Monday, August 23, 2010

Arena Momentum and a Westside Sith Preacher


The Convention and Visitors Bureau has stepped up and proclaimed it's support of Arena and Hotel plan downtown. Officially. Hopefully this, in addition to the fire at the baptist church will jumpstart this project. Surely the Mayor has had enough time to form an educated opinion. Now would be a good time for the Chamber and Downtown Action Team to get behind this plan.

Centers and Corridors

I found it. The portion of the Comprehensive Plan that discusses the Centers and Corridors concept I've been denouncing for months. Based on research regarding mode travel and activity centers, this is a brilliant plan for our multi-nodal city. However, I would love to see some prioritization of these centers and corridors. Is the design dictated solely by sector plans? Seeing as most neighborhoods haven't updated theirs, I'm guessing this plan is essentially useless with regards to this plans effort. What about transit? This plan discusses the need to strengthen transit options between centers, but does the transit department use this plan as a guide? Based upon the MTP I'm guessing not.

I bring these up for discussion purposes. I am not familiar with the process that has taken shape in Albuquerque over the years as I was an engineer following different codes and regulations. However, the answers to these questions greatly affect the relationship between the city's plans and the quality of the built environment.

I have been working with the City of Seattle to begin the process of creating an urban design element to be included with the comprehensive plan update. This work led me to take a closer look at Albuquerque's plans in order to try and wrap my ahead around the Duke City's urban design policy framework. A short blip in section II, I'll call it an element, discusses urban design. It goes on to list what parts of the built environment that should be evaluated by sector plan(?). But how exactly is this evaluated? Who evaluates this? Again, I'm trying to understand this. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone knows these answers and can enlighten me on these issues.

As part of my work, I have been reviewing work by other cities on this front. The lack of cities with urban design plans really illustrates the state of our cities in terms of design, or lack thereof.

I am aware of a Great Streets Plan that is or was making its way through the EPC last year but I'm unaware of where it stands today. This plan's effectiveness is crucial toward implementation of the centers and corridors concept. Hopefully the plan is not watered down before being approved.

At last week's Design Commission meeting, the mayor of Seattle stated, "Don't let your transportation engineers design your city." I giggled when I thought of the Barry administration responding with, "Oh no? But why?"

Sith Preacher

Meanwhile, the new councilor from west of the river is tinkering with sector plans and transportation taxes. The public process that occurred a few years back to create the Volcano Vista sector plan (that I can't find online now) which called for ample open space and mixed-use development near Volcano Vista High was of no concern to him as he cried property rights for a few folks who feel their rights were violated. Where were these property owners when the plan was being forged? Now the whole community has to pay the price in addition to the lost time and effort of the community. Gosh, why do we even have a planning department, councilor?

Additionally, all the effort of calculating the impact fee structure has meant nothing to him and a few other councilors. This man is single-handedly pissing on months of planning efforts and tax dollars spent to create a solution.

This same councilor has now proposed that excess transit tax revenue be used for road construction. Are you kidding me? Instead of using the money that voters approved for improving transit, we're going to use it on roads? Seriously, this guy has got to go. I wouldn't have a problem with him if he didn't have the support of 4 other councilors that seem to all band together...for their constituents of course...

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