Fixing the Neighborhoods: Part II

In the preceding article, I talked about how we can go about lining up different toolkits to upgrade the look and feel of the neighborhoods.  The three categories are: 1) making resources available to residents to try to keep folks in place, 2) the City upgrading infrastructure and 3) code enforcement.  Much of what I’m going to talk about here is the mechanics of how to do this, the whys behind it and how I’m planning on getting the City and various neighborhood groupings to take note to try and actually make this happen.

In the Villages CDC Neighborhood Plan, I’m not proposing anything new.  All of the activities are items are already up, running, funded, staffed and programmed.  It’s merely a question of trying to link up existing programs, compress the delivery schedule, and target neighborhoods that have enough of an existing level of density and stability upon which to grow.  For example, the impact of deploying City infrastructure resources in many areas without any sort of coordination between the various departments is akin to boiling the ocean.  Say you had Buildings, Water, Housing, and Public Works all focus on nodes of development in the City.  The overall impact that having each of these departments focus on targets rather than making each of their own capital investment plans independently of one another would be significant.  In this instance, the whole would be substantially greater than the sum of its parts.

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The Department of Public Works loves trees.

There’s real benefits to that.  You’d have situations where DPW could truly coordinate with DWSD and DTE so as to ensure that all of their scheduled repairs are completed before DPW goes into a neighborhood and resurfaces roads or pours new sidewalks.  By having multiple City infrastructure investments take place simultaneously, the overall magnitude of the impact is greater than if they were just making them individually.  BSEED could focus on eliminating blight simultaneously, HRD could corral development into the zone, and DWSD could focus on repairing their infrastructure.  

And in areas where you have the City upgrading services and infrastructure, you have a greater likelihood that residents and business owners would comply at a greater rate with code enforcement.  By changing the look and feel of neighborhoods, not only does the City reclaim the moral high ground, you’re winning hearts and minds in the process.

One element of how I imagine this would be staged is by gradually beginning in those neighborhoods that already have a level of density and stability.  Initially, the focal point could be those neighborhoods and then working outwards.  For example, many of the practices that I tested out I developed in Indian Village with an eye towards gradually expanding them towards the West Village, Islandview, the East Village, and the North Village.

And not all neighborhoods are going to need the same things.  For example, in the East and North Village, there’s a real need for boarding up vacant buildings and demolishing fire damaged properties, along with cleaning up illegal dumping.  You’re not going to need that in either Indian or the West Villages.  My goal is to get all of the neighborhoods to the same level eventually, but with a recognition that they’re all going to need different tactics and interventions.  In this plan, not all neighborhoods are going to get the same initiatives, but they’re all going to get something.

So how are we going to do this?  At this point, one of the biggest challenges we face is getting cooperation from the City.  For the most part, I believe that City workers and leaders are diligent people who have nothing but the best intentions.  They are largely dealing with problems the scope and scale of which most members of the public have no idea, and they’re doing so on budgets that are minuscule relative to the challenges they address.  However, at this point, the perception in the City is that it’s just Mac Farr that’s asking for a lot of this stuff.  So in order to continue with making progress on multiple fronts, I’m going to need residents, neighborhood association and block club leaders, developers and business owners to stand with me in order to get these elements nailed down.

Because, at the end of the day, if they think it’s just me, it’s not going to happen.  If leaders in the City realize that we have nearly 20,000 residents crying out for City services with a healthy dose of equity, sustainability and inclusion, we have a far greater chance of seeing this unfold in a rapid fashion.  If you’re interested in attending a meeting for Villages leadership on this topic in terms of how we can make this happen, please join me this coming May 30th at 7900 Mack Avenue at 6:30 p.m.  This is doable.  Help us make it happen.

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