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.
The New York Times recently published an article about how attractive transit hubs are for developers. Rents for office space near transit can be 80% more than rents not located near transit. As our work with Urban 3 has shown, development in these areas also produce wealth for our communities and realize other social and environmental benefits. UCP has been working to encourage appropriate development in the SMART station areas. With service scheduled to begin soon we hope development will follow in these areas to create people-oriented neighborhoods around the train stations.
Urban Community Partnership, in partnership with Urban 3, has been working with the City of Santa Rosa and the Town of Windsor to undertake several case study projects to understand the impacts of land use and planning decisions have on creating resilient communities. The case study sites include two located in the downtown Santa Rosa station area plan, one in downtown Windsor and one in the Shiloh Road area of Windsor. Different scenarios were analyzed to help understand the property tax implications of different development intensities. We are happy to announce the release a Story Map which explains the results of the case study sites. The Story Map can be reviewed here.
We are happy to announce that the story map of the Santa Rosa study has been released. The story map summarizes in text and graphics the economic productivity of Santa Rosa neighborhoods revealing the financial benefits of traditional downtown development. Urban 3’s tax value per acre analysis helped the Santa Rosa City Council, and the community, understand the source of the City’s economic potency, and the value of utilizing our significant existing infrastructure investment, rather than expanding our long-term liabilities, by growing beyond our current infrastructure limits.
Our next goal is to take the methodology that Joe presented and look at case studies around the county with a focus on the SMART station neighborhoods. This is a great opportunity to understand how the message of productive growth can be applied to these transit oriented neighborhoods. We need to make sure these develop as socially equitable and economically resilient mixed-use neighborhoods that will provide train riders with opportunities for housing, entertainment, education, retail and commercial activities near the train stations, at the same time protecting the open space we all treasure from pressures of outward expansion. We will also be looking at case studies in those cities without train stations as this message of productive growth has applicability in all our communities.
We plan on bringing Joe and Chuck back to Sonoma County for round 2 in late September. In order to do so we need to raise $100,000 between now and then to bring them back and support our work. We will be reaching out to jurisdictions, professionals in the development and construction industry, environmental organizations and individuals.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank those of you that already made donations to Urban Community Partnership. We are a 501(c)3 organization and your donations are tax-deductible. If you would like to contribute, please go to our donate page
And finally, we are looking to expand our team. If you are interested in participating more directly with out work and helping out as a volunteer please visit our volunteer page.
Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns made a presentation on transportation as part of the Urban Community Partnership events in Santa Rosa. For those of you that were not able to attend Chuck's presentation on January 21st, or those of you that want to see it again, the link below will take you to a video of a similar presentation. It is an interesting look at our transportation system, how it came to be, how it is funded, how much money we need to maintain what we have, and what is wrong with it. It's very interesting. Enjoy.
There has been an unofficial pedestrian railroad crossing at Jennings Ave. in Santa Rosa for years. With the work that has been occurring along the SMART right-of-way the crossing has been fenced off. The City of Santa Rosa along with neighborhood groups are petitioning the California Public Utilities Commission to install a safe at-grade pedestrian crossing at Jennings Ave. It is an important pedestrian link for the neighborhoods west of Coddingtown that should be maintained.
Join us at the upcoming public hearing on Monday, February 1:
Public Hearing Details
Date: Monday, February 1, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Helen Lehman School, 1700 Jennings Avenue, Santa Rosa (Google Map)
More information may be found on the Greenbelt Alliance website:
Who knew that the sprawling nature of suburban development could bankrupt communities? While new homes contribute development impact fees to fund the infrastructure they require — including roads, utilities and parks — the true cost of maintaining infrastructure has never been accounted for. The reality is that the extensive infrastructure that knits a sprawling community together is inherently more expensive to maintain than in a compact community.Read more