A developer who wishes to make a substantial change to an intended use or zoning in Orange County must first participate in a community meeting with surrounding residents. After attending several about proposed work here in Horizon West, I have noticed some common and consistently shared arguments which I feel are not nearly as effective as those who share them believe they are. Let me explain.

“But when I bought here I was told…” And I can’t help but wonder, “Who told you that?” Someone trying to make a sale? Your realtor? The sales agent working for the developer? Not that they would intentionally misrepresent the information however here, in Orange County, we can do much of this research on our own. We can access land use plans through the County’s website, and the property appraiser’s website is helpful and easy to use. In Horizon West, land uses were approved years ago, before most of us purchased here.

“But my property value will decline.” I feel this response grows from a number of expectations including…

“It will bring crime.” Admittedly…some types of development may. Imagine this however. I was in a community meeting in which neighboring residents were adamant that four $750,000 homes constructed to temporarily house six students each with house parents would bring crime to the area. The students in question were coming from overseas to attend an adjacent preparatory school and prepare for an American Ivy League secondary education. These are the kids hanging out in the library dedicated to school work. Yet almost everyone in the room that night resorted to calling them criminals. I was once a teenager, and I wasn’t a criminal. In fact, none of my friends were. So let’s evaluate this honestly. Is it logical?

“It will bring people with lower income.” Another funny example. A gentleman stated that the proposed assisted living center would bring people of lower income. Yes those living in assisted living centers generally have lower income, but it’s because they are retired. This was not government run nursing care. These places are not cheap. Especially the one such as the one in question that was to be placed on the lake. So let’s shed some real light on it to truly determine if it may devalue surrounding property before defaulting.

“We need to keep other people out.” Proposed development consisting of rentals or smaller homes than those existing (even if it was always on the land use plan) is viewed by many people to devalue the surrounding properties. And many wage war against it. It’s as if they forget that at some point, those living out here before us may have not wanted us to come in with our suburban densities. An attitude that seems to say…now that I live here, no one else can come along unless they are just like me. Speaking of density…

“Increased density is bad.” Density, the four letter word that it is. In Horizon West, higher densities are expected around the village centers. This means a transition from single family homes to townhomes, and from townhomes to condos and apartments as we close in on the village center’s commercial and mixed uses. This transition in density was always intended. And for village centers there are many statistics that indicate walkabilty, made available with some increased density, is good for health, carbon footprint, and even home value. That is if our village centers are correctly done. In fact, I recently heard that a one point increase on walkscore.org increases home value by an estimated  $3000.

Horizon West is intended for a range of incomes, home types, and life stages. If we are going to be taken seriously, we need to craft logical and refined arguments and refrain from defaulting to these types of comments unless after a serious evaluation they make sense.

Author: Tory