The RDOS will host a public information session at West Bench Elementary on Wednesday, November 29, from 7-8:30 PM. The purpose of the information session is to:
- Ensure residents understand the scenarios used in Round 2 of the OCP survey
- Present some preliminary results from Round 2 (there may be some surprises!)
- Answer any questions residents may have.
- Set the stage for Round 3 of the OCP survey.
Update 28 Nov 2017: I have included a draft of the presentation slides for the meeting
The format of the meeting will be a formal presentation starting at 7:15 PM followed by a question and answer session with RDOS staff.
Why do we need an information session? Because the surveys we are asking you to complete are deceptively complex!
Those who have completed the Round 2 survey know that we have introduced a trade-off framework to help structure the debate about the future of our neighborhoods (especially the greater West Bench). Briefly, residents identified three main things as being desirable in previous open houses and the Round 1 survey: slow growth, infrastructure/amenities, and low taxes. The point we are trying to make with the overlapping circles diagram is that we can achieve any two of these desirable objectives, but not all three *. The question is: which two should the RDOS seek to achieve in the coming decades?
Emphasizing two objectives and deemphasizing the third yields three possible scenarios:
- Emphasize: low taxes and slow growth; Deemphasize: infrastructure/services --> The Status Quo Scenario: This scenario closely matches the existing situation in much of Area F: large, rural lots, relatively low taxes, and relatively rudimentary infrastructure and services.
- Emphasize: slow growth and infrastructure/services; Deemphasize: low taxes --> Limited Improvements Scenario: In this scenario, we self-fund any improvements people want to see in their neighborhood, such as water system upgrades, parks, increased policing, and so on. The improvements are limited to what people are willing to pay for. In theory, sewer is possible; however, the huge costs make sewer unlikely in this scenario.
- Emphasize: low taxes and infrastructure/services; Deemphasize: slow growth --> Major Improvements Scenario: This scenario builds on the symbiotic relationship between growth and infrastructure. Population growth on the West Bench is not possible without major investments in infrastructure (notably sewer and improved water). However, the growth pays for this infrastructure, allowing taxes to be kept low.
Each of these scenarios raises its own questions, which also must be resolved as part of the OCP review process:
- In the Status Quo Scenario, we inevitably encounter different visions of what to do with large, relatively affordable lots (see the traditionalist versus industrialists debate).
- This traditionalist/industrialist conflict tends to disappear as taxes increase and industrial uses are pushed out. In the Limited Improvements Scenario, the question becomes "which improvements?" In this scenario we need to prioritize investments in infrastructure and services.
- In the Major Improvements Scenario, the critical issue concerns the type of growth. Some residents appear to be in favor of densification that does not involve subdivision (such as in-law suites and carriage houses). Others would tolerate pockets of higher density development if such development paid for sewer and water upgrades. This scenario requires us to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable modes of growth.
We will discuss these scenarios in the public meeting so that everyone has a shared understanding of the range of strategic directions we are facing. Then we will spend some time on the specific issues that arise in each scenario. The purpose of the meeting is not to debate any of these issues--that is what the multi-round surveys are for. The purpose of the meeting is to make sure everyone understands what is being asked of them.
Round 3 of the survey is the round that counts. So we need to maximize the number of motivated and informed citizens who participate!
* Some will recognize this as a variant of the Project Management Triangle.