Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Not the last word on the Florida Market

corruptionImage from "What is Corruption?"

I do intend to testify on Tuesday. The bill will be really hard to defeat because it's an addendum to another bill, the Workforce Housing Production Program Approval Act of 2006, Bill 16-812. Of course, the amended bill isn't available online.

My testimony will focus less on the market proposal this time and more about how absolutely slimy this process has been and how it is an incredibly shameful episode in how the Council operates:

1. A bill benefiting certain interests at the expense of others with the active assistance of the legislative Branch of government with assistance and acquiescence from the Executive Branch;

2. Without the DC government issuing a request for proposals with a transparent consideration process;

3. Eliminating the participation of the DC Office of Planning, which doesn't favor the proposal;

4. Not conducting an independent evaluation of the financial and other claims made by the developers;

5. Putting forward a bill written by and for the developers that requires very little in the way of amenities and services and provisions that benefit the public;

6. Attaching the bill to another bill rather than having it be considered are its own merits and able to be voted on -- yea or nay -- without being considered as a part of a bill covering completely different issues.

7. Plus the last minute amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, to provide justification for the Florida Market New Town proposal which again were offered without any substantive public comment or input.

Just like PUD matters often make me feel dirty, participating as a citizen in the affairs of the polity, this whole process has been incredibly slimy. Which makes sense, since John Ray is the lawyer leading the effort, and it seems that you don't hire him to do a job if it's the kind of project you're proud of having launched (Mr. Ray was the lawyer for the first Slots Gambling referendum effort, which was actually a smidgen more slimy than this one).
money.jpgMoney is at the root of many a "vision."

Plus, all the information provided to the property owners and merchants in the Florida Market has come from the New Town people, without participation by the Office of Planning, and without the claims being vetted.

The process is supposed to be fair and transparent and not designed to benefit special interests at the expense of the majority.

I'm no fool, I know how things work. But this is disgusting.

Last Minute Comprehensive Plan amendments that support the creation of the New Towns primarily housing development in an industrial area.

(Note that earlier in the year, DC Office of Planning released a study about the diminishing amount of industrial land in the city and how because of congestion and distribution needs, this space needs to be retained.)

Of some concern was the amendments allowing residential, hotel, etc in addition to the warehousing, retailing uses. See page7, items 7 and 8.

In item 27 there is some language regarding retention of industrial area, but Councilmember Orange inserted some language regarding compatible office and retail uses....

and in 28 adding "creating a Mixed Use district where residential, commercial and lesser impact Production/Distribution/Repair uses are permitted....

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