Community Development 101

Community Development done well (which is always our aim), is when a community decides in fair and inclusive ways, how they want to grow or improve themselves, either as a group of individuals or the place where they are located, and then makes it happen by working together. 

What is a healthy community?

The California Planning Roundtable defines a healthy community as “…one that strives to meet the basic needs of all residents; it is guided by health equity principles in the decision-making process; it empowers organizations and individuals through collaboration, civic and cultural engagement for the creation of safe and sustainable environments. Vibrant, livable and inclusive communities provide ample choices and opportunities to thrive economically, environmentally and culturally, but must begin with health.”

What is a General Plan?

A General Plan is a plan that a community makes for itself on how it wants to grow in the future. It includes a map that shows where we want new houses, where we want new businesses, where we want new factories, and also goals and policy directions for how city planning staff should evaluate the new proposals for development that they receive.

What is TOD?

Transit Oriented Development, or TOD is development that is close to good transit (buses or trains) that allows more people to have access to goods and services that can meet their daily needs. It can be mostly housing with a coffee shop and a drug store on the bottom. It can be offices and retail. The defining characteristic of TOD is that it makes it as easy to walk to meet your needs as it is to drive.  

Can the Plan be changed?

Yes, the city council can amend the plan whenever they want, although there is an administrative process that amendments have to follow first. Staff at City Hall can recommend approval or denial of the changes, but City Council makes the final decision. If the vote is 4-3 the mayor can veto the decision, but if the vote is 5-2, then the decision is final. 

What is quality public transportation?

We think that good transit is a bus or train that comes often and gets you where you need to go in an efficient, easy and safe way. The stops should be well marked, lit and have basic amenities like a shelter or a bench. Quality public transportation provides an actual choice. Every morning when you wake up, you can choose, do you want to drive today, do you want to sit and read a magazine on a bus, or do you want to bike or walk to get some exercise. Each of these options is equally safe and accessible, so there are actual choices. 

What is infill? What makes it better for Blackstone?

Infill is what planners call new buildings that are built in existing neighborhoods. Infill is when we go back to the random dirt lots that got left behind, and add in buildings that make the neighborhood more complete. 

What is Mixed Use?

Mixed use is when you allow two different kinds of land uses to be in the same space, like housing and business, or offices and condos. Mixed use can be vertical (more than one story tall with multiple uses in the same building) or horizontal (buildings with complementing uses next to one another)

What is BRT?

Bus Rapid Transit is improved bus service that gets you where you want to go faster and with nicer stations. The bus stops at every major intersection (approximately every half-mile), and you can buy your tickets while you wait, so that boarding goes faster. Full-scale BRT systems have a dedicated lane, so that they can avoid traffic.