Housing Needs

The Plan Commission discussed the proposed changes to Zoning SubChapters 28 C and D Monday evening. I have mixed feelings about this change, and lots of questions. I had an opportunity to listen to the Planning Department Staff presentation about this ordinance change earlier in March.  I understand that conditional use vs permitted use can make the difference between a project going forward or being stalled. I have two concerns, that the units will only be studio and one bedroom and the silencing of neighborhood voices in being a part of what is happening in their neighborhoods. From what I heard at the presentation and at the meeting last night, residents are opposed to the silencing of neighborhoods too. At the presentation I also heard that these changes are to support the need for housing that addresses the needs of the ‘missing middle’. At the same time I heard a lot of ‘we hope’, ‘we anticipate’, and ‘we think’ these changes will encourage builders to build to address the ‘missing middle’. At the Monday night meeting I did not hear anything about the missing middle. Are they still the target as beneficiaries of these changes?

Regarding these zoning changes, the train has left the station. I am asking that the goal of these zoning changes be clearly stated so we can measure if they actually accomplish that end. Who are these changes to benefit and how will we measure that? I hope it works, but not willing to put trust in this hope. Let’s measure it!


I was amazed to find out that Madison has a 47% owner occupancy rate. This is almost half of surrounding communities. Why are we not building to encourage ownership which in turn supports neighborhoods?  Two and three bedroom condos and/or townhouses encourage ownership where occupants can remodel and make the home they desire. Building associations are driven by the occupants and further instills a sense of community. Developments like these will address family and retiree needs for home ownership.  Let’s make this happen.


No one, that I know, will argue against the need for housing in Madison. Housing as a priority issue is experienced differently across District 10 and Madison. Some are concerned with the amount of high rise apartment building across the city. They feel we are becoming a ‘cement city’. Others experience the lack of affordable housing available. There are also the homeless that are just looking for a roof over their head. Each of these housing concerns needs a different approach to target. Managing them all the same way is like giving one antibiotic to all infections, it won’t be effective for all.

Housing cost burden is also a concern. When an individual or family is experiencing housing cost burden, they are only one small crisis away from homelessness. Our first step needs to be addressing the shortage of affordable housing in Madison. This is a city problem that the city must own. How we do this is the debate.