Reflecting the Southwest Small Area Plan and the Community Benefits Coordinating Council’s (CBCC’s) mission “…to ensure that ANC 6D redevelopment sustains neighborhood diversity and improves residents’ quality of life,” CBCC has adopted six principles with which to assess redevelopment proposals. In CBCC’s view, framing principles are increasingly important as Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) are the main instrument for Southwest redevelopment. PUDs can set aside existing zoning requirements in exchange for other concessions, such as higher building height in exchange for building setbacks or more affordable housing units than otherwise required, but they can also rapidly change the character of the community. While CBCC can use these principles to test proposals against its mission, this is also a chance to enable the community to reinsert into redevelopment decisions the voice it expressed in the Small Area Plan.
- Housing mix. The number, sizes, purchase/rental ratios, and prices of new units should maintain demographic diversity, including income, age, racial and ethnic diversity, and be able to serve a mix of singles, couples, and families. The overall size of developments; mix of townhouses, low-rise, mid-rise, and high-rise structures; and parking restrictions (potentially controversial), will all affect demographic mix and should be considered in that regard.
- Affordability. A proportion of new housing should be within reach of low and moderate income households who would otherwise be priced out through redevelopment and natural gentrification. Income and eligibility rules for “affordable units” should demonstrate how the number and characteristics of current households are likely to be accommodated in proposed units. Rules for duration of affordable units through continued subsidy or resale restrictions should be explicit.
- Retail mix. The profile and pricing of retail space (e.g., rent/sq. foot or other parameters for selected retail spaces) should serve diverse segments of the residential community and assess residential versus visitor needs (e.g., hours of operation, parking, restrictions on private rights-of-way). Controls on rental pricing to maintain the desired mix over time, and mechanisms to ensure continued service and access for local residents should be explicit.
- Open space and other common space. Increased density and new building designs should, to the maximum extent feasible, maintain public green and open space that has characterized Southwest, including considerations of height, shadowing, setbacks, traffic, and access. As new designs replace open space with private interior spaces, such designs should ensure access for community residents to the maximum extent feasible in order to nurture the mix of diverse segments of the community and facilitate public oversight of use. Other strategies to maintain or recreate open space should be considered, including improving public parks and other green spaces that impact quality of life for community residents.
- Quality of life. Redevelopment should at least do no harm and at best improve quality of life for current residents. Quality of life may be improved by new retail, services and entertainment, and new community members. But effects on health, transportation, noise, congestion, access, and other measures of quality of life for current and new residents should all be considered.
- Historic legacy. Recognition of the importance of Southwest’s heritage as a cultural polyglot, including its role as port of entry for multiple immigrant communities and freed black populations, the introduction of public health standards in turn-of-the-century low-income housing, its unique social diversity an attraction to new entrants in 1960s urban renewal, and its iconic mid-century architecture created by that renewal are critical components of its unique character. Preservation or renovation of key structures that represent the history and distinction of Southwest over the last two centuries should be considered explicitly, and undertaken where appropriate and feasible.
By: Fredrica Kramer