The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

IC City Council moves closer to final approval for new housing code amendments

The council decided to progress the amendments after listening to over an hour of public comment from residents for and against the changes.
The+Iowa+City+City+Council+listens+to+public+comment+during+a+City+Council+meeting+in+Iowa+City+on+Tuesday%2C+Oct.+3%2C+2023.+
Isabella Tisdale
The Iowa City City Council listens to public comment during a City Council meeting in Iowa City on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.

The lobby outside the council chambers erupted into cheers and applause following the Iowa City City Council’s decision to move closer to final approval of a series of housing code amendments on Tuesday night.

The second consideration of the amendments was supposed to be voted upon at the last meeting on Oct. 3 but was postponed until Tuesday night after Councilor John Thomas made a motion to defer. The goal behind the amendments is to grow the supply of housing and drive down Iowa City’s housing market.

Thomas said he wanted the two weeks between the meetings to discuss the possibility of changing one of the amendments.

Thomas’ proposed change was to include that developers must be required to make half of a two-unit housing complex affordable in the single-family residential zones near the University of Iowa.

He said he felt this change is a minor but necessary one because it would help stop developers from taking advantage of the added housing flexibility of the proposed amendments by building new units and jacking up the rent.

The proposed amendments total 14 different zoning changes which all aim to increase flexibility in the zoning code for a variety of housing types in various zones they are currently not allowed in. 

In response to Thomas’ proposal, Kirk Lehmann, Iowa City’s associate planner, sent a memo to the council where he stated that allowing developers more flexibility in where they can build duplexes is not enough of a financial incentive for them to make one of those units affordable.

That means that instead of ensuring at least half of duplexes are affordable in the university area by forcing developers’ hands, developers would most likely just not build housing units in that area because it would be more of a financial burden on their end.

Many community members showed up to comment on the amendments on Tuesday night, filling up the entire council chambers and then some. Some members spoke in support of the amendments and some were against them.

A majority of the residents who spoke in favor of the amendments were from the Iowa City activist organization Escucha Mi Voz, which advocates for the rights, equity, and justice for immigrants and refugees in Iowa City.

Several members spoke about the hardships they have faced as immigrants and refugees in the city and how difficult it has been for them to find affordable housing near downtown Iowa City, which is where a lot of them work.

The community members who spoke against the amendments echoed the concerns of Thomas and also said they felt the code changes would lead to the disruption of neighborhood integrity because of the increase of dense housing units that do not mesh with the existing neighborhood.

After some council deliberation, the council ultimately voted to pass the second consideration of the amendments in a 5-2 vote. Councilors Thomas and Pauline Taylor voted in opposition.

At the next meeting on Nov. 6, the city council will vote on a third and final consideration of the amendments. If approved, the amendments will be officially passed and adopted.

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About the Contributors
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
(she/her)
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
(she/her)
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.