The need to plan for our neighborhoods is a result of people's passion for their neighborhood. As many of us know, a neighborhood's identity often becomes an extension of our own identity breeding tremendous loyalty for the area we live in. Likewise, the ability to develop detailed specific plans for our neighborhoods cannot be readily addressed by a broad, citywide policy document such as the Comprehensive Plan. Issues affecting the livability of our neighborhoods such as, land use, housing, traffic, recreation, historic character, capital improvements, public safety, etc. are more easily addressed at a smaller scale through a neighborhood planning process. Undertaking a neighborhood or area plan process is a major step for a community willing to commit during and after the process. Some of the more important reasons that neighborhoods undertake planning efforts include the following:
The process of coming together as a community to define problems, create a vision, and think through solutions is probably more important than the product itself. An organized community that is proactive can initiate positive actions for their neighborhood instead of waiting to respond to something negative. Likewise, various stakeholders comprise a neighborhood from residents, workers, property owners, institutions, businesses, and government. Each interest group represents a partnership opportunity for a community to work with on implementing their plan.
Many concerns we witness in our neighborhoods are a direct result of having no official City policy towards land use, capital improvements, housing, community facilities, transportation, etc. that can guide decision makers to make appropriate decisions specific to your neighborhood. At the very least, the lack of a well-defined policy often results in inaction on a stakeholder's part.
The scope of a neighborhood plan allows more detailed analysis and recommendations to come forth that are specific to that neighborhood. Likewise, this in-depth view can be typically applied to more issues so that the resulting strategies and actions act together in a coordinated and comprehensive fashion. This includes addressing both short-term (e.g., speeding on local streets, housing rehabilitation) and long-term issues (e.g., declining property values, high unemployment).
Many neighborhood plans will be used to qualify an area for funding of its implementation. The physical document supports fundraising and marketing efforts to attract investment from lending institutions, foundations, private businesses, and local/state/federal governments. These organizations are more likely to help implement recommendations when there is evidence of a community supported plan.