Dear City Council,
First, thank you so much for the time and energy you have put into the co-op ordinance over the last year. It feels like we are very close to getting something that works both for co-ops and the broader public, and makes a small but meaningful contribution toward the City’s affordable housing goals. At this point the discussion seems to come down to a short list of parameters:
Maximum Occupancy Caps by Zone:
While they will have serious impacts on some existing communities, we can live with the maximum occupancy caps in the draft ordinance: 12 in low, and 15 in medium & high density zones. Despite the negative effects on some valued communities, these caps would allow for stable houses that create real affordability. The pro forma you’ve received from Lincoln Miller indicates that a 12 person co-op needs $25,000K/person in public funding to serve members earning 43% of AMI, while an 8 person co-op would require $87,500/person (3.5x as much) to serve members at the same income level.
Minimum Habitable Space Per Person:
In addition to the occupancy caps above, we can accept a minimum required habitable space of 200sf per person. We support a limit like this that scales with the size of the home, enabling smaller co-ops in smaller homes and larger co-ops in larger homes. Sadly, this limitation will result in some existing communities breaking apart or needing to reorganize considerably. In some cases, reorganization can hopefully be accomplished over a period of time so that natural turnover can be the mechanism, rather than anybody being forced to leave.
Minimum Home Size:
While we would prefer that rental co-ops have access to at least half of the single family rental market (which would mean a minimum house size of 1500sf), we can support limiting rental cooperatives to houses larger than 2000sf. This excludes rental co-ops from half of all single family homes and roughly three quarters of licensed rentals. This limitation should allow smaller families to access smaller “starter homes.”
Required Co-op Dispersion:
In the low density zones, while we would prefer a buffer of no more than 300’ (equivalent to ~1 co-op per block) to our knowledge the 500’ buffer would not result in any existing communities being excluded. Given the minimum lot size of 7,000sf in many low density zones, a 500’ buffer means that less than 1% of properties in a neighborhood could ever become co-ops. To put it another way, the 500’ buffer is equivalent allowing only a single co-op for every 18 acres of land. This restriction also powerfully limits the maximum cumulative impact that co-ops can have on shared city utility infrastructure.
On Street Parking:
In our experience, allowing no more than 3 vehicles to be parked on street should be workable for a variety of different types of co-ops, and will appropriately limit a co-ops impacts on parking availability in their neighborhood to what might be experienced from a typical rental.