Let’s Increase Density, Shall We?
It was a big night for local meetings of import last night. I had to decide between watching the planning commission and the school board candidate forum. As I know people who are running for school board, I decided to watch the planning committee, and maybe ask the school board candidates later what had happened.
Why would I do this to myself?
That’s a good question. But we’re also two years into the pandemic and I’m bored. Also: You may have noticed that I’ve started writing on Medium more. Guess what? I’m very bored. Anyway the short answer to “why planning” is because I can see that we’re on a fast track here to modify zoning in a way that makes it easier to increase density in older neighborhoods like mine. This would involve either building on empty lots, which — I’m not really aware that we have any around here — but also raze so-called ‘dilapidated housing’ to replace it with something else.
First question: who gets to decide what dilapidated housing is? This is a historic (read: old) neighborhood. Pretty much every cool house down here is dilapidated in some way. There’s a certain amount of student housing. So yeah you could say: time to raze it. Get it out of there. Build some pricey condos, move in some tech bros and their beauty influencer girlfriends. Or you could feature every single one of these houses on Cheap Old Houses and sell them in a heartbeat to someone who could honestly make an HGTV show about flipping student housing. Then you have another brand attractant in the Eau Claire arsenal. Plus it’s the less boring thing to do. Why be boring?
Unfortunately this meeting was hard to hear online and full of obfuscating language like ‘narrative change’ (read: zoning massacre), and whoever was speaking made it clear that no one had any obligation to listen to neighborhood organizations. So there’s really nothing for people like me to do but to talk about it on this page quick before I try to get in like five minutes on the rebounder and then trudge back to work.
School board cagematch
Having given up on the slow drip of muffled, coded language going on at the planning meeting, I switched over to the school board candidate meeting. I only caught the tail end of this, but it was much more exciting. You could see people *and* hear them clearly, and also comprehend what they were trying to say, for better or worse. I jumped in just in time to hear one candidate thank the lord for allowing him to speak, before the meeting moved on to a bizarre question about social media: talk about something you’ve once said on social media that people have misunderstood, and how have you dealt with that misunderstanding? I’m sorry, what are we talking about? Is this about schools? The question seemed like kind of a trap aimed at one candidate, and created the space for another candidate to persist in the misunderstanding that the first candidate had said something racist on social media. “I’m in disagreeance” said the second candidate, before getting riled up about a handful of things and eliciting cheers and jeers from the audience.
But also comedy-worthy cringe. If there’s another forum coming up, I’ll be there from the beginning, transcribing.
So I’m bored. Maybe you are, too. I hope this unhelpful recap brought light and love into your life. I am here to INSPIRE YOU, whether you asked for it or not!