How to revive Valley downtowns

A new study identifies the barriers to reviving Valley downtowns and recommends solutions. The barriers we know.

The solutions (taken from the Council of Infill Builders website):

  • Improving urban design and expanding amenities, such as through “pop-up culture” of food trucks and art shows and by allowing more experimentation and temporary permits for activities that bring residents into downtown neighborhoods.
  • Flexible zoning that allows for new product types and catalytic interim uses for existing buildings or public spaces to encourage revitalization in key infill areas.
  • Regional and local prioritization of infrastructure in infill areas, such as parks, utility upgrades, and sidewalks, as well as upgrading and performing deferred maintenance on public infrastructure, based on municipal assessments and master planning for infrastructure needs.
  • Air district funding to finance catalytic infill projects that will reduce driving and air pollution by reviving downtown neighborhoods.
  • Tiered or differential development impact fees that account for the true fiscal and environmental burdens of outlying projects and encourage new projects in infill neighborhoods.

They’ll get a fight over that last one. Developers do not want to pay the true cost of sprawl.  And there is legitmate dispute over sprawl’s true cost. Setting any fees would involve stakeholder input, meaning it would be a political process, involving one of the most powerful interests. Around here that has historically been a barrier to downtown revitalization in and of itself.

Still, any direction for the way forward is valuable. The report here. 

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  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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