November 30, 2003

Rental and Owner-Occupied Housing

In reading the Town of Dryden Draft Comprehensive Plan, I'm growing more and more concerned about things that I'm not seeing discussed, in particular the balance between rental units and owner-occupied housing.

The plan notes on page 40 that:

In Varna the lack of maintenance of rental properties owned by absentee landlords is resulting in the appearance of blight...

When we bought our house, it had been a rental for most of its seventy years. In some ways, that was okay with us, as it meant there weren't a lot of badly-considered renovations to be removed. On the other hand, we're spending enormous amounts of money to make it a more functional house, especially on things like a new furnace, insulation (there was only a thin layer between the second story and the attic), electrical and plumbing updates, replacements for worn-out flooring, etc. We still need to do major work on the roof, the paint, and the foundation. No one did good work on these for a long, long time.

Unfortunately, while the Draft plan notes that rental property can become blighted easily, it makes no recommendations for addressing this problem in the "Plan Recommendations", or particularly the "Hamlet Areas" section - where it could have touched on Varna in particular. Page 53 has "Some Guidelines for Multi-Family Development", but doesn't touch on landlord responsibility or approaches for encouraging owner occupancy in the least.

Before we moved into this house, we spent a year and a half on Birchwood Drive in the Town of Ithaca, paying exorbitant rent to live in a vinyl-sided house-behind-a-house in a neighborhood where all the houses looked the same, despite minor design variations. Apartment complexes with similar architecture and tiny driveways funneling cars on to overloaded roads seem to be springing up here. While I don't object to higher density on principle, I don't see this plan doing anything much to encourage responsible housing development and maintenance.

Posted by simon at November 30, 2003 11:18 AM in , ,
Note on photos