NSN Workshop - 9/13/08
Written by NSN Coordinator   

The Neighborhood Support Network sponsored a workshop on Saturday, September 13, 2008 at the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Center.  The topic for study and discussion was "Changing Use of Land."  There were 21 names on the registration list, representing 14 neighborhoods, including the five panelists and six NSN Core Group Members.

Panelists included:

  • Ruth Beeker, President, Miramonte Neighborhood Association
  • Patricia Gehlen, City Development Services Department, Jefferson Park resident, extensive knowledge of Land Use Code
  • Lori Boston, President, West University Neighborhood Association
  • Roger Howlett, City Department of Urban Planning and Design
  • Mac Hudson, Former President, Menlo Park Neighborhood Association, Current Ward I Council Aide

Thanks go to each of these people who volunteered their time and provided valuable comments, tips, and illuminating experiences in a number of areas, including land use change, land use code application, zoning/rezoning, area and neighborhood planning, and citizen participation in community decision making.

Take-away points include:

  • Good communication means a lot in land use change processes.
  • Building and maintaining good relationships among neighbors, neighborhood associations, city staff and ward staff is useful in establishing a base from which to operate.
  • A neighborhood plan is very helpful in responding to changes in land use. A good plan describes what the neighborhood wants for itself, provides a basis for how the proposed change does or does not fit in, and asserts the neighborhood position from more than one voice.
  • For a rezoning and/or a special exception request, compliance with the adopted area or neighborhood plan covering the site in question is required.  A area/neighborhood plan, however, is only advisory when the proposed development is allowed by the existing site zoning.  Education and persuasion are needed to negotiate successfully with potential developers.
  • The potential of a plan amendment is a major factor in giving neighbors an equal role in any negotiations.
  • Collaboration among a wide variety of stakeholders can make all the difference in land use change processes.
  • Active and informed participation is key.
  • Negotiation should be expected. There are always competing interests. There is rarely anything useful or lasting that results from assuming a black or white position. NIMBY's need to be persuaded that some change is inevitable and that we should make the chosen option work for the neighborhood as best possible.

A number of attendees thought the workshop was excellent and wondered at the low attendance.

Last Updated ( Monday, 15 September 2008 )
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