So I’m reading a PlanPhilly article about a proposal to mandate half-baths on the ground level and front doors without steps for new residential units (“visitability,” they call it), and while I don’t think that it’s a bright idea to begin with, this part struck me as particularly dumb, albeit very common (my emphasis):
There have been victories. Any homes that are built with money from the City’s Housing Trust Fund – money generated by fees charged for recording deeds – must be visitable. But, Salandra said, while bills that would have required all new housing to be visitable have been introduced to city council, they have gone nowhere.
The visitability task force is trying anew. Klein said that they submitted comments about the proposed new zoning code, asking for a change that any development of 10 houses or more require at least half to be visitable.
Unfortunately, I think that this restriction is just what they need to get this passed. Many burdens – some inscribed in law, but many wrung out in ad hoc negotiations between developers and local governments – are levied only on developers of more than a few units, which almost by definition includes everyone who builds dense housing. In some cases the cut-off is necessary due to the nature of concessions (what do affordable housing mandates mean to someone building a single house for themselves?), but this is definitely not the case here. If this is such a great idea, then why not enact it across the board?
The reason is obviously that it’s easier to foist restrictions on developers, who only have one vote each, than it is to go after the mighty suburban bloc. And while few voters know much about what they’re voting for anyway, the number of apartment-dwellers who see their interests as aligned with those of developers and their landlords is smaller still.
As for mandates, other than inclusionary zoning, that are only imposed on multifamily developments, the ones that come to mind are ad hoc demands of local governments for things like parking, school impact fees (essentially a cash bribe to the municipality), open space, and nearby public improvements. Does anybody know of any other burdens, either enshrined in law or not, that are only borne by those who build and live in multifamily units?