An alternative planning process that seeks great ideas AND political capital -- 2012 Round Up, Part 2

COLUMBIA, 12/31/12 (Beat Byte) --
A few months ago, Missourian columnist George Kennedy asked:  "Do we in Columbia have the political wisdom and courage to decide what kind of community we want...?"

Recent citizen-driven successes defeating Ward gerrymandering and EEZ/blight  suggest the answer is a resounding "yes." 

They also suggest the community most Columbia residents want will emerge in a more sustained way from a citizen-driven movement that started this year:  People's Visioning

An alternative to City Hall-driven Visioning -- aka Columbia Imagined -- People's Visioning has come together as citizens like Monta Welch, Sam Allison, and Wayne Brekhus sought the second part of a successful community vision:  political capital.  This all-important ingredient is ironically missing from Columbia Imagined, an out-of-state consultant-driven project which has produced good ideas but almost no implementation.   

Want proof?  Just look around.   Then ask yourself these questions:

Was a Blight Decree across the city (and parts of Boone County) evidence of Columbia Imagined?

Is the construction of Garagezilla, the pending constructions of Garagezilla, Jr., and the Odle's private Garagezilla evidence of Columbia Imagined?

Is the construction of over 1,000 units of poorly-built student housing -- with much more pending -- evidence of Columbia Imagined?

Are comments last year by public works director John Glascock -- that City Hall shouldn't restore long decayed stormwater systems in North Central Columbia, but rather, just buy up the homes there and tear them down -- evidence of Columbia Imagined?

Is rampant rezoning and the tension it creates evidence of Columbia Imagined?

Is the tension around St. Joseph Street demolitions, more Odle student apartments, and Boone County Family Resources evidence of Columbia Imagined?

Other than some new trails and parks -- which we all certainly like -- the only evidence of Columbia Imagined this writer sees has come from individual private sector endeavors -- the North Village Arts District, for instance. 

From visioning to charretting, City Hall-driven public planning strikes more and more people as a ruse:  Planning that pretends to engage public voices, but instead favors powerful special interests with political capital including the Columbia Chamber of Commerce; Central Missouri Development Council; REDI; and the Law Firm of Van Matre, Harrison, Hollis, Taylor, and Bacon, P.C.

So how can average citizens imagine Columbia?   They can start by checking out People's Visioning, as that group seeks to build both planning ideas and political capital, which can be as simple as developing relationships with public office candidates to addressing, requesting, and demanding action from local government.