The Missoula City Council kicked a couple items back to committee — but not without an attempt from Councilman Bob Jaffe to handle at least one matter on the floor.
Councilwoman Renee Mitchell, who raised concerns about protecting established neighborhoods, asked to send the plan for density bonuses back for more work.
Jaffe needed eight votes to suspend the rules and keep the item on the floor, but his attempt to handle things Monday fell short. Councilors Roy Houseman, Jon Wilkins, Lyn Hellegaard, Renee Mitchell, Dick Haines and Ed Childers voted against the rule suspension.
Will any real work get accomplished in committee? This summer, when the special districts got sent back, there was a lot of hot air, but not much action.
Sometimes, sending stuff back to committee means working out nitty-gritty details. Other times, sending stuff back to committee just means delay.
In this case, a delay wouldn’t hurt anything, said Councilman Childers.
The rule in question would offer breaks to developers who provide permanently affordable homes. The breaks come on a sliding scale in the form of density bonuses, the ability to build on smaller lots, and flexibility with building standards. (See Section C of the link.)
Councilman Dave Strohmaier said he didn’t see any point in returning the item because the divide on affordable housing is philosophical and can’t be resolved in committee.
“What we’re hearing tonight is simply residual arguments that we’ve heard time and time again in this chamber,” Strohmaier said.
Folks from the Missoula Housing Authority and homeWORD voiced support for the rule, but the acting director in the Office of Planning and Grants said it’s expected to be used in only limited cases.
– Keila Szpaller