If a significant community engagement process happens and the project still gains approval, does the process have value? What if the project is rejected out of hand, or the density reduced, then does it have value? I anticipate it depends where you sit. Please let me explain.
A week ago Sunday (July 3) I was surprised to find myself nodding in agreement with an opinion piece in The Washington Post written by Stewart Schwartz, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. The piece entitled “Stop saying no to development in your neighborhood” included the following:
“Yet wherever infill and walkable, transit-accessible development are proposed, existing residents are either saying no to development or forcing it to be cut back so much that the region isn’t producing the new housing we need.
Some of the most strident opposition comes from our wealthiest and most fortunate neighborhoods. This is the case even though these neighborhoods have benefited as their property values have soared by virtue of convenient access to Metro and all of the jobs, restaurants, grocery stores and services that transit-oriented development brings.
It is a good thing that people are passionate and actively engaged in planning decisions in our communities. We need everyone at the table, and we need to pay serious attention to good design, transportation, public spaces, affordable housing and other community benefits. We need to ensure we balance development, historic preservation, public parks and other community assets. But the intensity and hostility of the opposition are suppressing thoughtful discussion about the benefits of transit-oriented development for the community, transportation and the environment.”
One thing I’ll add: the minutes provided often are not as detailed or as timely as I would like; that’s ones of the big reasons I try to tweet (and often have help thankfully) the meetings. CCAC tweet summaries and agendas are here.