Public Hearing: Authorizing Conveyance of City Owned Property to the Edina Housing Foundation

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Consultation has concluded

Comments

This public hearing was tabled on July 21 and will be brought back to Council on August 18. Since we had several comments to date we have provided more information which we hope you will read. 


All comments are reviewed by the governing body to gain insight into community perspective and values. This information in addition to other factors like legal requirements, infrastructure needs, long-term strategy, cost, etc help inform the decision. The feedback collected is not considered a "vote". 

Everyone has the right to share their opinions and comments on the related project. While individuals may have varying opinions, respect each person's experience and insight.

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CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Susan Stephan, 5100 Danens Dr.

We write as homeowners in the Brookview Heights neighborhood of Edina. We live adjacent to the lot where there is currently a proposal to sell and develop the property owned by the City of Edina. We have been Edina residents since 1992, and residents of this property since 2006. Both of our children attended Edina High School, and we have appreciated the community we have been part of while also recognizing the growing need for affordable housing in suburban areas such as Edina.

While recognizing this need, we request a postponement of this decision to sell this property until the affected community members have had a chance to understand the content and structure of the proposal. Notifications were available with less than one week to comment. We need to press the pause button. Therefore, we respectfully request that the approval of this sale be tabled until a later date, based on the fact that not enough time has been given to understand the issues and provide comment. Note that this requested ‘pause’ is not without precedent. [1]

In our very brief time to evaluate this plan, we strongly feel that the cart is before the horse. The proposal states that “[o]nce the Foundation has site control, they would undergo the following process…” As residents of the neighborhood in which this site will be situated, we feel the process should occur prior to the sale of the land. We have several questions, based on specific aspects of the proposal, regarding the stated process that we respectfully request the City Council address prior to the sale:

“Submit a Request for Proposals to affordable single-family housing developers.”
- Will these be non-profit developers? If so, what are the assurances?

“Select a developer with the best experience, capacity and demonstrated outcomes to fulfill to housing requirements for this Property”
- Again, we need community input into this process.

“Require house design to complement existing neighborhood.”
- Two small houses on a single family lot would certainly not complement the existing neighborhood. Community input is crucial before the lot is sold. We need to know the specifics of the plan.

“Developer would hold a community meeting to gather input on proposed design.”
- Why don’t we do that first? We need to get neighborhood buy in before you sell the land for $1.
- If nothing happens, can then the EHP sell the property off?
- Are there strings attached to the deal? If the developer doesn’t get neighborhood buy in, then what happens?

“The house will be sold to an income qualified homeowner: 80% to 120% of AMI (~$120,080)”
- How is this structured?
- It appears that the owners likely get a limited equity stake. For the long term health of the neighborhood, how does this encourage property improvement/repair? As someone who moved into Edina with less than 120% of AMI we know that resources don’t always go to upkeep.

“Restrictions will be placed on the property to keep affordable for as long as legally possible.”
- Again, we need more details before this transaction occurs. How will this impact the surrounding property value? Where can we find a written opinion from a certified appraiser?

In addition to questions regarding the language of the proposal, we need more information about certain aspects of the plan more generally.

Plan Creation
- What other sites in which Edina neighborhoods are under consideration?
- Which other developers of affordable housing have had the opportunity to offer proposals?

Contingency Planning
- Very little detail is provided regarding what happens once the land is ceded by the City. What if the deal goes south, or what if costs become greater than expected? Who picks up those costs? Who owns this and who has fiscal responsibility?
- Does the city get the land back if the development structure fails?
- What keeps the ‘developer’ (The Edina Housing Foundation) or the selected developer from turning around and selling to the highest bidder?

Easements
- What about the current easements for neighborhood utility access if the city no longer owns the property?

Cost of the Plan
- What are the additional costs to the city and who bears those costs (such as utilities)?
- How much will this cost the city in the end?
- Would these funds be better spent acquiring already existing property (naturally occurring affordable housing)? We’ve lost at least three houses in this neighborhood that were raised and turned into cookie cutter “McMansions” - wouldn’t it be better to expend resources to maintain the character of this neighborhood by investing resources there?

Mission Consistency
- How does this plan fit with the mission of the City of Edina? Upon review of the Affordable Housing Plan [2] and affordable housing policy [3], this project’s alignment with the stated goals is unclear.
- Is there a written plan for affordable single-family housing in Edina? Is this in the comp plan? Is there a standalone plan for this?
- How does this plan fit with the mission [4] of the Edina Housing Foundation? Based on the Foundation’s mission, it is unclear whether the City is permitted to sell or give land to an entity such as this. Their mission statement is not specific to this type of transaction.

We certainly do not oppose the creation of affordable housing. We are willing to and do champion this cause. However, this plan has been announced very suddenly and with very little detail. We don’t understand how the plan fits within the greater mission of the city, and why this specific geographic location was chosen for the first project of this kind. Please respect our community by taking the time to make sure this is the right project to support Edina’s important affordable housing goals.

We appreciate your consideration of these requests. Importantly, studies show that affordable housing projects are most successful when there is community input[5]. We want affordable housing in our neighborhood and in Edina more widely to be successful, and we feel that clear communication about plan and process as well as community education to communicate the benefits and dispel the myths of affordable housing will be crucial to this goal.

Sincerely,
Susan Stephan

[1] “A plan to build a water treatment plant in Edina’s Prospect Knolls neighborhood is on hold after neighbors to the would-be facility weighed in on the discussion. The idea to build the facility in the affluent neighborhood came about late last year after a study of the city’s water supply identified an open space on Dublin Road as a more desirable location than the previously preferred site under the water tower in the Southdale area.” Andrew Wig, Edina ‘pushing the pause button’ on water treatment plant, Sun Current Feb 28, 2019. https://www.hometownsource.com/sun_current/edina-pushing-the-pause-button-on-water-treatment-plant/article_01e45ea2-3b66-11e9-a238-5f624778c695.html.
[2] Affordable Housing Program Guide, https://www.edinamn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8348/2020-Affordable-Housing-Program-Guide-PDF.
[3] Affordable Housing Policy, https://www.edinamn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5414/Affordable-Housing-Policy-Sept-2018-PDF#:~:text=1.,sales%20prices%20as%20defined%20below.
[4] “The East Edina Housing Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation organized and operated to promote and undertake community development activities on a nonprofit basis within the East Edina Housing Foundation neighborhood. The Foundation provides assistance to low/moderate income individuals, as well as nonprofit developers or sponsors of low and moderate-income housing. Furthermore, the Foundation receives block grants or similar funds from the City, or other governmental agencies or subdivisions, including the HRA, and puts to productive use all such funds exclusively for the aforementioned purposes.” https://www.edinamn.gov/169/Edina-Housing-Foundation.
[5] See, e.g., Minnesota Housing Justice Center, Best Practices: Achieving a Full Range of Housing Choices. “First, the City meets with residents to explain the city’s objectives for potential development sites and to promote resident understanding and acceptance of those objectives - well before there are any actual development proposals.” https://www.hjcmn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/MN_Challenge_Best_Practices.pdf

sparkerh about 2 years ago

Kirsten Horstman
5108 Danens Dr

Rather than two small dwellings, would a duplex (townhome feel) be better aesthetics in the neighborhood?

Oh2Mn about 2 years ago