Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sunny Day Open Forum

Sigh... another beautiful day outside. Oh, well. At least the rain stopped.

Housing costs are out of control--but we knew that already. Unfortunately, the problem of affordable housing won't be fixed until we get a handle on municipal property taxes, and THAT won't happen until we can find a way to cut down education costs for towns. Which isn't happening any time soon. I haven't heard too much from the gubernatorial candidates on this issue. Maybe we'll hear more soon.

Connecticut leads the nation in fuel cell development and production, which could be a big boon to our economy when fuel cells become affordable.

Power failures are plaguing Amtrak today, causing headaches for some Connecticut commuters.

What else is going on?

46 comments:

Brian Durand said...

Regarding the housing cost issue, the Malloy Campaign issued a press release yesterday. You can also read Mayor Malloy's Affordable Housing Plan.

bluecoat said...

Malloy's affordable housing in Stamford has term limits - it's a short term political gimmick or naive policy take your pick.

If you want to see how to cut the cost of public education, take a look at how the private and parochial schools do it - less administrative overhead!!!

Genghis Conn said...

Bluecoat,

Special education. Private schools don't have to deal with it. It's very, very costly, and getting more so every year.

Derby Conservative said...

BC, I'm surprised that you're advocating anything other than public schools. You know how else they keep costs down, they don't have to negotiate collective bargaining aggreements with three different unions. Plus, their teachers are dedicated professionals who have not fled for the job-for-life mentality that permeates our public schools.

Derby Conservative said...

Let me clarify...I'm not completely anti-union (although I'm not a big fan). In my town, there is a large problem with teachers that have been working for the Derby Schools since the early 60's in some cases. These teachers are paid huge salaries, sometime more than double what an entry level teacher is paid. To make matters worse, some of them simply "phone it in". They don't care about teaching anymore and that is only hurting our kids, many of whom have to take remedial level classes to catch up in college.

Thomas Craven said...

Bluecoat -

I would we on your side, except for the fact the the Affordbale Housing Malloy has created in Stamford speaks for itself.

Its a real, tangible, effective system for generating below market rate housing not only in a state where housing costs are escalating out of control, but also within Lower Fairfield County.

"Naive policy" is the last word i would use to describe Malloy's program. It is the only one in the state, and the bottom line is it actually works.

As far as your other assertion that his policy in Stamford might infact be a "short term political gimmick" - again, I would agree with you, if not for the fact that it was created and enacted more than 5 years ago.

Thats 3 years before Malloy's campaign for governor even began, and 4 years before he was most recently re-elected in Stamford.

Got anymore "naive" attempts at pointing out Malloy's "gimmick"'s?

Gary Holder-Winfield said...

Destefano's response to his school superintendent's performance is interesting:
Reggie's World

Gary Holder-Winfield said...

...Mayor John DeStefano, who says Mayo has "done a terrific job."

Thomas Craven said...

^

Im unfamiliar with it, what is the expiration date?

bluecoat said...

Try again Craven; Malloy's afforadble housing has an expiration date.

and GC I agree with you about the rising cost of special education and that's why I have posted this link herein the past because the medical community - with help from the teacher unions BTW - is creating the need for more special edcation instead of reducing it.

That's better

Thomas Craven said...

^^

Where did u go Mr. Bluecoat?

Hopefully you went to go find some facts to back up what seems to be spurrious claims.

Hopefully.

bluecoat said...

It's not a spurrious claim; your comment that it does not have an expiration date is spurrious; and since you seem to be cozy with the Malloy camp you can ask them about the turth.

Thomas Craven said...

^

I already did connect the Malloy camp, thier info was the origin of my claims.

Most people do the homework before posting conclusions.

bluecoat said...

Wow, the Malloy camp is good if they got back to you in ten minutes!!! But you are still wrong or they are not telling you the truth.

FrankS said...

Affordable housing, this article aside, stock hasn't been a priority for Rell, Rowland or Weicker. Private builders have other work at market prices and no with major state construction efforts, given the time needed for construction, more affordable housing options are likely to happen soon.

Thomas Craven said...

^

The affordable housing issue has been around longer than 10 min.

Ever think that some people care about this type of info. before a thread starts on a blog?

I hope the Malloy campaign hasnt started lying to the press, that would be bad.

bluecoat said...

Nice article on Senick and Spada - I almost missed the connection to affordable housing. One of the probnlems with the social engineers who lament this stuff is they actually do not count all of the affordable housing that exists - beacuse the current definition serves the devlopers and their lobbyists quite well. I am not denying the problem but I do challenge the factual and analytical definition of it.

bluecoat said...

Malloy isn't lying; he's just leaving out the part about the negotiated expiration date on a number of the so-called affordable housing projects.

ctblogger said...

If it rains this weekend, I'm going to freak out. I went out for lunch and it took all my energy to walk back into the office.

Ugh...I wish I could make a living blogging.

bluecoat said...

Ugh...I wish I could make a living blogging Not me, I like it as a hobby.

Thomas Craven said...

^

You are also "leaving out the part about the negotiated expiration date".

bluecoat said...

Huh?

HealthcareNOW said...

ok did anyone catch this on Kos:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/25/102833/597

This is amazing to me. Sean Hannity's favorite Democrat is getting honored by the freakin' Neocon Cabal and Democrats in Connecticut are still willing to buy this guy's BS.

I really, really can't wait for August 8.

Thomas Craven said...

^

Im looking for a date man!

You claim dates!

Supply these "expiration dates" or stop talking about them.

*end rant*

bluecoat said...

Check out the contracts with Avalon Bay and the other developers - I do not have the dates BUT the Malloy camp should.

MikeCT said...

Fox 61 had an interesting story yesterday on affordable housing (see May 24 Affordable Housing Law video). Reports that 157 towns out of 169 are considered unaffordable for people trying to buy a home on a median income of $70,000 per year. Too many McMansions and not enough starter homes. New Home Connecticut initiative aims to take on the issue. They have a video on the topic on their site (see right column). Includes a bank spokesperson making an economic case on how unaffordable housing prevents businesses and workers from moving here.

Brass Anon said...

Using the term "affordable housing" to describe the initiative, dooms the idea from the beginning. When people hear "affordable housing," they think "housing project." You would think that if our public officials wanted to prioritize "affordable housing" as a policy objective, they could come up with a name which would not scare the pants off of hard-working taxpayers. I think that it is a feel-good idea which was always designed to fail.

Nevertheless, in the early '90s, a company called Hamilton Development put up around 100 houses in Wolcott which fell under the statutory "affordable-housing" definition. The houses are about 1600 square feet. After ten years, some remain nicely maintained and others are falling apart. However, it is a development which appears to meet the goals behind "affordable housing." If people understood what "affordable housing" really meant, I think they might be more supportive.

As long as the project is not in my neighborhood. ;)

GMR said...

The reason that housing is expensive here has to do with two things: 1) supply, 2) demand.

To make housing cheaper, you either need to increase supply or reduce demand. Reducing demand is not a realistic option: make Connecticut a less desirable place to live. Raise taxes, chase out employers, don't improve the infrastructure. Well, we might be doing some or all of these things, but really, we shouldn't, because we have to live here.

So the other alternative is to increase supply. However, there's a lack of space to build on. In a place like Dallas, Texas, you can pretty much keep sprawling in all directions, taking over farms and various underutilized space. However, in large parts of Connecticut, geography prevents adding new housing. You can't sprawl into LI Sound. And many of the towns have little developable space.

Another thing that prevents the addition of new housing is the present owners of housing, who elect local governments that put into place strict zoning laws to prevent more supply of housing. In Fairfield county, almost every building project that will add residential, retail or commercial space is going to be met with some sort of organized local opposition. Build a high rise residential tower in Stamford on a half acre lot? There's an organized protest. New neighborhoods, new apartments or condominiums, office buildings, Home Depots, groceries, all are met with some sort of local opposition citing traffic, quality of life, open space, whatever. Some of the claims have more merit than others, and some projects make it through the approval process, but it's a difficult and time consuming project. In the end, developers are going to seek to make the most money they can on the little space, and thus they're going to build higher end homes first.

Open space laws have the effect of increasing housing prices. It's basic economics. And sprawl is going to continue: there are more people that want to live in a house with a yard than in a dense urban setting. Southbury, Shelton and other exurbs are the places that can still add houses, so they are.

Rell is going down said...

Gary Holder-Winfield,

Reggie Mayo was awarded the 'Superintedent of the Year' for the state of Connecticut in 2003. The following year, he came in 4th for Superintendent of the Year for the entire US. Dropout rates have been nearly cut in half during his tenure. Last year over 80% of New Haven's graduates went on to college, which is higher than the state average. I know these facts were dismissed in this article, because the Advocate is not too keen on 'feel-good' stories about anything. But Mr. Mayo has done a great job. Results can be judged by more than standarized testing.

TSCowperthwait said...

Rell Is Going Down,

You said that "Last year over 80% of New Haven's graduates went on to college" but do you know what the New Haven public school system's graduation rate was in 2005? If it is in the article, please forgive me, I did not get a chance to read it yet.

Ben Barnes said...

Bluecoat:

I work for the City of Stamford and negotiated the only one affordability plan that exists with AvalonBay, pertaining to Greyrock tower. I assure you that there is no expiration date. The affordability requirement runs with the zoning approval, and hence with the life of the building.

There are a number of AvalonBay projects that were built in Stamford in the year or two before the inclusionary zoning rules were put in place and have no affordability requirements, but as of 2001, all multi-family districts in Stamford require below-market rate set aside units in perpetuity. The zoning Board may allow a payment in-lieu. As of November, 2005 (the date of the report I can put my hands on) there were 262 BMR units approved in Stamford, and $4,322,000 in payments to the affordable housing fund. We anticipate much more in the coming years based on tentative development proposals in the South End and East Side.

The only affordable housing deals that the City has been involved in that expire are those that are our local option tax-abatement contracts that are, in some cases, tied to subsidized financing (LIHTC, CHFA or some older HUD multi-family programs) or smaller projects funded in part with CDBG or HOME funds in which affordability is secured through deed restrictions.

I would suggest that the great beauty of our Inclusionary Zoning model is that it can produce the most enduring affordability restrictions. In cases where the model is tied to development subsidy or financing, it is very difficult to ensure affordability beyond the life of that financing. When the restriction is based on our authority to regulate land use, it can run for the life of that use.

Financing of affordable housing is a complex business, and Stamford has worked hard to support it. We have strong partnberships with our housing authority, including two Hope VI projects, with local non-profits, and with private developers.

I know that I am defending my own work, and I do not claim that our record does not include mis-steps, but I believe that Stamford is head and shoulders above any other community in the State, and is a peer of the most progressive communities in the nation when it comes to affordable housing. Our record is especially strong when you consider that we are an extremely high-value market.

Feel free to call me if you have any questions or would like any documentation or further references. I'm in the book under City of Stamford, Office of Administration.

turfgrrl said...

Another aspect of the the affordable housing debate concerns who the affordable housing should be created for. Connecticut has a steady stream of brain drain, because younger people can't find housing and jobs that are compatible. Companies don't want to pay entry-level positions in the the mid 50-60's, and that is what it takes to "afford" housing in most of Connecticut. Sure, there are housing alternatives that include roommates etc, but the availability of rental stock in most urban areas (where the jobs are) is low.

Back in the 50's -60"s there was a push for starter housing, with the understanding that this housing would exist as a launch into larger housing. What we've seen in CT, and nationally, for that matter is those 900 sq ft or less houses become larger. Add the decline in rental apartment housing in favor of condo associations, and we arrive at where we are now. At the other end of the life span are the retirees who no longer need the big house and lawn, and seek smaller housing alternatives. Southbury has a great senior housing development there to address that issue, and there should be more created throughout CT.

I like parts of Malloy' s affordable housing plan in Stamford. I don't mind the expiration part, but I hope that if a unit sells at market that the city makes a percent of the profit. Basically, a permanent cap on appreciation of a home asset does nothing for increasing the wealth of the individual who buys into an affordable unit. I don't like the idea of a permanent subsidy existing but there has to be a path for the affordable unis to recirculate in affordability.

Gary Holder-Winfield said...

You are right results can be judged by more than standardized testing. I went back to school school (Southern) and have some of these students in my classes. So, I do not speak just based on the tests. Too many are not prepared and that is just the truth. And, I have had interactions with Dr. Mayo that have not been satisfying ( and I was actually trying to offer some services).

bluecoat said...

Mr. Barnes who works for the Stamford taxpayers reports "the fine print" on Stamford's affordable housing stock.

bluecoat said...

And turffy, they've been tearing down the 'starter housing' in Westport and the rest of the suburbs for years thaks in large part to the crafty work of the land abuse attorneys, probate attorneys and judges, realtors etc.. who give to political campaigns.

Rell is going down said...

TS,

The article states that "the high school dropout rate has fallen from 30 percent in 1995 to 17 percent last year." That's a huge change, and it doesn't happen by accident. I don't think the superintendent should get all of the credit for this change, but my point is that this article was clearly one sided. It blows past positive statistics, and focuses only on weaknesses.

Gary,

I have never met Mr. Mayo, but I have heard mostly positive things from people who have. As far as kids at Southern being prepared, isn't that an issue for the admissions department to address? I'm sure it's not just New Haven kids that are unprepared, if in fact there are people enrolled that aren't ready to be there. The last time I heard Mayor DeStefano speak, he mentioned that New Haven had more kids accepted to UCONN than any other school district in the state. Is UCONN filled with these unprepared students as well?

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. My sense of things are that the school district is heading in the right direction, and it has nothing to do with building new schools.

turfgrrl said...

bluecoat,

Land abuse attorneys, ok I understand those critters. BTW- loved your tax the lawyers comment on another thread. I don't understand how probate judges fit into the equation though. And I thought it was a pre requisite that realtors head into politics, thus a self serving contribution.

bluecoat said...

Most of the teardowns are from the estates which have to pass through CT's probate system.

I actually have great respect for the legal system and those who participate in it according to the highest ethical standards of their profession - it just usually dosen't include a choice handful of land abuse attorneys who could never cut it in a courtroom but who make out quite well in front of gullable land use boards with their schtick.

TSCowperthwait said...

Thanks, Rell Is Going Down. If those numbers are accurate (and I'm not questioning you) that is good work over the last few years.

So does that mean that the No Child Left Behind Act does work?

bluecoat said...

I think DeStefano's active participation as a member (even Chairman??) of the New Haven Board of Education has been touted as having a positive effect, too. But I can't speak to it one way or the other.

TrueBlueCT said...

Genghis--
I want to commend you on the growth of your site traffic. We are heading for something just short of 30,000 visits this month, which is a 50% step up from last month's record of about 19,000.

As someone who has been here since the get go, all I can say is, "Who Knew?!"

bluecoat said...

GC: never got to the fuel cell discussion; maybe next time.

Pirates say "Rrrrrr" said...

Of course the conversation never came to fuel cells. That would be to extoll (or mention)a success of the Rell Administration.

The attitude on this left-of-center blog is rarely offensive or rudely partison,but it appears that GOP leaders, candidates, conventions, etc do not get much mention or discussion in general. shame.

Rrrr

MikeCT said...

Alan Bisbort calls Nancy Johnson the "Judith Miller of legislators, taking corporate wish lists and inserting them into her proposals." Cute.

Chris MC said...

The presence of several Republican or at least non-Democratic posters has become more prominent over time. Nothing preventing others from contributing information and opinions on Republican candidates. I think everyone would agree it would be most welcome, and GC has periodically encouraged it specifically.

bluecoat said...

What did Rell do about fuel cells and if RRR knows so much about them where is the discussion?

And speaking of covering the the GOP Convention I assumed that DG was still waiting for the cable guy! Maybe the cable guy is involved in the left wing conspiracy.