As DJ has said in some of his reports to membership before, “In case anyone is bored and wants to join my mom in seeing me online…” feel free to log onto the City of Bryan city council website to see my testimony along with good testimony from Connie Harrell at Southern Comfort Homes as well as others who came to the mic in opposition to the latest ordinance Bryan is trying to pass. A quick summation of what has led up to this point: Several weeks ago, DJ & I visited with a working group of Planning and Zoning members and city staff to discuss manufactured housing in the city of Bryan. DJ made very good points about parity for our industry in showing what we could build if the city would provide guidelines as to what they were looking for. I was able to reference specific areas of Bryan that held both good and bad examples of not only our product but also some in the stick built world. They were polite and somewhat interactive but suffice to say the guidelines became very evident at the P&Z meeting I attended in January. The working group recommended that the city adopt a five year rolling clock age limit on installation of manufactured homes in the city limits. I spoke out against this and even went so far as to offer 1997 and newer being the age mark to be used. I based this on much of the code improvements that came to be after hurricane Andrew hit Florida in the early 90’s. I think most everyone in the industry can agree that except for colors trends, a 16x76 manufactured built in 1997 looks much like one built in 2017. Before you start rambling off on me, bear in mind that by comparison I am stating that one built in 1977 is vastly different than 1997. Certainly there are many upgrades to the HUD code that occurred from 1997 to present that benefit our customers, I was just trying to give a compromise to the five year plan.
I went so far as to lay out an example of a young couple just starting out who purchased a home from us. Then let’s say in 6 or 7 years the jobs improved, there was another child on the way, and mom wanted a larger kitchen and another bedroom to get Sally and Johnny separated and in their own space. If Bryan passed this ordinance, that couple would now have a home that could not be moved ANYWHERE else in the city limits. The city has now essentially said that a seven year old manufactured home is not worthy of being in the city limits. Having said that, if the home did not move, then it was perfectly safe to be in the city…?!?! So our poor couple is now faced with taking substantially less for their home, or they have to sell the lot that the planted their first tree on and have lived on for the last few years. Not only that, imagine that there was another family that lived in a 198? something or other that up to this point would be excited to upgrade to that seven year old home and let their home be scrapped, sold as a deer camp, given away as a hay barn, etc. Again, admittedly there are some very nice mid 80’s homes still out there, but just go with me. So now our second couple cannot upgrade their home, cannot afford a new home, and are forced to make patchwork repairs and keep their old home. Sure seems like a smart plan to get the older homes out of the city….
As you guessed, that argument apparently fell on deaf ears as I was politely thanked for my comments. Almost as quickly as I had sat back down, “Motion”…”Second” … “All in favor?”, motion carried. Five year rolling clock age limit goes to the city council. Now you are up to speed as to what has transpired prior to Tuesday night. I gave much of my same speech to the city council, albeit with much on the fly editing as I had a 3:00 minute timer ticking off the seconds in large block numbers on a screen on the wall as I look up and on a screen at the podium as I check my notes. Interesting side point, the city guys don’t have this timer when they speak! Thankfully there was a little opposition to the notion of five years. One member went so far as to say that if the city inspects every used home that comes into the city (which they do) then what was the problem with 1997? I mean if the home is in poor shape it fails the inspection, right? By the way, that member gave me his card and cell number and I will be visiting with him next week. He went so far as to present a motion to table this proposed ordinance to a future meeting and direct staff to come back with another proposal. His motion failed for lack of a second (darn it), but then another member presented a motion to accept the proposal with amending the clock to ten years instead of five. Per the city attorney, this would be a substantial change and would require the ordinance to be brought up at a future meeting. Yeah! I get to do this all again! At any rate, the member I will be visiting with agreed to this motion since it effectively caused the delay he wanted.
Which brings us to today. At this point I will be preparing a packet of information for the members and may possibly get to present a power point type presentation to the council at a workshop. The benefit of this would be that I would not have the three minute clock in front of me and I would be able to interact and answer and ask questions instead of just speaking for three minutes. Unfortunately what it means is that I must essentially prepare this presentation, send it to the city attorney and to P&Z staff with the hope that they see enough merit in allowing this workshop to occur. Nothing like being back in college and getting to prepare your paper/report so that you can send it in to see if you will even be able to present your paper/report for a grade, or have it rejected before you even give it! Have I mentioned through any of this how much I do NOT envy what DJ and our lobby team get to deal with on a regular basis as they protect our collective tails in Austin?
Should any of you have anything you have done in the past for a city, civic group, lender presentation or the like on our industry that you’d like to share; by all means let me know! DJ knows how to find me, in case some of you don’t.