I am posting the comments by Sustainable Saratoga regarding the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). It is important that people are aware of how serious an impact the final UDO document, if approved, may have on the city. I would urge the readers of this blog to follow this process closely. Just one example is their proposal to change the current lot size requirements to a fluid version based on the lot sizes specific to a particular area. The manner by which lot size under this proposal would actually be determined is never explained. Potentially, a neighborhood with some small, non-conforming lots could end up with many more units than current zoning allows. There are other similarly concerning recommendations. As Sustainable has pointed out, the process by which these changes were arrived at was completely opaque. The original document submitted by the consultants was rejected by the city’s planning department. The planning department then oversaw the rewriting of this paper. I made a request for the original paper to compare it with the rewritten version. I was asked to leave my telephone number but consistent with this process, I was never called.
7 thoughts on “Sustainable Saratoga Weighs In On UDO”
I wish people would understand how much Sustainable Saratoga has screwed up affordable housing in this city, not to mention the zoning. They are hurting a LOT more than they are helping (themselves).
I agree. Strange that Sustainable Saratoga (SS) members are responsible for most of the prescribed “studies and analysis” in the Comp Plan yet bemoan their inclusion in the UDO. Remember, it was many of these same folks that prescribed similar “studies and analysis” in the 2001/2003 Comp Plan/Ordinance. In regards to housing, there has never been a meaningful effort. No coincidence that SS’s Housing Coordinator, Geoff Bornemann, was one of the principal architects of the previous plan/ordinance. They should be reminded that all the hollow recommendations about affordable housing in the current plan(s) are simply regurgitated from previous plans that went nowhere. The previous plan/ordinance cost the City over $2,000,000 in a federal discrimination suit. Now, instead of lobbying for material changes to the City’s housing policies, SS is pumping the brakes on Inclusionary Zoning claiming it will be “costly and time consuming”. They say address it later and “plug it in”. Because that worked so well the last time. Not saying that Inclusionary Zoning is the answer (I think everyone agreed it wasn’t the last go-round), but its pretty telling when SS prescribes ONE solution for housing but then insists that solution be separately considered OUTSIDE the zoning ordinance. OUTSIDE its implementing framework. The truth is, both the Comp Plan and the Zoning Ordinance have been constructed in a shoddy fashion. Both of these very important documents should have been conceived under the umbrella of an Environmental Impact Statement ensuring all issues (housing and otherwise) are adequately addressed. It is more important to adopt a meaningful document than rush through the process. It has been nearly 15 years since the Ordinance was re-written. Are we to believe that it makes any sense at all to wait 15 years for an incomplete document? One that ignores meaningful housing policy? SS seems intent on codifying all the measures that advance their agenda while urging caution with others. I can assure you if they were opposed to a large, dense, affordable project in an historic district they would have no concerns for costs and would be hammering the need for an EIS.
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C. Olcott – simply? “Thank You”.
Now more, but ‘not so simply’….
The biggest problem I have found in dealing with SusSar is ‘tunnel vision’. Or as Paul Simon would have said ‘they see what they want to see but disregard the rest’. There is SOOO much more to all of this, and especially where it concerns affordable housing. In all of the research we have done it’s obvious that first you need to include ALL factions involved, including the developers. They have VERY legitimate concerns here too. They did not create this housing problem. It’s been around now since the (not so wonderful) urban development of the 60’s. The solution is NOT to anger those you need to create the housing for you, but rather to work with them by identifying what the actual problems are, why, and to solve for them. The holes within this IZOD proposal are many, and I’ve pointed them out to them. But they continue to move forward with blinders on and try to force everything in the downtown district, which is impossible – and especially given the height restrictions we have here (not to mention land costs, zoning issues…). And to our group anyway, the most important thing is that it solves for NONE of the actual problems we need to actually fix this problem here. All it does is force the developers to pay for something that isn’t even their fault. And yet our city council is poised to pass this disaster simply for the sake of saying ‘we have to do something’ rather than saying ‘let’s look at this more and do the RIGHT thing rather than potentially adding to the problem’. Yet there IS a way to get affordable housing done that would make ALL factions happy – and no one seems willing to listen because of their own personal agendas.
I’ll say it again: Sustainable Saratoga has set back affordable housing with their agenda, and will continue to do so with this proposal. People really need to understand this because if it continues, housing will continue to spiral out of control here and most WILL be forced out. And here’s a hint: it’s starts with this: “STARTER HOMES”, which I have been told directly that Sustainable Saratoga ‘won’t happen here’.
Or so goes the American Dream in Saratoga Springs.
Planning Department has a lot of explaining to do. How can they just change the rules
to accommodate big money?
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Welcome to the new Amerika.
It happened over there. It’s now happening here.
Vermont is beginning to look really good right about now.
Think: SAFE ACT.
And…Olcott & Morris are right on the money.
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I wonder how many Saratogians remember Chauncey Olcott? Do they care about how many Irish songs he composed? Do they care that he owned property in Saratoga Springs?
C.Olcott, you have quite a reputation to live up to by choosing that moniker. Use it carefully.
p.s. I have no comment on Sustainable Saratoga……because I don’t understand what it is truly all about. I mean truly.