I received your email on the article that highlighted the amenities package on which the counsel person in Austin was planning to introduce legislation. It was an interesting concept and one that may be a little misplaced.
My comments on the article would be as follows:
1) For new communities (developments):
- It seems to me that the amount of amenities depends largely on the clientele of the park. Nicer (4 and 5 star) communities likely already will have these amenities, so it’s a non-issue. However, lower quality (and therefore cost) communities are likely to, as you mentioned in your email, have to increase the pricing on their rent in order to accommodate the loss of rentable area and the development of the amenities.
- Notably, there was no talk of providing anything in the way of property tax or other tax incentives as are often done for other multifamily property types. If affordable housing is in such dire need and the council members would like them to be of higher quality (with more amenities and such), then why hasn’t the city council put their money where their mouth is and provided some incentives to bring the housing into the market?
- At the end of the day, this probably will have the same effect that it has had in other cities where they make the zoning and development more difficult. New developments will move out of the city and into the county where the laws are less restrictive and it allows them to provide an amenities package that is more consistent with the pricing of the product.
2) For existing communities:
- The advent of a “community garden” is probably fine with most owners as it is a smaller space and requires little to no capital investment.
- However, there are a number of communities in which adding that space would require taking away a home site. I would suggest that the city, again, put its money where its mouth is and purchase the lots which they would like to see a community garden or play area for 125% of appraised value since this would be, in effect, eminent domain.
- In purchasing the sites for play space and a garden, cities could make the argument that they are helping to keep and improve quality affordable housing while not devaluing the property for the community owners.
Those are my basic thoughts. It was an interesting article and I don’t wholly disagree with the sentiment that it would be nice to have higher quality MHCs out there. However, someone has to pay for it and considering that low income housing is in low enough supply as it is, city councils may want to be a little careful how much they burden those trying to bring the product to the market.
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(Editor’s Note: MJ Vukovich’s commentary is on the same topic as the comments from TMHA’s DJ Pendleton, which are linked here. Thoughtful, original commentary on issues that impact manufactured housing professionals or our customers are welcome.)