Ald. Jed Sanborn, District 1, called into question the value of Madison's Inclusionary Zoning ordinance and, at a common council meeting Monday, announced a proposal to repeal the law.
Sanborn's proposal, if approved, would terminate the law and provide no substitute for the existing IZ ordinance.
The current law requires developers to include a certain number of affordable units in their new housing projects depending on criteria of building specifics. According to the ordinance, the purpose of inclusionary zoning is to further the availability of housing choices for families of all income levels in Madison.
"The law creates a requirement to diversify Madison's neighborhoods," George Twigg, communications director for the mayor, said. "Rents in Madison are very high, and the mayor has worked hard to provide affordable housing for people that need it."
The city council approved the ordinance with the hope that a full range of housing options would promote diverse and thriving neighborhoods, schools and communities. Meanwhile, the council also understood the law would potentially aid in the recruitment and retention of businesses and employees, helping the economic standing of Madison.
Sanborn, however, said the ordinance only hurts the city.
"The cost of having an IZ law exceeds the benefits it provides," Sanborn said. "The ordinance only drives away developers and drives up the cost of development projects."
However, according to Twigg, the law has not discouraged the development of businesses or housing in Madison.
"[The IZ law] has worked well," Twigg said. "Some of the naysayers who said it would kill development have been wrong. All they need to do is take a look at all the cranes we have in the downtown since the ordinance's inception."
The common council enacted the law 20 months ago by a vote of 12-8.
Sanborn, who is serving his first term, did not have a chance to vote on the IZ proposal in 2004. However, while not an alder at the inception of the law, he was an opponent of the ordinance from the beginning.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said Sanborn's announcement was a surprise for the council because there were adjustments to the law in the works. Sanborn said the timing of his proposal was spurred by a negative sentiment for the ordinance at City Hall.
"Just about everyone in city government realizes this ordinance is doing nothing to help the city," Sanborn said in regard to it.
To enact his proposal to repeal the IZ law, Sanborn would need to generate 11 votes in the council. Five other alders co-sponsored his proposal, and Sanborn said he is confident in its chances to pass.
"I think the support for it is there," Sanborn said. "It will be a difficult task, getting it approved, but I think it is certainly possible."
Sanborn said the proposal would likely be on the table for common council at a meeting towards the end of November. Before it gets there, the Economic Development Commission, the Housing Committee and the Board of Estimates will review the proposal, he added.