Residents comprising Network 49’s Housing & Community Development want balanced development in our community. By balanced development, we mean that in general, development should balance benefits received by the community with private benefits for the developer. It is an effort to create win-wins.
An example is when a developer builds a development to provide affordable housing (community benefit) and gets a developer fee or future rents (private benefit) in exchange. It might also be where a private business comes into the community and agrees to hire local residents as part of its store roll-out plan. The store may not need to make such a commitment, but in doing so it gets a private benefit (new employees), but also creates a community benefit by hiring local employees. That’s a win-win
We also think it is appropriate to consider:
- how a development project integrates into the community
- whether it is consistent with community plans
- how it impacts traffic and congestion
- whether it enhances or undermines the local business climate, and
- overall – does it improve quality of life in our community.
We are not at all anti-development. We simply believe that development should be a rising tide that lifts all boats. We also recognize the importance of preserving the racial and economic diversity of our community through housing and community development. This was something more than 85% of our members ranked as important or very important in our recent community survey.
N49 developed a scorecard to assist residents evaluate developments in terms of the exchange of public and private benefits. We intend this to be used concerning development projects where a public benefit is being requested.
A public benefit requested by the developer might be a zoning change, financial subsidy, street closing or alteration, or other benefit that the developer would not otherwise receive. A public benefit requested by the community might be a commitment to hire locally, pay living wages, set aside space in the development for community uses or a similar benefit demanded by the community through an open and deliberative process.
We will be evaluating this tool and our overall progress in the weeks and months ahead. We hope that it will help educate ourselves about what kinds of things we can ask for when developers want to build in our community.
Please let us know what you think!