Gorgeous tree-lined streets. Neighbors sitting together on porches sharing lemonade and swapping stories. Kids playing with chalk on the sidewalk. Background noise of a game of pick-up basketball in the driveway two houses down. Someone walking their dog, waving "Hi" as they stroll by. These are the images of great neighborhoods promoted by Hollywood and American culture. They are also probably the memories of many people growing up - but not everybody.
Great neighborhoods are special places that we either live in or have visited somewhere else. Our challenge as planners is to ensure that every neighborhood built in McMinnville is a great neighborhood, whether it is a neighborhood of single family residences or a large apartment complex. If we define what makes a great neighborhood, we should be able to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to live in one, regardless of income, age and mobility.
Images of great neighborhoods always involve the built environment, whether it is a tree-lined street with sidewalks, a neighborhood park nearby with playgrounds and room to run, a community garden, walking trails, bike trails, homes with enduring architectural value, porches that face the street, skinny streets, wide streets, a little grocery market around the corner, the nooks and crannies of pocket parks, public art, etc. All of these elements can set the stage for great neighborhoods. All of these elements are large investments, both public and private, that have enduring value for many generations. This is what planning is all about, ensuring that the built environment provides the quality of life that we are seeking both for ourselves today and our children of tomorrow, and to ensure that the investment that we are making is the best investment that we can make and not just the easiest, least controversial and most convenient. The neighborhoods that we are building today will probably still be around in 100 years. We can do no less than our best.
In planning and building we work from a set of codes that describes the minimum standard that needs to be developed and built. These codes are the foundation for what eventually emerges as the built environment. The codes address massing, scale, architecture, streets, sidewalks, circulation (vehicles, bikes and pedestrians), parks, open space, landscaping, life/safety, accessibility, sustainability, etc., etc. And every community has its own set of planning codes that reflect that community's values for what they believe is the minimum standard for their community.
So . . . . we are asking for your help. We are planning nerds and can talk about great neighborhoods all day long, but we are only a handful of people and this is a community dialogue. We want to hear from you. We want you to think about what makes a great neighborhood for you, and how you would translate that into the built environment and the city's planning.
We will be evaluating our residential zoning codes in the next year and we want to hear from you what makes a great neighborhood in McMinnville so that we write our codes to promote that in all new neighborhood developments.
We will post ten blogs that discuss the following items (one each week), and then we will add two more blogs based upon your comments to this blog telling us what else in the built environment you think makes a Great Neighborhood and why we should consider it. :This is your chance McMinnville to make meaningful impact on neighborhoods in your community.
To start the dialogue, our draft of ten great neighborhood principles (in no particular order) are:
TEN GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD PRINCIPLES
"Great Neighborhood Principles" will help us explore what makes a neighborhood in