Mayor Sara Kurovski Has the Floor

Early Insights from Building a City for All

Mayor Sara Kurovski Has the Floor

Sharing Pleasant Hill’s efforts in planning to provide lifestyle housing - all ages, incomes and stages of life - wouldn’t be complete without also sharing how I came to live in the community where I now serve as Mayor.

My father is a mechanic at Caterpillar and my mother a nurse at Mercy Hospital and they have lived on the southside of Des Moines 30+ years where they raised my sister and me. I graduated from Lincoln High School, went away to Truman State University, and returned to Iowa with a degree in hand, an apartment off of Fleur Drive, and a fiancé named Todd who is now my husband.

As newlyweds we set out with our wish list, budget and a very patient realtor. Even though it was 10 years ago, I can remember like yesterday walking through the house in Pleasant Hill that became our first home - the neighborhood with mature trees, sidewalks to the elementary school and grocery store, and even the perfect running trail around Copper Creek Lake Park to prepare for 5k races. Six months ago, we moved to a larger home in Pleasant Hill with our growing family of two boys. The demand for housing was apparent as we sold our starter home within 24 hours, receiving four offers and three over the asking price.

While anecdotes like this give us a glimpse into a clear gap in housing inventory, planning for the success of a community within a growing region takes much more. That’s why the City of Pleasant Hill hired a consulting group to identify population and lifestyle trends, our community’s unique advantages and opportunities, and ultimately the housing gaps that present us the greatest potential to create a place that supports the region’s economic vitality with a mix of housing for all lifestyles and income levels.

Think about your community as you review the 2018 Pleasant Hill Housing Market Analysis & Strategy Report and imagine what you would do if you, your city planners and elected officials had this kind of information. I can tell you firsthand that the 67 pages of information and analysis provided us a clarity and actionable information that is already making a difference in Pleasant Hill. 

A Few Insights

·       Pleasant Hill has an extremely low apartment vacancy rate of 3.3%.  This is the second lowest in the metro and is creating a barrier for new renters to move to our community.

·       There are significant gaps in available single-family housing under $260k and between $270k-$450K.

·       Nearly 14,000 residential units are needed over the next ten years within a 6-mile radius of Pleasant Hill.  Pleasant Hill has the market capacity to absorb 1,900 of those units that include apartments, attached ownership, and single-family.

·       Just 210 of the approximate 3,000 people working in Pleasant Hill also reside here.  And the vast majority of our residents, about 4,900, drive to some other city to work. 

Attracting Housing Developers

Our city staff and elected officials have put Pleasant Hill in a good position to get a look from developers who may not have considered our community in the past. If you are interested in the same, my advice is to be firm on where you want to go and how you are going to get there; and be flexible in helping developers experience success in your community.

In closing, as the mayor of the closest suburb to downtown Des Moines, we will fully leverage our access to the wonderful supply of jobs, recreation and entertainment, and also put our money where our mouth is by being intentional in providing much-needed housing for all who wish to live here.

I hope our efforts in Pleasant Hill encourage you to take steps to do something similar around housing in your community. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to be helpful. The need is great and the opportunity to increase your tax base and contribute to our region’s economic vitality and quality of life is even greater!

To read the full housing report from the City of Pleasant Hill click here, and make sure to check out the photos from our annual Fall Bus Tour, which visited Pleasant Hill and other cities in Eastern Polk County, on our Facebook Page