Removing Obstacles in the Public Process
Today, I am prepared (if I see that it is needed) to address the Colorado Springs City Council regarding the removal of an extra regulatory hoop in the path of progress. Approximately three years ago, Downtown Stakeholders rallied around Colorado Springs Planners Ryan Tefertiller and Meghan Riesterer in adopting The Downtown Form-based Code. The code was one that provides a framework of what is desired downtown, rather than regulating what we do not want. It is a mind shift from the status quo of a Euclidian Code which exists in the remainder of the City.
Accompanying the code, was the formation of the Downtown Review Board (DTRB). As an active stakeholder in the process of writing the code, I was honored to continue as a DTRB Commissioner for the past three years. The issue at hand today, as the code is proposed to be amended through City Council action, is to remove the obstacle of future code modifications going through the City Planning Commission.
Design professionals know very well that any additional regulatory board meeting is an extra hoop for a project. Too often, the extra hoop can result in a derailment of a project. Unfortunately, many tremendous projects that would benefit the municipalities do not see the light of day due to the fear of taking an item through another governing body. This is unfortunate.
Colorado Springs’ Downtown Review Board (DTRB) essentially operates as a more focused version of a Planning Commission, specific to downtown. In the same manner as Planning Commission, the DTRB is a recommending body for the City Council to make the ultimate decision. Having said that, my question is why would City Council need to have two different boards making recommendations to City Council? What if the two boards conflict?
Case in point, this discussion that we are going to have today. The DTRB, almost unanimously (one descending vote was from the Planning Commission representative) voted to remove the extra step. The Planning Commission subsequently voted unanimously to keep it in place. Common sense and logic would say that the City Council would favor the recommendation from the more focused board regarding downtown. We shall see however as the City Council will discuss this item this afternoon.