We have too many tiny homes already

I have to agree with the recent writer who said that tiny homes should not be built downtown. They aren’t needed.

There are already hundreds of tiny homes in the downtown area, and many of them (if not most) are rental properties. I know, because I once owned one, on Winston Street, and rented it out for about 20 years. It was only 550 square feet.

There are whole streets in the downtown area where most of the houses could be classified as tiny homes by today’s standards. The owner-occupied ones are usually well-maintained, while the rental properties are often derelict and rundown, with unkempt yards used for parking multiple vehicles or as a resting place for unused furniture and other assorted trash. They are eyesores that bring down property values for the entire neighborhood.

The problem is that those derelict properties are owned by absentee landlords who try to squeeze every possible dime of rent from tenants, which causes frequent turnover of occupants. There is no reason why those landlords could not include a lease clause limiting occupancy and requiring that the property be kept clean and well-maintained. But that would require an enforcement effort on their part that they are either too busy or lazy to be bothered with.

If a homeowner invests money into property improvements and upgrades, they are “rewarded” by a higher assessment valuation and increased property taxes. Why couldn’t there be a penalty tax on derelict properties that would encourage owners to keep them maintained?

There is apparently no code or zoning enforcement in the city. Developers are allowed to do whatever they want, with no regard for the impact it will have on the surrounding neighborhood.

Recently, on three very tiny lots at the intersection of two narrow residential streets in the downtown area, a developer was allowed to build three duplex townhouse apartments. Apparently no set-back rules were applied, and obviously occupancy density was never considered. It appears that only one parking space was allocated per apartment.

Directly across the street are two duplexes on slightly larger lots. There is no on-street parking, the streets are too narrow, and besides, the entire block is filled with driveway cuts. No city that is genuinely concerned with quality-of-life issues and improvement would have allowed those apartments to be built on those tiny lots.

Large apartment complexes have been allowed to be built on narrow streets in the Five Points area with no regard for the impact on neighborhood traffic.

Take a ride around downtown residential areas and you will observe myriad code and ordinance violations, including an ever-increasing number of commercial vehicles being stored on residential streets, inoperable vehicles and on-street parking that barely leaves enough room for a car to pass. Emergency vehicles surely couldn’t get through. I don’t know what they do about trash pickup.

If Florence truly wants to improve its appearance and the quality of life for downtown residents, it should begin by providing adequate resources to enforce existing codes and ordinances and stop kowtowing to developers looking to make a fast buck.

MICHAEL J. YOUNG

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