D2D and the Architecture of Greed
How unscrupulous developers are destroying our beautiful, historic neighborhoods.
!! Read this excellent report by Keith Hardie with photo slides sent to CPC and City Council.
!! For an excellent analysis of the the entire situation facing our neighborhoods please download this pdf from Christoph Leonhard, a Behavioral Psychologist who teaches at Xavier University.
!! Check out this excellent Facebook page that stays up to date with what is happening with individual properties. Good photos and architectural plans.
What is happening?
• Housing long favored by local renters and homeowners, such as single-family residences, shotguns and triplexes is being converted to fancy mini-dorms we call “Doubles to Dorms” or “D2Ds.”
• In one case, the developers are planning to cram 10 bedrooms into a shotgun double with no offstreet parking. They have already renovated the house next door and are putting in eight bedrooms there, for a total of 18 bedrooms in 60 feet of lot frontage.
• An out-of-state developer, Amicus Properties (www.amicus-properties.com), is the main player in these conversions.
• In order to cram all these bedrooms into their rentals, the D2D developers expand the footprint of the building, often right up to the setbacks.
• These properties rent from $ 850 to $ 1500 per bedroom per month. That’s $ 3,400 to $ 7,500 a month for one side of a shotgun double.
• This type of housing is so lucrative that developers and their real estate agents go door to door, send out postcards, and call and text homeowners, asking to buy their houses.
• Before the IZD went into effect in March,2020, a property a month was being lost to developers. The “selling of Carrollton” was slowed by the IZD but the sales have not stopped.
What are the effects of the D2Ds?
• High profits on the D2Ds are pushing housing prices above what working families can afford, preventing locals from buying homes and building the wealth that comes with home ownership.
• Long-term local renters are being pushed out in favor of students.
• The inflation of rental rates make affordable housing goals harder to achieve.
• The expansions leave less permeable area to absorb rainwater, increasing runoff and flooding.
• Because the structures are designed to use as much of the lot as possible, they diminish or eliminate the green space.
• The scarcity of on-street parking spaces will be increased by the D2Ds, encouraging people to park on sidewalks and pave front yards, increasing blight and flooding.
• Noise, traffic, and trash will increase.
• The architectural style of the D2Ds shouts “greed” and is especially unsuited for historic areas.
• D2Ds resemble Short Term Rentals: they displace local residents for non-locals
As with STR’s, those living next door to D2Ds will not know their neighbors. Neighborhoods without neighbors quickly slide into blight.
• D2Ds are also a form of gentrification: renovations that drive out long term residents in favor of more affluent tenants
• These units – four tiny bedrooms with small living and kitchen areas – are designed as mini-dorms and will not be suitable for families and couples or for older residents who would like to downsize or age in place. Known as “purpose-built student housing,” these units are designed for students and will require substantial modification to be converted to housing for permanent residents.
What is the City doing?
• On March 5, the Council passed CM Giarrusso’s motion asking the City Planning Commission staff to study parking problems created by D2Ds.
• To stop these developments while the study is underway, the Council passed a companion motion putting into effect an Interim Zoning District (IZD) bounded by Carrollton, Claiborne, Audubon Street and St. Charles.
• The IZD temporarily prohibits any increase in the number of bedrooms unless sufficient off-street parking is provided. This has stopped some D2Ds from moving forward.
• The City Planning Commission, acting on a Staff report claiming it could prevent the construction of new housing, recommended against CM Giarrusso’s IZD (which is a temporary interim measure).
• The Planning Commission will review the study soon, probably on July 28.
• The Council will vote on the IZD and Study sometime after the CPC hearing.
What are some of the misunderstandings about D2Ds?
• The Staff Report gets if backwards. The negatives of loss of housing, etc., will NOT be caused by the IZD or by the regulation of D2Ds. Instead, it is the D2Ds themselves that, by converting residential properties to mini-dormitories, will increase parking demand and runoff, drive up the cost of housing, aggravate gentrification and drive low and moderate income residents out.
• The Staff overlooked a long list of problems created by the D2Ds.D2Ds push the social costs of their profits off on local residents:
– Eight to ten tenants in a shotgun double?
– Where are they going to park?
– Where are their neighbors going to park?
– How many showers and toilet flushes will they generate?
– How will the drainage system handle the run off caused by building out to every setback?
– How many garbage cans will block the sidewalk?
– How can residents looking for affordable housing compete with private equity firms converting shotgun doubles into super-dense dormitories?
Despite all this, the Staff has yet to offer any suggestions on how to curb D2Ds.
• Carrollton is a diverse neighborhood by income, race, age, and household.
• Carrollton already had a high level of density even before the D2Ds appeared. The CZO states that Historic Urban neighborhoods such as Carrollton are “characterized by a higher density and pedestrian scale environment with limited accommodation for the automobile.” CZO, Art. 11, Introduction.
By increasing the density of already dense properties, the D2D developers are creating super-dense properties. We should not be encouraging more automobiles in an area not built to accommodate them.
• In addition to students, Carrollton has a significant elderly population, and the City should support allowing the elderly to age in place in the shotguns and other modest housing that has long been part of the neighborhood.
• The Planning Commission staff have yet to provide any solutions to the threat posed by the explosion of D2Ds. The CPC Staff are the City’s professional land planners. They, not residents, should be proposing solutions and not forcing citizens play a guessing game as to how to resolve these issues.
If the Staff doesn’t think solving the parking problems created by D2Ds is part of the solution, the Staff needs to make positive suggestions for stopping the damage caused by the loss of local housing to developers who will charge rents far above what locals can play.
• Rules that favor profit over people rarely produce good results. By siding with the developers, the Staff is surrendering to an increase in density for density’s sake (that is, failing to distinguish between good density and bad density) and failing to create rules that allow thoughtful development in a way that does not negatively impact the pattern and quality of life in this historic neighborhood.
What else should be happening?
• The City should be amending the CZO to regulate these conversions by the use of overlay districts, restrictions on the number of bedrooms based on the square footage of a lot, and other methods.
• The Department of Safety and Permits needs to review applications for the intensification of residential properties more carefully so that permits are not issued incorrectly.
• The City needs to clarify the definitions of housing types to accurately describe what is happening in our neighborhoods. Are the D2Ds rooming houses? Hotels? Dormitories? Or do we need a new definitions and regulations to deal with the threat this new form of housing presents.
What can you and your neighbors do to help?
• Alert your friends and area residents of the threat posed by the D2Ds and ask them to send emails to the council at the addresses below. Highlight and copy this entire list and paste it to the “TO:” field in your email.
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Joseph.Giarrusso@nola.gov; Jay.H.Banks@nola.gov; Kristin.Palmer@nola.gov; email@example.com; Cyndi.Nguyen@nola.gov; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Amanda.Rizzo@nola.gov; Jarvis.Lewis@nola.gov; Andrew.Sullivan@nola.gov; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
• Follow this legislation through CAN and CM Giarrusso’s office
• Consider asking CM Giarrusso to create a study and IZD for your area.