Thursday, June 29, 2017

"10 Steps to Fix a City," including axing anyone on staff who believes the fixes are unworkable.

Imagine you attend a meeting of City Council, the Redevelopment Commission or the Board of Public Works and Safety, and as you're sitting there, expecting the same ol' same ol', an elected representative or appointed official begins explaining what he or she read at Strong Towns.

It's an old link, one worth viewing again.

It's also a list for comparing platforms in 2019. I've included explanations for some, though not all of the precepts. Give the website a click, and by doing so, pole vault to the head of the queue.


10 STEPS TO FIX A CITY, by Andrew Burleson (Strong Towns)

1. Don't issue any new bonds until the city's current debts are fully paid off.

2. Don't accept unfunded maintenance obligations.

3. Throw out your parking ordinances.

No parking ordinance is better than no parking ordinances. Allow on-street parking everywhere, and use parking meters as needed to limit on-street congestion in high-demand areas. Let the market figure out the off-street supply and demand balance.

4. Don't permit greenfield development when existing infrastructure is highly underutilized.

Almost every city has a section of town with streets and sewers surrounded by vacant lots or abandoned buildings. As long as there are big chunks of your town like this, there’s no reason to issue building permits for new infrastructure. 

5. Require buildings to front the street.

That means no parking lots in front of buildings. The ground floor has to be inhabitable, parking can be beside or behind the building, but there has to be a “front door” that lets pedestrians enter the building directly from the street / sidewalk. 

6. Dramatically simplify your zoning.

First, just throw out your entire zoning ordinance because it’s surely horrible. Then try replacing it with just four zones: Heavy Industrial, Mixed-Use, Restricted Residential, and Restricted Agricultural / Natural. Read more about zoning.

7. Dramatically simplify your traffic hierarchy.

8. Stop building stroads.

In fact, it would be ideal if you could stop building any new roads until we, as a nation, came up with a better system for funding them. 

9. Set a maximum block perimeter of 2000' and enforce it.

10. Fire anyone on staff who believes the above is unworkable.

In today’s municipal world the professionals are a big part of the problem. There are plenty of good people out there who could work well within the constraints above. If the people in your city staff don’t think that’s possible, then the city needs new staff.

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