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Is Upzoning Progressive?

Photo: Tony Castro By Russell Skiba, Ph.D. One of the arguments made by proponents of upzoning is that zoning policies that encourage higher density and remove barriers to development are progressive.  Jackie Scanlan, Development Services Manager of Bloomington’s planning department, has called the federal Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act — which calls upon localContinue reading “Is Upzoning Progressive?”

Don’t Be Dupe-plexed

By Jim Rosenbarger The Mayor and some City Council members continue their push to open doors to new multi-family apartment development in single family neighborhoods. Having been rebuffed in 2019 during the debate over the UDO revision, the Mayor passed the intervening months without discussing a middle ground approach. Instead he came back in 2020Continue reading “Don’t Be Dupe-plexed”

Devil in the Details: A First Look at the City’s Revised Upzoning Proposal

The City of Bloomington has released the revised version of its plan to upzone its residential neighborhoods. The revised zoning map, which sharply reduced the city’s radical overlay of Residential Urban (R4) zoning on much of the core neighborhoods, came out the second week in February. The Mayor’s planning staff posted the clarifying text amendmentsContinue reading “Devil in the Details: A First Look at the City’s Revised Upzoning Proposal”

The Revised Upzoning Proposal is On Its Way

On February 10, City Council members received the following notice from the Mayor’s office: CITY OF BLOOMINGTON OFFICE OF THE MAYOR MEMORANDUM TO: Members of the Bloomington Common Council FROM: Mayor John Hamilton RE: UDO Revisions and Timeline DATE: February 10, 2021  Since Planning & Transportation (P&T) staff initiated the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) zoningContinue reading “The Revised Upzoning Proposal is On Its Way”

Why Climate Change Fizzled as a Rationale for Upzoning

By Peter Dorfman In the fall of 2019, when Bloomington’s Plan Commission and City Council debated an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to push multiplex housing into single-family zoned core neighborhoods, plex proponents based their case on three principal arguments: Housing affordability — The suggestion that new housing, at whatever rental price point,Continue reading “Why Climate Change Fizzled as a Rationale for Upzoning”

duplex

The Most Destructive Housing Form

By Jean Simonian The latest round of debate on the rezoning of Bloomington’s core has focused a lot of attention on the proposal to allow development of large multiplex apartment structures in core neighborhoods now zoned for single-family houses. That’s understandable; quadplexes would be big and conspicuous, towering over most of their neighbors, and eachContinue reading “The Most Destructive Housing Form”

Who Benefits from Upzoning? On Housing Affordability and Equity

By Russell Skiba, PhD In its rollout of the UDO amendment proposal in October, Bloomington’s Planning & Transportation Department claimed that upzoning to allow plexes throughout the city, but especially in core neighborhoods, would help meet the Comprehensive Plan’s goals of “equitable access to housing” and growth in the city’s inventory of affordable housing.  SuchContinue reading “Who Benefits from Upzoning? On Housing Affordability and Equity”

Zoning is a Sledgehammer; Bloomington Deserves a Form-Based Approach

By Jim Rosenbarger Conventional land use zoning is a blunt-edged tool, especially for existing, unique neighborhoods. Synonyms for “zone” include area, sector, section, belt, region or territory. These terms describe something generic, something broad. Bloomington’s neighborhoods have names: Prospect Hill, Green Acres, Hyde Park, etc. Each has varied street types, lot sizes and shapes, andContinue reading “Zoning is a Sledgehammer; Bloomington Deserves a Form-Based Approach”

The Upzoning Debate and the ‘Appeal to Authority’

By Peter Dorfman More than 550 Bloomingtonians from all across the city — from Broadview to Blue Ridge — have signed onto a Resolution calling on the Plan Commission and City Council to reject the city’s new zoning map and the text amendments to the UDO that would upzone Bloomington’s single-family neighborhoods. For perspective, 550Continue reading “The Upzoning Debate and the ‘Appeal to Authority’”

League of Women Voters Urges the City to Slow Its Roll on Upzoning

At the end of 2020, the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County wrote to Mayor John Hamilton, the Common Council, and the Plan Commission urging a slower, more transparent, thoughtful, and considered process in evaluating the proposal of plexes in core neighborhoods. Ann Birch, president of the League, called on the administration to involveContinue reading “League of Women Voters Urges the City to Slow Its Roll on Upzoning”

Reliving ‘Urban Renewal: Again, Bloomington Risks Its Sense of Place

By Jan Sorby The front page headline of the Herald-Telephone in December of 1959 read, “Wants a Six-Story Building: Tear Down the Courthouse Councilman Turner Declares.” The article reported a suggestion on the part of Councilman Robert Turner “that the county tear down ‘this monstrosity of a Courthouse’ and build a six-story modern office inContinue reading “Reliving ‘Urban Renewal: Again, Bloomington Risks Its Sense of Place”

Let’s Talk About ‘NIMBY’

By Peter Dorfman When are supporters and opponents of Bloomington’s proposal to upzone neighborhoods going to stop talking past one another? An important first step will be for those engaged in the conversation to start seeing each other as individuals instead of dismissing the people they disagree with as abstract, opaque memes.  This will getContinue reading “Let’s Talk About ‘NIMBY’”

Put the Brakes on the Latest Round of Misguided Modernizing

By Lori Hoevener I’ve spent many hours, during these months of the pandemic, walking in Bloomington’s lovely old core neighborhoods near where I reside. I’ve always felt immensely lucky that our small city still has that increasingly rare connection with the past that makes present-day Bloomington such an attractive place to live.  The term “core neighborhood”Continue reading “Put the Brakes on the Latest Round of Misguided Modernizing”

Don’t Put Workforce Housing Ahead of Rentals for Our Neediest

By Michelle Henderson When the Shalom Center, one of Bloomington’s most important shelters for people experiencing homelessness, was first located at the First United Methodist Church in 2000, we had only one room to provide space for our guests to gather and gain access to services and resources during the day. One of my favoriteContinue reading “Don’t Put Workforce Housing Ahead of Rentals for Our Neediest”

The Rise of the WIMBYs

By Jean Simonian The so-called Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) movement casts increased housing density and the elimination of single family zoning in up-beat, buzzy terms like “saving the planet,” creating a world of “social equity,” and “affordable housing” for all. YIMBY, of course, is a wry twist on Not in My Backyard (NIMBY), aContinue reading “The Rise of the WIMBYs”

About Those Postcards…

By Peter Dorfman Last fall, a lot of us received an educational postcard alerting us to proposed zoning changes in the core neighborhoods. Members of Bloomington’s City Council sharply criticized that postcard, and attacked the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) for distributing it. Council members especially hated two of the card’s contentions: First, that propertyContinue reading “About Those Postcards…”

Zoning Didn’t Segregate Bloomington. It Won’t Fix Us Now.

By William Coulter In the current debate over upzoning of core neighborhoods, supporters have asserted without evidence that upzoning will increase racial equity and neighborhood diversity. A closer examination of the history of zoning in Bloomington does not support that assertion. Segregation in Bloomington has a long history, but zoning ordinances did not segregate Bloomington.Continue reading “Zoning Didn’t Segregate Bloomington. It Won’t Fix Us Now.”

Why Again? Respect Bloomington’s Comprehensive Plan

By Jim Rosenbarger When the Bloomington City Council debated amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance in 2019, the proposed reintroduction of multi-plex housing into what have been single family zoned neighborhoods took center stage. One of the recurring points of contention was over whether concentrating development in the core neighborhoods is consistent with the City’sContinue reading “Why Again? Respect Bloomington’s Comprehensive Plan”

Could Your Next Neighbor Be a Frat House? (Spoiler: It Could)

By Cappi Phillips One of the unintended but potentially harmful consequences of allowing plexes is that you too could have a fraternity on your block. According to the current code, fraternities and sororities are permitted only in areas zoned institutional. However, nothing prohibits a landlord or investor from signing individual leases with multiple members ofContinue reading “Could Your Next Neighbor Be a Frat House? (Spoiler: It Could)”

Bloomington’s Zoning History Offers a Lesson for Today

By Chris Sturbaum Bloomingtonians often tout the city’s exceptional commitment to progressive values and social justice – so much so that we often forget where we are and how recently those values evolved here. We’re in southern Indiana, and like most of the surrounding municipalities, even Bloomington has a long, shady history with respect toContinue reading “Bloomington’s Zoning History Offers a Lesson for Today”

Does Bloomington’s Upzoning Push Mirror Democratic Party Ideology?

By Peter Dorfman From the beginning of the 2019 push to urbanize Bloomington’s core neighborhoods via amendment of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), advocates for multi-plex rental housing have argued that the national Democratic Party backs them up in their push for densification. They haven’t abandoned that claim in 2020. The city’s planning staff haveContinue reading “Does Bloomington’s Upzoning Push Mirror Democratic Party Ideology?”

Call It ‘Rentrification’

By Chris Sturbaum Real estate is like mathematics. It is like science. You make single family zoned property eligible for conversion into multi-unit housing — now it represents multiple rental streams from the same footprint, and its value increases. This action alone prices many homes out of the range of potential homeowners.  Then increased rentalContinue reading “Call It ‘Rentrification’”

Radical Change – Not Affordable or Green

By Jan Sorby The Hamilton Administration’s plan to reintroduce multiplex housing into Bloomington’s core neighborhoods is being accomplished through a complex remapping of the city’s core neighborhoods — radically redefining what types of housing can go where. All the core neighborhoods (areas that were Ground Zero during last year’s UDO revision controversy) are converted fromContinue reading “Radical Change – Not Affordable or Green”

Whatever This Is, It Isn’t Democratic

By Peter Dorfman Bloomington’s Planning & Transportation staffers have been conducting public information sessions to explain and defend the newly proposed zone mapping and UDO amendments. Development Services Manager Jackie Scanlan has led these sessions. She generally has opened by acknowledging a specific criticism, in resident feedback, that the process she is taking us throughContinue reading “Whatever This Is, It Isn’t Democratic”

Overextended City: Bloomington in the Twilight Zone

By Steve Popolizio I’m a retired executive for an international humanitarian organization headquartered in the Chicago area.  My wife and I decided to move to Bloomington, where we met as IU grad students, for the culture, the educated community, wonderful natural resources and charming neighborhoods. We have lived here for eight years but have been troubledContinue reading “Overextended City: Bloomington in the Twilight Zone”

Short Take: The More Progressive Housing Stance is AGAINST Upzoning

California Democratic State Senator Scott Weiner has advocated elimination of zoning restrictions on multi-family housing. He’s pushed for SB 50, a measure that would have made it easier for multi-family homes and apartment complexes to be built near transit hubs in areas zoned for single family homes. Considered a progressive, Weiner faced a re-election challengeContinue reading “Short Take: The More Progressive Housing Stance is AGAINST Upzoning”

Planning, Not Upzoning

The proposed amendment to the UDO (zoning ordinance) and the new zoning map will allow multiplex housing to be a permitted use in all of Bloomington’s residential zones by blanket upzoning. It is an incorrect and simplistic response to a complex planning issue. Advocates tout the plex idea as consistent with a national trend inContinue reading “Planning, Not Upzoning”

Your opportunities to sound off on Bloomington’s upzoning

The Planning & Transportation Department is conducting a series of information sessions, ostensibly including time for Q&A. The first session, featuring a presentation by staffer Jackie Scanlan, provided for a closely controlled feedback session — participants’ cameras and microphones were turned off, and all questions were submitted through the Zoom chat window. Still, these areContinue reading “Your opportunities to sound off on Bloomington’s upzoning”

Is this your new neighbor?

The City of Bloomington’s new zoning map, and the proposed amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), would upzone many of the city’s single family neighborhoods to allow new multiplex apartment buildings as permitted uses. The new R4 zoning category allows the conversion of many areas, including Bloomington’s Historic Core Neighborhoods but also subdivisions acrossContinue reading “Is this your new neighbor?”

Upzoning in the administration’s own words

What is the Hamilton Administration telling us when it proposes to urbanize Bloomington’s traditional single family neighborhoods? Remember, this isn’t just the core neighborhoods — it’s many other areas and subdivisions around the city, some of whose residents believe they are covered by protective covenants that prohibited multiplex development, as indeed they did before thoseContinue reading “Upzoning in the administration’s own words”

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