Moving forward on the Master Plan

I am pleased to report that we have reached an agreement with the Mayor to reconcile the differences between our respective Master Plan policy orders from earlier this month, and we are now hoping to bring a combined proposal to a vote at the next regular city council meeting, on Monday, April 28, at 5:30 pm.

This synthesized order represents an important step forward for our city, as it calls on the city council, "to address the issue of a Master Plan and to help establish the city's urban planning and community development priorities," following a series of public meetings with resident input. Click here to read the Mayor's letter and the full text of our revised order.

One of the key differences between our original orders had to do with who would be responsible for running the public meetings. I proposed that the City Council utilize its committees, but the Mayor proposed that meetings be led by our city's Community Development Department.

As a compromise, we have agreed that these initial public meetings will be run by independent planning and urban design professionals, who will report back to the Ordinance Committee with a summary of findings by July 31, 2014.

To be sure, I didn't see anything wrong with our original proposal. As a matter of fact, Rule 26, from the 2014-15 Rules of the City Council, states that:

Committee(s) shall make policy and other recommendations to the City Council as a whole for discussion, consideration and adoption. The committee may monitor implementation of City Council policies...It is the goal of the City Council to involve citizens actively in the work of city government through these committees. All committees shall work with community and neighborhood groups and committees on issues that relate to these groups' mandates and interests.

Nevertheless, some felt like it would not be appropriate to use the council's committees in this fashion, and therefore, I believe that we have struck upon a good compromise that still enables us to gather public input and address the fundamental concerns.

Most importantly, we have built consensus around the need for better urban planning, and we now have everyone talking about a new, citywide Master Plan. That's a great start, and it actually represents substantial progress from where we were just a few weeks ago.

Thanks to your support, and the support of many hundreds of residents from across the city who signed on to our Master Plan petition, we are setting the stage for a big conversation on development and planning issues.

Too often, our debates have focused on individual development proposals, where officials only get to look at a single parcel or street, without stepping back to look at the bigger picture. But with today's agreement, we are creating the opportunity to have that big, citywide discussion, and now it's up to all of us to make the most of it.

Please do not hesitate to let me and my colleagues know how you feel about this proposal, and I will continue to keep you posted on the status of this initiative.

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