If you have the chance to read our vision statement, you’ll see that Urban Community Partnership exists to steward the development in our communities by building economically viable and culturally rich places. Looking back at 2017, UCP was able to support several projects and events that furthered this goal in Sonoma County, but we cannot ignore the devastating events of the Northern California fires. As UCP continues to develop, we want to look back at these milestones and share them with our supporters. We are excited about what we accomplished this last year, but we are even more eager to grow from our experiences to see a more prosperous 2018.
In the beginning of 2017, UCP invited Greenbelt Alliance to Sonoma County to educate us on their project endorsement program. Ultimately, this led to the Greenbelt Alliance endorsement of the DeTurk Winery Village project.
This mixed-use housing development incorporates the historic DeTurk Round Barn and will leverage public transportation to alleviate the need for additional parking. The high-density solution will provide a significant amount of housing units within blocks of Railroad Square SMART Train Station. Through our interaction with Greenbelt Alliance, UCP is beginning to develop our own endorsement program to support projects that provide resilience and regeneration to our communities.
Towards the end of March, three of our board members attended and hosted presentations at the inaugural Strong Towns Summit in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The focus of the two-day event was to highlight the need for local communities to utilize existing transportation infrastructures as mounting long term maintenance and reconstruction debt begins to erode American cities. UCP led a workshop on how to support accountable development around commuter rail lines. Projects like the DeTurk Winery Village are examples of the types of development that support local transportation and commuter rail ridership. Designing vibrant, urban inner-city neighborhoods requires a long-term commitment to public transportation and better integration of city resources with rail lines and bus networks.
Throughout the year, UCP sponsored 2 separate parklet events; one in late spring and another in early fall. Working with local QIMBY groups (“quality in my backyard”), our team members helped plan and participate with the Midtown 4th and Courthouse Square Parklets.
The Midtown 4th was built for Bike to Work Day and functioned as a recharge station for riders, while the Courthouse Square parklet was in support of the international event, PARK(ing) Day. These miniature parks demonstrate how an existing parking space can be transformed to create a pedestrian friendly environment to support local businesses.
During the fall, supported by a grant from The Fledgling Fund, UCP began to coordinate with a Bay Area organization, TransForm, to launch GreenTRIP in Sonoma County.
GreenTRIP is a certification program that works with communities to create “healthier and more affordable places to live, work, and get around”, utilizing public transportation and ride sharing to repurpose parking spaces for people. Before making significant progress, the project was interrupted by the North Bay wildfires, one of the defining moments for not only 2017, but for the next several years. We are picking up the effort in 2018 and will be hosting GreenTRIP in Sonoma County for a series of presentations. The first will be in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Redwood Empire on April 10 2018.
Although our year was largely focused on positive development and events that engaged our community, the North Bay wildfires demanded a moment of reflection for our team. Community planning and design is a long-term endeavor, but we are sensitive to the need for urgency coupled with far-sighted vision. While devastating, the fires offer an opportunity to refocus our development on the urban centers of our county, providing housing options outside of high-risk fire areas.
UCP will be presenting certain best practices to the Mark West Citizen Advisory Council on February 12, 6:00 PM, at the Larkfield Fire Station and will be open to the public. Additionally, we have begun conversations with SPUR, one of the Bay Area’s leading experts regarding disaster recovery. Our goal is to develop ideas and actionable improvement plans to consider while rebuilding our community.
Of course, we still look forward to partnering with our neighborhoods in parklet events and other place-making initiatives as well as interacting with similarly minded groups on the national level. Upcoming QUIMBY activities include the Midtown 4th Walking Workshop, February 23rd. We will meet at the Quadriga Offices and tour Midtown 4th to conclude for conversation and happy hour at Bird and the Bottle. Our upcoming events and activities are a direct extension of our name: Urban Community Partnership. It reflects our mission to partner with the places we call home, building sustainable and regenerative communities for a better future. This year holds many decisions and opportunities for our county, so we appreciate and look forward to the support of our community stakeholders as UCP continues to grow and educate our neighbors on the best way to build resilient communities.