Protecting Fairfield’s affordability — and our neighborhoods
by Matt Waggner
Published in the Fairfield Sun, 5/30/2014
As a candidate for state representative, I often hear from our neighbors that while we value making the town more affordable, we also enjoy the personality of our residential neighborhoods as they are — after all, that’s why we chose to live here!
“McMansions” and inappropriate multi-unit complexes — erected over neighborhood objections — are creating anger and disillusionment among Fairfield residents, while the zoning board lacks the power to limit density until much more of our housing can be counted as affordable under state law.
Fortunately, we can rise to the challenge. As local legislators like Kim Fawcett and Jonathan Steinberg work to increase transit-oriented housing development, I’d like to offer another strategy to meet these affordability goals in a way that protects and strengthens our community.
Because current affordable housing laws only affect zoning decisions, we only ask whether a home or an apartment is affordable when it is being built. But, let’s be realistic: a house will seldom be affordable when it’s new. By making affordability a “new house” problem, the policy is mainly used by developers to evade our Town Plan. We need to have “old houses” in our toolbox to make affordability a productive part of our conversation.
As a legislator, I will offer legislation to empower towns like Fairfield to create “Hometown Character Affordable Housing” ordinances, giving us options to meet our affordable housing obligations with already-existing housing stock, and restore the power to fully regulate density to our zoning commissions. Continue reading