Still Here! Tiny House Village Updates

Posted January 31st, 2014 @ 8:04 AM by

I got a little distracted this week . . . for a good cause!

Too many deadlines, too many distractions, too much work at Tenant Resource Center to be done! I’ll be better next week!

So, what’s been distracting me worth sharing . . . its all about the tiny house village.

I’ve never done an crowdfunding campaign before – lots of learning going on. Good news is that we raised $5,000 in the first week! Yay!!! 50 donors!!! If you can give just a little, it really helps, that is the whole pointof crowdfunding – your $5, combined with everyone else’s $5 adds up quickly! If you can donate just a little, it really will make a difference and it will be greatly appreciated!

Still not quite done. But significant progress made on the questions that the community has. I went through the comments at the meeting we held on January 15th and all the comment cards and other comments from the meeting and categorized and synthesized the questions, then began answering them. Like I said, still working on some of them. Please, let me know if you have any additional questions – I thought of several I’m surprised aren’t in there – might have to submit my own FAQs! :)

Environmental and Flooding
Management and Accountability
Police, Safety, Securty & Quality of Life
Who will live here?
Zoning, Land Use & Codes

I finally got to meet with the planning staff about our project Monday at 3:00, showed them our recent thinking and then the dropped a little bomb on me . . . that we HAD TO submit for an informational presentation at UDC. Everything I had read and been told by experienced people who actually do this for a living was that it was optional. So . . . Ed Kuharski (the architect) and I spend the cold day working on our submission for UDC and got it done with time to spare. Check out our new plans! I think it is an improvement!

udc informational site plan

Site Plan
Coversheet, Description
Contextual Photos
Site locator

As if that all wasn’t enough, we attempted to meet with Captain Lengfeld. It was quite the amazing meeting. I didn’t even get to complete on sentence before I realized 5 minutes in, that we could just go home because he, on behalf of the police deparment, is against the project no matter what. I wish I had batteries in my recorder so I could have recorded the meeting it was amazing. My head still hurts from the meeting. This is what I got out of it.

Captain Lengfeld: I’m against this because of the location.
OM: Ok why?
Captain Lengfeld: This neighborhood has too many issues with having parks and schools and a half way house and it can’t handle any more calls for service.
OM: Every neighborhood has parks and schools with the same issues. Where would you put this?
Captain Lengfeld: In an industrial area
OM: People live in residential areas, not industrial areas. People need to be close to services not isolated. Some explanation of property searches and zoning obstacles and campground rules. How will a dozen people ruin a neighborhood?
Captain Lengfeld: Low income people and renters cause more calls for the police.
OM: So, you oppose all low income and rental projects?
Captain Lengfeld: Explains why he was against the Tenneyson project, says he wants to be on record in case anything happens in the future and is perfectly comfortable being the lone voice and losing, as he has on so many other issues he has tried to advance. Wouldn’t quite admit that he had the biases he was expressing about low income people – went back to his original assertion, its just this location.

Lather, rinse, repeat – for 2 hours . . .

We ended by me requesting that he do the following:
- Look at our current location and how many police calls we have had there since we moved in June (hint: zero)
- Look at our project as it is – a dozen people living in a tiny house village on private property and stop comparing it to a political protest with up to 80 people on public property where we couldn’t enforce rules or determine who was there.
- Talk to Captain Carl Gloede and Captain Mary Schauf about how they worked with us successfully.
- Actually look at our plans – the new ones, hot off the presses, that I never got to explain to him, because he is opposed no matter what and didn’t want to look at.
- Look at all the FAQs, and documents we have had in place. Comment on those specifically. Look at the contract, application, conduct rules and shop rules.

We had some discussion about us doing criminal background checks on people. I asked what happened if we do them, what do we do with them? Who do we reject? What crimes do we reject people for? How do we check nationally (not just check Wisconsin records)? How far back do we look? 2 yrs? 5 yrs? 10 yrs? How do we take into consideration changes people have made in their lives? Or plea bargains? Or circumstances of the crimes? Municipal tickets count? And, if we reject these folks who show that they can work for 100s of hours with us, where do they go? Do they prefer them sleeping in the parks? How can they ever recover from past mistakes? It was agreed that discretion was needed in considering the checks and it is difficult to write rules to address criminal backgrounds. But they still wanted us to do the checks – and I still don’t know what we would do with them.

There was also some discussion about how people would be treated if they did something wrong. They ended up agreeing that it might not be as black and white as we would want and that three strikes and you’re out isn’t exactly a fair process and you have to take circumstances into consideration and exercise discretion – which makes it hard to write rules.

I also requested that if we meet again, Alder Palm or someone be there to facilitate the discussion so one person can talk without being interrupted and finish a thought.

It was crazy. It’s easier dealing with 20 homeless people in a meeting than one northside captain. They’re more polite and respectful and listen respectfully to each other and engage in a conversation like adults, expressing their thoughts relatively coherently and respectfully. It was one of the most unprofessional things I’ve ever seen. Here’s our petition if you would like to sign on. Honestly, I don’t think he will actually look at what we are proposing and have in place and I don’t think he will change his mind, he’s just opposed. Bottom line. Discussion over.

And then there’s work. Damn Wisconsin legislature and their stupid lawmaking. March 1 deadline for the new tenant landlord laws being in place is coming tooooooo soon. And they have more stupid ideas in the works.

Categories: | Dane | Madison | Media

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