On May 21 I attended a community planning workshop as part of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan update process. The city of Albuquerque is working with consultants to involve citizens in helping envision the best directions forward as we grow and develop. This workshop was held at the Hiland theater, home of the National Dance Institute, New Mexico. There will be additional workshops held June 23-25 for each city quadrant. Check abc-zone.com for the details. The planners and consultants gave us an overview of the planning process and polled the audience on our preferences and asked us to rank areas of importance. Then we broke into small groups to lay out land use patterns for how the city and county would move to match up human activities with the natural features for the optimal strategic development over time. It was a very engaging evening and citizens had some serious fun mapping out scenarios for the future and presenting them to the whole audience.
This workshop tested different scenarios in quite complex systems and flushed out unintended consequences. We are starting from the existing plan and conditions, and reconciling them with new knowledge, opportunities and the public’s sense of direction. The trending patterns are being compared with preferred outlooks based on structural changes in demographics. Views are evolving for a built environment more directed at serving the full spectrum of human community, in tune with the subtleties of place, soil, water, the natural ecosystem. There is increasing demand for creating opportunities for people to live closer to work and school, building the economy by promoting local food systems and place-based tourism, and fostering entrepreneurial job creation. The questions and analysis tend to sort by differences but the actual planning effort has to blend interrelated components together taking into consideration the overlays of natural setting, climate, and parallel planning areas, making sure all plans are well synchronized and all variables are taken into consideration.
Different tables came up with widely varied outlooks. Planning themes of resilience, wise use, density, containment, spaciousness, and focus on quality and connectivity were all highlighted. The table I was at happened to be the most aggressive at projecting plans for geographic expansion. They wanted to develop everything not protected. One thing everyone agreed on was a need for an improved transportation network based on better transit, more biking connectivity, and walking-compatible streets, neighborhoods and districts. When polled to rank the priorities for transportation investments, participants ranked biking first, pedestrian second, and ‘traffic management strategies including smart signal timing’ third. However in the current plan no type of street configuration or development form lists bicycling as higher than third in the modal hierarchy. People sense the need to do better at integrating bicycling. It is a careful exercise to match activities to places, and demands a subtle synthesis of knowledge of the needs of human communities and the characteristics that merge together to define a place.
If you get the chance, go to one of the June workshops! The diversity represented is extremely important. What kind of changes do people want to see on the ground? What kind of businesses does Albuquerque want to attract? Is it time to complete a pedestrian plan for Albuquerque/Bernalillo County? The guiding principle is listening, to learn more of the places individuals have experience with, intimately know and care about. One of the most valuable experiences for me was meeting fellow citizens and expanding my sense of the region from the perspectives they shared. This process helped me feel more at home here. When you get to know the individuals that make up this city, you gain admiration, respect and understanding for your neighbors and the professionals working hard to serve everyone. Join the process! It’s fun.
https://www.cabq.gov/planning/publications City of Albuquerque planning docs.
https://www.facebook.com/innovateabq Innovate ABQ is lifting the entrepreneurial profile
http://www.abc-zone.com/abc-z-community-survey-1 Here’s the survey for citizens