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Housing Development Overview and Discussion

The Ames City Council begins at 7:00 PM  November 18h.  The agenda includes:

  • Item 1 -- Housing Development Overview and Discussion. The housing market in Ames is a complex beast. Elements that have contributed to its current trends include low interest rates, the residential rollback applying to all apartments, business investments and corresponding job growth, land availability, transportation and residential population (especially Iowa State University enrollment). While we receive many negative comments on the amount and scale of apartments in our community, we also find ourselves wanting to protect our neighborhoods from too much intensification. This delicate balance is impacted by at least 2 large factors: CyRide and City of Ames land use choices.

    There are many benefits to robust transit systems: empowerment of those who cannot afford cars in a community, environmental sustainability, decreases in greenhouse gases and large decreases in traffic congestion. In addition, as a progressive community, a robust transit system is a great asset for recruiting young creative residents rethinking the way they impact their world. There is a lot to celebrate in this symbiotic relationship between housing and CyRide. However the financial cost of CyRide has grown at an astounding rate. 
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    A lack of student housing to meet enrollments in conjunction with a lack of student parking near the campus (which is a good thing, less parking less congestion) has produced an amazing transit system that acts to encourage high density housing in the community which is good. But it is becoming very expensive.

    City of Ames land use planning has also contributed to this increase in CyRide costs, by allowing developments at locations large distances from the ISU Campus. This pressure continues with a slew of new apartment requests all over the community.

    Affordable owned and rental housing is also disappearing in our community; as demand for housing increases, prices go up. Trailer parks are knocked down to make room for denser development. This is great in terms of efficiently providing services as dense development allows more residents to be served by existing police and fire services as well as existing water, sewer and road infrastructure. However, the unintended consequence is the disappearance of affordable owned housing and increased rental housing prices. Council may need to look for creative solutions, like Tiny Houses, or some other bold new options to provide affordable housing in our community. These are complex questions, and the discussion will be an interesting one. 

    Current RH (Residential High Density) Development and Requested RH