Review Creative Options for Santa Fe University of Art & Design, Then Take the City Survey

The City has posted an online survey to get your input on development of the Santa Fe University of Art & Design. Monday the survey closes, so Sunday is a good day to review this post’s options for sustainable, affordable housing, then take the survey.

1 SFUADSanta Fe University of Art & Design Planning, Phase I: Community Input for how the City utilizes the Santa Fe University of Art & Design is at a crossroad: Do we take this opportunity and run with it and create hundreds of affordable housing units or do we create another Disneyland for tourists. Santa Fe is a tourist destination for a reason: Canyon Road, the Plaza, Museum Hill, the Sangres, Meow Wolf and a bevy of posh restaurants. if tourists can’t find things to do in Santa Fe, they aren’t trying. The first phase of SFUAD planning is an online survey to obtain community input. Let’s make our priorities abundantly clear.

Please participate in the City’s online survey now through Monday February 26.  Click here.   Below is a Retake summary of options for using the SFUAD to address the pressing need for more affordable housing in Santa Fe.

Be aware that there is one question where you are provided about 20 options for elements of the development and where you are asked to strongly support, support, etc. The next question, however asks you to rank these strategies from one to 20. This is much more difficult. Community Land Trusts are not mentioned in any of these questions nor is very low-income rental housing.  Instead they identify worker affordable housing, which could be mid-income housing that does not address the need for very low-income rental property. But the last question allows you to include reference to CLTs and very low-income rental property. I strongly suggest you use that space (Question 14) to include reference to very low-income rental property and the use of a CLT.

To read more about CLTs and how they could address the housing needs of our low-income community, read on.

Creative Strategies to Prevent Gentrification

Santa Fe University Art & Design represents a golden opportunity to create a sustainable, mixed-use, high-density affordable housing and small business development that addresses Santa Fe’s critical need for affordable housing. There are an array proven strategies  that can achieve this end. One of the most effective of these strategies is the creation of Community Land Trusts (CLTs).  A Nation Magazine article Can Neighborhoods Be Revitalized Without Gentrifying Them? chronicles how the CLT approach was used to offer a different approach to urban revitalization, one that honors sustaining the culture and the “place” being revitalized. “Historically, urban “renewal” has entailed two contrasting approaches to development: one is using subsidies to move public housing families into middle-class areas with better education and job prospects. The second approach is, place-based investment, trying to change a neighborhood’s climate and social dynamics, poses a greater challenge than helping people move. Nonetheless, Johns Hopkins sociologist Stefanie DeLuca, author of a forthcoming book on urban inequality, argues that the basic principle is, “neighborhood matters.” While targeted-relocation programs help some families, this policy guts our cities and neighborhoods. Policymakers should prioritize “improving communities in place so that families don’t have to leave them to find opportunity.”  The Nation article goes on to outline how a CLT operates.

“With a CLT, the resident owns the property, while the community retains the land. The resident pays an annual leasing fee, plus other mortgage and maintenance expenses. When the property is sold, price is controlled through a prearranged agreement with a community authority, with representation from neighbors and “public stakeholders” such as local officials or community-development organizations. The homeowner can share in any appreciation of the sales value.

Essentially, owners of commercial property or individual homeowners cede the land to the Trust. While they still can benefit from the appreciation of the value of their home or business, the CLT imposes conditions that ensure that the appreciation is shared with the community. Examples of conditions might include that when selling the property they must either sell to a relative or a current community resident. In the absence of these controls on the resale of the property, as development increases the value of property in and around the development, prices rise, people sell their property and the neighborhood gentrifies. A CLT can prevent this by ensuring stable pricing.

In Santa Fe  the Santa Fe University of Art and Design is owned by the City, offers the City the opportunity to place some or all of the SFUAD into a CLT, preserving property values and providing sustaining housing and small business development with some form of higher education institution as an anchor that would pay a significant portion of the $22M debt on the property.  For an excellent summary of how this has worked in other communities, click here.

As The Nation article makes clear, there are other options for improving low-income communities without displacing current residents. Click here to review The Nation article.

The CLT concept will need to be part of the SFUAD conversation. Retake is hoping that the SFUAD planning process will include a deep investigation into the CLT process and how it might be tweaked to work on this property. But if we want to advance this as a concept, we need to dig more deeply into the principles of CLT and the examples of where it has been deployed. For an excellent summary of how this has worked in other communities, click here.

Wading through these options would be a daunting challenge for a Retake action team with individuals without experienced technical support, but fortunately there is a highly successful CLT operating in Albuquerque, Sawmill Community Land Trust. I have reached out to leadership from Sawmill to initiate conversation and they have expressed interest in applying their experience to the SFUAD. Click here to take a look a the remarkable saga of Sawmill and the way in which it provides an economic ladder from very low income rentals to home ownership without gentrifying the neighborhood and displacing the residents.

If there are individuals interested in digging more deeply into this concept and how it might be applied either in relation to the University of Art & Design or other contexts, please write to me at paul@retakeourdemocracy.org. Much to mull. Far better than mulling Trump’s last tweet or next move. If you really want to take a deep dive, take a look at the brief on options for creating affordable housing below. But please, take a few minutes to complete the City survey on SFUAD. It is the first step in a journey that hopefully will result in a Santa Fe strategy that creates a sustainable housing plan that addresses the critical need for sustainable affordable housing.

In solidarity,

Paul and Roxanne

Affordable Housing Brief: So Many Options for Santa Fe & NM to Achieve Equity

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