Jul 26, 2007

Neighborhood Planning to return?

Those of you who were around a decade ago may recall the neighborhood planning efforts that went on in our neighborhoods back then, which resulted both in the Central Area Neighborhoods Plan and in the Madison-Miller neighborhood plan (see RHS of page, below "Miller Links").

Those planning exercises helped us meet neighbors, understand City zoning and land use rules, and really gave participants a sense of ownership and empowerment in their neighborhoods.

But the City kind of gave up after the plans hit the (dusty) shelves. All professional City help in implementing and updating the plans soon ceased: small groups of dedicated neighbors continue to meet to try and move the process forward, but it's terribly hard work without City help.

Various people have been pressing for the Neighborhood Planning Process to be revived, including Councilmember Clark, who was a Neighborhood Plan City employee in a former life.

The Mayor is now talking of reviving the Neighborhood Plans, though he seems to want to make them much more homogeneous and centrally guided than they were before. You can learn more about (what little) we know about the upcoming process in:

So, why should we care? Firstly because we might want to keep control of our neighborhood's destiny. Secondly because there are obvious concrete examples in our area of the need for local neighborhood control.

The proposed redevelopment and upzone of the SW corner of 23rd & Union has got a lot of public input on this blog. Most people have been supportive of Jim Mueller's proposed upzone of his property as a necessary step in the redevelopment of that property. He has, however, been very open about his plans to acquire and redevelop more properties at 23rd & Union (and on Madison) and some people have expressed great concern that allowing this one upzone (from a 40' to a 65' neighborhood commercial zone) will open the door for creeping upzoning of the whole intersection, with the consequent change of the whole character of the area.

A revived neighborhood planning process would be an excellent chance for neighbors to learn about the benefits and consequences of such upzoning, and would allow the immediate neighborhood to be fully informed about the process and make an informed collective decision about the wisdom of such upzoning.

Note, by the way, that the City has recently changed zoning standards for neighborhood business districts and is in the process of doing so for multifamily residential zones.

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