|RE: more permitting/negotiating||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (robsanmicrosoft.com)|
|Date: Wed, 4 May 94 14:35 CDT|
Judy Baxter also wrote: We (Monterey Cohousing Community) have just gone through 2 site plan revisions because the Planning Commission and the Variance Board would not allow us any leeway with our site plan, forcing lots more concrete, loss of some central green space. I have a couple of experiences which might be helpful for future groups planning endeavors. It can pay to ask why a certain rule exists. For example, the County told us we needed to have a 28 foot paved road. We asked why so big a road was required and found out they wanted on street parking space. We then successfully negotitated visitor parking in another area and reduced the road considerably. We also did some creative solutions around our drainage and also some electrical issues by finding out why the rule or process exists and then working around it to meet the reason in another way which worked better for us. Another thing which can be helpful is to have political presence. I started attending the local planning commission meetings for about six months. I learned the names of all the planning commissioners, talked with them at breaks (they were curious why someone would come and sit through such tediously boring stuff) and they learned about Cohousing from me. The chairman was interested enough that I created a package for him which included a two page handout generally describing Cohousing, several press clippings and the Cohousing book. He personally came out to dinner to check us out and I am told he enthusiastically supports the idea to all the staff. I also met several of the planning staff and got invited to a dinner where I met and talked to the elected County Commissioner that represented our area about "citizen initiated housing development" (Cohousing). Politicians love to hear about citizen initiatives and it is a good umbrella to quietly point out how difficult it is for citizens to do this because ....... Another of our members actually worked as a volunteer on his election campaign. All this paid off for us when he was able to get us an "understanding" by the director of the Planning department in which a couple of "minor issues" got dropped from a building permit requirement, issues which were major to us (number of parking spaces and an easement problem). Was this unfair influence? possibly. Does it happen all the time with regular developers? I am told that this the case in our County and maybe standard procedure everywhere. So I would recommend tasking out political liaison to someone who is a good smoozer, finding out who the players are, and working to create a friendly relationship. I have found that honest, passionate commitment is something that is generally respected with realm of government. If the first time a planning department ever hears about Cohousing is when you submit your applications it might not be to your benefit. If you can educate and enlist local staff people and politicians into seeing the benefits of Cohousing, it may make the regulatory path a little less onerous not only for yourself, but for everyone who comes after you. (Note: I don't think a hired gun like a developer would have the passion and interest as a regular citizen who is affected by all the rules has, so I don't think this is a role for a person you employ to help with your development management, even though they will do this anyway to some extent.) I would also recommend that you send flowers, a card or some other small recognition to staff people when they do something nice for you. It seems really hokey, but we are still remembered fondly by the County permit checking staff from the time two years ago when we sent 3 dozen roses to the staff people who made a small rule fudge which allowed us to file our condominium on the day we were there rather than have to wait for several days to get some required stamp. Our individual permits take several days less time than others do and small errors get overlooked from the permit staff. We have also gotten word of hearings and rule changes that we never would have heard about. For three dozen roses it has worked out to be a really good deal. Rob Sandelin Sharingwood Puget Sound Cohousing Network Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time
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