A webinar on the draft of the City’s Complete Communities plan, an integrated strategy to link park development, housing and transportation centered around Transit Priority Areas, was held July 16.
City transportation planning staffers, facilitated by the Institute of Local Government, a nonprofit promoting good government at the local level, conducted the two-hour educational seminar. The event was part tutorial, survey and interactive group discussion. Participants were asked to take surveys asking their preferences on issues related to parks, housing and transportation. The results of the online survey were then discussed by City planners.
Erica Manuel of ILG moderated the event whose purpose, she noted, was to “inform as many people as possible about three City initiatives: play everywhere, mobility choices and housing solutions.”
City planning director Mike Hansen said the three initiatives, while separate, are interrelated.
“Complete communities is an integrated land-use, transportation planning strategy to implement the City’s general plan, our growth blueprint, and our landmark Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality and public health,” said Hansen. “Our focus is on prioritizing our City’s resources to put them where the needs are greatest.”
Added Hansen, “Together these programs will provide more mobility choices to meet our climate goals, incentivize the building of more affordable housing near transit, and quickly bring parks and neighborhood benefits where we need them the most.”
Heidi Vonblum with City Environment and Mobility Planning discussed the Play Everywhere initiative.
“This is about creating more options for playing, exercising, and socializing that’s part of the City of Villages strategy,” said Vonblum. “We’ve inventoried biking and walking and transit locations emphasizing providing equity to public facilities throughout the City. The initiative addresses inequities that exist in the City today while providing greater mobility choices allowing the City to address greenhouse gas reduction.”
Added Vonblum, “An update of our City Parks Master Plan will deliver more parks to more people faster, addressing inequities in our parks system while planning for new parks and recreation opportunities in areas experiencing the most growth.”
Vonblum pointed out one focus of the initiative is to funnel resources toward communities of concern, defined as areas currently underserved by parks and recreation in the City.
Brian Schoenfisch, City program manager of community planning and implementation, talked about housing.
“We want to provide access to housing options with the City’s affordable housing incentive program implementing the City of Villages strategy and the Climate Action Plan,” said Schoenfisch. “It encourages a diverse range of housing near transit, along with providing neighborhood-serving amenities.”
Schoenfisch noted the City has a serious continuing housing shortage. “We have produced less than 50% of our housing needs,” he said. “The numbers are especially bad in very low, low and moderate-income categories. We need to produce over 108,000 new housing units over the next eight years. What this means is we will have to triple our current annual housing production numbers in order to address our housing needs.”
Vonblum also addressed mobility choices.
“Locating land uses close to transit is one of the most efficient ways to achieve the City’s climate goals,” she said. “Transit Priority Areas within a half-mile of high-quality transit, is where most new development would occur, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting down on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMTS). Measures to promote the reduction of VMTs would include pedestrian-scale lighting, high-visibility crosswalks, pedestrian resting areas, pool vehicle parking, and electric bicycle recharging stations. These measures would be developed with feedback from public outreach.”