I’ve always been really curious when people express concerns about additional residential development in their neighborhoods. Not the dreaded “affordable housing” that people perceive to be a property value (and often times a social capital) scourge, but housing that would complement the existing character of a community.
I say “curious.” Actually, I don’t always understand those concerns. It’s a shortcoming. I’m working on it.
I could understand better, maybe, if the concerns were altruistic. As in: The new development won’t help to address our community’s housing and upward mobility challenges. Or the units will be too expensive to rent or to sell to people who need housing the most. Or the location is too remote – and our nascent public transit infrastructure won’t allow residents to commute from home to work or to the grocery stores and other amenities that make a neighborhood attractive and desirable.
Those have some merit as an argument. We don’t have nearly enough accessible housing in this community in places that also provide other attractions and amenities.
Or how about if the argument against development was that schools where the children would attend are facing a number of challenges – they are overcrowded, under-resourced, low-performing and dilapidated – and adding more kids would actually be more detrimental than beneficial? That makes sense and we need to talk about it.
I also could appreciate if the concerns were about the impact on the environment – an argument against adding to air pollution, noise pollution and light pollution. This might be a bit of a stretch, but let’s go with it.
Are these your concerns? OK, I’m with you.
But they usually aren’t.
Maybe your commute is longer. Or, maybe you lose your view – an argument I heard recently in Charlotte. (Seriously, does the view actually belong to an individual resident?) But doesn’t new development also come with some possibility for others? Perhaps you can fight for development and more investment in infrastructure to provide opportunities for others rather than fight against development because it feels like a loss of something for you?
And why is it that people who enjoy living in an area want to keep others from doing the same? I’m sure before your development was constructed, someone might have had the same concerns about you moving in to the community. If you’re living in Ballantyne now, you added to someone else’s commute, you added to the traffic, and you’re one more person police officers have to serve. What if the people who lived there prior to your arrival decided “That’s it. Enough development. We have all the people we want or need”? Why do people think it’s OK to do that?
Now, if you lived in what many would consider a less desirable area, you wouldn’t have this problem. I’m rarely complaining about new development projects that might draw new and diverse community members to the west side. Why? Because we’re rarely considered for new development projects that would increase diversity on the west side.
If you are tired of having developers wanting to build in your ZIP code and people wanting to move in to your community, come on over to the Beatties Ford Road corridor. Could you bring a Starbucks or a cute coffee shop, a Publix, a Chick-fil-A and a high performing school with you? Maybe I could share your pain. Maybe, I’d understand.