Reform, Reformat, Reduce, and Rethink Rules and Regulation

Idea: Review ways in which current regulation could be pared back to allow more housing, both market rate and affordable

  • Use public lands for housing – The State constitution generally restricts cities and counties from giving property to private individuals or from offering it for less than fair market value (Article VIII, 7). However, if the property would be used to directly benefit the “poor and infirm,” the City could “lawfully donate surplus city property to an organization for use for the benefit of the needy.” The City should pursue this potential for donating or selling land it owns at less than fair market value for affordable housing development.
  • Fix design review – City staff have said in public documents and reviews that design review adds costs, time, and doesn’t lead to the outcomes neighborhoods or developers want. The City needs a lean review of the process and a serious reset on what the outcomes it wants to achieve with design review. Currently, design review does not yield benefits that equal its costs nor do they meet the expectations of neighborhoods that often want to stop projects.
  • Create new Neighborhood Development Manager (NDM) position – Over a decade ago the City abolished the NDM position and the program of funded and staffed neighborhood plan implementation. The City should reconstitute the program of 6 well-paid and politically supported City staff that can work together with neighbors, City Departments, and private builders as neighborhoods grow. The program was effective during its short life in helping neighborhoods figure out how to accommodate new projects rather than arguing about whether new growth should happen.
  • Explore Lean Urbanism – Lean Urbanism is a movement that has grown out of the work of Andres Duany, a planner and architect. An important element of Lean Urbanism is the idea that sometimes rules, regulation, and even planning itself can retard innovation and limit new ideas. The City should support, study, and incentivize spontaneous and unorthodox approaches to welcoming growth with pilot projects and an audit of the code to reduce its complexity.
  • Try a zero based zoning experiment – Zero Based Zoning is a concept that would allow developers, neighbors, and funders of new projects craft development projects without any code requirements other than those required for health and safety. After review by the City’s Planning Commission, the project proposal would be submitted to the City Council for an up or down vote.
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