Oct/Nov 2017, Many Documents

October and November (2017) have been active months. A collection of interesting documents have been created or brought into active conversation concerning both housing and mobility.



Update 2017-11-13: The city commission will be receiving the presentation "Presentation on Affordable Housing Proposals" tomorrow (2017-11-14) at the commission meeting. The agenda item is here and the presentation document is a available here. This commission meeting will be available via Facebook Live from the city commission's FB page. An index into the presentation for the topics discussed below is as follows:

  • Incentives for Small-Scale Development (pp. 14-38)
  • Density Bonus (pp.58-64)
  • Accessory Dwelling Units By Right (pp.68-76)
  • Non-Condo Zero Lot Line (pp.77-99)


There is an ongoing discussion (a very charitable use of the term) of zoning concessions in light of the city's housing crisis continues. So far the conversation has been dominated by the designated bullies of NIMBYism; "conversation" is comprised primarily of vague passive-aggressive accusations and muttering something about "meth labs". It is an embarrassment that these people are the representatives of our neighborhoods; especially given all the "Urbanist" noise-making that occurs online.

The conversation centers around the recommendations from the city's commission on housing affordability.

There were three topics currently under discussion at the community meetings:

  • Accessory Dwelling Units
  • Zero Lot Line Single Family Units (rowhouses)
  • Inspiring Small Scale Developers

Due to the reality that out "Urbanist" community cannot be bothered to show up only time will tell how much progress can be made. The NIMBYs claim to be very concerned about Affordable Housing while opposing change of every kind, being broken hearted about how hard it is for the renters they don't like to find parking spaces, the high rents "all these undesirable developments" can charge, worried about green-space while wanting more parking, and wanting to promote home ownership - so long at it is the kind of home they themselves already own. Much noise was made about how "big developers" can circumvent the rules and do whatever they want [no evidence presented]; while no interest was expressed in the discussion of how to open neighborhood development to small developers (see "Encouraging Small Scale Development" below).

And we should not forget: what if someone operates a meth lab in a row house? The scare tactics NIMBYs will resort to know no boundaries.

The reality is clear - some of our neighborhood associations have developed into power-oriented fiefdoms. At these "discussion" meetings I heard no interest expressed besides maintaining their authority to micro-manage (aka: bully). They are not interested in anything which can be honestly described as "discussion"; nor are they all that interested in policy.

Accessory Dwelling Units

The notes from the 2017-10-26 meeting are here.

Zero Lot Line Single-Family Units

Changes to the regulations for zero-lot-line single-family units [aka rowhouses] enables reductions to costs and additional financing options to be available for construction of properties that present the opportunity for ownership. Such development also facilitates lower-cost housing by permitting an incremental increase in density on a lot or set of lots. This type of development is common in many traditional cities.

Encouraging Small Scale Development

The city's planning commission has been tasked with create s set of recommendations which would facilitate small scale development. This is viewed as one - of many - mechanisms to approach the "missing middle" problem.


MobileGR has conducted an analysis of parking.

The ECA (Easttown Community Association) has made a request for a residential parking permit program. One such program currently exists in the Belknap neighborhood. There are two related documents.


From the memorandum for the following document:

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Mobile GR and Parking Services
collaborated on a Parking and Mobility Census to create a clearer picture of commuting,
inform discussions on where and how to add additional parking capacity, assess
demand for potential services such as car-share, and guide enhancements to
DASH/transit options. The survey was opened to the public on August 9, 2017 and
closed on October 2, 2017.
The Parking and Mobility Census closed with 1,951 participants with a completed
response rate of 100%. Mobile GR collaborated with many community organizations
and businesses to spread word about this census. With the census now complete staff
will work with the Chamber of Commerce on processing and cleaning up the data to
report back at the November or December Mobile GR Commission meeting.

MobileGR is in the processes of determining how to improve the transit stops. Between June and September 2017, 531 survey responses were received through the online survey. This study is being coordinated with the RAPID's ALIGN project.

The city is considering six policy changes related to pedestrian safety and accessibility.

There is no concrete news regarding the bike share study. It is ongoing.