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.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Structuring community benefits agreements

(I have been really busy with a possible project and creating a detailed proposal for it.  We'll see where it goes.  But it definitely kept me from blogging.)

I have written a bunch in the past about community benefits agreements and how in DC, a relatively undefined framework for types of benefits, with the exception of added affordable housing in return for a density benefit, allows developers to not provide very much.

-- Community benefits agreements revised (again)
-- What community benefits are supposed to be versus what people think they are about
-- Community benefits agreements and energy considerations

And lack of good process allows many different actors to take part in negotiations in ways that diffuses impact.

Not to mention a lack of a good framework means that there is too little focus on realizing extranormal long term (structural) benefits.

I was reading a Montgomery County plan and it referenced that jurisdiction's public benefits process associated with special development considerations.  It's outlined in Division 4.7, Optional Method Public Benefits, in the new (2014) Montgomery County Zoning Code, on page 4-96.

All jurisdictions should create a comparable process.  And include in district, sector and neighborhood plans a section on community consensus priorities in order to help shape and accelerate the process.

A.  Major Public Facility

B. Transit Proximity

C. Connectivity and Mobility
1. Advance Dedication
2. Minimum Parking
3. Neighborhood Services
4. Public Parking
5. Through-Block Connection
6. Transit Access Improvement
7. Streetscape Improvement
8. Trip Mitigation
9. Way Finding

D. Diversity of Uses and Activities
1. Adaptive Buildings
2. Care Centers
3. Dwelling Unit Mix
4. Enhanced Accessibility for the Disabled
5. Live/Work
6. Moderately Priced Dwelling Units
7. Small Business Opportunity

E. Quality Building and Site Design
1. Architectural Elevations
2. Exceptional Design
3. Historic Resource Protection
4. Public Art
5. Public Open Space
6. Structured Parking
7. Tower Step-Back

F. Protection and Enhancement of the Natural Environment
1. Building Lot Terminations
2. Cool Roof
3. Energy Conservation and Generation
4. Habitat Preservation and Restoration
5. Recycling Facility Plan
6. Transferable Development Rights
7. Tree Canopy
8. Vegetated Area
9. Vegetated Roof
10. Vegetated Wall

G. Building Reuse

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At 7:54 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

I'd saw that is an outline, rather than a plan.

As you said, you've got to prioritize longer term structural investment. The planners/government don't have that granular enough view of the area, and the concept is the local residents might. (Doubtful, to be honest). But at least that a a menu.

the other aspect is the fees for construction, blocking off roads, etc need to far higher. Developers need to be paying for the damage they are doing to roads. The fees for this can be re-invested in the local area. I'd be far happy to deal with 2 years of noise and construction if I knew there was a payback.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Having an outline or framework gets you half way there. Not having one means it's likely you'll get very little, unless a developer is particularly well motivated (it does happen, I used some examples of enlightened developers in my earliest writings on this topic) or when public officials--elected or appointed, have it together as well (but that's rare).

wrt fees for loss of access to roads, good point. In DC, they do pay for this a bit, but I don't know how much. And I think there might be some payments towards road repaving after, depending on the level of damage during the project. But I don't really know.

When I was on the anc6c planning and zoning committee 10 years ago, there was a project in Chinatown where the developer wanted to block an alley for interior of the block construction and access, which would have eliminated rear access to other properties on the block, including some on site parking.

I said, no problem, so long as you pay for the property owners to park elsewhere. It was the equivalent of a taking, except as you know better than I, not exactly, because it wouldn't be by the govt. per se, but sort of, because it would have been an action sanctioned by the govt.

They refused, and came up with a different plan that never "permanently" block the complete alley, only partial.

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: outline vs plan

Yes you are correct. It is how you start.

But you've got two competing goals -- how to use public projects to invest to for 20-30 years, and how to make the people who live there (who will not be around for more than 5) happy.

So a tough balancing act.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Suzanne and I were talking about the project I am working on, and some other stuff, and she got to the point very succinctly, something you point out too.

While I think of politicians being elected to deal with the future, they and most of the electorate are only concerned about "the now," "the moment."

It's why we let so many opportunities pass us by or fail to realize them or fail to realize them fully, because of real constraints on our approach.

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Well the great ones can do both!

And that is why it is a hard job!


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