A member of the panel tasked with recommending updates to Sandy Springs’ comprehensive plan said people moving to the city with current housing costs could drive out those living in or looking for labor or affordable housing. .
Trisha Thompson, a member of the Next Ten advisory board, raised concerns about what is happening in nearby areas. For example, Roswell imposed a ban on apartment development other than allowing rental units in mixed-use projects. East Cobb voters, who will decide through an election this year whether or not to form a city, are expressing their desire to fight high density, which she says is apartment code.
On May 12, the Next Ten committee shared its thoughts and suggestions with City Council, making recommendations on how the overall plan should be updated.
Thompson suggested staff track what’s happening in those two areas and how it’s affecting population growth and housing in Sandy Springs.
“We have to be aware of the increase in population which could even go beyond what is expected. For projections, population growth over the next 10, 15, 20, 25 years, we could go all the way because people won’t have anywhere else to go,” Thompson said.
Committee member James Bostic said there is a conundrum with Mayor Rusty Paul’s directive that the city needs affordable housing.
“We need to provide residences for people who are going to move into our area because we are economically desirable,” he said.
It’s difficult because the city has very little affordable single-family housing, he said.
Cost factors make it impossible to house the workforce in the city, Bostic said. Unless all the police officers, firefighters, and teachers get “one hell of a pay raise,” not all of these people will have the opportunity to live in Sandy Springs.
Some people jump to the conclusion that affordable housing and apartments are synonymous, said Councilman Andy Bauman. Prices for new apartment developments are too high even for workers such as physiotherapists unless they share the space and costs of an apartment, he said.
Housing cost calculations don’t take into account transportation costs that are higher due to housing clusters and the lack of public transportation in most of the city, Bauman said. The cost of living related to housing and transportation is really high, and inflation reports show it to be much worse.
“I can safely tell you that on many levels council members are acutely aware – I have been well aware – that we have housing issues. We’re more aware of the problem than the solutions, that’s for sure,” Bauman said.
Committee member Ronda Smith suggested that a healthy review should be done of small area city plans for places such as the Roswell Road Corridor, the Junction at 285 and Roswell Road and Powers Ferry. The city hasn’t reviewed the plans to determine whether they’re too big or not big enough, achievable or not, she said.
“These specific locations that have been designated as small area plans that have very specific development goals, do we really need to do a comprehensive review of where we are now versus where we thought we could be at this point in five years?” Smith asked.