So I had blogged previously
about the proposed Form Based Code
which City Councillor Isaac Benton
has proposed as an addition to Albuquerque's zoning codes.
Among other things I thought that there needed to be more community input and time for reflection and refinement of the code before it went to the Environmental Planning Commission.
My cynical take was, I must regret to admit, that the Councillor would ignore the initial response and push ahead anyway. I am happy to be able to say I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Today I got the following email from one of Councillor Benton's staff folks:
Dear District 3 Neighborhood Associations,
Councilor Benton would like you to know that we are requesting a 90-day deferral of the Form-Based Code at the Environmental Planning Commission. As many of you probably know, we conducted a citywide Town Hall on December the 8, 2007, and held informational meetings in each Council District over the past month to introduce people to the Code, answer questions, and get feedback. During the course of those meetings we received valuable input that included thoughts, concerns and suggestions from attendees from all walks of life. It became clear that further analysis, based on that feedback, would enhance the development of a Form-Based Code for the city of Albuquerque.
To that end, we have contracted with a local firm who is familiar with the current version of the Form-Based Code to help craft and tailor the code to meet our city’s specific needs. We will be working with this firm to refine the details of the plan and to address the suggestions we received from the public. We plan to have a revised draft of the Code for the EPC and public to review in advance on the first EPC hearing and will let you know when that becomes available.
Councilor Benton wishes to extend his sincere thanks to all who have participated in the meetings and provided us with constructive feedback. Please let us know if you have any questions.
So kudos to Councillor Benton and his staff for putting in the time to get input on the code, and then responding to that input.
I know that numerous neighborhood associations and other organizations, including the American Institute of Architects chapters in town, have given time and consideration to the current Form Based Code proposal, and I have no doubt that the input of these various groups went a long way toward giving Councillor Benton the feedback he needed to review the code. Likewise the work of some of the EPC staff members in reviewing and discussing the code with community folks.
I will admit there may be a need for changes to our current zoning code to help move the city in a direction that meets future need and changing conditions, but we also need to understand and agree as a community on what the goals are, who benefits and how, and if the proposed changes actually meet those goals. Now those discussions can happen.
I look forward to seeing where things go from here, and I'd like to reference this as a case where people had their say, and someone in City government actually both listened and was in a position to respond effectively to public comment. It doesn't happen all the time.