BY RICHARD SKOLNIK
I commend Stephanie Nakhleh for her exceptionally insightful and well-written pieces on housing.
Ms. Nakhleh makes many important points in her articles. Among the most important for me, someone who has spent a lifetime working in public policy, is:
Our housing shortages are NOT inevitable; rather, to a large degree they stem from a failure of our County Council and its housing policies.
The Planning & Zoning Commission has outlined a number of measures that can be taken to begin to ease some of our misguided housing policies:
- one is to ease limitations on building heights downtown
- the other is to reduce mandated parking requirements for new development
The County Council will vote on code changes on the above on May 2. I encourage you to heed Ms. Nakhleh’s recommendation and quickly write to the Council to urge them to support these two code changes by accepting Planning & Zoning’s recommendations, as worded.
I worked on HIV drugs when they first came out. The global community wrung their hands at their initially costing around $10,000 per patient-year and how “impossible” it would be for them to ever be used in the low-income countries in which they were most needed. The late Dr. Paul Farmer led a group that insisted that we change the global discussion on these drugs. Rather than talking about why they would never be affordable, we needed to talk about what could be done to make them affordable. It was not long before the global community focused on efforts to lower the price of these drugs, which soon was closer to $100 than $10,000 per patient-year.
Our County Council needs to learn from the above. We must tell the Council now that they must make a real dent in our housing problems, rather than telling us again why this problem can’t be solved.
I repeat my thanks to Ms. Nakhleh and thank the Planning & Zoning Commission, as well, for setting out a path forward.