Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Affordable Housing Could Cost New Berlin Officials Their Jobs; City Its Reputation

I wrote last week that I thought New Berlin's Mayor and others would get hit with recall efforts over their initial support for 80 units of so-called "affordable housing" in an area of the city once ticketed for upscale construction, but which had sat undeveloped for a long period of time.

Now we learn that the recall effort is underway against Mayor Jack Chiovatero and one alderman.

This will only exacerbate the political, economic and demographic divide between the City of Milwaukee and some of its more-well-to-neighbors in Waukesha and other surrounding counties.

Milwaukee is land-locked by state law; suburban and exurban communities have seen faster middle-and-upper-class growth, along with job expansion that is further cut off from Milwaukee and its residents by inter-county transit lines that are shrinking.

You still can take Coach Lines buses from Milwaukee to Waukesha, but as we know, light rail was wiped off the table by Waukesha County government a dozen years ago by the same sort of anti-urban sentiment that accompanies some of recall forces at the grassroots in New Berlin.

We hear all sorts of calls for regionalism around here; New Berlin said the right things about cooperation when it was negotiation with Milwaukee in 2008 for Lake Michigan water.

But doors are slammed when push comes to shove, as it has in New Berlin, over a few dozen housing units that would be within reach of working-class residents of the entire region who might decide to relocate to New Berlin for the same reasons people of all classes could choose to live in New Berlin or a similar environment.

Or for New Berlin residents who find most housing there out of their reach.

Let's hope that the recall, a severe solution that used to be reserved for serious ethical or legal sins by incumbents, is not the political price extracted for supporting a relatively small number of new units of affordable housing in New Berlin.

The whole region is watching.


Anonymous said...

Coach Line USA runs from downtown Milwaukee to downtown waukesha. Costs $3.25 one way.

James Rowen said...

Thank you. I stand corrected and fixed the posting.

Anonymous said...

New Berlin has more than enough affordable housing, even less expensive than what the 100 low-income units would go for ("a few dozen" ... are you kidding me!?) Read the plan commission document: it says so right there. Enough affordable housing. OH, except that according to the ultra-rich leftist developer from MN who wants to make a boatload of money off us taxpayers, we seem to need more... hmm... What a total joke! What a set up!

Anyone can live here. You're welcome to come. Just stop asking us to put 180 units on a 4 acre parcel that was never meant to have that type of development. Stop asking the taxpayers to foot the bill to the tune of $2 million from WHEDA.

Stop your whining. Our politicians are going to learn that if they side with leftists and SOPHIA and Doyle and Barrett -- they are going to lose their jobs. Fast.