To the editor:
I’m glad the City Commission voted to override the Planning Commission’s decision to allow more apartments to be built southeast of Clinton Parkway and Inverness. I agree with several friends who own homes nearby that more apartments would significantly diminish the attractiveness of the area. I’m disappointed, however, that some commissioners were apparently unwilling to discuss whether the current supply of apartments is more than enough, even for our college community. Shouldn’t that be the threshold question in any consideration of allowing the building of more apartments?
We know from recent history that we cannot always trust suppliers to measure demand responsibly, and reasonable market regulation is not inconsistent with democratic capitalism. So, if we as a community fail to consider whether more apartments are needed, don’t we run the risk of oversupplying demand in much the same way the broader housing market did? To anyone who intends to make a home and a life in Lawrence, the proliferation of new apartments all over town must be worrisome. Should supply too greatly exceed demand, prices will drop; then the quality of rental properties will decrease, with nearby property values following.
Our city leaders must sensibly manage growth in our housing market — much like our national leaders must measure and sometimes restrict growth in our financial markets — to avoid the destructive effects of growth too rapid for its market and community. If certain City Commissioners are unwilling to consider this most basic question of supply and demand on such an important issue, they are unwilling to do the job they were elected to do.