Talk about awkward. City staff were to present a report to the twelve members of the R4C/R2A Zoning District Study Advisory Committee that was intended to reflect the committee's recommendations after more than two years of meeting, receiving public comment, and strategizing new ideas for the near-downtown R4C (multi-family) and R2A (two-family) zoning districts. The committee addressed many issues--but one thing its members saw no need to change was the maximum residential density, which currently sits at twenty housing units per acre.
City staff seemed to disagree. But the committee might not have known that, had they not uncovered a very different density recommendation buried in a related area of the report awaiting their unwitting approval.
Wendy Carman, who sat on the citizen committee, explains that one issue members grappled with was the recent proliferation of six-bedroom apartments. "The code talks about density in number of ... units per acre of lot," she says. But "it doesn't tell you anything about how many people are going to live in those units." The new City Place apartments on Fifth Ave. are a particularly controversial case: its developers squeezed 144 bedrooms into just twenty-four units.