I submitted the following comments:
Having the main goal of this plan to increase density of population in the City of Rochester is a mistake. Throughout this draft, the creators admit that there is already too much housing. To create more would exacerbate a problem we already have.
The focus for every section of this plan should be on grassroots economic development with the emphasis on locally-owned cooperative businesses. Money that is currently used to go toward grants, loans, bonds, and other creative support to large corporations and developers should be focused on the creation of smaller, locally-owned cooperatives. At minimum, dozens of cooperatives would open every year in every part of the city with the specific emphasis on more distressed parts of the city. The businesses would focus on goods and services that are needed to alleviate poverty in Rochester.
Libraries, Recreation Centers, & Schools: The plan praises libraries yet we cut funding every year. They should be open 7 days a week for most of the day and evening. Buses as mobile day care centers? How about creating cooperatively owned & run day care centers within schools so that we don’t have to bus children across town.
Public Health & Safety: We need to start de-emphasizing the police. We continue to rely on police officers to deal with issues that they are not trained for. Increase mental health counselors that respond to calls and add peer addiction counselors as well. The economic development focus I’ve outlined above will also reduce crime.
Natural Resources: Don’t just identify the city’s tree canopy – plant trees! You mention other cities starting edible forests. Yes! Create greenspace (and more parks) in residential neighborhoods. We can’t just preserve resources to fight climate change; we have to create more of that infrastructure. (see below)
Climate Change: Most of this is just data gathering, planning, encouraging, etc. We have to be more aggressive. Zoning changes to demand that all new buildings are at least carbon neutral are necessary. We can’t wait for other cities to do it. We should be a leader on this and if we tout it correctly, will help with economic development.
Urban Agriculture: Wow. You only talk about community gardens here. Again, think economic development. Change zoning to allow for agricultural businesses. Use vacant land to spur locally-owned cooperative working farms. This can be done all over the city.
Transportation: We’ll have to use money we save on ending corporate welfare to…
- Help pay for more RTS buses on the road. (15 minutes per bus from 7am – 11pm)
- Create county-wide paratransit without limitations
- Electric trolleys that focus on crosstown traffic that links RTS’s hub-and-spoke system.
- Work toward a free public transportation system in Rochester. It will spur economic development, create community, and fight climate change.
Bike Lanes: Keep making dedicated bike lanes, but we’re leaving behind the people who live in Rochester right now. We need a solution to help older people who will not be riding bikes and those working multiple jobs to survive to move about the area. (see above)
Economic Development: Too much focus on innovation and technology is a mistake as by definition, these jobs can function almost anywhere and not even all within a company within one city. Opportunity Zones are just more tax breaks. Savvy business owners do not worry about paying taxes as they need the City’s services (fire, police, plowing, sewers, etc.). It’s all focused on traditional capitalistic ideology which we know leads to peaks and valleys.
“Pop up” businesses are cute, but they are not true economic drivers.
“The Market” only cares about profit, not how our city functions.
(p. 108) Really? Making RPD the arbiter of entertainment permits? Again, let’s de-emphasize the police’s role in society.
Do citizens have a say in the legalization of commercial uses of buildings in residential areas?
We have to insist that our local architects and planners use carbon neutral designs. No exceptions.
Most of us in the city have recognized that our “proactive code enforcement” isn’t really working and many times is used to harass people. City workers who drive around looking for infractions do not create a climate of community. Go to a complaint-based system.
Change zoning and promote front yards as gardens.
Drive up housing costs? Where are our poor people supposed to go?
The plan promotes the use of vacant lands by the community, but only until a developer wants to make money off of that land, then the community is out. This is either an over reliance on trickle-down economics (that we know does not work) or that our government does not really function for its citizens.