Ferndale council approves affordability, inclusive housing plan

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 8, 2020

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FERNDALE — At its Aug. 24 meeting, the Ferndale City Council approved its long-in-the-works Community Affordability and Inclusive Housing Action Plan.

The plan, which has been in the making for more than a year, is a roadmap for Ferndale that aims to “facilitate a broader range of housing options” for people looking to live in the city and provide “actionable strategies to increase the supply of housing all along the price spectrum,” according to the plan’s executive summary.

“The plan was created … over the course of the past year and really reflects the goals and the priorities of the Ferndale community as it relates to inclusive housing,” said LSA Planning President Ryan Price. LSA Planning is hired to create the plan and is a firm that aims to “increase understanding of housing issues and to help build capacity to promote economic vitality and expand housing options,” according to its website.

During the meeting, Price went through the eight strategies created for the plan that Ferndale can attempt to tackle in the coming years.

Those strategies are to leverage density for affordable housing through voluntary inclusionary zoning; establishing a local housing trust fund; making city-owned land available for mixed-income housing; preserving existing affordability through home rehabilitation; facilitating more housing stock diversity through zoning code changes; providing resources to first-time homebuyers in the city; exploring the viability of adaptive reuse of commercial/industrial areas in Ferndale for housing; and utilizing payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, to expand mixed-income housing options.

“These have been prioritized really to have the biggest impact on production, on preservation and the availability of inclusive housing options in Ferndale,” Price said. “These eight strategies are kind of the core of the plan, and specific implementation steps for each of these are provided as a road map moving forward.

“It’s also critical to note that these eight strategies are consistent with the principles and the goals that were developed by the community. Those goals and principles and that visioning that took place in the fall really kind of informed the types of strategies and tools that are included in the plan. These strategies are really designed to help the city achieve, to meet the community goals over time as it’s implemented.”

Each strategy, said Price, has a set of specific implementation steps. The sequencing of these implementation steps are broken down into near-term items that can be accomplished within a few years, mid-term items that would take two to four years and long-term items that would take four to six years.

“The structure of the sequencing is intentional so that the city can begin to see progress soon, right out of the gate, on some of these items, but also keeping kind of longer term, kind of bigger moves in motion,” he said. “As the shorter-term strategies are implemented, keeping those longer-range items, I think, in the sights and on the work plans is really critical.”

The full 96-page Community Affordability and Inclusive Housing Action Plan can be found at ferndalemi.gov/projects/ferndale-inclusive-housing-study.

Councilman Greg Pawlica said at the meeting that anything that comes out of or follows this road map still will have to go through the normal channels of government.

“They have to go through the Planning Commission for review. They have to be incorporated into our master plan when we start working on it next year,” he said. “I want people to understand … voting on this tonight doesn’t mean that all of these items are automatically going to be put in place. These are guidelines for us to use moving forward.”

“I do support it,” he continued. “It’s a place for us to start and move forward on something that we’ve had, actually Ferndale has been talking about it for 15 years, and at least now we have something we can look to and work with moving forward.”