Two municipal committees clash over the issue of affordable housing. It’s not because the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board and the Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee have different views on the matter. J
They seem to agree that affordable housing is a necessary part of maintaining the character of the community. But each committee wants to make sure that the wording it worked on won’t be compromised by the wording used by the other group.
Members of the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board (CHFAB) want to make it clear that the housing plan clearly reflects the interests they have gathered from surveys and public feedback and reflects the awareness that they and the Nelson Pope Voorhis consultants have made.
Nelson Pope Voohis consultant Kathryn Eiseman was hired by the city council to work with both groups. She and her team gathered information and conducted outreach to help produce factual information that would be the same for both committees.
But last month Lily Hoffman, a member of the Comprehensive Plan’s Advisory Committee, said she wanted assurances that the CHFAB plan would not be the whole chapter on housing. She said she would have preferred separate consultants instead of a shared consultant.
City Attorney Stephen Kiely told the Comp Plan group that his report should, by state law, include CHFAB’s housing plan. But he said Comp Plan members could “massage” the section he uses when writing his housing section.
On September 8, Chris DiOrio, CHFAB member and chair of the Community Housing Commission, said he did not want to see the housing plan compromised by the housing section of the comprehensive plan.
The comments from each side seem to demonstrate a distrust of each group towards the other.
As for the main purpose of the September 8 CHFAB meeting, it was to review the latest draft of the housing plan to ensure that the focus on certain aspects of its approach is clear.
CHFAB President Elizabeth Hanley has communicated some demands to Ms. Eiseman, who will discuss the latest draft at Tuesday’s city council business session.
There are no major changes to the direction of the plan, but there are several clarifications to the focus that are consistent with public feedback through surveys and meetings where people expressed their preferences. .
Among the suggestions is to move into rental accommodation first, as tenancies are easier to establish and some can be created as accessory apartments to existing housing stock.
There was an initial discussion of possible incentives to encourage landlords who might offer secondary suites to do so. But it is unclear if this will be included in the final housing plan.
When it comes to building new affordable housing, whether for rent or for sale, CHFAB members have a clear preference for sustainable green practices.
There will be another round of project reviews and submission of a project to the Suffolk County Planning Commission this month. On October 11, a public hearing on the island’s housing plan will take place, several weeks before the referendum on whether or not to employ a 0.5% real estate transfer tax as part of the funding used to help create affordable housing.
On Tuesday evening, September 13, the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons, Shelter Island and the North Fork is hosting a virtual roundtable with Assemblyman Fred Thiele (D-Sag Harbor), the man who drafted the legislation creating the Community Housing Fund; Amber Brach-Williams, Assistant Shelter Island Supervisor; Tom Ruhle, director of housing and community development for East Hampton Town; and executive director of the Southampton Town Housing Authority, Curtis Highsmith.
The round table is visible on youtube.com/c/SeaTVSouthampton at 7 p.m. on September 13 or watched on the same YouTube channel the next day.