Princeton’s Planning Board is revising the Housing Element of the Community Master Plan. As part of this effort, they have developed a list of ‘goals’ that are intended to guide plans for housing. The goals appear to be a worthy effort to bring together competing visions of how development should proceed in Princeton. But are they sufficient to address the need for housing, and to promote walkable living?The draft housing goals were unveiled at a meeting last month and published (with some more explanation) at the municipal website here (or archived here). They are, as follows:
- Promote diversity in housing stock & population
- Develop adequate affordable housing sites & zoning regulations
- Preserve & protect existing affordable housing
- Provide housing options for all lifestyle cycles
- Secure adequate funding for affordable housing
- Locate housing in areas with existing infrastructures
- Promote sustainability in housing
- Ensure that new housing development is respectful of existing neighborhood character
This appears to be a pretty good list, providing for housing opportunity (Goal #1&4), affordability (Goal #2,3&5), Smart Growth (Goal #6), sustainability (Goal #7) and protection of neighborhood character (Goal #8).
The test will come in making a plan with potential to achieve all the different goals. Notably, providing adequate housing to address the town’s needs (Goal #1) is potentially in conflict with a strict interpretation of Goal #8, ‘protection of existing neighborhood character’. In recent years, most efforts to create new housing opportunities have faced resistance because they are perceived to infringe on neighborhood character. As a result, insufficient housing has been built, especially walkable housing that is affordable to people on moderate incomes. The Planning Board has an opportunity to balance the different priorities. The character of Princeton as a town where a diverse range of people can reasonably expect to live hangs in the balance.