The Ultimate NIMBYs in Burlington are Wealthy Condo/Mansion-Owners

(You can view a larger, full-screen map here.)

Last post I discussed how 25% of single and double-unit homes in Burlington are investment rental properties, making it harder for lower-income people to live and thrive in Burlington. While I mentioned that zoning plays a role in this, albeit a limited one, today I wanted to show how those with money and wealth, including Mayor Weinberger, are the ultimate NIMBYs, working to make sure that there are limited opportunities for new or different residents to move into their neighborhoods, while aggressively pushing denser development in other neighborhoods.

I have mapped all 670+ single-family mansions and luxury condos worth over $500,000*. Of these 670 homes, 120 (18%) are second homes. These homes make up the top 10% wealthiest single-unit homes in the city, making them the wealthiest 4% (by home value) residents in the city. Combined wealth is $465 million.

If we decided to create a luxury housing/mansion tax in the city on these homes, depending on our pricing scheme, which I will write about in a later post, (yearly flat home value tax of .1% (one tenth of one percent), flat tax of .5% (half of one percent), we could be raising anywhere from $500,000 to $2,500,000 A YEAR for low-income housing, which is a helluva lot more than we are doing now as a city.

The map is crude but you get the point.

What you will quickly notice is that the vast majority of wealthy homes, 94%, exist in only 4 spaces throughout the city. They are either in the south end on the hill section with nice lake views (Tracts 39-1 and 39-2), in the south end by the water (Tracts 10-2, and 11-2 ), downtown in luxury condos (Tract 10-1 ) or in the New North End by the water (Tract 2-3 without Rockpoint). These areas have some of the lowest population densities in the city, and if we tracked population by street or neighborhood I’m certain these numbers would be even lower.

Except for the luxury condos downtown, almost every mansion/luxury condo was built in areas that are zoned for low-residential density. In fact, our own Mayor Weinberger, a strong proponent of ‘in-fill’ development and ‘denser development by building up’ lives in one of these mansions on the hill, where he is protected by zoning from every worrying about losing his perfect lake view, from ever worrying about traffic, noise, pollution, trash, or any of the other issues that come with actual city living.

The ultimate NIMBYs aren’t small homeowners or renters concerned about the negative effects of gentrification, but rather the wealthiest 10% of homeowners who live in low-density neighborhoods, and who regularly vote for and advocate for, zoning that keeps their neighborhoods with few people and large homes, while pushing density to poorer neighborhoods that are already quite dense, like the Old North End.

*For data purposes, I included all housing that either had a recent sale price of over $500,000 or a home assessed at over $450,000 (homes are generally assessed at less than 90% of value).

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5 thoughts on “The Ultimate NIMBYs in Burlington are Wealthy Condo/Mansion-Owners”

  1. Could we take the wonderful ‘these are not advertising’ billboards from around the Town Centre ‘Hole In Perpetuity’ and move them to the Mayor’s property line? Mount them with the graphics facing in? Maybe there would be enough left over to do a couple of city councilors’ houses, also.

      1. You know, you got something there. Probably enough plywood around the Don Sinex Memorial Sand Pit to build a nice series of cabins that would get people through the warm season at least. I’m sure Weinberger, with his extensive non-profit real estate development experience, can make this happen AND donate a corner of his yard even. In-fill is where it’s at, eh?

  2. Thank you, Mr. Winkleman, for writing about this survey.
    It is quite relevant to the efforts of the City to build UP to attain affordable housing in the sky (somewhere). I think Dan has good points too, and I’d bet anything the homeless would rather live in a little cabin they could call their own, rather than moving into a giant rental complex with paper-thin walls between apartments.

    Yes – enough of calling everyone who lives downtown “Nimby Liberals” for wanting space, peace and quiet just like the advocates of tall new buildings and overcrowded college neighborhoods have. I also am interested to see where people who now frequent City Hall Park will go when the Park is closed for several years. Whack-a-Mole, anyone?

  3. As a person living in one of the denser areas but around the corner from condo heaven, I have to say I wish these NIMBYs could hear the drunken noise and incessant sirens regular people experience every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. I wish some tech savvy person would figure out how to broadcast the noise to those not living in in-fill neighborhoods. Of course, then Miro might finally realize what his so-called peacekeeping police are really doing. No such luck.

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