From your keyboard to their ears

As we discuss and debate development here amid the pixels of WSB, it’s been mentioned that the city has Neighborhood Plans that were drawn up years ago, paving the way for what’s happening now. Here’s a rare chance to tell the city what you think about how those plans are working, or not working. Click here to take the survey (deadline May 28). If you want to review your Neighborhood Plan first, find it on the dropdown list here.

2 Replies to "From your keyboard to their ears"

  • Amy May 19, 2007 (8:54 am)

    Thanks for this. There are a lot of discussions on WSB of what we can do about the changes in our neighborhood and this appears to be a great way to tell the city that the neighborhood development plans are “totally out of date” (question 16). I only briefed reviewed the Junction plans, but there are glaring no-progress issues, such as the recommendation on transportation issues, like a year-round water taxi, and expansion of bus hubs and regional transit that have not been implemented. Growth in this area appears to me to be beyond the plan’s projections of 1100 households by 2014, given all of the condo development. Thanks again.

  • sean mccarthy May 23, 2007 (12:14 pm)

    Having worked on the neighborhood plan with other local residents here in the Admiral district for over 2 years I think i can shed a little light on some of this.

    Remember, the whole neighborhood planning process was created by the city to satisfy the requirements of the 1990 growth management act passed by the state.

    If memory serves me, it stated that any city with over 100,000 residents had to have a 20 year plan for growth. Also, it mandated that residents must have meaningful input into how that growth should look. That’s why the neighborhood planning process was created – to give residents input and have that input implemented into “a plan” for their neighborhood.

    We did surveys, held community events, and documented all of it. Everything that ended up in the plan was supported by either the surveys, written comments from community events, and the opinions of the core group of volunteers.

    The problem with all of the neighborhood plans is that none of them have any teeth. They are advisory documents. We were not allowed to change zoning, which is by far the most influential element dictating where growth takes place. This is one of the main reasons we never got some of the more influential community activists on board. The late great Charlie Chong being the most notable. The city council is under no legal pressure at all to implement any of the plan’s suggestions.

    I came to feel that, given all of the limitations, it was still a very worthwhile endeavor, simply because it taught residents how to navigate the maze of city government and to help create relationships with employees from many city departments. Access is power and we did learn how to get better access.

    As I recall, the 20 year growth target for Admiral was 360 new households. we must be close to that given all the condos that have popped up in the Admiral planning area.

    Some of us said at the time that if neighborhood plans were too restrictive then developers would simply go outside the planning area where they didn’t have all the nimbys scrutinizing them, and waving a neighborhood plan in their face. This might be part of the reason that Avalon street by the steel mill has seen the most growth of anywhere in the area. It was not a part of anyone’s neighborhood plan. Same with some of the areas on Harbor Ave. Tremendous growth with very little, if any, community input.

    We suggested down-zoning these areas to prevent developers from avoiding scrutiny and forcing them to build sensible, attractive housing within urban villages where there were amenities in place, so people did not have to drive their cars. This was one of the main reasons the city embraced the urban village concept. To get people out of their cars! The folks in all the new apartments on Harbor ave are not walking up Ferry ave. to go to the Metropolitan Market.

    The planning process was deeply flawed, no doubt. The city’s goal was to satisfy the requirements of the growth management act. They apparently did so, but because they were unwilling to tackle the zoning issue it has not turned out nearly as good as it could have.

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