Middle finger to neighborhoods

It’s really appalling to think of all the hours, all the energy, over four months, we all utterly wasted last year arguing over the UDO. Seriously, four months I’ll never get back. Not just me – all of us, on both sides of the core neighborhood upzoning issue. Because ultimately it made no difference that the upzoning provision drew overwhelming opposition and lost. In the end, John Hamilton is going to do what John Hamilton wants to do.

For those who supported upzoning as a principled stance on affordable housing or climate change or racial justice – and I believe most of you were sincere about that – the Mayor was delighted to sit back and let you make those arguments. But with John, you always have to look past the fine rhetoric about diversity, justice and values to see the covert agenda. It’s now clear that from the administration’s perspective, upzoning was never about any of those things. It was never about housing poor people or cutting greenhouse gas emissions, or even about student housing. Upzoning is and always was about the Trades District.

John Hamilton has decided his Mayoral legacy will be that tech park on north Rogers. The trouble is, in order to get companies to commit to setting up shop there, he needs to prove Bloomington has workforce housing for their employees. That means cramming in 2000 to 3000 new apartments, mostly for middle class professionals. If it’s going to work, the Mayor needs upzoning to happen. And the map shows the core neighborhoods absorbing most of the burden of new density. Covenanted subdivisions are still protected from upzoning.

This map shows that the Hamilton Administration intends to do by fiat what it couldn’t do democratically through ordinance. The arrogance of this brute force seizure of already dense neighborhoods is astonishing.

Why are we having a public input session at all? The administration got all the information it needed about public sentiment toward upzoning the core last December. This map demonstrates that the administration and its new allies on the City Council have nothing but contempt for public input. They don’t have to face voters again for three years. This is an exercise in make-believe democracy — a Trumplike middle finger to the core neighborhoods.

Peter Dorfman

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