A landowner who wants to build affordable housing
2016-12-03 | Venice Gondolier Sun
We live in an area of exploding construction and high dollar rentals, which increases the difficulty for service workers to find affordable places to live so they can serve those who can afford the high dollar prices, he said.
With the current building boom, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people earning minimum wages — waitresses, bartenders, landscapers, construction workers, and the like — to be able to afford a place to live that is close to where they work.
Yet with more retirees and people at higher income levels moving into the area, more of the services these people seek will be provided by lower wage earners as a matter of course.
It’s a vicious circle.
Siegrist, a seasoned landlord of 35 years who owns 13 rental properties, recently asked for city of
He applied for the zoning along with his neighbors, George and
Both landlords realized that if they ever wanted to build additional affordable units on their land, proper zoning would be the first step. They were considering joining their properties to put together an affordable housing project for the workforce.
They stepped before the
The city council members praised the property owners for asking for the zoning for affordable workforce housing, and the zoning request was finally approved at the
“I thought his request was a reasonable request, and it opens the opportunity to build affordable rental housing in the Seaboard area,” he said. “It didn’t require him to build it (the project), but zoning makes that type of housing a possibility if he wishes to proceed with it.”
The mayor pointed out one caveat: “If (they) did build a higher density apartment building, the road would need to be improved according to city standards.”
According to Siegrist, that would take a lot of doing, because Motel 6 owns the first segment of
Siegrist has an easement onto the road, and he and neighboring landlords — Don and Irene O’Connell (who already received zoning on their 6.6 acres a few years ago) and the Ronalds would have to participate in bringing the road into compliance with city standards.
“The properties need to have access via a paved road according to city standards, either along
She said: “It hasn’t happened in a long time (zoning for affordable workforce housing). It is a good step forward for our community. We live in an area where we depend on all kinds of folks to provide service and they have nowhere to live. If we want more of this type of service, we should be able to offer (workers) a place to live.
“It’s not just that, but we want our millennials to live here, and they need that kind of housing to start off with. One reason they leave is because there is nothing affordable for them.”
To Siegrist, the term affordable workforce housing simply means housing that is affordable to locals in the area workforce. In some circles, the term refers to government-controlled housing under the federal department of
HUD is not part of the
“Over the years, probably 20 years ago, I had some Section 8 housing in some of my rentals, but I do not see it anymore. It is up to the tenant to seek a landlord and no one has asked me about that for 15 years,” he said.
Siegrist knows the other side of the affordable housing story. When he first moved to the area and found work in
“That’s why I focus on affordable workforce housing, because I lived it,” he emphasized.
Besides having been on that other side, there is a deeper driving force. Character.
He was born and raised at
His dad, the late
His late mother, Patricia, was “almost the youngest of 12 siblings,” raised in
“Dad is considered uncle of Fort Wright,” Siegrist said. “Another uncle,
One of his dad’s brothers was the first constable in
Siegrist said there is an old photograph of him sitting on top of the firetruck when he was two.
“I came from a very typical family of the late ‘50s,” he said. “The town was full of patriotism; there was no crime. The 4th of July parade went up and down the streets and people rode their bicycles in the parade. It was a very nice town to grow up in.”
He talked of attending Catholic grade school and an all-boy Catholic high school where “values were instilled.”
He has fond memories of his mother — “a wonderful lady who volunteered at the school cafeteria and was active in the ladies auxiliary firefighters of the fire department.”
He said both parents instilled an ethic of hard work.
“Dad was an independent carpenter by trade, and I went out on job sites with him and was on my first roof at age 10. I learned roofing and more. Dad grew vegetables and fruits, and we canned.”
Fast-forward to his arrival in
In 1977, Siegrist came into town on a
“That’s when I knew I was meant to go south on
He came through
Over coffee, the two friends talked, and Phil asked Siegrist to house sit while he and Sue went to
“I did, and I fell in love with
He took a job in construction with Carlson Roofing in
“I was saving money so I could move to
Then he took a job at
While working at the
“I still own it today and still live in my home on
He bought a four-plex in 1983 in
While working at the
After they had their first child, Adam, Siegrist left the
“I could not work at the bar with the baby. It was not the right thing to do, even if it was the
As his family began to grow — his son, Jordan, was born in 1988, and daughter, Alina, was born in 1990 — he took a job with Babes Plumbing as a service plumber.
“Then, I decided with my wife to start our own plumbing company. We named it Absolute Plumbing and Pump Repair of
He owned it for 18 years.
The couple divorced in 2002, and he liquidated assets but retained
Siegrist grew pensive as he talked about his children, stating that he visits with them every chance he gets.
“That is what defines me ... my kids.”
All three children attended
“During that time, 2010, I had chemotherapy for six months,” Siegrist said. “It played havoc on me, and I had about every side effect you can have. I’m proud to say I have been cancer-free for five years.”
Alina graduated with top honors from
“I admire her fortitude,” Siegrist said, explaining that she is a kind, gentle person who is adventurous. She recently hiked
Adam is married to Emily, who was raised in
More family ties help to keep him grounded. For seven years, before he married Janet, he helped his then significant other raise her child. They all still keep in touch, he said.
“Alisa Wagley, now
“Dylan and Winter are friends and both call me ‘Pappy.’”
Why affordable workforce housing?
“I do it to help two segments of society — professional and the blue collar service industry,” Siegrist said. “There is no affordable place they can rent in
“It’s tough. You either work one job and die dead broke, or go to college and get into a well-paid profession, or start your own trade, and that is not what the masses can do.
He made the point that most development in
“He is working on a project of zoning that was approved for RMF4 zoning. We are in full support of his project because we need affordable housing in this community. It is difficult to afford to live in this community.
“He will build affordable apartments that will serve workers, such as landscapers and other service workers. and I think it’s a great thing he is doing.”
All of those rentals require first month, last month and one month’s rent as a security deposit before moving in.
“There are slim pickins for affordable rentals now, and it is an issue,” she said. “I do wonder where we are going to put our families who are moving here, both in
Siegrist said he is pleased his petition won a unanimous favorable vote for multifamily zoning, RMF4.
“This is only the first step. I needed proper zoning before I could even think about development,” he said. “It did not have any (city) zoning for 15 years (the property had been annexed into the city in 2002 but never received a city zoning designation). For now, I will continue my life as it has been, working my rental business and
“If there is development, that will be sometime in the future; not immediately. I have no architect or engineer, no building plan or site plan. It would be foolish to spend money to prepare without zoning. Now, with zoning, I can move forward, but not in the immediate future. That may change in six months or six years; it is all speculative at this point. This chapter of my life is closed; we have the zoning. Now I can go on to the next chapter.”
Siegrist talked briefly about that other interest of his:
It can also help with wills and other legal areas, including writing demand letters on a person’s behalf, reviewing contracts, representing clients in traffic court, lawsuit representation, access to a 24/7 hotline for covered emergencies and more.
Siegrist gave an example of how it can help.
“The zoning process is very expensive if you hire an attorney,
He had the help of an attorney at
“For the last four years I’ve been going to companies like Absolute Aluminum and some AC companies and small businesses where it can be part of employee benefits with group enrollment discounts.
He said his identity shield services are offered at a much discounted rate than what other companies offer.
For more information, Visit www.AskRonNow.net.