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Cities focus on minor issues while major issues go unresolved


I work for a developer and go around and around with cities on aesthetic standards. The city claims to be progressive, support a high quality of life, and be on the cutting edge of planning yet all their planners do is enforce landscaping minimums greenspace minimums. All their projects require massive parking, huge setbacks, are unfriendly to pedestrians, etc. It's almost like no matter what we do something changes to show that "the planners had a hand in this project".

We want to move to a more urban style of development but the city, through their planning department, seems to think good planning is how the building look, not how the city interacts with itself. Any tips or advice for me?


You've got two ways to fix a city. Top down or bottom up.

Top down means you have a councilman or some other top person's ear. Make them understand that maybe the parking is a little out of date and maybe some pedestrian access would be a good thing. Maybe target different areas of the city with overlays that focus what development should look like there (I'm in a big city, it's the only way we can get any standards that don't blanket a one size solution over the city). Hopefully the top guy will push on the planning department for a change.

The other way is get the planning director or someone to push for a code change. Not all the directors like doing it because it can open a can of worms and ruin a good thing.

Also remember, find out why the city has that code. My city has huge landscape setbacks in some areas (like 40') in certain areas with no reduction in the normal parking. It's the way we want that area developed. Too bad your development doesn't work, maybe embrace out vision. At the same time we are willing to listen to variance requests (that's a different argument).