Bellingham city planners are tweaking the infill toolkit to make it more palatable to neighborhood advocates, who blocked its use in single-family neighborhoods.
How many times must we tell city staff that homeowners deserve predictability? I grow vegetables in my 50-by-50 backyard. If the infill toolkit had been imposed, I could have lost my afternoon sun if my neighbors built a second-story apartment over a garage, and lost my privacy if their tenants' only outdoor seating was on an entrance staircase overlooking my yard.
City staff described the infill tool kit as a way to increase business for struggling builders. How many times do we have to say that existing homeowners don't want zoning that encourages builders to go house-to-house with tempting dreams of income from backyard apartments? Surely there are better ways to bolster construction than setting neighbor against neighbor.
How many times will city staff vilify existing homeowners as though our expectation of predictability is the cause of others not being able to afford their own homes? Is this how we want to solve complex problems: Helping some by grabbing from others?
I've lived happily in dense neighborhoods, and I think small-lot, single-family homes are a fine option. But build full-block clusters so everyone has predictability -- rather than stuffing extra units one-by-one into existing neighborhoods.