Blog Archives

Founder of Phoenix’s “Fight Back” initiative dies

[Source: Arizona Republic] — Leonard G. Knight, a longtime Phoenix employee known as the father of the city’s Fight Back initiative, died July 21 of an apparent heart attack.  He was 53.  Knight, an administrator in the Phoenix’s planning department, worked in various departments during 20 years with the city.  In the early 1990s, he helped launch the Fight Back program, which offers distressed neighborhoods a temporary increase in city services to help reduce crime and blight.

Knight was a former president of 100 Black Men of Phoenix, a group that works to enhance educational and economic opportunities for Blacks.  He was also active in Toastmasters.  Knight is survived by his wife, Gail, and three children.

Which downtown Phoenix “character area” do you live/work in?

In early July, the Phoenix City Council voted to adopt the Downtown Plan, a vision for future growth, neighborhoods, and parking, and the first part of the Urban Form Project.  The Plan defines Character Areas within the plan boundaries (roughly bound by Seventh Avenue, Buckeye Road, Seventh Street and McDowell Road) with the goal of ensuring that city planning and zoning decisions stay consistent with the Character Areas.  So what Character Area do you live and/or work in?  Click here and then go to the specific page(s) of interest:

  • Arizona State University (page 3-10)
  • Biomedical (page 3-33)
  • Business Core (page 3-7)
  • East McDowell (page 3-27)
  • Evans Churchill (page 3-29)
  • Government (page 3-39)
  • Light Rail (page 3-10)
  • Park Neighborhoods (page 3-47)
  • Roosevelt (page 3-15)
  • Seventh Avenue (page 3-18)
  • Townsend Park (page 3-25)
  • Van Buren (page 3-35)
  • Warehouse (page 3-42)
  • West McDowell (page 3-23)

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, contact Dean Brennan, Principal Planner, Phoenix Planning Department, by e-mail or phone at 602-262-4499.

Got creativity? Help “spice up” Downtown Phoenix Plan

Let the creative juices flow... or something like that.

Okay, we all know about plans and what happens to many plans (i.e., they just sit on a shelf collecting dust).  Well, the City of Phoenix Planning Department wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to its Downtown Phoenix Plan, adopted by the Phoenix City Council on July 2.

The Plan is a policy document that will provide direction as the City continues work on the Form-Based Code and begins to prepare the detailed Connected Oasis Plan.  As a continuation of the Urban Form Project, Planning Department staff is conducting a series of public meetings in each of the Downtown Character Areas to prepare a detailed character analysis of each area.  That analysis will be used to prepare specific Form-Based Code development standards for each Character Area.  As the draft detailed analysis Character Area Plans are completed, they will be added to the department’s website.

The Plan format has not been finalized and the format may change.  If you have suggestions for the format design, “user-friendliness,” and method of dissemination — let’s get creative people! — pass your ideas along to Dean Brennan, Principal Planner, Phoenix Planning Department, by e-mail or phone at 602-262-4499.

Give your feedback on the City’s Downtown Phoenix Plan

The City of Phoenix Planning Department staff re-write of the Downtown Phoenix Plan is available online.  This document was given to the Planning Commission on May 14 and represents a major re-write of the Public Review draft presented to the Planning Commission in January by the project consultant.  City staff has “tweaked” the text, replaced a number of the images, and continues to add more images and maps.

Your questions, comments, and opinions are welcome!  Give your feedback before June 9, 2008 to Dean Brennan, Principal Planner, Planning Department, City of Phoenix, at 602-262-4499 or e-mail.

Staff continues to work on the Form-Based Code and is now conducting meetings with stakeholders in each of the Character Areas identified in the Plan.  The Code will go to the Planning Commission and City Council this fall.

PUD process now more open thanks to Phoenix residents

[Source: B. Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix] — Because of the support and input of many Phoenix neighbors and neighborhood advocates, the Planned Urban Development (PUD) text amendment as passed by the Phoenix City Council on April 2, 2008 contains policies and regulations that at least provide adequate, timely disclosure of what a real estate developer is proposing under any particular PUD so that neighbors can reach an informed decision as how to respond to the proposal.

The following are some of the most important changes since the initial text amendment draft:

  • Two required neighborhood meetings to be held by the developer instead of one.  First meeting to be held after PUD application has been filed.  Meetings to be noticed 2 weeks in advance.
  • The requirement for site plans for all projects 20 acres or less.  No such requirement in first draft.  Originally, the neighbors had to try and find out what was going on by trying to get a copy of a detailed Development Narrative.  These site plans will be on 11×17 paper rather than 8.5 x 11 so they will be legible.
  • Development Narratives will include a Comparison Table with Existing and Proposed Development Standards.
  • A PUD link will be provided on the Planning Department website with both the Development Narrative and the Staff Report.  The link will be provided on the neighborhood mailings.
  • The site plans will include the Building Foot print.
  • The Development Narrative to include a description of existing zoning on and adjacent to site, including conformance with the objectives, policies, design guidelines, and planned land uses and intensities of all applicable overlays, specific plans, special planning districts, and area plans.

The PUD as passed by the City Council on April 2 can be found at:

City Council okays Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay

[Source: City of Phoenix Planning Department] — The Phoenix City Council approved the Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay on April 2, 2008.  The overlay allows greater flexibility in uses and standards that will contribute to the vitality of the downtown area and enhance community events.  Benefits of the overlay include additional primary and accessory uses, allowance of temporary cultural events and performances, allowance of a-frame signage, ability to use allies for maneuvering and relaxation of parking requirements, lot coverage, setbacks, and landscaping for existing structures in order to encourage adaptive reuse of buildings.

For complete details, including maps, documents, and contacts, click here.

Learn more about Urban Form at public meetings

Urban Form Project graphic

The City of Phoenix Planning Department will hold a series of public meetings to provide an update and gain feedback on the Downtown Urban Form Project and Downtown Form Based Code proposal.  You are welcome to attend one or more of the following:

  • March 18, 6 p.m., SoDo Phoenix Business & Civic Association, Coach & Willie’s, 412 S. 3rd St.
  • March 19, 6 p.m., Roosevelt Action Alliance, Irish Cultural Center at Margaret T. Hance Park (north of Roosevelt on east side of N. Central)

Garfield concerned about 7th St. & Van Buren project

[Source: Kim Moody, Garfield Organization] – Because the Form Based Code has not yet been formally adopted by the Phoenix City Council, some developers are taking buildings to the sidewalk (literally).  Garfield, like other downtown neighborhoods, is again being hit with another project, this time at the northeast corner of 7th St. and Van Buren.

The developer of the six-story biomedical facility with a six-story parking structure, The Plaza Companies, is asking the City of Phoenix for ZERO set-back and proposes “dumping” their traffic onto Polk and 9th St.  Neighbors are concerned and upset traffic will come and go through residential streets.  Among the other variances requested is minimal landscaping (going against the City’s push for pedestrian-friendly, shade corridors).

A hearing on this matter will take place at 10 a.m., Feb. 5 in Hearing Room “C” at City Hall.  For more information, contact Dana Johnson with the Garfield Organization.  For more information about Form Based Codes, contact Dean Brennan with the City of Phoenix Planning Department

The last thing poor New Orleans needs is planning tips from Phoenix

Illustration by Matt Mignanelli[Source: Sarah Fenske, New Times, August 2, 2007] — I have to admit it.  When I heard that Mayor Phil Gordon was in New Orleans last week, announcing that Phoenix city planners will “help” that stricken city with planning and redevelopment, I laughed.  Hey, it’s better than crying, right?

Now, it’s true that New Orleans needs help, by the shovelful.  And it’s certainly true that we all ought to be pitching in. But the city of Phoenix offering its planning services?  Maybe Lindsay Lohan can give New Orleans some sobriety tips while we’re at it.  And George W. Bush can help them run a military invasion.

Here in Phoenix, we’re living in what’s got to be America’s worst-designed major city, a hideous grid of expensive new buildings with no curb appeal.  Even worse, we’re all gnashing our teeth, daily, as we navigate a post-apocalyptic wasteland of torn-up roads, orange barrels and giant, gaping holes in the ground.  Eventually, we’re going to have light rail and a new Sheraton, but downtown is such a mess these days that I get deja vu watching CNN — minus the car bombs, the dusty streets of Baghdad look just like my freakin’ neighborhood.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]