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Monday, February 27, 2023
HB6633 Would End Single-family Zoning - Hearing Tuesday, 28Feb
Have your voice heard on Tuesday, Feb. 28
Please Testify Against HB6633, a bill that would end single-family zoning in Connecticut.
Dear Friends, If you would like to submit testimony to the Housing Committee on the "Fair Share" bill (HB6633) which would essentially get rid of single-family zoning in CT in the next decade, you are welcome to use the testimony below or some variation of it.
The public hearing in the Housing Committee is taking place on Tuesday, 2/28 and we recommend that you send it in soon as possible. You may submit testimony here or sign up to speak via Zoom or in-person here (the deadline to sign-up to speak is 2/27 at 3 p.m.)
HB6633 mandates every municipality (except the seven with over 20% poverty - Hartford, Bridgeport, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Waterbury, Windham) to create a “Fair Share” number of affordable units. These can be built 1) all by the municipality or 2) by a developer that the town allows to build 80% high density market value multifamily units with remaining 20% of the project being the town’s “Fair Share” affordable units. With massive overdevelopment of 80% market value multifamily apartments, very few affordable units (20%) get built - scheme #2 would DOUBLE the town’s entire housing stock in 10 years.
I write today to ask you to vote NO to HB6633. This “Fair Share” bill would impose extreme density on our local communities without regard to existing capacity. It would be catastrophic for most of Connecticut.
The bill would result in municipalities being sued and forced to build at public expense housing when the private sector does not do so, when a municipality does not meet its Fair Share allocation, which is not based on market demand or the wishes of state residents, but rather the determination of the executive branch, as informed by housing advocates and organizations.
Open Communities Alliance says there is demand for 140,000 affordable, but only 2,500 are homeless in Connecticut. Who are we building for?
New Jersey is the only state that has had a fair share plan for decades and it has not improved diversity in communities, and it has not created affordability. Why would Connecticut now want to follow with a fair share plan when the model in New Jersey has not been successful and has spurred litigation.
Let’s not make decisions where the very communities that you represent will suffer. We don’t negotiate against ourselves.
Fair Share provides for a ten-year timetable for municipalities to meet their "Fair Share" allocations; in prior years, the bill’s advocates have indicated that they intend for up to 300,000 units to be constructed within this period (enough to house approximately 700,000 persons). In addition to lawsuits forcing public construction, municipalities that do not comply may be subject to “default zoning” overriding all local land use regulation, permitting up to 20 units per acre in much of the state. Note that “fair share” does not replace 8-30g but is in addition to it which needs to be badly reformed. You can’t just say housing is needed everywhere, unilaterally, and double down on more one-size-fits-all mandates to build, build, build.
We need proper metrics for demand for housing, such as where jobs are in the state, what is the access to transportation, what are the limits of infrastructure, water tables, sewage capacity, and the environment, and cost of living in each area. This bill only looks at regional income, declares a formula, and mandates housing.
Let’s be clear – this bill would get rid of single-family zoning in Connecticut. Creating affordable housing with all stakeholders involved is a laudable goal but getting rid of zoning and established neighborhoods is not. We know there is a better way such as towns getting seed money from the State to build 100 percent affordable units and fixing our voucher system. Land is finite and unique, and land use decisions permanently affect a Town’s economic, ecological and community health. We can and must find a better way. This bill does not make Connecticut more affordable.
Tips to Testifying Testifying on Maintaining Local Oversight of Planning and Zoning
Speaking at a public hearing is a great way to make your voice heard. Your goal is to persuade. How you speak is as important as what you say. Here are some simple tips.
Be factual and polite.
Thank the decision-makers for their willingness to hear from the public.
Then, state your name, address, and whether you support or oppose the proposal.
Address the decision-makers.
Direct your comments to the board or commission, not other speakers or the applicant. Use titles and last names if addressing one directly (“Chair X,” “Commissioner Y,” etc.).
Make it personal.
Decision-makers respond to personal stories that illustrate why something matters to you. Talk about how the proposal could affect you, your family, or the community at large.
Know what you’re asking for.
DesegregateCT: For hearings on specific projects, you should ask the body to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the project. For hearings on changing the zoning regulations (which would affect many parcels or projects), you should make suggestions on the drafted language and encourage adoption of alternative proposals instead which would directly achieve their stated goals of bringing the equity, economic, and environmental benefits of building a more inclusive community.
For hearings on state mandated control of zoning, you can state: 1) One size does not fit all in our 169 town and the state legislature should maintain existing laws which allow local criteria for zoning decision making, including: character, environmental impacts, traffic, septic limitations, town water and sewer capacity, fire safety and public safety. 2) For hearings on changing the 8-30g zoning regulations (which would affect many parcels or projects), you should make suggestions to the drafted language and encourage modification, or rejection of the state mandated changes. For hearings to develop city/town plans, state that sweeping one size benchmarks (number targets) for housing will not be attainable. 3) State Legislature should not engage in making such broad sweeping changes without collaboration with other best practices already in our state: members of suburban local housing authorities within CT and members of local planning and zoning committees. 4) Singling out Suburbs as High Target Opportunity Zones again excludes the serious issues in existing Urban Affordable Housing Developments, which must be addressed immediately to help those that are currently in need. 5) Offer alternative solutions: Creation of Opportunity Zones in urban communities, expansion of public private partnerships and mentoring to provide opportunities for growth of jobs and revitalization of communities where transportation infrastructure already exists. 6) In any situation, you can speak broadly about how this legislation will not result in the equity, economic, and environmental benefits they intend.
Prepare in advance.
Take notes, write out your speech or bullet points, and if you can, practice in advance. It’s OK to read from a phone. Mind time limits.
Usually, testimony is limited to 2 or 3 minutes per speaker. You can say about 125 words per minute comfortably. The decision-makers may let
you go over time, but read their body language. If they’re annoyed, they might ignore your message.
Submit written comments.
You can submit written comments to supplement spoken comments during a meeting. (Bring multiple hard copies if attending in person!) You can also submit written comments if you can’t attend a meeting at all. In that case, confirm with the recipient that your comments will be read in full into the record.
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Please donate TODAY. Every dollar will be used to spread our message and support our efforts to stave off onerous zoning and housing bills, and to stop activists from ending single-family zoning in Connecticut before it’s too late. Local zoning and sound housing policy are not partisan issues. We all care deeply about the development of our towns. Please donate here.