Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Results are in: Paint Your Heart Out 2008

Lets just say it was an incredible success. 3 great Victorian homes in our neighborhood given a wonderful bath of new paint and new colors. They are great places, and I hope the efforts will inspire others. We were rained out on our first try, and had to do it 2 weeks later. Not quite as many volunteers as I would have liked, but we did have some great advantages. 1st, all the scaffolding we had was donated (temporarily) for our use. We received an incredible grant from Northwestern Mutual Life to pay for all our expenses. So, no one had to spring for the paint. 3 homes in Joaquin, 1 in Maeser, and 3 in Franklin were painted. I'd like to express my thanks to Jamie Peterson & Sharlene Wilde at NHS for all their help. Also--thanks to our brave homeowners who were willing to hang in there through the process. Enjoy the before and after pictures of the Joaquin Neighborhood project homes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Fate of 600 East?

Friends and Neighbors,

As most of you know, we are facing a very large construction project at the former site of Joaquin elementary. Excavation has begun, and will likely continue for some time. Once completed, an additional 960 beds of student housing will be located there. 960 beds of student housing means a lot of cars, and additional traffic. 500 North, and 560 North will likely bear most of that traffic as students head for University Avenue or 900 East. Which street will serve as the primary north/south route for their daily inflow and outflow? 600 East will be very close to the entrance and exits to the underground parking structure. It has one stop sign at 200 East to slow traffic, but nothing on 400, 300 or 100 North. And of course, 600 East is the street most of our elementary students cross to get to Farrer each day. As a neighborhood, we are concerned about this because of the safety of our children.

A petition was submitted to the City Council and the Mayor requesting that 600 East be closed at its intersection with 500 North. I thank each of you who signed that petition, and especially those of you who worked to circulate it. We followed up that petition with a question for the Mayor and City Staff about what traffic calming measures will be put in place to protect our children. The Mayor, and our City Administrator Wayne Parker requested a technical review of 600 East Traffic Calming Measures from the City's engineering department. The following is the result:

"Ladies and Gentlemen:Recently, we received a petition and request from residents expressing concern with the anticipated traffic impacts of the Joaquin Village student housing complex on 600 East Street from 500 North to Center Street. We asked the City Engineer to review his own data as well as the developer's traffic study in an effort to better quantify the expected impacts to traffic on 600 East. We also invited the City Engineer and his staff to make appropriate recommendations regarding these issues. A copy of his report and recommendations is attached.

In essence, his finding and opinion is that the greatest impact would be primarily on 700 East and 500 North and that the anticipated traffic on 600 East would not exceed the current environmental standard for 600 East. However, as this project advances, it will be important to monitor the actual impacts on 600 East and the surrounding corridors and be prepared if the actual outcomes differ from those projected.We believe that this is a reasoned and appropriate approach given the data available, but in the interest of a comprehensive approach, we will submit both the developer's traffic study and the City Engineer's recommendations to an independent, third party consulting traffic engineer for further review and a third opinion. We will share the outcomes of that review once completed."

So my friends, we shall wait some more to see if our city's administration is going to assist us in this cause. Reading the city engineer's report comes down to a few "facts." First, that Provo City's Transportation Master Plan says streets that include multi-family residential have an environmental capacity not to exceed 4,200 vehicle trips per day. Currently, the traffic volume is far below that, and they don't think it will be above that even with Joaquin Village completed. Also cited by our city engineer, a "prevalent fear concerning the changes and impacts which developments can have on the surrounding neighborhoods."Well, the street may well be "able" to handle the volume, but does that mean it should? I don't believe our children need to be placed at that risk just so "perfect" connectivity can be maintained between 600 East and 500 North. Our neighborhood will need to press on in our efforts. Soon, we will need to finalize plans for the parking permit program. Without it, cars from this development will cover both sides of 600 east for a few blocks south. Please feel free to add your comments and concerns for all to see.

Kurt Peterson
Joaquin Neighborhood Chair

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Bloom where you are planted"

Friends and Neighbors,

10 years ago, I couldn’t wait to get out of Provo. My wife and I wanted to head east to live closer to my family in the Midwest. But that wasn’t meant to be. Things just didn’t work out. After being disappointed for awhile I remembered a little plaque my mother had in her kitchen when I was a boy. It said “bloom where you are planted.” I realized I had been planted, and that I just as well get on with blooming.

A year later we wanted to buy a home, and started looking around. It was a long process, but we finally found something we could actually afford. We found it because I went for a walk around the Joaquin neighborhood admiring all the historic homes here. After moving into our house, I spent far more time than I should have fixing it up, and falling in love with it. The first day we lived here our neighbor 2 doors down brought cookies over. Her first question was “did you buy this house or are you renting?” I told her we had bought it and she got really excited. I didn’t quite understand why. Over the next year, I kind of figured out why. Homeowners were scarce, and treasured.

Our beloved old bungalow took shape, and gradually became “home.” New neighbors moved in across the street, and they were the “get involved” type. One Saturday in June of 2001, a mass of volunteers surrounded their home and repainted it. It was fun, and fascinating to think that in such a short period of time, such a big difference could be made.

I didn’t realize how contagious this project, that they called Paint Your Heart Out, could be. I soon found myself painting my own house, and the landlord who owned the big Victorian north of me did the same. The next summer, I helped plan the Paint Your Heart out project. Stressful, but exciting, we painted 8 homes in 2 Saturdays. I was hooked.

Since then I’ve had the pleasure of becoming Neighborhood Chair, and working with Neighborhood Housing Services in many ways. We’ve rebuilt old tired homes, repainted nearly 35 homes in this neighborhood, planted hundreds of trees, and done a few things I never dreamed of like creating our own “This Old House” video with me as the inexperienced host.

If you take a walk over to 563 E 300 N, and take a look to the west at 541 E, you'll see two beautiful results of our collective efforts. You see, we are truly Urban Pioneers. We believed in this old neighborhood when nobody else did. When developers were telling the city Council “Joaquin is dead” we knew they were wrong. Thankfully, we’ve gained the support of the City Council and Administration, and are seeing a literal “Sea Change” in our neighborhood.

You can walk the streets now, and not trip on the sidewalks. We have park playground for toddlers, a new park coming soon, and lots and lots of houses with great colors. If you don’t like them, you can blame me. Our challenges remain, but that is a universal constant.

I am literally thrilled to see a $10,000 check coming to NHS. The good it will do, is far more exciting to me than winning their award. I’d like to thank Northwestern Mutual Life’s Charitable Foundation for this award. Perhaps a small gift for an enormous healthy company, but the differences it makes last for decades.

So to all of you who someday find yourself somewhere you didn’t really want to be, and see things you’d like to change—I’ll pass along that wonderful advice: “bloom where you are planted.”

With love,

Kurt Peterson
Neighborhood Chair

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring in the Neighborhood

Thought all of you should see these tidbits of our neighborhood. Hope each of you is well and enjoying this time of year.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Provo's General Plan as it relates to our Neighborhood

Extracts from the Provo City General Plan which are most relevant to our neighborhood: (Considered a guide for our city's planning)

The establishment of the Residential Conservation (RC) Zone and creation of a Project Redevelopment Option (PRO) tool have worked together to create an opportunity to slow down the transition that resulted from the previous high-density zoning in the Pioneer neighborhoods, while recognizing legally established uses that resulted during this time period. These tools provide an opportunity to step back, evaluate the present and future needs of the neighborhoods, and make informed choices about specific redevelopment proposals. They also provide an opportunity to help stabilize spiraling property values, opening new doors for reestablishment of owner occupancy in these neighborhoods. The application of the Accessory Apartment (A-overlay) zone to one-family (R1 zoned) neighborhoods, formerly zoned for higher-density as R2 and R2.5, has allowed the creation of accessory dwelling units within one-family dwellings, with the goals of providing financial assistance to owner-occupants of the homes and providing affordable housing for residents of the accessory dwelling units, while discouraging two-family (duplex) dwellings that are typically rental-only units. These have proved to be successful tools for stabilizing and revitalizing these neighborhoods.

While proper zoning and other regulatory controls and redevelopment activities must be part of the solution, success will also require attention to law enforcement, physical infrastructure, public perception, and other issues in the neighborhoods. Tools to accomplish these objectives include:
1. On-street parking permit programs or other on-street parking controls, as over-occupancy complaints are often driven by excessive on-street parking;
2. Proactive zoning enforcement – rather than complaint-driven enforcement – of occupancy, parking, business use in residential areas (other than permitted or conditional home occupations), and other violations that lead to dissatisfaction within neighborhoods;
3. Business licensing of rental-only units, providing revenues for appropriate administration of zoning within affected neighborhoods and enabling the establishment of a better data base and framework for inspections where life-safety issues may be a consideration; and
4. Greater flexibility of land development standards in Pioneer neighborhoods to encourage revitalization and reuse of homes that may not meet today’s standards for families without expansion of living area.
It is anticipated these tools will increase home ownership, enable residents to acquire individual housing equity, enable neighborhoods to strengthen community-held assets, and stabilize property values. These results will then encourage families, retirees, single professionals, and others desiring the values of a stable, centrally located, community-based neighborhood to move back to the Pioneer neighborhoods and invest in the long-term viability of Provo as a city. Committed, well-organized residents will continue to be crucial to the successful implementation of strategies to reclaim and conserve one-family homes and to reestablish a foundation of owner-occupancy within Provo’s
Pioneer neighborhoods.

The mix of land uses, density, and design within a neighborhood affects that neighborhood’s character. Historically significant design themes should be preserved through rehabilitation and protection of significant existing properties. New construction should be compatible with existing design themes in an area. Provo City’s Design Review Committee is raising the level of awareness of design issues, and quality projects are being constructed as a result of this awareness. The Landmarks Commission is identifying properties worthy of preservation, finding ways to provide preservation incentives, and protecting historic properties.

Joaquin Neighborhood
Vision, Challenges and Goals of the Joaquin Neighborhood
The Joaquin neighborhood has long been a desirable area to live in Provo due to its excellent location, peaceful tree-lined streets and rich architectural history, but has experienced special challenges due to its proximity to Brigham Young University. The campus influence both energizes the neighborhood and creates particular pressures for the neighborhood. Considered at one point for division into two distinct neighborhoods to reflect campus-oriented needs and home-owner needs, area residents and City policy makers determined that Joaquin should be respected as a single neighborhood with a range of needs.
Not unlike other neighborhoods that address varying needs for housing, commercial services, parks, schools, and infrastructure improvements, the Joaquin neighborhood can best thrive through cooperative planning efforts and implementation steps to restore and conserve one family homes. Joaquin home owners want to attract additional residents with a long-term commitment to the neighborhood and to reestablish an environment that encourages families and others to make Joaquin their permanent home. Joaquin residents also recognize the need and value of providing desirable housing in a walkable environment for students, through campus-oriented redevelopment on streets within walking distance from BYU.

Through cooperative and coordinated planning efforts, appropriate transition between the South Campus Planning and Neighborhood Conservation Areas of Joaquin can be established through architectural and land development standards, zoning, and use. These changes can improve the living environment in the Conservation planning area and help to overcome the impacts created by pressures for student housing within the broader neighborhood. These impacts have included the intrusion of multiple-family housing structures into one-family neighborhoods, with little transition or neighborhood-friendly design, as well as the conversion of one-family homes into multiple-unit student housing. These conversion units experience a high turn-over rate and, too frequently, a decline in the standards to which these properties are maintained. Pressures due to inadequate parking for the increased density and for students who commute to campus from outlying areas have long been an emotional issue in Joaquin.

Goals of the Joaquin Neighborhood include:
1. Increase owner-occupancy to build the neighborhood community, by having more permanent residents to support schools and community efforts;
2. Preserve and maintain the historic homes in the neighborhood;
3. Retain schools for the children within the neighborhood;
4. Improve the pedestrian-friendly aspects of the neighborhood;
5. Improve the on-street parking pressures and the conflicts that result from those;
6. Provide appropriate campus-oriented redevelopment with suitable transition to the neighborhood conservation area through architectural and land development standards, zoning, and land use policies;
7. Provide family-oriented public recreational space within this densely populated area. Joaquin residents envision their neighborhood a being family-oriented, but with a healthy mix of both married and single students. The mix of historic homes and apartment buildings must be maintained in good condition. Redevelopment should focus on property that is inconsistent with the character and goals of the neighborhood, rather than removal of one-family homes with historic character. As one of the Pioneer neighborhoods of Provo, cooperative efforts of the City and other forces, such as Neighborhood Housing Services, can help to achieve these goals.

Encroachment of commercial businesses into residential areas should be discouraged; however, appropriate mixed-use development to provide commercial services is recognized as potential benefit within the walkable, campus-oriented village redevelopment, with zoning and design controls to appropriately integrate the commercial uses into the overall redevelopment plan.

Within the South Campus Planning Area, new development projects, including projects initiated by Brigham Young University along its southern boundary, must be carefully reviewed to assure compatibility with existing development and to assure transportation impacts are properly mitigated.

Areas of specific interest to the neighborhood include:
• Center Street improvements to rebuild boulevards from 100 East to 900 East to enhance natural beauty;
• respecting residential use and efforts to reunite the Joaquin neighborhood when evaluating traffic patterns, infrastructure changes, and street designations (including 200 North and 400 East);
• housing transition and redevelopment along 800 East to provide quality townhomes and other quality housing between 560 North and Memorial Park;
• long-term use of the Joaquin School and surrounding property, with a desire to maintain a neighborhood school and recreational open space being central to the neighbors' concerns;
• improved parking within the Neighborhood Conservation Area of Joaquin;
• enforcement of zoning with a focus on housing occupancy, as well as use of tools such as rental dwelling licensing and parking restrictions to minimize impacts of student housing and parking demands on homes within the Conservation Area of the neighborhood;
• improved public transit service along the corridor between Novell (East Bay) and Utah Valley State College (Orem) to help alleviate parking and traffic impacts to Joaquin and other city neighborhoods; and
• the need for commuter rail service between Provo and other communities along the Wasatch Front to increase employment opportunities for area residents.

Key Land Use Policies – Joaquin Neighborhood, Neighborhood Conservation Area
1. See policies under the guiding principles for the Central Area.
2. Protect viable, significant areas of one-family structures within areas designated as
Residential (R) on the General Plan Map.
3. Study the feasibility of placing landscape medians in Center Street from 100 East to 1000 East to enhance the proposed design corridor.
4. Create as many residential properties as possible eligible for 20% State Rehabilitation Tax Credits by forming a National Register Historic District extending from 100 East to 600 East between 500 North and 500 South.
5. Discourage encroachment of higher-density, student-oriented housing in the Joaquin Neighborhood Conservation Area.
6. Promote the use of the adopted South Joaquin South Residential Design Standards to assist developers with infill development or redevelopment for one-family housing, adopted herein by reference and incorporated as Appendix A to the General Plan.
7. Continue to evaluate infrastructure upgrades, designation of streets, and opportunities to provide appropriately designed and located public recreational space within the neighborhood and to retain the neighborhood school serving the children of the neighborhood, with the goals of encouraging a reestablishment of owner-occupied, one-family homes for long-term residency. Impacts of traffic patterns and parking to residents from use and designation of city streets and the beneficial influence of services such as schools and parks that can attract long-term residents should be central to planning efforts that help to define and unite the Joaquin neighborhood.

Key Land Use Policies – Joaquin Neighborhood, South Campus Planning Area:
1. See policies under the guiding principles for the Central Area.
2. Create a vision for the planning area south of campus area, anticipated to redevelop for student-oriented housing and amenities within the South Campus Planning Area, as shown on Map # 6.4 Provo City Neighborhoods Map.
3. Encourage any future redevelopment proposals for student or multi-family housing to be pursued through the Project Redevelopment Option (PRO) rezoning process to assure new development is compatible with the goals of the South Campus Planning Area and the Joaquin neighborhood. University-sponsored student housing projects must be similarly reviewed.
4. When redevelopment occurs, have the developer consider the opportunity to relocate homes that may have historical significance.
5. Inasmuch as the Provo City School District has closed the Joaquin Elementary School and intends to transfer the property into private ownership, it is expedient to establish policies for the future development of the property. As a site of particular sensitivity to the neighborhood and location key to defining the future character of the South Campus
Planning Area, this property should be required to develop through the Project
Redevelopment Option (PRO) process and should consider the following goals:
A. Open public or semi-public space should be incorporated in the redevelopment of the Joaquin Elementary School property. This may include the park-block pedestrian plaza concept as outlined in the South Campus Area Master Plan (SCAMP) study report, which study document provided the basis of many of the principles and goals adopted within the Joaquin Neighborhood Key land use policies of the General Plan and may be important for future visioning documents for the area. If a park-block pedestrian plaza is considered for this property, careful attention should be given to its implementation as it will provide a standard for future phases of the park-block pedestrian plaza system that could extend from 500 North to the BYU campus.
B. Planning for the site should be more comprehensive than the Joaquin School
Elementary site alone. Properties immediately west of the site along 500 East and east of the site along 700 East should be planned in conjunction with the property. Future developers for the Joaquin Elementary School property need not control or develop these properties; however, prior to the adoption of any new zone for the Joaquin Elementary School properties, a conceptual plan should be prepared that illustrates how adjacent properties will integrate into an overall and unified plan for the block.
C. The modification of the streetscape on 500 North should be avoided. Existing trees and parkways should be preserved.
D. As the neighborhood policies call for an adequate transition between the South Campus Planning Area and the neighborhood south of 500 North, buildings should not exceed two (2) and three (3) stories along 500 North.
E. A parking permit program as discussed within the General Plan should be
implemented prior to the adoption of a rezone for this property.
F The traffic impacts of any project in the Joaquin School area must be fully
analyzed by the City Administration so that impacts of a particular project can be properly mitigated.
6. Develop a campus oriented residential district, focusing on higher density housing within the general boundaries of 500 North to 800 North and from University Avenue to 900 East, thereby providing a walkable district for student access to campus. Development and redevelopment should focus on larger assembly of property, such as full blocks, rather than smaller parcels. Also included is the area from 800 North to the indoor practice field and from 150 East to University Avenue.
A. Identify strategies to achieve the density recommendations of the South Campus
Area Master Plan (SCAMP) Study, while achieving desirable parking ratios and
encouraging a transition from vehicle-dependency to walking, bicycling, and
transit use.
B. Identify opportunities and implementation tools for larger-scale redevelopment, assembling parcels of sufficient size to incorporate pedestrian plazas and people-oriented spaces in conjunction with housing and possibly mixed-use buildings.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Questions (and Answers) on 350 North

(picture of DC townhomes)

Friends and Neighbors,

I've recently been asked quite a few questions about the NHS project on 350 North between 600 and 700 East. I'd like to provide you with some information and update your information.

Question #1: Who is the developer?

Answer: Neighborhood Housing Services of Provo, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which works towards revitalizing the 5 pioneer neighborhoods of Provo.

Question #2: Is the City building this?

Answer: No. NHS is an independent organization which is guided by an Executive Director and a Board (several of our neighbors are on that board).

Question #3: How is the City involved?

Answer: The city often supports the efforts of NHS through loan programs to encourage owner occupancy, or by funding the costs of the NHS purchase rehabilitations.

Question #4: Does current zoning allow NHS to build something different on 350 North?

Answer: No, current zoning does not. Anything NHS wants to build will have to be reviewed by the Neighborhood, the Planning Commission, and approved by the City Council. NHS will have to ask for a rezone of the specific area they want to redevelop. Public Hearings will be held to allow neighborhood input.

Question #5: Is this "spot-zoning"?

Answer: Yes, Provo City has a specific ordinance which allows the use of "spot-zones" in a re-development situation. These are called "PRO" zones.

Question #6: Is NHS going to ask for approval of their initial plans?

Answer: No. The plans were not what the neighborhood wanted, so they have gone back to the drawing board (literally).

Question #7: What is happening now?

Answer: NHS has asked several people within the neighborhood to work on the plans as a "design committee." Rose Rowberry, Jeff Marvolo, Charmaine Thompson, Georgia Solorzano, Carol Wilson and myself are on that committee. Our goal is to create a design that is going to accomplish what we want as a neighborhood. We have finished up the site plan for both sides of the street, and are now working on floor plan and exterior design details. Currently, we are looking at using Townhomes (3 different sizes/floorplans) which have front porches. Both sides of the street will have some community green space. We are being helped in this process by David Gardner, Kent Walker & his assistants from WPA architecture, and by the NHS Executive Director Sharlene Behunin. Sharlene helps us with the finances of the project, David guides us on design and "what will sell," and of course, Kent Walker puts our concepts onto paper.

Question #8: Why should we do anything?

Answer: We don't have to do anything to the property, but an examination of the subject property shows us that the project is worthy of our consideration. NHS has purchased 3 homes on the north side of the street, all of which have been poorly maintained rentals for many years. They are small, and in tough shape. On the south side they own 3 other properties, including a brick bungalow which "morphed" into a 5 plex, a small white shack, and a Postwar home which has been divided into a duplex. None of these homes has been owner occupied in recent years, but anything NHS does would be. Deed restrictions, and the development agreement would stipulate that, and give the city power to enforce it.

You will each have the chance to take a look at the plans, and the details. I hope you will take advantage of that opportunity.