I hate the concept of resolution as betterment and learning should be ongoing and life long. However cities do operate on an annual basis and this is a good time to look ahead and see what we can do. Here is my attempt at a top 10 list for things I hope to accomplish with the council in 2015. And yes, DMC plan is at number 4, not number 1 because this community is so much more than just DMC.
12. Plan and rezone areas around former meadow lakes golf course – This is what I would refer to as a micro issue, but how we handle this area speaks to how we will respect grown along major corridors in Rochester. Poor land use has created serious environmental issues in the are.
11. Rezone Kutzky Park and Uptown Neighborhoods, possibly rezone Folwell, Historic SW – Rochester’s core neighborhoods are worthy of protection. I see short term changes in these areas leading to eventual historic neighborhood at Kutzky, Folwell, and SW.
10. Meaningful preservation ordinance – The spinning of the wheels needs to end and meaningful protection needs to be created for important local and national historic structures.
9. Create utilities for the funding of public infrastructure – How underfunded is our public infrastructure? How much is sprawl hurting city finances? We don’t know because we don’t track it. I would like to create local street, major street, and sidewalk utilities to better understand, manage, and fund these assets.
8. Stop city council appointments to the city council – This requires a Charter change and if the charter commission is unwilling to do their job we can do it by petition. I believe the days of good old boys appointing their friends to to open council seats needs to be killed. For the first time since I move to Rochester all 7 council members earned a seat on the council by running, not by special favors.
7. Independent examinations of public safety functions and staffing, especially in fire. End Civil Service Commissions, change hiring practices – Public safety is both the most expensive and fastest growing costs centers. The fire chief thinks we need fire crews responding to medical calls. 90% of fire’s calls are for medical. We need to look and EMT / Ambulance / Police Coverage / Regionalism to make public safety funding sustainable.
6. Broadband competition – The Charter Monopoly sucks. Enough said. I believe a publicly owned but open municipal network is the only way to ensure quality and competition over time.
5. End subsidies for non-sustainable development – In 2015 the city budget offers $5.5 million in development subsidies while failing to fund basic needs like transit. Wrong priorities. Most of this subsidy goes to luxury single family detached housing or other non-sustainable development.
4. Approval of DMC Plan – Yes, I see this as only the 4th most important thing. DMC is a small portion of our community. While this is important DMC is best used as a tool for a greater community for all of us. DMC plans can greatly enhance amenities, transit, and housing in Rochester. We need to ensure all parties, especially Mayo are obligated to follow the plan once adopted.
3. Strong Affordable Housing Plan – Affordable housing is a critical missing element in Rochester and out community will collapse on itself if we fail to generate a sufficient supply. 2015 should be the year where we take meaningful policy steps. Affordable housing means that walkability, housing costs, and transit are all present.
2. Effective transit roadmap – The biggest thing separating Rochester for a millennial ready city is our incredibly poor transit system. We don’t have a transit system as much as we have an employee shuttle for people that work normal business hours downtown. We don’t have flexibility of bus sizes, we have multiple overlapping services, we don’t offer bar close, 2nd shift, or Sunday service. We suck and it hurts our ability to bring in the workforce we need, it hurts businesses, families, schools, and especially children.
1. Approval of new comprehensive plan – Far more important than the DMC plan is the comprehensive plan update. The current comprehensive plan was written before I was born (yes there were minor updates). This plan will determine land use, transportation, neighborhood development, and probably zoning for a generation to come. We are either going to implode under the weight of bad decisions or figure out who to build a sustainable fiscal, social, and environmental community.