It is time to revisit the Missoula County infill policy. While well-intended and, arguably, needed at the time (2005), the proliferation of apartments, condominiums and re-zoning to allow greater housing density has now compromised our sense of place.
Although the Missoula Board of Realtors reports a much lower number, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Deptofnumbers.com report a Missoula rental vacancy of 4.8 percent. This is an increase from 4.5 percent in 2010 and 4.0 percent in 2000. The average rental price is not targeted to those with lower incomes, which I thought was part of the rationale.
The infill policy is increasing lot and building prices. Missoula’s neighborhoods have always been an attraction and strength of our community. The city, of course, benefits from increased tax revenues generated by higher density housing, but at what price? Young families are already the ones paying the price. Unattainable home prices will force families to live outside of Missoula and commute for work-the opposite result of infill policy intentions.
These are difficult issues but what better time than during this election cycle to have public debate? What type of community do we want to build going forward?