Ames community members filled the Council Chambers to speak about the current plan for affordable housing.
The meeting took place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, which is out of its regular every-other-week schedule.
One of the goals for Ames City Council is to address the housing needs by considering ways to convert rental units back into single-family units, meaning the person who lives in the home owns the property.
The Council has also set a goal to determine how to approach the development of housing catered towards low and moderate income families at 321 State Avenue, where the old middle school was located, and started to develop options in June.
A specific proposal was to relocate Franklin Park, two blocks west of the area, and combine it with the development of single-family homes.
“I’m tired of saying ‘don’t move the park,’" said Jay Adams, a community member who spoke at the public forum. "[...] It was one vote for the bond that took down the Healthy Life facility or whatever it was, and it’s accepted, and that’s done. It’s what? Two or three times that we’ve gone through this before. [...] It finally counts.”
Residents of Ames said they disagreed with this option as it will put them in the opposite direction of affordable housing. Those who spoke at the public forum said they are interested in combining the low and middle income families within each unit.
The Council passed a rental cap in 2018 — limiting properties from securing city rental permits in seven neighborhoods if the percentage of single-family homes and duplexes in those neighborhoods was already at 25 percent or more — which was later repealed in May 2019 by the state.
“It sure seems like a slap in the face to anyone that is actually trying, like myself, to buy a property on Village Drive," Adams said. "[...] I don’t see the incentive to stay in the area if we’re going to continue to go back to issues that I thought we were done and dealt with, and it just put more apartment housing in areas that are way beyond capacity in apartment housing.”
The Council voted to develop 321 State Avenue with a mix of market rate and affordable homes, 51 percent as originally planned, without relocating Franklin Park.
In addition to this city project, the Council also listened and discussed the results of a parking study, which is aimed to create new regulations for downtown parking lots.
The study was conducted by Walker Consultants, and it found the free parking spaces with a time limit were insufficient to those who worked at businesses on Main Street. The Council discussed plans to change the parking lots and meters over time.
Ames City Manager Steve Schainker said the Council will not implement any major changes, instead it will take a gradual approach.
“But a good city starts planning for [change] financially, so we want to start planning for this,” Schainker said. “We [are] going to long-range plan to start relaying money to replace these improvements, and that was the change.”
The Council also voted to adopt a city law regulating massage businesses and moved the parking clarification within the Zoning Ordinance to the third passage.
The ordinance will require managers of the businesses to be Iowa residents, designated in writing, given the responsibility to provide information and be compliant. The practitioners cannot provide massage services between midnight and 5 a.m. and are required to provide photo identification and licenses in plain sight, according to the drafted ordinance
There will be a City Council Workshop, 6 p.m. Thursday at Ames City Hall.