District 9 City Councilor Don Harris announced the results of a recently conducted a survey of the Tiny Homes Village, which is a joint City and County project.
Harris represents portions of the Southeast Heights, including the Four Hills area, where five of the six sites have been identified for the Tiny Homes project.
The money to build the village, along with the infrastructure, will come from a $2 million general bond county voters approved in November 2016.
The Tiny Homes Village will be built on one acre of land, it will have 25 to 35 homes in a gated community design.
The projected cost of each tiny home will be $17,000 to $20,000.
Each tiny home will be a mere 116 square feet, constructed on a chassis to save money and make it portable and for lack of a better description, the tiny homes are akin to a “tuff shed”.
The homes will be insulated, have heating and cooling, contain a bed, a desk, a chair and storage space.
Each tiny home will be wired for electricity but the structures will not have plumbing and no running water.
Restrooms, showers, laundry and a kitchen will be in communal buildings that will be built on the site.
Early operational costs for the village are estimated to be $150,000 to $200,000.
DISTRICT 9 CONSTITUENT SURVEY RESULTS
The 3 questions asked in the survey were:
1. Do you support the building of a tiny home’s village with public money?
2. Do you see the Tiny Home Village as a hindrance to revitalizing East Central Avenue?
3. Do you think the Tiny Home project is an appropriate way to address homelessness in the community?
Approximate 725 people responded to the survey.
The survey results were:
To the question of building and maintaining a taxpayer-funded tiny homes village, 83.7% said no, 9.3% said yes, and 7% said maybe.
To the question of whether a Tiny Home Village homes is an appropriate way to deal with the problem of homelessness, 82.6% said no, 9.3% said yes and 8.1% said they were not sure.
To the question “Do you think the Tiny Home project is an appropriate way to address homelessness in community redevelopment and revitalization efforts on East Central”, 86% said they were concerned, 10.8% said they were not concerned and 3.2 percent% were undecided.
In response to the survey results, City Councilor Don Harris had this to say:
“Before taking a position, I wanted to know how my constituents felt about [the Tiny Homes project] … It’s better to support them than it is to take a position without the informed collective judgment of the people I represent. … [The tiny homes village proposal is] extremely unpopular in my district and my constituents want me to do something else. … In other words, they want me to find a different solution to the problem.”
In response to the survey results, Harris wrote a letter to his constituents saying he plans to sponsor legislation that calls for a moratorium on the construction of any tiny home villages in the city until an independent and comprehensive analysis is completed on “the best way to deliver services to the homeless that will generate measurable results.”
In his letter to his constituents, Don Harris writes “I will oppose the implementation of a Tiny Home Village near the East Central corridor in District 9.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The survey results should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has been following the issue.
With his survey, his letter and call for a moratorium on the Tiny Homes Project, it is clear Don Harris now knows his constituents are upset.
Don Harris opposing the project now and calling for a moratorium on the project is laughable seeing as he has ignored what has been going on in his district since day one with the project.
There is no doubt City Councilor Diane Gibson as well as County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, the two biggest proponents and sponsors of the project are not going to be at all too happy with Harris’ late opposition and call for a moratorium give all the time and work that has been going on for the last year.
Initially, after a long process, 30 locations were suggested by neighborhood associations, individuals and city and county officials and the list was narrowed to 6 locations.
Five of the 6 proposed sites for the Tiny Homes Village are in Don Harris’ city council district with one of those location being visible from the freeway and very close to the Four Hills Country Club neighborhood and established businesses.
Three of the locations are South of Central and Tramway as you travel west in proximity to established businesses and homes.
Two of the locations are on or just off of Louisiana and South of Central.
Property owners within 1,000 feet of the various sites were sent letters inviting them to attend a series of public meetings.
Three public hearings were held in August that were very well attended and where comments were taken from property owners.
The most contentious of the 3 meeting where well over 300 angry people attended to voice opposition to the Tiny Homes project occurred on August 9, 2018 at Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth SE, which is in District 9.
Don Harris did not bother to attend any of the 3 meetings, including the August 9, 2018 meeting held in his District.
Had Harris attended any one of the meetings he would have known the opposition and be fully informed without his survey.
Don Harris saying “Before taking a position, I wanted to know how my constituents felt about it. … It’s better to support them than it is to take a position without the informed collective judgment of the people I represent” is what is called in politics as CYA or “cover your ass”.
The moratorium call is so rich and typical coming from Harris since during the entire 13 years he has been on the city council, Harris has always done what he damn well pleases despite his constituents’ concerns and their objections including his unwavering support of the ART Bus project and supporting all things Republican on the council.
In all probability, the call for a moratorium on the Tiny Homes project is Don Harris’ way of trying to placate or pacify and calm his constituents down.
Setting aside Harris’ questionable motivations, a moratorium by the City and County on the construction of the tiny home villages is in order until it is confirmed by an independent and comprehensive analysis that the Tiny Home project is the best way to deliver transitional housing services to the homeless that will not have a negative impact on established businesses and residential areas.
The voters of District 9 will soon find out if Don Harris is serious about introducing the legislation on a moratorium and if it is nothing more than a ploy on his part to placate his angry constituents especially if no one else on the city council supports the moratorium.
Below are links to other blog articles on the Tiny Homes project and homeless: