Feb 25, 2008

Neighborhood Planning Forum this Saturday

This coming Saturday (March 1st) the City and the U-Dub are holding a neighborhood planning forum. It's by invitation, but you're free to ask to attend. The SmarterNeighbors blog has a copy of Sally Clarke's invitation to the event.

You may recall hearing rumblings about the neighborhood plans that many of us worked on a decade ago being dusted off and updated. The Mayor brought up the idea, but some people were concerned that he was just trying to hijack what had been a wonderfully democratic idea. Councilmember Sally Clark (who'd been a Plan Steward in a previous life), got involved, and is helping to run this forum. She's also produced a "Neighborhood Plan Implementation Audit Report", which addresses the ugly truth that we all worked hard to produce our neighborhood plans, then the administration changed and...... not a lot came out of the plans.

The Spring 1996 edition of the Miller Times will give you some of the flavor of (my) enthusiasm for the the planning process. The final (Fall 99) Miller Times noted some progress, but you'll see that the grand revitalized Madison Street is hardly finished yet! The final product, the Madison-Miller Plan is now online for your perusal.

So, are we ready to give neighborhood planning a second chance? I remain guardedly conflicted! I learnt a lot about land use, and met many enthusiastic and capable people (both volunteers and City personnel) but there's really very little in the way of actual RESULTS of all that work for me to point at. Maybe if we all go along to the forum and keep up a low mutter of "Implement, implement, implement, don't just plan.....", something good will happen.

However, the Department of Planning and Development has already revamped its planning rules for neighborhood commercial areas, and is busily working on revising the rules for multifamily residential zones, so there may not be much leeway available for neighborhood planners anyway....

BTW there's a bubbling undercurrent of neighborhood concern about the revised multifamily zoning codes, of which you may be hearing soon (you can revisit my previous rant in the interim).

1 comment:

David Miller said...

I think you've hit on two reasons exactly why we need to do another bottom-up neighborhood planning process:

1. Because we need to educate another generation of neighborhood volunteers in land use - is there really any part of being an effective neighborhood advocate that doesn't touch on this issue?

2. Precisely because these have been ignored after the administration change is a good reason to update them again. Global warming was also just a rumble 12 years ago. The worth of urban tree cover was also not as prominent.

There really is no substitute for bottom-up planning by the people who live and work in an area. My biggest fear about the update proposal is it won't allow for new plans (or sub-plans) to be created. It would be a shame to think that if a neighborhood didn't participate in 1996, ti can't participate now.