Monthly Archives: October 2006

three neighborhood plan examples

A casual perusal of neighborhood plans out there. [Coincidentally, all are on hills.]
The Spruce Hill Community Renewal Plan. 1998. Philadelphia. Very comprehensive, plain language and round figures.
Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan. 2003. Albany. Included an arts focus; substantial implementation plan.
Hilltop Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. 2000. Wichita. Similar conditions to Mt View in terms of the long-term effects of a building boom, and generally depressed current condition with pockets of persistent support. Complete with illuminating photo illustrations.

muldoon wal-mart stalled?

I’ve felt a lot of empathy with our friends in the Muldoon area, in another part of East Anchorage as they grapple with commercial redevelopment. There is a large Fred Meyer grocery/variety store there that’s reportedly the most profitable location in the Fred Meyer chain. Now, nearby on a large tract of undeveloped land, Wal-Mart wants to build a “supercenter” and a Sam’s Club. To do so, they need a rezone. This has so far been denied, despite heavy-handed tactics and offers of voluntary upgrades to lessen the impact of the new center. The residents of bucolic, suburban Old Harbor Road have a lot to lose — they’d trade woodlands along the back of their property for bright lights, asphalt and plastic bags hanging in the trees.
The municipality and mayor have been telling the neighborhood that a negotiated settlement that includes giving Wal-Mart the rezoning they want is the best deal for all — but the neighborhood isn’t buying it.
Last week the Anchorage Assembly tabled a vote on the rezone request. It’s already been rejected by the Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission and by a vote of the members of the Northeast Community Council. A look at the public comments on P&Z’s site shows that people feel strongly about this one.
In Mt View, the members of the community council voted 13-2 [with four abstentions] in favor of the POB Montgomery mall project. The same type of convincing and overselling of the merits of the project seem to be falling flat in Muldoon. It’s amazing that the city and Wal-Mart don’t seem to be listening.

Update 10/18/06: last night the Anchorage Assembly voted 8-2-1 in favor of allowing the rezone, and the full project will now proceed. Big business won this one, and it’s a serious loss of ability to provide input at the neighborhood level.

odds for success?

Part of the candidate statement by Scott Kohlhaas in the State Election Pamphlet [emphasis added]:

I realize that some of the problems we face in the Mountain View, Russian
Jack and Turpin areas of District 20 seem insurmountable. I don’t
think we can count on any significant solution coming from outside District

He goes on to laud some of the ongoing volunteer work in clean-up and community policing. An interesting statement, and different than the other candidates’ abstracts. But I disagree with his premise because: 1. There’s a lot to be learned by studying how similar problems have been addressed elsewhere, from homelessness to affordable housing to planning, and everything else. Where the solution originated is not important. And, 2. It’s not insurmountable at all. Anchorage’s Fairview neighborhood used to be just as bleak and crime-ridden [more, possibly] and they have in the last five years been ahead of Mt View in bringing back their area’s image and perceived desirability. I would call East St. Louis, parts of Detroit and Chicago seemingly insurmountable, but not Mt View. It has too much going for it.
I’m interested in seeing what happens when pride of ownership and place take hold in a spontaneous, organic way — not as a result of a government or public-private initiative with millions behind it, but just someone up the street buying an old rundown house and paying some attention to it.
Maybe Scott was just feeling a little overwhelmed when he wrote that? Or maybe some goals are more insurmountable than others?
If I were into oddsmaking…
Odds of all property values rising: 1.5 to 1 in favor [but less of a boost than the last five years, a citywide trend]
Odds of a reduction in violent crime: flat [here government intervention would influence the odds]
Odds of the arts and cultural district flourishing: 8 to 1 against [needs a linchpin project such as the Multidisciplinary Arts Center]
Odds of an improved neighborhood business center: 2 to 1 in favor [the presence of new offices and retail space, and impending detour of Glenn Highway traffic]