William Witt

  • University Avenue rebuild: Stan Smith’s recent editorial (“no bikes, no traffic circles”) is 180 degrees off the mark. If width is reduced to 4 lanes, traffic circles will improve efficiency of managing traffic flow (no more stop-start, no more issues with u-turns, etc.) Bike lane(s) will increase travel by UNI students to College Square, etc., and will increase bike usage in general.

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  • Some good ideas re: rentals studies & possible policy adjustments. I’d start with studying the people and the economics involved. Consider your “flight of the owner-occupiers.” Homeowners aren’t necessarily “fleeing;” many single family dwellings are sold when the owners retire, or die; or when they are transferred to other cities by their employers. Especially in the case of older homes that have been occupied by the same owners for many years, I would expect to find that overall maintenance and upgrades were neglected as the owners grew older. Potential buyers must factor in those additional costs, however they must pay for them through higher-interest home-improvement loans. Or the new buyers may be out-of-town parents of a college student who realize that they can buy a house, ignore home improvements, and make their child a co-owner with a 1% or 2% equity stake in the property. Son or daughter rent bedrooms to friends at $250 or $300 per month per person. Absentee owner-parents have a property that basically pays for itself at $750 to $1,000 or more in monthly rents. Maintenance, repairs and improvements are nil. How many working-class families can compete with those kinds of economics? We need policies that can make these homes more economically attractive to young families (e.g. including costs of needed improvements into the base cost of the mortgage, instead of in a separate, higher cost improvement loan. We also need to define a standard for “owner-occupied,” e.g., to be an “home owner,” the buyer must himself occupy the home for a defined time each year and have at least 51% of the equity.

  • Mr Councilman, I agree with you: Cedar Falls Mayor should be a half-time position. Your comments about the civic generosity of so many citizen-leaders are right-on, as are your observations about the key role of the city’s professional staff in maintaining excellence in planning, operations, and administration. And we do have a deeply committed and dedicated public servant in Mayor Crews, however as you astutely observe, we cannot and should not build a city governance model on the personality and character of one exemplary individual.

    Two suggestions: first, make the change to part-time mayor & city manager for the mayoral term that begins in January 2016. Second, enhance the role (and stipend) of council persons; as the mayor’s role is downsized, we need to increase the effectiveness of our other elected officials in terms of knowledge of policy, procedures and budget, and especially in administrative oversight and direction.