When we last visited D.C. Councilman and former Pepco executive (which should be a disqualification for high office), he was attempting to use zoning regulations to prevent young or poor people from moving into neighborhoods–because what cities need is unresponsive housing policy.
Well, now he’s come up with a harebrained scheme to help new residents–tiny houses (boldface mine):
The D.C. Council’s Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs on Monday heard testimony from witnesses concerning the Minimum Wage, Living Wage, and Millennial Tiny Housing Amendment Act of 2015, a bill introduced by At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange last November. Orange, who serves as the BCRA chairman, has proposed a plan to build 1,000 tiny houses around the District, which could be purchased by residents making the minimum (currently $10.50 an hour) or living wage ($12.50 an hour), senior citizens, and people between the ages of 18 and 33—otherwise known as “millennials.”
Orange has a certain idea of what these houses will look like. “Don’t let the media construe it: I’m talking about a minimum of 600 square feet,” he said at the beginning of the hearing. Besides size, the bill requires each house to include amenities like a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. The bill would also require all of these houses to be constructed by local small businesses, with a $50,000 cap on construction costs for each home. Orange said that the houses will meet all District requirements and zoning laws.
Location of the proposed houses is an ongoing debate. The bill currently calls for the 1,000 units to be evenly spread across D.C.’s eight wards. “Finding six to 10 acres in each ward is going to be problematic,” Orange said. Some witnesses, including the CEO of KASITA, an Austin-based startup that builds tiny houses and apartments, suggested that building smaller units, and stacking them vertically, could lessen the necessary land use.
The hearing seemed to create more questions than determine definite policy points.
For those keeping score at home, “create more questions than determine definite policy points” is a euphemism for “really fucking stupid.” In cities such as D.C., land is at a premium. Single story houses are a waste of land–this is essentially urban sprawl. Yes, Councilman, “finding six to 10 acres in each ward is going to be problematic.”
What we need are apartment buildings, and what Orange is calling for are single story apartment buildings, as each house would be around 600 sq. feet–the size of a one bedroom apartment. Rather than building affordable apartments (and getting all wacky and maybe even making them available for sale), Orange wants to build apartment-sized houses.
This from the same guy who wants to prevent the conversion of row houses into apartments–which are typically around … 600 sq. feet.
In the next election, we have to elect someone smarter than this guy.