Thursday, January 21, 2010

Save Our High Density Zoning

The General Plan is an official document that often contains much text and many maps. Land use principles and political pressures push and pull on the content of the General Plan and associated zoning laws. Property owners, professional planners, consultants, politicians, and interested individuals from the community can invest years creating the General Plan and zoning for a planning area. The density of a specific piece of land is established by zoning and other laws. Specific development proposals are reviewed and negotiated before and after submittal to determine conformance with density and other issues.

It has been observed, at many points all through these processes, that it is politically easy for maximum allowable densities to be lowered. Seldom is density for a specific piece of land vigorously protected at a maximum allowable level. Rarely are newspaper editorials written urging planners to protect a higher density than a development proposes. However, here is one:

Editorial: County's Multi-Family Land Needs Better Protection
And more condos and other low-cost options should be built.

If the high density planned for a specific area is lowered, it also has been observed, it is politically very difficult or impossible for the maximum allowable density to be increased in the future.

Could it be that the above newspaper editorial is urging planners to think differently and in fact think of high density as a positive land use attribute worthy of protection