By Adrienne W. Bailey
What is the Neighborhood Plan & A Little Background
The Central Area Neighborhood Plan (CANP)was adopted in 1998 by City Council as city ordinance # 119216 which addresses the goals, desires and aspirations for the Central Areaâ??s growth and development. It is the communityâ??s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan). According to the Cityâ??s Comprehensive Planâ??. . . neighborhood planning groups proposed specific improvements for their neighborhoods, and many of these recommendations have been incorporated into the work programs of City departments.â??
The Cityâ??s Comp Plan which was adopted the Comp Plan in 1994 in response to the state Growth Management Act of 1990 (GMA) â??addressing effects of growth on transportation and other City facilitiesâ??. The GMA requires full community involvement and participation in Comp plans, which was done via Neighborhood Planning. As per the GMA the Cityâ??s Comp Plan is to be reviewed and updated. In 2004 the city asked the various Neighborhood Plan groups, organizations, District Councils and other community groups and organizations to give the city a prioritized list of what they want for their community. We, the communities were asked to use our Neighborhood Plans without our being able to update our Neighborhood Plans. Therefore the information in the Cityâ??s Comp Plan relating to our Neighborhoods either is obsolete, completed or missing more vital and relevant information. After Neighborhood Planning was moved to Department of Planning and Development (DPD), many Neighborhood Planning groups and organizations continuously asking the cityâ??s assistance in updating and amending. Then (Neighborhood Planning groups and organizations) noticed that many developers were using the Cityâ??s annual amendment process to change our Neighborhood Plans to suit their developments many of them were doing this without coming to the community they will affect. Many communities and neighborhoods became more enraged and adamant about updating and amending their Neighborhood Plans. Then finally an audit of Neighborhood Plans was done this year, which confirming the need for Neighborhood Plans to be revised be it in the form of updating and amending and in some neighborhoods who now want a Neighborhood Plan, create one.
In walks the Mayor and his proposal, he has now stepped into the fray by presenting his proposed budget, process and timeline for updating Neighborhood Plans. The executive (Mayor) anticipates that Neighborhood Plans will â??result in strategies (not specific projects or solutions) that realize citywide goals, objectives and policies at the local level.â?? Regardless of communityâ??s opposition and/or input the Mayor has stayed consistent, in his ploy to â??formalized and standardizeâ?? the plans, and essentially turn the plans over to city staff. According to this proposal the updating of the Plans is to be done by sector at a time, one per year with the community meeting approximately 2-3 meetings per neighborhood, and 1-2 per sector during this span year.
Where do we go from now?
Out of respect for the tremendous amount of work, hours and efforts the community people put into creating our Neighborhood Plan, we need to take ownership, the initiative and start the necessary work to update and amend our Neighborhood Plan now. The most important thing to realize is that we donâ??t have to wait for the City to update and amend our Neighborhood Plan. There is an annual amendment process we can do right now. Everyone in the Central Area needs to step up, get involved, start attending, participating in the CANP Stewardship meeting(s) and sign up for and help form the various committees that correspond with the elements in the CANP. Start editing, amending, updating and adding to our Neighborhood Plan. So that by the time the City has selected us to start their process we will already have what we want in place. In the interest of having some kind of control over the quality of our lives we need to be proactive and insist on this process being neighborhood-driven, not City-driven. Currently there is work being done relating to a couple of committees, Housing, Land Use and building codes and Human Development. Under the Human Development element we are planning a Community Safety event and in need of you skills, abilities and time (more later). The updating, amending and making additions to our Neighborhood Plan, will be done by the committees formed under the CANP Stewardship. The committees are related to, but not limited to the following elements: Land Use and Open Space, Urban Design, Economic Development, Housing, Transportation, Human Development and Infrastructure, in the interest of efficiency some of these elements may be combined.
Here is a brief overview of an element of the Central Area Neighborhood Plan, which includes a youth program we want to re-create and expand and the event mentioned earlier we are planning. Perhaps looking at the aforementioned elements the overview of the following element youâ??ll see something that ignites your passion for our community to the point that you attend the next CANP Stewardship meeting.
Of the most important aspects of this element is the investment in our future, which are the youth of the Central Area and in building our community. Encourage community-building opportunities, mutual community relationships and partnerships that demonstrate, respects and value of the African American heritage of the Central Area and welcomes the diversity the new residents of recent years bring with them. To Promote empowerment for our Central Area youth a pilot program of creating a Central Area Youth Advisory Council was done last year. These youth met with another countyâ??s youth commissioners and we are looking for community people to help re-create, expand it to give our youth a means to voice their concerns, wants and need, work and communicate with other community councils, groups, organizations and have a representation on the Central Area District Council.
Work with job skill training and entrepreneurial programs and help locate and create opportunities for the people of Central Area to find gainful employment and/or to start businesses. Expand and improve public safety education for the neighborhoods, as well as improve community and police relationships.
There is another opportunity for people to get involved and participate. We are working with Seattle Police Department, Parks and Recreation and Department of Neighborhoods to have a Community Safety Forum. The primary groups we are targeting for this event are the many Block Watches of the Central Area and people who want to start a Block Watch. Many Block Watches have informally helped of neighborhoods form their own Block Watch and shared information with other already formed Block Watches. It has been said that there is a need for an event where all the Block Watches and those who are interested in starting a Block Watch can come together share and exchange best practices. That is what we are planning for this event along with emergency preparedness and other issues related to community safety. We are looking to attract as many if not all of the Block Watches in the Central Area and other people interested in getting involved in Community Safety, wanting to help plan and implement this event.
It is imperative for all of us to come together, business and property owners, community groups and organizations of the Central Area especially all residents old and new regardless of socioeconomic status, setting aside our perceptions of who we or our neighbors are, our perspective of our status in comparison of our neighbors, shift our focus to and start working together for the mutual greater good of our community and our quality of life.
Going forward the CANP Stewardship hopes to submit regular explanations about the elements of the CANP, updates, what is going on in the committees as they grow and participation increases and other information related to our community and the CANP to this and other Community Council newsletters along with any other modes of communication to keep the community informed.
CANP Stewardship meets the first Thursday of the month, 6pm, at Garfield Community Center (2323 E. Cherry St.) unless otherwise noted. If you are interested in receiving meeting announcements send your request to [email protected], put â??CANP Stewardshipâ?? in the subject.
Link to Central Area Neighborhood Plan: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/npi/plans/central/
Link to Neighborhood Plan Audit: http://www.seattle.gov/audit/docs/PublishedNPI.pdf
Link to Cityâ??s Comprehensive Plan: http://www.seattle.gov/DPD/Planning/Seattle_s_Comprehensive_Plan/ComprehensivePlan/default.asp