Italics looks fine to me! Unless anyone knows of a reason why we shouldn’t use italics. =)
I recently talked to some friends and family who live in the proposed Blue Bonnet Hills LHD and was able to listen to a different side of this issue that I think would be beneficial for everyone to hear. This is a long post, but I think it’s important to be informed about all sides and I was glad to get some more information about the specific concerns people have voiced on this forum.
One concern I’ve heard here is that the amount of consent required to even submit an application for an LHD changed from 60% to 51%, which some residents thought of as devious and not enough consent to be justifiable. I’d like to share that this requirement was changed in 2004, over 10 years ago. It’s also important to consider the differences between Austin and other cities: most other cities with an active preservation department only require 30% consent to submit an application, and the city’s preservation office takes over from there. In Austin, we only have one preservation officer, and in 2004, the city voted to make preservation a grass roots effort. This means that the burden is on volunteer residents, who are required to inform their community of their efforts, survey the entire neighborhood (professionally—which means lots of money, and every time a house is demolished [which has been happening frequently] a new survey must be undertaken), and petitioning their neighbors once the application is completed. When they filed the LHD, they had 58% of residents in support, which is incredibly high. They have always maintained support above 51%. The city only counts YES votes for the LHDs—22% of residents never responded to the survey, and only 20% of residents actually said NO. I think this is really important to keep in mind.
Another concern I heard was that the Blue Bonnet Hills district was shrunk and gerrymandered to an area where it was more likely that they could get the LHD approved. I heard from actively involved residents of the neighborhood that the reason for the shrinking of the district is that there were so many demolitions happening across the whole neighborhood and so quickly, they had to request a revised survey every time this happened. The increased cost became a huge burden, and there is no sign of the demolition requests slowing down. So in lieu of being constantly set back every time they face another demolition in the neighborhood, they decided to shrink the district to a smaller area to one that had the most in-tact historic character. They compromised.
One thing that I asked about, because it would be a huge concern of mine if I lived in the neighborhood, is the process of obtaining a “certificate of appropriateness,” which sounds pretty daunting. People should be informed that most requests are filled administratively in just a day. A way to think about it is, if you need a permit to change something on your house, then you need a certificate of appropriateness. You don’t have the change what your house currently looks like AT ALL (I think some scare tactics have been going around telling people they’ll be fined $1000 per day for non-compliance? Because that’s false). You don’t need a certificate of appropriateness if you’re just maintaining your house. You CAN make additions to your house, you CAN add a granny flat, you CAN have solar panels or wind turbines…the design standards are very loose and reasonable—less restrictive than the Hyde Park LHD. I really suggest that everyone pull up a copy of the design guidelines online and read through it if you have concerns. There’s a great image that shows a group of brand new row homes that are totally compatible with the standards—that was an eye opener for me. It’s also important to know that if your house isn’t historic, the standards don’t apply to you. If your house was built after 1946, the standards don’t apply to you. There aren’t regulations on the sides of houses, so people with a corner lot don’t have an undue burden even though more of their house is exposed. Thy don’t dictate paint colors AT ALL, you are not prohibited from changing your windows or doors (which I know lots of people have concerns with from an energy standpoint, which is reasonable—and those concerns have been addressed). The people that you will be talking to in order to request a Certificate are real people; they’re not some faceless unreasonable bureaucracy. You won’t be funneled through some terrible bureaucratic process (the permit request will cover that . Even if you have to go to up to the Landmark Commission, there is a 45 day time limit for deliberations, so you’re not going to be waiting for 6 months to see if your proposed addition or new accessory unit complies.
Concerns were also brought up about the lack of information that residents received about this issue. I think that’s kind of a null point—if you were involved in SRCC, then you were informed about the district. Even before the application was completed, information about the proposed LHD started appearing on the listservs, and if someone wanted to be involved in the process, there was 10 years of time for one to do that. The Travis Heights-Fairview Park historic district’s facebook page has been active since 2005. Even if you don’t have an online presence, there have been giant (hard to miss) yard signs promoting the historic district since at least 2013, maybe even before that. There have been public design standards meetings, very well attended by members of the community, where residents could help shape the guidelines that would affect them. The LHD application as well as the design standards are google-able, and very easy to find. Now the application is moving forward, it’s late in the game to be making changes to this document that has been in the works for 10 years. I also now know that volunteers in the neighborhood personally went to every single door in the proposed district with the application to inform their neighbors.
People have also been upset that their recent concerns seem to be taken with a grain of irritation—I think this may because the application has already been submitted to the preservation office and its out of the hands of the individuals who developed the guidelines. How many times should they have to go back to the drawing board? There has to be a reasonable cutoff at some point.
Austin only has 4 Local Historic Districts and is an incredibly rapidly growing city. My initial response to this issue was that an LHD is not warranted unless the area is in danger. After talking with residents in the neighborhood, I think the character is in threat—residents are concerned with the amount of permits for demolitions that people have applied for even in the last year.
I think there IS a problem with the way this city undertakes its preservation efforts—but that is a different issue than BBH. Preservation Austin has been working with the city to revise the process, and that’s something that I’m in favor of.
Let’s compare the FAN values with this particular LHD. What the LHD will do is stabilize property values to prevent spikes and dips. This goes hand in hand with affordability. Granny flats are appropriate and encouraged in this neighborhood; this is also crucial for affordability. People in LHDs are eligible for tax breaks when they renovate or improve their structures. A diverse array of structures can already be found in BBH, and an LHD would actually prevent homogeny by retaining this diversity. After hearing about the long process of developing the design guidelines, it sounds like it was an inclusive process, and perhaps some people got miffed after the fact about not being involved, which is unfortunate.
I’ve re-evaluated the benefits of the LHD against the goals of FAN, and I am voting FOR the BBH LHD. I should also say that I don’t plan to vote until the 13th so that I take into consideration the conversation that I hope this sparks here.
Can someone point me to the resolutions that we are being asked to vote on? I saw the first one when I went to the voting site, but I can’t see the next two unless I vote on the first one.
@Kristen_A_Fox, thanks for this informative message! It gives us a lot of perspective to ponder.
I think we really need to consider what the criteria are for an LHD that has merit. In your message, you wrote that it may be warranted if the area is in “danger”. You went on to write that the “character is in threat”. Furthermore, you implied the LHD movement is at least partially a reaction to demolitions.
Yet FAN’s values are about inclusiveness, a diversity and abundance of housing and businesses, affordability (for those who DON’T yet live in the neighborhood as well as those who do), and putting the needs of the citywide community ahead of those of any particular neighborhood. These values speak to neighborhood character improvement and welcoming development that enables more people and businesses, not settling for - or necessarily preserving - the status quo.
So, besides the fact that a vote indicated a clear majority favored the LHD given what they knew about what its implications are, and the possibility that some incumbent residents will get tax breaks, I struggle to see how the proposed LHD is consistent with the FAN vision. In fact, it seems the LHD would mostly undermine the values the vision expresses.
Does this case have a valid petition? I’ve been under the impression that it will not get the supermajority vote it needs from City Council.
Let me respond to your post and some of the points. These are all points that the SRCC proponents have been making. Maybe my story will give you a different perspective.
Of the 1200 homes in Travis Heights, only 120 homes are members of the SRCC. Of that 1200 only about 35 actively go to SRCC meetings - representing about 10% of the district. The SRCC is not an elected HOA, nor are they appointed - they are self appointed volunteers. I had always thought they did good work and tried to preserve the neighborhood… But if you did not actively read their literature or visit their website you would have no idea this is going on. They will say “but we had rooster signs in the yard that said Save Our Houses with our website listed”, so I thought that was good thing. It didn’t say we are forming a local historic district get involved. They never came around and collected email address or held informative neighborhood meetings with all the stakeholders in attendance. I had no idea.
Instead they made this plan for all of Travis Heights and when that failed they forced it on a smaller portion and one plat of BBH. I would probably not be opposed if it wasn’t just 6 streets within Travis Heights and instead it was all of the neighborhood. It makes no sense to me that the homes next to one another are in the district and others are not, or ones across the street from one another. This greatly effects my resale. No one will want to buy my home when they can purchase one 3 streets over with no restrictions.
SO when a trusted neighbor asked me to sign the “petition to apply” to become an LHD, that was the first time I heard about a historic district. To be informed, included in the decision making and participate in the process, I should have been informed a long time before my vote was asked for. Better yet, I should have been told it was my vote and not just a petition I was signing - that would have been nice to know.
Here is the tricky part, so when my neighbor, whom I adore and have known for 15 years, and almost always agree with politically asked us to sign, she told us nothing would change, our property taxes would go down automatically and it would keep developers from coming in. I signed. So did 63 homeowners out of 109.
That was my vote - all that matters to the City is the vote that is taken when an application is made. Not if the people who signed it change their minds after being informed. It is a VOTE first, then hold public hearings (which now mean nothing because you already voted) and then a constant polling of the public which doesn’t really matter because all that matters is the initial vote.
Later when Arif Panju, who I am grateful for, stopped them in their tracks with a valid petition, from illegally trying to push this through with the previous council informed me about what being in a historic district meant to me as a homeowner. The original 63 signatures had fallen to 44. At the time of the January 26th Council Meeting support had fallen below 50% - 44% to be exact. At the last council meeting support was at 50.02% in area but the preservation office falsely listed properties (a procedure I have seen them do over and over again) as 53% by not counting the condos at the top of the hill correctly. I won’t even go into the issues I have had with the preservation office and the way they have handled votes, but I will say I have found over 20 mistakes, all in favor of the applicants and none in favor for the opposition.
There are many, many homeowners who have never been informed or ill-informed in this process. I have read the design standards and some of the things they told you are false. You DO need a COA (Certificate of Appropriateness) to do anything to the front of your house that is visible from the street: replacing windows, replacing a shingle, changing your gutters, your front door. True they do not require one for paint color, but I still have no idea if I need one to paint my front window? I know they worked really hard on those design standards to make them as inclusive as possible. …but there are problems as well. A lot of the homes listed should not be contributing. It takes no consideration for people who have shallow lots that can only build outward.
I believe there have only been two tear-downs since 2009 in BBH - post McMansion and other ordinances. Most of the time they are homes like mine that fail on too many inspection points to be worth keeping. They have termite damage, studs that 30" apart because of the wooden walls, foundation issues. The amount of money it takes to “restore” is triple the costs to tear down. Presently homes go to the Historic Landmark Commission anyhow if they are over 50 years old. The irony is you need architectural plans to remodel a house but you don’t need any to tear one down!
I struggle with this issue a lot. I don’t want to see my neighborhood torn down. I love it. But most of the examples they show were all Multi-famly zoned properties to begin with and were on the fringes of our Single Family Zoned neighborhood (closer to Congress). I don’t think the mix is a bad thing. And if any neighborhood can become historic without it actually being historic, I fear every neighborhood that is over 50 years old would be eligible. Some day Circle C will be eligible too. Using Historic designation to prevent development is not the answer. Change happens.
Yes Natalie, there is a valid petition of over 33% of the homeowners. This requires a super-majority of Council or a 9 to 11 vote of Council. It was passed on first reading in June by a vote of 7 to 3 to go to 2nd reading. They should hold the 2nd reading at the next council meeting, and possibly the third. On third reading that is when the super majority goes into effect.
But because of issues with the legality of the petition we still need to go back to the Historic Landmark Commission on the 24th of this month.
Thanks for responding and making sure we stick to our principles. I just don’t think that increased
development within the proposed LHD boundaries will lead to a more affordable BBH. It would have the opposite effect–by making an already unaffordable area even more unattainable–I can only see more high-end homes going in, I don’t see how an affordable, multi-family, dense project would be funded
here–the land values are too high. It just seems unlikely, while the tearing down of more affordable homes to be replaced by much larger ones does seem likely (because it’s already happening). There are so many underdeveloped and undeveloped areas in Austin that need way more density. I don’t think this neighborhood is one of them.
This LHD would be a benefit for the rest of the city (maybe even more so than the residents there)–and honestly I feel that the community members would be doing a civic service to the city as a whole by making sure that this area stays as enjoyable for visitors from other neighborhoods as it currently is. Standard operating procedure of Austin recently has been to totally forget its history and move on. I think we can learn a lot from the past, and the way the design guidelines are written allows for a healthy mix of new and old, while making sure the past doesn’t get wiped away when the economics are against it.
Rana, thanks also for your reply, I think it’s a healthy dialogue and I hope it helps people to see multiple sides–it’s certainly helping me to get a bigger and more informed picture about what’s happened, what the issues are, and it’s giving me ideas on how we can revise the process. But anywhere in Austin requires you to pull a permit to replace your windows. You would be able to replace your windows for more energy efficient ones even if you’re in the LHD. The City of Austin requires you to obtain a permit for “erecting, constructing, enlarging, altering, repairing, improving, removing, converting, moving, demolishing any building or structure or a portion or tenant space within the structure.” That means even if this LHD doesn’t get passed, you still have to apply for a permit to change your door or windows. That’s going to be much more of a heartache anyway than applying for your COA, which isn’t a long process. I know your lengthy response deserves more of a reply than this, but I do hear you.
@Kristen_A_Fox Can you explain these points::
" I just don’t think that increased development within the proposed LHD boundaries will lead to a more affordable BBH. It would have the opposite effect–by making an already unaffordable area even more unattainable–I can only see more high-end homes going in, I don’t see how an affordable, multi-family, dense project would be funded here–the land values are too high."
High land values typically make dense, multifamily projects more - not less - economically feasible relative to replacing small homes with larger ones. The high land values downtown haven’t led to an explosion of large single family homes. Did I misinterpret what you wrote?
“It just seems unlikely, while the tearing down of more affordable homes to be replaced by much larger ones does seem likely (because it’s already happening).”
Instead of clamping down on redevelopment, which makes it almost impossible to accommodate new residents, how can we change the regulatory environment so that market forces generate abundant new housing?
“There are so many underdeveloped and undeveloped areas in Austin that need way more density. I don’t think this neighborhood is one of them.”
This “density somewhere else besides here” statement clearly conflicts with our values.
Healthy dialogue is always good - so no worries Kristen.
The process - yes, the process needs some serious revision. I assure you that only a small very small percentage of neighbors (my guess would be less than 10%) were paying attention and knew anything about the historic district before the petition. Canvasing the neighborhood I encountered several who still had no idea it was going on a year after the process started in July 2014. I wonder if in the other cities that have a 30% petition application, if the final neighborhood vote is taken until after the process has begun. Because the way the system is set up now makes no sense. You shouldn’t vote and then 9 months later get the design standards by mail. That makes no sense to me - it is like declaring a verdict in a trail and then hearing evidence.
Further to the process a lot of people in the neighborhood feel intimidated by the SRCC. I have had several ‘yes’ votes who said they wished they never signed it but don’t want to change their vote now as it would look bad. Or others who are ‘yes’ votes but are mad because no one included them in the process. Or people who have gone ‘neutral’ because they do not want to be against their neighbors. There are others who have felt bullied into changing their position or “going against what the neighborhood wants and has been working on so hard”. It has deeply divided this neighborhood and it is rather tragic IMO. My hope is win or loose that the neighborhood can come back together in some productive, neighborly way when this is over.
It seems to me, and maybe this is just me, but there should be a way to verify before design standard meetings are held that the whole neighborhood has been invited - preferably by snail mail in some official form. I am not on the SRCC’s list-serve (or they have an aol account from the 90’s - LOL). So only people whose email addresses they had (there list serve members -10% of Travis Heights) were invited. They only cared about reaching out to enough of the neighbors to satisfy their application. No one ever knocked on my door and said this is going on, participate what is your email address - I would have gladly given it to them.
Then there is the process being handled and administered by the Preservation office that has a stake in the outcome. Again, on this measure I won’t make my claims online in a written form, but they seriously alarm me that a city agency can operate in this manner. I do not think they have impartial or unbiased at all. And it looks very bad for the City to have one of it’s offices operate in this manner, whether it is perceived or true.
You brought up windows. Yes, the SRCC says we can replace our windows now. This is only after adequate attempts to rehab them have been exhausted - trust me I have been trying to rehab my windows for years - it still leaks like a sieve and rattles in storms. So after that is done I could replace my windows, but you have to read the fine print, which they just clarified with the “shalls and must” clarifications. I would have to “Shall” (not should) replace my windows with the same materials used - my windows are wooden. I got a Pella quote for that. To replace my 18 windows with inexpensive vinyl windows would cost about $12,000, to replace my windows to historic standards with their least expensive wooden windows would cost $24,000. That is a huge difference for me.
You mentioned that there are no $1,000 a day fines. Actually there are - read it. The fine for a homeowner with a HS exemption is only $10 a day. But if it is a rental property it is $1,000 a day for non-compliance.
One of the things that is disturbing to me is the “shall maintain to historic standards”. Now the preservation office says they don’t go around citing people for non-compliance issues and “failure to maintain”. But that language is in the document and becomes law. The preservation officer may not be the same preservation officer in 10 years. The law will be the law and the next person can uphold it if they want. This seems like a system of getting the older and lower income homeowners out of the neighborhood as they will be the ones who are most likely not to comply. They are the oldest neighbors in the area and they could be the first injured.
To clarify nothing changes in the zoning from what it is now. It is single family/duplex with a two story limit and the same square footage - one is just historic. This is about ascetics plain and simple. They do not want the bungalows to be destroyed and they want to keep people from putting up modern homes. I really see nothing wrong with some of the modern homes in our neighborhood. There are plenty of bungalows still, most of the homes are. Some are adorable - mine is fugly. My sister’s next door is ugly too. The only thing she wants to change about her house is the front. She would like to raise the ceiling and put a nice entrance on the front. This would not be allowed.
Most of the people who are for this proposal have been working on it for years and have remodeled their homes during that process - I guess they were ‘in the know’. Or they are people who moved here recently, tore down their 800 sq ft shacks and put up two story homes, but now say I who have lived here for 20 years cannot. The recent requests for demos is because of the LHD. Anyone who gets it in before it becomes law is grandfathered in, so that is a large reason for many of the recent requests in the past year.
Again if it were a bigger area, say fairview park and the whole side of the neighborhood between Stacy and congress or all of Travis Heights I might agree.
I would also like to say, I do not plan on tearing my house down or remodeling. I have no stake in the process. Most likely if I did remodel it would likely be in the back and not be greatly effected by the design standards. I have chosen to oppose the LHD because I want to have control over my own home. I do not want the City to become my HOA.
This is a fantastic neighborhood - very creative. I would guess that we have the largest percentage of artist, architects, film people… in the city. I hate to see that creativity squashed, and I fear that it was what will happen. The SRCC were against the people who put up the “Before I Die Wall” which has now become a local attraction of sorts. If I want to put a garage door on the front of my house, why should anyone care? If it passes I have vowed to paint my house neon yellow, pink and green camo on principal, especially since paint is not regulated.
No Roger, you didn’t misinterpret what I wrote. BBH is zoned for single family, so multi-family units aren’t going in there. Only bigger, single family, unaffordable homes. There are no huge single family homes going in downtown because downtown isn’t zoned for single family housing.
Perhaps this conversation isn’t as fruitful or as welcome as I would have liked. I usually don’t find that I have to balance my preservation values with my love of dense, walkable neighborhoods–they usually go hand in hand. What amount of density is enough?
Oh and a correction on my previous post–there are only 3 historic districts in Austin. BBH would be the 4th.
I hope you will stay engaged in the conversation. Your voice of preservation is an important one. I am not anti-preservation. Preservation is necessary to prevent loosing homes and buildings of historic value. Unfortunately, even according to the historic office’s own documents, “there is nothing architecturally or historically significant about BBH.”
Perhaps a new unique NCCD is the answer? Something that preserves the community and gives more power to the neighborhood (all the neighborhood) to oversee demolitions and projects they might oppose.
I am sorry that is not true - nothing changes in the zoning. The LHD will not prevent bigger, single family unaffordable homes. The zoning that is there now will be the same as the new zoning only with the tag of it being historic. It is single family/duplex to single family/duplex, two-story limit to two story limit, same square footage limit (which I believe is 2900 sq feet) to the same exact sq ft. So you can still build a two story house with 2900 sq feet in the historic district, you just have to do it in a manner the HLC deems acceptable - the rear of your property. Or in the case of a non-contributing home 1/3 of the total district, with no restrictions. People are still going to build these homes in BBH or remodel the ones to the max size. The neighborhood gets wealthier and wealthier and the homes get bigger and bigger. But the LHD will not change the size, it will be the same. And it will probably not change the people wanting homes close to SOCO and downtown. They will keep paying more than they are worth and property taxes will continue to rise.
I really would like to know the truth about the property tax issue. Maybe someone in hyde park knows for sure. I have been told being part of the HLD will lower property taxes, and I have heard that there are studies that prove LHD neighborhoods usually see their property rise at a greater percentage than surrounding neighborhoods over time. I don’t know which one is accurate. I would love someones input on that.
I would like to see the tax savings in Hyde Park since it has become a LHD. Most of the information on the internet are studies done on cities that do not compare with Austin. The ones that show the greatest success are those cities providing low interest loans for people to renovate. This addresses 2 problems, low income housing and preservation of historic homes in the worst parts of the cities. In Austin, you have to pay out of pocket for renovations then apply for an abatement.
There was a story on KVUE 7/6/2015 that said …Prices in Hyde Park (78751) have jumped 43 percent in two years."… Has it helped any that it is a LHD?
@Kristen_A_Fox, as I asked previously, why are we considering an LHD as a tool to stop a certain kind of development in this case (tearing down small homes to build bigger ones) instead of changing the regulatory environment to permit more - and more types of - housing? Shouldn’t we be changing the zoning to multifamily to satisfy the demand, reflected in increasing property values, to live in the neighborhood?
Going back to FAN’s values, I’m not seeing how this proposed LHD is compatible with them. Again, it should be about welcoming more people into the neighborhood by providing housing abundance and diversity. Moreover:
“A diverse array of housing options not currently available are compatible with existing neighborhoods, can help make our city affordable, and can contribute to the vitality of our neighborhoods.”
With an LHD, we’d further restrict the housing options instead of making more of them available.
I think part of what we’re seeing with this resolution is a consequence of having failed to tie it back to the FAN vision and failure to define the criteria under which an LHD supports it. Opposition to the LHD ties back to the FAN vision nicely when you look at it, but the resolution didn’t capture these concepts.
None of us like to see modest single-family homes torn down and replaced with million dollar single-family homes. You’re right, SF zoning does not generally permit denser housing types other than possibly duplexes on larger lots. However, Austin is in the middle of re-writing its land development code (CodeNext) and it seems like a lot of emphasis will be placed on allowing denser, but still neighborhood compatible, building types such as triplexes, fourplexes, bungalow courts, and small courtyard apartment buildings, within neighborhoods. So even though the land development code does not support denser housing types now, that could change in fairly short order. I would hate to see a historic district which would prevent the creation of “missing middle” housing options which we desperately need. I wish there were a way to ban larger SF homes but not the other, more modest, housing types, but I don’t really see how that would be possible.
Weighing in here, and will try to be brief.
IMO, a properly warranted LHD is perfectly in line with my understanding of FAN principles, specifically as it references one aspect of a full diversity of housing and identity. I think Kristen makes a very valid point that historic districts have an important role to play in a changing city.
Further, I consider the zoning discussion to be a red herring. One might argue that an LHD is a mechanism to prevent up-zoning to higher densities, but it more likely that what we’re really talking about is a balance between homeowner’s rights and the role of a neighborhood association.
In my perfect world, the City would have the resources for a full Preservation Office, to subjectively assess areas for historic significance based on historic merit, architectural/urban significant, degree of vulnerability, etc… Having neighborhoods lead the discussion of preservation smacks of “opt-out” obstructionism and unwittingly gives greater protection to already empowered neighborhoods.
Here is my problem: this is not a FAN issue. FAN’s stated intention is to bring more neighborhood stakeholders to the table, not chose sides between two groups of neighborhood stakeholders.
I would be fully supportive of FAN acting as a mediator between the two sides on this. I would also support FAN voting toward a resolution on the process of LHDs in general. However, with all respect to the hard work that FoBBH and others have put into this, I think FAN voting on this neighborhood issue is overstepping our bounds.
I harbor misgivings over the motivations for this historic district and I support FoBBH efforts in having their part heard by the City, but I am extremely reluctant to see FAN step in on this issue.
I like that Brendan. Think Switzerland.
I just wanted to say that I love all of the different perspectives on this and other issues. I think this is exactly what FAN is about.
@brwittstruck You wrote:
Brendan: “A properly warranted LHD is perfectly in line with my understanding of FAN principles, specifically as it references one aspect of a full diversity of housing and identity.”
Couldn’t any CAVE in any neighborhood make that same argument? I can see it now:
“The single-family character of my neighborhood contributes to the housing diversity of the City.”
I don’t know what a “properly warranted LHD” is, because I haven’t seen anyone define the criteria by which we’d recognize one if we saw it.
Brendan: “Further, I consider the zoning discussion to be a red herring. One might argue that an LHD is a mechanism to prevent up-zoning to higher densities, but it more likely that what we’re really talking about is a balance between homeowner’s rights and the role of a neighborhood association.”
The reason I think the turn of this discussion is so important is that we’re finally trying to find the truth behind what’s motivating this proposal. Let’s not kid ourselves - it is mostly about fear of change (not “history”) versus “property rights”.
@Kristen_A_Fox herself raised the issue: there is a fear of large homes replacing small homes due to rising property values and the current single-family zoning. If someone wants to solve that problem, zoning is extremely relevant and not a “red herring”.
Insofar as FAN is involved, property rights may be important but aren’t central to our vision. However, our vision is very much about embracing optimistic views about how to improve neighborhoods rather than maintain the status quo due to fear.
But if we truly believe that shutting out people who want to live in a neighborhood in order to preserve a lack of housing diversity (under the ironic guise of contributing to the City’s housing diversity) is consistent with the FAN vision, then yes, zoning is a red herring.