Dear Governor Lamont, Sponsors of SB998, State Senators, & State Representatives,
Fair Share, Phase #1 in SB998, passed solely by the majority party, tasks the unelected Connecticut Office of Policy & Management (OPM) with creating Fair Share Allocations for every municipality in Connecticut. Fair Share in this bill is not a “study” as was suggested by some Democrat leaders at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, June 3 when the bill was passed in the House. A proper study would have been broad, unbiased, and empirical. And it would have required evaluating more cost-effective options given the current high inflationary construction costs, including land, labor, lumber, laws and loans. Other alternatives include housing vouchers, EIC tax credits, buying already existing housing stock. Unfortunately, that is not what the majority party members alone passed this session. This is not good governance!
The OPM will now set the allocations for every municipality, in “consultation” with undefined organizations and housing advocates. Do not use the housing advocate Open Communities Alliances’ (OCA) allocation methodology, which is written into SB998. This same methodology was rejected by legislators on a bipartisan basis during the prior two sessions. In both 2021 and 2022, legislators unilaterally recognized that OCA Fair Share Unit Allocations for every municipality were completely unworkable – nothing has changed – they remain completely unworkable.
The reckless OCA methodology is unburdened by highly relevant, hyper-local, and unique factors in every municipality: market demand, municipal sewer, water & school capacity, other infrastructure constraints, non-existent or infrequent public mass transit, congested highways, existing economic opportunity & jobs availability, land cost & % of remaining undeveloped land, existing density, existing affordable housing (not just what is recognized under 8-30g), proximity to transit, distance to jobs, and many more factors.
The OCA model mandates punitive allocations based on 3 highly correlated affluence factors of each municipality (grand list, % poverty, income) & % multifamily. When a New Jersey Fair Share Advocate met with Majority Leaders on the bills, they stated that OCA’s allocations were unrealistic and unattainable! If passed, Fair Share would bring New Jersey’s decades of oppressive mandates escalating property taxes and endless litigation to Connecticut. This will raise our property taxes to be the highest in the country, ahead of New Jersey, moving our state further away from affordability. Many of New Jersey’s local governments are currently suing their state to end Fair Share completely. Why would legislators and the Governor now bring the largest unfunded mandate to CT after education?
Meaningful housing reform requires the voices of all stakeholders. It is LOCAL zoning and planning commissioners who are accountable to the voters, and have a vested interest in the long term economic and environmental health of their towns. Passage of this bill is not equal and fair representation of all constituents.
Thanks to the members of both parties who stood strong and voted against the Fair Share bill. Our government was established by the people, for the people and representing YOUR constituents and the interests of YOUR municipality is an awesome responsibility. The backroom deals, biased JF reports and legislative “rats” are removing checks and balances and public participation, and eroding transparency and proper legislative process. We demand controversial proposals be fully vetted by legislators and heard in subject matter public hearings prior to being enacted as law.
Fair Share allocation setting must be based on broad local factors, using unbiased information and empirical data. More cost-effective funding options must be considered given the escalating inflationary costs of development. Onerous allocations will only have negative and lasting implications. We are closely watching what is happening in the allocation setting for Fair Share – Phase 1, and expect a more thoughtful and comprehensive process than what has transpired to date.
Thank you for your service to our State.
Sincerely, Connecticut Resident