Monday, March 02, 2009


Acting chair of the Chinatown Working Group Jim Solomon points out to me that the zoning team didn't actually vote on their list of guiding principles, but left them open to further refinement. At this point, he says, "all work product coming from the Working Teams is still very much a work-in-progress."

That's good, if the future discussion of those principles is guided by people who actually live in Chinatown, not just the outside voices, expert or otherwise.

He emphasizes "the success of the Chinatown Working Group will ultimately depend on the active participation of Chinatown's stakeholders. Outreach continues to be a CWG priority, as it is seeking input from a broad cross-section of the community."

It may be that many of the few Chinatown residents attending the zoning meeting were journalists, not participants. If that's so, that's not so good. Leaving a possible rezoning of Chinatown to outsiders, expert or not, courts disaster.

If it's zoning jargon that stands in the way of participation, it shouldn't. Once past a few measures like FAR (floor area ratio), the rest is easy, though not without an occasional complication. The most important part of zoning is deciding what you want for your neighborhood. No acronyms there: it's just expressing your views and listening to others.

Check out Zoning for Dummies on this blog for an introduction. It's geared towards the EV/LES rezoning, written early in the process before changes were made in the plan and in tax law, but the basics are all there. City Planning (DCP) has a glossary and other good stuff on its site. You can even download the whole zoning text there, if you're looking for a real page turner.

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