She's not campaigning for a car in every garage, but she is campaigning for a garage on every house.
At the Oct. 11 City Council meeting, 4th Ward Councilmember Barb Johnson made a pitch for requiring developers to build garages whenever they build new housing.
While at least one councilmember felt the requirement would make it harder to build affordable housing, for Johnson, it's just a practical matter of where to put stuff.
"We have a situation with some of the new construction that's happening where houses are being built without a basement," she told councilmembers. "And we can't require a basement because of the state law."
However, she said, "If you build a house without a basement or a garage, where are you going to put your lawnmower? Your rake? All of the equipment that folks need to maintain a tidy yard and have a safe place for their valuables that they need to keep their house up to snuff?"
Further, she said, making sure there's a garage around helps protect people from auto theft.
She acknowledged that a citywide requirement for garage construction might cut into developer's profits, but that garages, in reality, are pretty inexpensive to build. "So I think this would be a useful addition and enhance the look and appearance of our neighborhoods," she said.
Johnson made a motion to send the subject to the council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services (PSRS) Committee for further discussion.
Councilmembers Gary Schiff (9th Ward) and Paul Zerby (2nd Ward) spoke in favor of the idea. Schiff amended Johnson's motion to send topic to the council's Zoning and Planning Committee, in addition to PSRS. Once the idea reaches the committee level, councilmembers can have city staffers to study the plan to see if it could work.
Councilmember Dan Niziolek (10th Ward) signaled his opposition to the garage requirement. "I probably will not be supporting this," Niziolek said. "There are four houses on my block without garages, and those are the four affordable houses on my block."
Niziolek added that he suspects requiring garages would not achieve the city's goal of, as he termed it, "equality in new construction."
"So let's really think about this," he said. "Are we really, truly creating affordable housing, or are we just housing cars when we should be housing people?"