken on/to "Medical Mile" are performed using single-passenger vehicles.
  • By 2035 the plan targets:
    • A single-passenger vehicle mode share of ~45%, with another ~20% for multiple-occupant vehicles.
    • ~20% of 2035 users using public transit, up from ~1% currently
    • Increase from ~3-5% mode share for pedestrians to ~12%.
    • Increase from -0.2% mode share for bicycles to ~5%.

The response to this story's coverage of the plan's objectives comes as no surprise. Internet commentators are incensed. I have been asked, in person, nearly a dozen times something equivalent to: "what are they thinking?". This question is generally accompanied by gestures indicating complete mystification, if not disgust. It was a serious flaw of the MLIVE story that it failed to convey any sense of rationale beyond the quote "the level of service for autos won't get much better" [Suzanne Schulz, city planner]. It appears there is a wide-spread sentiment that the objectives of the plan are radical, represent some type of progressive agenda, or are simply unachievable. This last notion, that these changes are practically unachievable belies an underlying belief that Grand Rapids is a nearly completely auto-dependent single-mode city, that Grand Rapids is a quintessentially car oriented American city.

Creston Plaza Reaches Half-way Point

The redevelopment of the affordable housing community at the intersection of Cedar and Clancy, across the street from the old Oliver plant, has reached a half-way point. This development is targeted to open in the fall of 2015. The official name for the development is "Creston Plaza Apartments", which is a bit odd as it seems more in Belknap than Creston.


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