District 3 Blog
Announcements and Updates-Early Voting, Solar Panels, and Affordable Housing
I have some announcements tonights as well as additional information on a recent proposal
I will be unavailable tomorrow (Wednesday) through Sunday. I'm getting married and we are taking a short honeymoon. As has become the norm, District 3 will have a backup alder while I am out of town/unavailable. In the case of an emergency, you will hear from Alder Arvina Martin from District 11. It has not been necessary to utilize our backup alder yet, but Murphy's Law and all that. Join me in thanking Alder Martin for taking this on in addition to her own duties.
Early voting is available now in Madison Public Libraries, East and West Streets Departments, and City Hall. Voting is essential and voting early for the fall primary is a good warm-up for the fall general elections, plus it's easy, and yes, you still get the 'I Voted' sticker to wear. Find hours and a sample ballot based on your address here
I want to remind everyone about our wonderful Capitol View Farmers' Market up in Grandview Commons on Wednesday afternoons/evenings. It's getting to be sweet corn and tomato season and it's always a great season to support local farmers. Hope to see you there!
I also want to pass along a cool opportunity for our district's homeowners with regard to solar panels. Please see below for more info:
Make 2018 the year you "go solar" at home
In the past two years, eighty homeowners have installed solar with MadiSUN! Join the MadiSUN group buy program in 2018 to save money on your energy bill by choosing a clean, renewable energy source.
Why should I go solar with MadiSUN?
LOWER COSTS • Madison residents come together to purchase and install solar systems as a community. By buying together, we can lower the cost for each participant.
REBATES AND INCENTIVES • Thanks to improvements in solar technology, the cost of solar has never been better. Plus, homeowners can receive a Federal Tax Credit for 30% of the cost of their system and Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program offers up to $2,000 in additional rebates. New this year, homes that don't qualify for Focus on Energy Incentives can apply for a MadiSun rebate. MadiSUN also offers excellent financing terms through the new Solar Energy Loan Program, in partnership with Summit Credit Union.
SIMPLICITY • We've done the hard work for you! Utilizing a competitive process MadiSUN has selected solar installation contractors that provide high quality service and convenience at the most competitive prices. When participants sign up, MadiSUN refers them to the selected company for a free site assessment and customized proposal.
222 South Hamilton
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Finally, I want to recap and offer more information on the affordable housing proposal for Acewood Ave/Cottage Grove Road.
Our meeting was intense and informative. We heard from city staff on housing in Madison, and from Movin Out, the non-profit organization who is proposing the project.
For those of you who could not make the meeting, I have attached the presentation slides for the proposal. (I think. They are showing as attached but please let me know if they don't come through for you, this system can be a little fussy).
Also for those of you could not make the meeting, and even for those who did, I wanted to review some quick hit info that was provided at the meeting
- This would be a 4 story, 70 unit building
- The first floor would be commercial office space
- Movin Out would hold ownership of the property in perpetuity
- All possible residents would pass background checks
- While all units are termed 'affordable,' residents will vary a great deal within this classification, including individuals on social security and those with minimum wage, and slightly higher than living wage jobs.
One major concern voiced at the meeting that I want to speak to is the thought that this proposal isn't a good fit for this corner because there is affordable housing near here, and too much affordable housing in one area does not spell success.
To answer this, we need to distinguish between low rent housing and affordable housing. Private landlords who don't keep their buildings looking good, or who rent to whomever, can be considered low rent. Affordable housing is housing that goes through city and state review and must stay in line with federal standards for upkeep in order to keep its funding. These truly are very different types of development.
We heard from folks, and I heard from folks via email that there are crime issues with areas near the proposal site. Their concern was that the affordable housing proposal would add to crime in a concentrated area. Two things with this-first is that this crime in any given area is addressable. One area of concern is in my district and the other is across the street in Alder Tierney's district. Alder Tierney and I can work with MPD to address issues in those areas and in fact MPD Captain Snyder and I are in communication about the area just north of Cottage Grove Road. We can improve those areas.
Second, is that in assuming that that affordable housing will add crime to an area, we are assuming that residents of affordable housing developments are more likely to commit crime. That is a stereotype, and we do not make policy based on stereotypes. While I care that folks have fears about crime, I do not follow your line of logic on this.
Ultimately, this is about getting people a roof over their head. Being able to do this outweighs fears for me. I believe in District 3 and our community and I know we can make this work.
I can certainly appreciate that not everyone feels the same as me. As your representative, I want to make it clear all the ways in which you can speak up in this process, and to lay out the process through which this project would need to go.
Before going to city committees, there will be another neighborhood meeting to present renderings of the proposed building, including site and landscaping plans.
Next, this will go to the Madison Plan Commission. This commission deals with zoning, and matching proposed development to sites. This project would require what's called a conditional use, which means that it could be approved if certain conditions and standards are met. If after reviewing the proposal you do not believe it meets the standards, or if you do, you can come speak to attend the plan commission meeting. If you cannot make the meeting, you can email your comments to plan commission members. For those of you who remember, the Kwik Trip proposal failed at the plan commission and at UDC because it was determined that the it did not meet planning and design standards. Read more about planning standards here
After that, the proposal will go to the Urban Design Commission (UDC). UDC is charged with reviewing how a proposed development will fit in with the neighborhood architecturally. Same as above, if you don't believe the size or look of the building will fit with the neighborhood, or you believe it will, you can come to UDC and speak. Like with plan commission, you can email comments ahead of time.
Then, the proposal will go to the common council. If you believe the plan commission and/or UDC were incorrect in their assessment whether for or against the proposal, you can speak at the common council meeting.
And there's more, stay with me
There is a limited amount allocated in the city budget for contributing to affordable housing proposals. About half of the proposed developments get the go ahead from the city each year.
Similarly, in the state budget, there is a limited amount allocated to contributing to affordable housing. About half of the projects which make it past the city approval stage will earn funding from the state.
Without both city and state funding contributions, an affordable housing development becomes infeasible. So, a project like this one really needs to draw the royal flush in order to work out.
I will be in touch via this blog with dates, times, and locations of all the steps of the above, of course.
Thanks for continuing to be be mindful and think critically about this and all decisions we consider in our neighborhood.
All the best and talk with you soon
Alder, District 3
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