Upset Over ADU’s, Local Woman Pledges To Withhold Charity To Missoula Non-Profits

by lizard

The rhetoric on both sides of the hot-button Additional Dwelling Unit issue makes it very difficult to discern what the potential positive/negative impacts might actually be.

Will ADU’s provide much needed affordable housing, or will they destroy single family neighborhoods? Will they hurt property values? Will they be a boon for developers and real-estate agents? And what about Grandma? Will ADU’s keep Grandma from being stashed away in a nursing home before she’s ready?

I have previously framed this issue as being infill versus sprawl, but I’m not sure if that’s as accurate as it was a few years ago. I’ve also become much more cynical about how the term “affordable housing” is used in Missoula, so I’m much more dubious about whether ADU’s will have the significant impact on the need for affordable housing proponents say they will.

That said, the ADU WILL DESTROY OUR NEIGHBORHOOD! folks have reached a new low, IMO, with this comment from Carole Ulrigg, posted on Bob Jaffe’s listserve yesterday:

The council has no intention of listening to what the majority of Missoula residents that live in the areas that will change want. We worked hard to live in a single family neighborhood.

One only needs to listen to the police scanner to see what increased density does to a neighborhood.

We have made the decision that if the ADU thing passes, that we will no longer donate to ANY organization in Missoula. We presently donate several thousand dollars a year in money and in services to this community. We are also encouraging our friends, neighbors and acquaintances to do the same. Some have already agreed to join us in this protest.

My experience in working with non-profit organizations in Missoula is that the vast majority of the donations come from these neighborhoods that the City Council, pushed by Mayor Engen, is trying to destroy. These citizens worked hard to live were they live and were only to happy to share. To destroy our dreams and to say our years of work were for nothing is nothing more than a slap in the face.

So, because Carol feels slapped in the face by the Mayor and City Council, she wants to lash out at Missoula non-profits as a “protest”. Um, wow. All I can say is, if Carol wants some suggestions on where she can reallocate her money, I can think of a few places she can stick it.

Thankfully, another community member who comments on Jaffe’s listserve responded in a much more charitable way than I’m inclined to respond, so I’ll conclude this post with her great response (thanks Debby):

To those who are now saying they will withdraw support of non-profits because the ADU issue is not going their way:

I totally think it is up to you to do what you want with your money, and to make politically based decisions with it– but please reconsider your call to punish non-profits for things they may not even be voting on nor support. In general, many 501c3 non-profits are not allowed to advocate on particular political issues or lobby votes, so they usually strive to remain politically neutral.

Charity is not bribery. Charity is not a vote, or a way to buy votes. Maybe you hadn’t realized your protest would come across this way– but this might be a perfect moment for all of us to rent “A Christmas Carol.”

If you support non-profits who are helping improve the lives of our fellow citizens, then I hope you are doing so out of the goodness of your heart, not to buy the nonprofit, its board members, or to sway people on issues. I think you have a right to protest, but this seems like a displaced way to do so. A campaign to boycott nonprofits only hurts the less advantaged among us who can’t even afford ADUs much less their own home.

I urge you to please re-examine that perspective before you decide to act on it.

Debby Florence

  1. d.g.

    Hell. Carole makes a damned good point, even if it is hyperbolic. Mr. Jaffe (correct me if I am wrong) was among the silent council members (the ten of them costing the city near a quarter of a million dollars a year) when 4.2 million dollars in TIF and redevelopment money was transferred to the baseball boondoggle (a stadium in moth balls 8 months of the year.) $125,000 wheedled out of the city by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to preserver the “viewscape” (non-word) on the Deschamp Ranch passed with Mr. Jaffe in support also?. A view only enjoyed but the upper-middle class in lower Grant Creek. (REF would then write a check for $50.000.00 to the state of Montana for wolf removal.) So, as to the sacredness of Missoula’s non-profits, I assume Carole will make wise use of her money and it may well benefit more than if dumped into the non-profit drain. As to infill and sprawl–let’s bring back the all-American back yard (which preceded baseball stadiums as the great American place to play). A recent widely-attended conference on obesity did nothing to address the fact that kids–esp. poor kids–no longer have a safe place to burn calories. Blame the computer? That’s easy. But when you, as I did, read a first-grade student’s Christmas wish and it is “I wish for an apartment with a yard” you may have to sit down and catch your breath. Our mediocre mayor and the sycophantic council are hardly the group to judge Carole Ulrigg for pulling back and reinvesting in something besides a town run by developers feeding on the HUD vein.

    • lizard19

      no, Debby is the one who makes the good points. punishing non-profits over this issue is irrational and just plain mean.

  2. Binky Griptight

    Lizard is on to something when he questions the meaning of “Affordable Housing”. The lobbyists (both non-profits and developers) throw it around carelessly, and certainly don’t want to have to provide good data to show whether or not it has the desired effect.

    A couple of common ways of making housing affordable boil down to this – provide less. You can provide lower-quality housing, for instance. Army-style barracks are very affordable. Or, you can cram more houses into the same piece of land (either by going up, or by building closer to the next door neighbors). Is this what low-income folks want in their housing?

    I do wonder how those housing non-profits (who are the epitome of active and influential lobbyists in Missoula politics) would be received if they had to demonstrate the overall impact of their policies on our town and on the people they claim to serve.

  3. Buzz Feedback

    I think if the Mayor and the City Council were as keen on affordable housing as they claim they are, they wouldn’t raise property taxes every year during a recession.

    While they’re doing this, they’re turning $400K City loans into grants for NMDC (non-profit) and bailing out Play Ball (non-profit) and First Security Bank.

    So it’s kind of hard to take them seriously when they talk about ADUs as something that will make housing more affordable.

    I don’t think housing will ever be affordable in Missoula until more students from UM are housed on campus. Six or eight college kids pooling their money and renting a house have more buying power than a family of four working the kind of jobs we have in town.

    Of course, my default position on most municipal issues is to blame everything on Jaffe (I hope his sidewalks are clear, should we go check?) so take this for what it’s worth.

  4. Pete Talbot

    Someone else criticized Carole and the anti-ADU folks in that listserve thread, calling them greedy. While I’m not sure “greedy” is the best description, Carole’s response that the pro-ADU folks were no better than Hitler and that neighborhoods would be turned into concentration camps is hyperbole at its finest. It’s hard to muster any kind of sympathy for folks who use that sort of rhetoric.

    • Tru

      Socialist/complainer/professional blamer John Wolverton hopped into the argument calling the anti-ADU crowd “greedy.” How ironic. You want to make money by renting an ADU on your property at the expense of your neighbor’s desire for some privacy, a place to park, lower density and the zoning promised to them when they purchased the property…and that makes your anti-ADU neighbor the greedy one? Hilarious!

      • Pete Talbot

        As I said, the “greedy” remark wasn’t the best choice of words but it pales in comparison to the Hitler/concentration camp comment.

      • John Wolverton

        Do we know each other ? If we do, then you know that your personal attack is wrong. I am anti-capitalist. We do need and I seek a new system; but that does not necessarily mean I am socialist. And “professional blamer”, huh?! What do you base that on? – I’m not a writer, journalist or academic – Except, yes I do profess to blame capitalism for the world’s ills.

        It is easy to sling mud when you hide behind an anonymous title.

        Anyone else who is interested in my post on Bob Jaffe’s blog please see my comment below in this thread.

  5. heavenhelpusall

    Another ADU proponent on Jaffe’s listserv, Jim Sayer head of Adventure Cycling has conveniently decided to not disclose that he’s owns two rentals on the Northside thru a “limited family partnership”

  6. lizard19

    I remember the attempt of University district residents to pass the occupancy standards years and years ago. the rhetoric was similar; their neighborhood was being destroyed by college students cramming into rentals, so limiting how many unrelated people could live under one roof seemed like a good idea to these folks.

    but imagine how that would have to be enforced. imagine getting a knock on your door because your neighbor reported an unauthorized person staying at your home. let’s say you have a friend going through tough times, and they needed to stay with you for an extended period of time. the person at the door is some local government official. he/she has to determine what’s going, who this person is, and if they are related. this government official needs to see proof that this person is related to you, otherwise they need to move out, so they ask for identification. you know, papers please and all that.

    imagine this homeowner was one of those who voted for the occupancy standard, thinking it was only suppose to apply to “those people”.

  7. I wonder if anyone has studied what kind of impact income segregation has on our politics and social harmony. One goal of requirements on house size and density is of course to increase the harmony in your neighborhood – everyone will have roughly comparable income and jobs and more likely than not backgrounds, if you write the rules tight enough. But how does it affect a kid’s worldview to grow up in that kind of environment, where pretty much everyone they know until elementary school or even middle school is roughly equal to them in socio-economic terms? I would guess that being raised in a neighborhood of exclusively single-family dwellings would hinder their perceptions of people who can’t afford single-family dwellings, but I’m not aware of any data supporting such a theory.

  8. John Wolverton

    I’ve been out of town and just found these posts with some reference to my involvement in the community ADU discussion. Since some people here have chosen to pick one word (greed) out of my post to Bob Jaffe’s list-serve, I feel it would serve the readers to see my whole 12-07-2102 post for context:

    Greed is Good; and ADUs — RE: [MissoulaGov] Committee update 12-5-12

    It is a bit saddening to witness that there are people expressing a sense of individual entitlement which aligns with a credo of “greed is good”. I sense this as expressed through the attitude of “I got mine, now you can go and bootstrap yourself” – [the subtext being: I won Round One in this free-market capitalist competition, and tough luck if you peons find yourselves resource-starved]. … And, oh by-the-way, lets starve the agents of mercy {non-profits and social service agencies} while we are at it.

    I am thankful that those greedy attitudes are not pervasive nor supported in the Missoula I know and love. Indeed, those greedy attitudes have been appropriately taken to task nationwide by Occupy Wall Street. Such attitudes misjudge the interdependence and communal efforts which built our nation and its communities. Nobody achieved their position or status in this town without the supporting activities of thousands of individuals and organizations, be they farmers or road-builders.

    Back to the subject of ADUs: Our developing demographic shift and forthcoming energy constraints demand that we establish new paths. Of utmost importance to understand is that the USA will never be energy independant on its current arc. We can no longer afford the energy investment to pursue, or even to prop-up, the failed experiment of suburban sprawl. Thus, one such path we should pursue is via the recognition that we need a re-newed urban fabric which enhances our relations with other citizens and with our families, via such options as ADUs.

    ADUs are one small part and expression of the “focus inward” model which Missoula has already endorsed through various community and neighborhood planning processes. All Missoula homeowners should be able to pursue, via a rational process, the option to construct small-scale ADUs.

    I extend my appeciation to the city council for the time and energy they devote to our town and to the consideration of this issue.

    John Wolverton
    8th Street

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