Monday, April 30, 2007

What's the right time for a project?

This is a follow-up to my "good design, right place, right time" post. (Which leads me to wonder...maybe the Tim Duane "design, location, timing" triad should be adopted as the triple bottom line of development criteria, just as "people, planet, and profit" has become the triple bottom line for many businesses.)

So when is the time "right" for a new development project?

To make that determination requires considering these questions:

  • Is the land designated for development in the local general plan?
  • Does the community need the project?
  • Does the community welcome the project?
  • Is there infrastructure capacity available to adequately serve the project -- roads, schools, water, wastewater, libraries, landfill, parks, trails, hospitals, and other facilities?
  • Are adequate services available -- emergency services, child care, medical services?
  • Will the project make life better for people who already live here or at least not make it worse?
I'd say if the answer to any one of these questions is "no," then the time is not right for the project. Think about it: why should a project go forward if schools are overcrowded, wastewater capacity is nearly gone, traffic is backing up on local roads, emergency responders are overstressed, the project doesn't provide housing or facilities locals need, the community really doesn't want it, or it makes life worse for those of us who live here already?

So who decides when the time is right? Some would say developers, who do market research, buy ranch land cheap so they can maximize profits, and propose projects based on their research and profit needs.

But the decision really rests with a community -- us -- and the elected officials who represent us. Just because a developer wants to build doesn't mean the time is right. It might be -- but then again, it may make more sense to raise cows, not people, on that inexpensive ranch land for at least a little while longer.

More development principles

No comments: