After careful consideration and in consultation with loved ones, I’m formally resigning my position on the LHENAHDTF, effective noon tomorrow. For some of my colleagues this will come as a shock. For others, it will occur to them in three months, “Hey, whatever happened to that one guy?”
The turning point for me was election day. I walked into a crowded and bustling polling place. I saw young and old; I saw black, white, Hispanic, and Asian; I saw Whittier’s world-famous 70s mustache guy registering voters. Then I went upstairs to find two LHENA board members at a table. Eventually we got to six people.
There was an entire neighborhood of politically engaged people downstairs with absolutely no interest in formulating meaningless neighborhood development guidelines. It was at this moment that I realized what I had always known: LHENAHDTF is a big, frustrating waste of time. I’m with the people downstairs.
While I no longer have the heart to continue the struggle against a barely existent organization with imaginary power, I will not fade from public life. I want to assure the neighborhood that I have no plans to move to Whittier. I have not given up on Lowry Hill East. I will continue to live-tweet LHENA board meetings, as this still amuses me greatly.
I have a message for those, on both sides, that I’ve worked with over these last few months. I’m proud to say that we spent so many hours together not getting anything done. You are all fine people, and I know you will continue to not get anything done without me.
This is not a picture of the LHENA development task force.
This month’s Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association Housing & Development Task Force (LHENAHDTF) was sparsely attended. Were these the death-throes of a LHENA sub-committee? Either way, this is likely our last Task Force Report (more on that in a future post).
This one felt like a re-run. Task Force Leader/Board Member Bill continues to use the Murals apartments as the poster child for Greenway “junk” that won’t last 20 years. Board Member Michael Roden was there to push back on the notion that these buildings will crumble to the ground.
As usual, Bill put forth the idea that the neighborhood should push for the finest possible materials. Just like in a previous episode, I insisted he should recognize the relationship between fancy materials and fancy prices. His attitude was that a rent of $1,500 is no different than $5,000. In the past, Bill has said that gentrification is “inevitable.” Maybe he really just thinks it’s preferable.
I mentioned that I live in a building that they would have considered “junk” 40 years ago (and probably a crime against the neighborhood). Everyone at the meeting seemed to agree that the 60s-era 2.5 story walk-ups provide a large portion of our neighborhood’s affordable units. But they never seem to grasp what I’m getting at. LHENA was formed, in large part, as a reaction against those buildings. That attitude from the 1970s persists, along with many of the same people.
In the moments when local NIMBYs feel the need to burnish their pro-renter credentials, they will insist that they really, truly value the ’60s-era apartment buildings. I don’t buy it. We’re just decades past the point where they can fight to stop them.
Bill wanted to know why we’re obligated, as a neighborhood, to consider the issue of affordability as it relates to development. Basically, if you can’t afford to live in this neighborhood, go live some place else. It reminded me of the anonymous email comments from after the first meeting:
Affordable housing? That has moved to a different part of the city. People are going to have to realize that if they can’t afford a certain part of town, they need to look elsewhere.
This sentiment grosses me out–almost as much as when they were advocating for more party rooms in the appeal of Lander’s 2320 Colfax project.
Now, I’m not banging the drum for (or against) welfare or anything. I’m not asking LHENA to use their precious NRP dollars to buy up properties and fund public housing. I just want people to stop trying to pervert the housing market for their own purposes.
Like I said, a re-run. This is why the Task Force Trilogy will not have another re-packaged sequel. It would just be a blatant cash-grab.
A Facebook Page Come To Life My esteemed colleague, the representative from MRRDC, went over a long list of properties owned by KLP Real Estate LLC. It felt like a stage version of the MRRDC Facebook page (I prefer the movie). Apparently, those turkeys from Renovate to Rent have something awful planned for 27th & Girard. Reasonableness
One woman (who shows up to all the meetings) was concerned about green space. She had no problem with extreme building heights as long as more green space was included with new development. She gives me hope that our neighborhood’s older generation might someday grow into constructive members of society.
It can be hard for carpetbaggers to understand the special relationship between the Wedge’s long-time residents and certain neighborhood buildings. It’s a forbidden love; the house belongs to someone other than the love-struck neighbor, and a deep affection only materializes when the owner finds another suitor. To help me understand this dynamic, I spend an absurd amount of time poring over old newspaper articles. As an example of my ignorance, when I came upon the headline, RAPE IN THE WEDGE, I just assumed it wasn’t a weirdly offensive metaphor for perceived crimes against houses (sorry, I gave away the surprise ending).
In case the author or his family are still around, let’s call this guy Shermann. Shermann once slapped a friend of his 6th grade daughter after the two girls made a mess playing with paint in the basement. How do we know this? Because Shermann published yet another weird metaphor in the Wedge newspaper. In this one, retirees who sell their homes to the highest bidder are the equivalent of child-slappers (Also, Reagan).
Maybe it’ll make more sense if we put it in meme-form.
On the left: the classic Healy Project meme. On the right: Shermann’s 30-year-old metaphor/confession.
The last thing I want to do is imply that all neighborhood house-fans think like Shermann, but it sure would explain the vigils.
Deep down, you know this many people wouldn’t vigil in your honor.