The Asbury Park Press doesn’t usually find common ground with progressives, but this morning’s editorial on Sens. Lesniak and Bateman’s “bipartisan” destruction of the state’s housing policies nails the issue. http://www.app.com/article/201…
I can only guess at the reasons for the Press’ position. But if you’re a real conservative and not just a dittohead, you should support the general goals of the Mount Laurel decisions. It isn’t so conservative to stop private property owners and, as is rather incredibly happening in Summit, Habitat for Humanity from building starter homes on their own land. http://www.nj.com/news/local/i…
Whatever the reasons, the Press’ editorial nails what is going on better than anything I’ve seen so far, and should be required reading for everyone on this site.
First, as the Press reports, nobody seems to know what the bill actually would do. The sponsors may have some idea, but they aren’t telling the public:
Exactly what the bill would mean for the future of affordable housing is anyone’s guess. Many of the details about the ongoing role of the Planning Commission and how the program would be administered and monitored are unclear. The blanks will eventually be filled in, its sponsors and supporters say.
That in itself is troubling. But what the sponsors can tell the Press is that, whatever happens, it will actually REDUCE the number of homes built in NJ:
Bateman, responding to a question by the Press, said the bill would “probably” result in fewer affordable housing units in the state than are required under COAH. That can’t be allowed to happen.
It also appears to create a bureaucratic morass that could be even more complex than COAH. This is a theme that Steve Lonergan is running with – as usual with looney tunes overtones. But on the substance he’s actually right (ok, it’s hard to admit that he’s right on anything, but…) As the Press describes:
The bill, S-1, would transfer ill-defined authority for affordable housing to the State Planning Commission and allow towns to determine for themselves, through their master plans and zoning, whether they were meeting their constitutional obligation to provide housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents.
So the State Planning Commission – which is itself a mess – determines part of what’s going on, and then towns also determine part of it for themselves. There is also some role for the Economic Development Authority in the bill. And another role for courts. And, no doubt, lots of work for lawyers.
The Asbury Park Press also gets the goals right:
Whatever form it finally takes, the overriding goal of reform should be developing a plan that increases the amount of affordable housing in this state. Every municipality should be required to provide its fair share, and a mechanism should be in place to ensure compliance. The plan also must be clear about funding sources.
Why is a Democratic Senator sponsoring a bill that, as his Republican co-sponsor admits, actually goes against these basic progressive goals, creating a huge new bureaucracy along the way? Why is all of this being hammered out in secret? And how do we get to the goals that the Asbury Park Press, of all places, has articulated so well? I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts…