This last Saturday morning the Wallingford Community Council (WCC) held an educational session entitled “Wallingford Educates Wallingford” for neighborhood residents. This meeting was designed to update everyone on the details and status of Mayor Murray’s HALA and Grand Bargain initiatives as well as the potential effects on Wallingford renters and property owners. The meeting was held at the Hamilton Middle School, and I am happy to say that over 250 people were in attendance. This large crowd was due mainly to the hard work that WCC volunteers put forth in the form of personally calling on or “doorbelling” hundreds of residences with information about the meetings. In addition, the meeting was posted on the WCC website http://wallingfordcc.org, the Nextdoor neighborhood blog and the Wallyhood.org blog.
The subjects covered in the meeting were:
- What is HALA and the Grand Bargain and what is the timing of these initiatives?
- The economics of housing in Wallingford before and after HALA
- What new zoning is proposed and how will these up zones change Wallingford?
- Are the up zones really necessary to achieve affordable housing in Wallingford?
- What will the new zoning and HALA cost residents in terms of property taxes and increased rent?
- What elements of HALA are the WCC opposed to?
- What is the WCC position on HALA and affordable housing?
- What can residents do to get involved and have their voice heard?
Other key aspects of this successful meeting were as follows:
- The WCC fully supports affordable housing and realistic density growth
- Both apartment renters and homeowners will pay increased rent and property taxes under the HALA proposal
- Each resident had the opportunity to determine how their specific property could be affected under the new zoning proposals
- Participants were shown how buildings built under proposed zoning would compare to buildings built under existing zoning.
In addition, during the meeting the WCC presented its position on the new zoning proposals and HALA in general.
The WCC is opposed to HALA zoning proposals because it will:
- Increase property taxes and apartment rents
- Destroy established neighborhoods
- Rezone single family inside the Urban Village to multifamily
- Place increased demand on street parking
- Result in larger and taller buildings without considering their effect on the street environment
- Displace low- and middle-income residents
- Put pressure on schools, parks, transportation, parking and sewer capacity
- Result in a loss of older affordable housing
- Push out locally-owned small businesses
The WCC Position
- Shrink Wallingford Urban Village boundaries to include currently zoned Multi-family and Commercial areas only
- Projected organic growth for Wallingford with current zoning is more than HALA and Comp Plan 2035
- Reject height increases on 45th street
- Retain front yard setbacks of 15–20 feet
- Change zoning on Aurora Avenue to Neighborhood Commercial
- Impose impact fees to help fund schools, parks, and infrastructure
- Respect lake and mountain views
- Encourage family housing
The audience was also encouraged to take the following actions as we move forward:
- Visit the WCC website with focused attention to the WallHALA section to keep abreast of HALA and Grand Bargain happenings. To do so look in the WallHALA section of the site for relevant information. While you are at the site, why not order a yard sign to protest the proposed up zones?
- Join the WCC and attend monthly meetings on the first Wednesday of each month. Meetings are held at the Good Shepherd Center at 7 p.m.
- Attend the January 17th Urban Village Design Workshop put on by Councilperson Johnson, which will be held at the Hamilton Middle School beginning at 6 p.m.
- Write or call Councilpersons Johnson and O’Brien as well as Mayor Murray to tell them about your concerns with the proposed HALA agenda.
- The slides from the formal presentation are posted on the Wallingford Community Council website at http://www.wallingfordcc.org/wallingford-educates-wallingford/.
In closing, I would like to thank those who attended Saturday’s meeting and for taking time out from your busy schedules to participate with us last Saturday. Democracy is a wonderful thing, but it only works when everyone gets involved to help shape legislation and policies that affect the future of our great neighborhoods and city. The action that took place last Saturday is a shining example of democracy in action.