The anger, frustration and friction that has been created by the surprise interim moratorium in Ward 13 provides a teachable moment on the value of consistency and transparency in local government.
No one would disagree that infill housing is an important issue in the ward, both Council Member Linea Palmisano and Matt Perry who she narrowly defeated confirmed it was the top issue they encountered on the campaign trail. However that does not mean always “the end justifies the means”. This does not absolve our local representatives from following through on campaign and election promises, thoughtful circumspect action, or just good responsible community input gathering. The lack of support by neighborhood councils and many angry residents confirms that while possibly devised under good intentions, this abrupt overreaction has done damage.
The lack of an attempt to address the issues short of a year long moratorium (e.g. increased enforcement of blatant violations) is baffling. Beyond the immediate damage to impacted homeowners and builders/architects who have seen their industry put on hold, it raises questions for the rest of the term. What is the next controversial topic that will impact Ward 13? Will the community be consulted before a serious action is undertaken? Will there be a process that is inclusive, transparent and clear from the outset? If community engagement is proposed will it occur before action occurs?
And if you were cheering the surprise moratorium because you didn’t want a large house next door, what if the next abrupt city action hurts you instead? Ward 13 is populated by a politically active, enlightened and engaged electorate. Infill housing is an important issue to address for all parties, but we all deserve better than what occurred on March 7.