We Are Lake Hills

Lessons from Spiritridge

Taken from ‘Lessons from Spiritridge’ by Community Councillor Gerald Hughes

“The single-family neighborhoods are changing. And many feel not for the better.

Stephanie Walter and her Spiritwood neighbors (Barb Benson, Steve and Nan Fricke, Irene Fernandez, David Pater and others with common concerns) have been successful in slowing the process in their neighborhood. The problem in Spiritwood was that small houses were being converted to multiple-room rentals, and a 7,000-square-foot, single-room rental property with up to 10 bedrooms was under construction. After numerous meetings at City Hall with the initial response “The city codes are being met.” the team persisted.

They continued to ask ‘why?’ and to educate themselves on codes and laws. They appeared before the EBCC with their story, and got the attention of the City Council. Once the council was informed, they responded quickly and went to the Spiritwood neighborhood to see the issue firsthand.

With the help of an attorney hired by Spiritwood and city staff, the city wrote ‘an emergency ordinance for residential room rentals’, which was quickly approved. These new rules are in place until September 23.

Since then, the Planning Commission has taken on the task of developing a permanent ordinance. Over 60 people were at the commission’s meeting in Lake Hills on April 23. With additional public input at its monthly meeting on May 28, the commission decided it needed more public input before implementing a permanent ordinance, even if this meant extending the emergency ordinance. This seems to be a wise decision.

Of course, you cannot stop change. But if you want any control over how this process takes place, and the how it evolves, then you must follow the Spiritwood model and get organized and get involved.”