Community Voices Should Shape Development.
Our communities deserve strategic and meaningful investment that helps advance equity rather than gentrify or displace. To do this best, we need a system that prioritizes the community’s needs and preferences.
WHAT WE KNOW
There is significant opportunity to change the development process to allow for more community input and leverage. Right now, neighborhood associations and community members typically don’t find out about a development project until 21 days before a public hearing. Not only does this make it hard to get the word out to the community, but most development projects are fully designed at this point. This means most developers are less likely to make significant changes to a project. Finally, even when community members are able to come together and organize around a project, we’ve seen many cases where community concerns or priorities did not meet the criteria of what the City Planning Commission has authority over.
WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?
Learn more about the development process! It’s a complicated system, but we hope some of the resources below will help you understand how development currently works and where the community’s access points are
Pay attention! If you see opportunities to interact with development projects or developers, take advantage of them. If you know a developer or are planning to sell a property, encourage them to reach out to community based organizations to understand how their plans may or may not align with community priorities.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO GOING FORWARD?
Some key procedural changes to the development process could help achieve more equity:
Equity metric: Whether it be the scorecard developed by our partners at The Alliance or some other tool, every development project should receive an equity score so we can better track our progress against equity goals.
More time: Community members should be informed earlier in the process of development. At minimum, community organizations should be notified when a developer begins the process of a land use application.
Decision making: The game-changer in equitable development will be giving community voices real power over the development in their communities. This could look like community development corporations; annual community priority lists, or changing the criteria for land applications to give more weight to community voices.