We will set neighborhood development priorities by using quantitative evaluation criteria. Available resources are never sufficient to address the problems of struggling neighborhoods. Setting priorities and policy focuses can be addressed by an evaluative process that considers such factors as economic opportunities, educational performance, housing quality, access to commercial and other support services, public safety, and presence of community organizations and institutions. The process should consider positive neighborhood factors that can create the foundations for success, including:
- Existing support capacity from neighborhood associations, local service providers, and area businesses;
- Community institutions like parks, schools, churches, or community centers; and,
- Connections to surrounding neighborhoods.
We will expand rehabilitation and redevelopment programs to stabilize the physical fabric of neighborhoods. The physical condition of a neighborhood and its buildings is critical to its ability to function as a community. Residential rehabilitation programs should be expanded to both meet the needs of existing residents and serve future generations. Rehabilitation should focus items that directly affect health and safety, secure the basic building envelope, and add economic value to the surrounding area. Programs in which community development corporations acquire, rehabilitate, and either sell or rent units on a “turnkey” basis at moderate costs have been particularly effective in adding value, preserving housing, and introducing new owners and potential leaders into a neighborhood.
But housing rehabilitation is only part of the picture. Vacant sites and dilapidated buildings depress both property values and community momentum. Programs to accelerate the redevelopment of dilapidated properties should be tied closely to the priority evaluation process. Funds should be targeted to areas and projects that create a critical mass that in turn catalyzes private market investment and creates a self-sustaining community. Mechanisms like landbanks and land trusts have also proven effective in gaining control over vacant properties and returning them to productive use. Often, a high priority or visibility project at a strategic location can produce an unexpectedly powerful private reaction as neighbors gain confidence in their future.
We will create, enhance, and maintain community spaces where residents interact positively and advance the social fabric. Successful neighborhoods include spaces where people see and greet each other, and work and play together in a common enterprise. These spaces open a neighborhood, and increase the level of positive interaction that is the essence of a living neighborhood. Yet, hidden or neglected public spaces have the opposite effect, attracting nuisances and sometimes crime, and being scary or off-putting places that people avoid. Good community spaces can take many forms – a well-maintained public park surrounded and watched over by residents; a community garden; the median of a parkway; or a school or community center site.
Strengthening these community places begins with inventorying and analyzing their operations. This can be done in cooperation with neighbors and community organizations. Volunteer work, business participation, and other public and private support can provide the means to reclaim existing spaces and develop new ones, and to provide adequate resources for continued support and maintenance.
Facilities like community gardens and groceries are particularly attractive as community spaces because they are self-supporting; become natural and productive attractors of people, and address other key concerns such as access to healthy food. Efforts at a neighborhood level to secure sites and organize gardens should be expanded and educational institutions should provide technical help to gardeners. Public development incentives should have a special focus on attracting grocery stores to skipped over areas with viable consumer markets, and should encourage inclusion of public space in project design.
We will coordinate public infrastructure projects and community revitalization. In an effort to create tangible catalysts for revitalizing urban communities, the City will use the analysis described in this section as well as those located throughout planokc, to inform its capital improvements program.
Reverse the detrimental impact of vacant and abandoned buildings through the following efforts:
- Develop an Abandoned Buildings program geared toward a significant reduction in vacancies by creating incentives and/or penalties that discourage prolonged building abandonment and help the City to recoup the costs associated with vacated buildings. Use fees generated by this program to help fund redevelopment of abandoned buildings.
- Assess the feasibility of potential reuse options for dilapidated or abandoned buildings. Define and establish criteria to help identify buildings that are too far gone and/or too costly to feasibly rehabilitate, and consider a coordinated demolition program for those buildings.
- Seek changes in state legislation to enhance the City’s ability to maintain and improve its neighborhoods including:
- Laws which would speed up the demolition process for long-term dilapidated or abandoned properties that cannot be rehabilitated, and
- Laws which would strengthen the City’s ability to require property owners to rehabilitate or sell neglected, boarded-up properties.
Modify codes and/or regulations to create opportunities for more income diversity and mixed-income neighborhoods by allowing a variety of housing ownership and leasing arrangements, diverse housing sizes and types – including accessory dwelling units, carriage homes, lofts, live-work spaces, cottages, and manufactured/modular housing. Modifications should allow an increase the variety of ownership opportunities to include condominiums, ownership cooperatives (such as mutual housing associations, limited equity cooperatives, etc.) by identifying and removing regulatory barriers. Recommend improvements to protections for owners, developers, and lenders.
Priority should be given to projects that achieve efficiencies described elsewhere in planokc, such as dwelling units that are located to have easy access to each other and to other daily needs including jobs, recreation, and schools.
Maximize the use of all appropriate state, federal, local, and private funding for the development, preservation, and rehabilitation of housing affordable to a variety of income groups, including those that integrate low-income housing units in otherwise market-rate housing developments and support the creation and/or expansion of mixed-income communities.
Prioritize neighborhoods for revitalization and re-investment in order to reverse the decline associated with poor maintenance of public infrastructure and other property by using the following objective criteria:
- Low economic opportunity;
- Low educational attainment;
- Poor health outcomes;
- Poor housing environments;
- Low neighborhood quality; and,
- Existing capacity to support the revitalization efforts; and other important indicators.
Increase the City’s capacity to participate in targeted programs that strengthen neighborhood infrastructure and other assets.
Increase and/or re-assign City staff to support targeted neighborhoods and coalitions.
Integrate housing rehabilitation programs with neighborhood revitalization programs. These programs should include assistance to property owners to renovate the existing housing stock with improvements that reduce utility and maintenance costs for owners and occupants, conserve energy, conserve water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Identify, evaluate, and mitigate challenges associated with neighborhoods where housing values are rising quickly in response to public investment.
Establish new or expand existing financing methods and/or mechanisms available to new and redevelopment mixed-income projects in urban areas. These could include: direct investment of public housing funds, tax-increment financing, bonds, revolving loans, housing program funds and/or other proven public-private partnership models.
Create and/or enhance Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs) to increase their capacity to provide mixed-income housing, especially in targeted infill areas.
Reuse brownfield, greyfield, and other vacant building sites to provide new opportunities for mixed-used and mixed-income housing.
Catalyze the rehabilitation of abandoned structures by amending codes to facilitate the adaptive reuse of existing buildings for residential use.
Develop a City program to rehabilitate or redevelop dilapidated properties, including a land bank to receive donated properties from property owners who can no longer maintain their properties.
Prevent concentration of low-income populations by providing housing opportunities for all income groups in targeted redevelopment areas of the city with a particular focus on mixed-income projects, especially on those projects that have a public funding component.
Create places and opportunities for neighborhood events that allow neighbors to interact.
Add legislative priorities for state laws to:
- Strengthen the City’s ability to obtain specific performance of property owners cited for code violations.
- Speed up the demolition process for long-time boarded properties that cannot be rehabilitated.
- Strengthen the City’s ability to require property owners to rehabilitate or sell neglected, boarded-up properties.
- Expedite the clearing of properties involved in probate.
Strengthen existing businesses and business districts within and adjacent to established residential areas. Promote the development of new businesses to provide additional jobs and higher income opportunities for nearby residents.
Strategically use subsidized housing programs along with other City services and programs to revitalize targeted areas of the city.
Quickly repair damage caused by vandalism, including graffiti, to minimize negative impacts on neighborhoods. Coordinate the efforts of existing programs, such as the Police Department’s Removal Unit, the Public Works Department’s Removal Unit, and Oklahoma County’s “SHINE” program to increase responses in targeted areas and expand the area which can be covered. Increase participation by the business community, such as donations of paint and time.
Establish a working partnership between the City, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Putnam City Schools, Western Heights Schools, and other metro area school districts and educational entities to help school districts complete a variety of non-educational (or indirectly educational) functions such as planning for and siting new schools, working on shared use issues, and redeveloping closed schools. The partnership should coordinate efforts to seek funding and appropriate resources to accomplish the following:
- Establish multiuse recreational and exercise facilities in schoolyards to increase opportunities for physical activity and strengthen the relationship between schools and neighborhoods.
- Establish a program to increase the number of community members and schools that make effective use of Senate Bill 1882 (effective 11/1/2012) allowing shared use of school facilities for recreational purposes.
Study the impact of vacant parcels on places and special districts, and determine how best to mitigate any negative impacts.
Rather than rely solely on federal CDBG funding, seek other sources to continue to support the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative and Neighborhood Stabilization Program in order to enhance their ability to reverse decline and create valuable places.
Create and implement small area plans for neighborhoods or districts with special strategic importance or complications related to development or redevelopment.
Encourage redevelopment and infill development on vacant, underutilized, and brownfield sites in urbanized areas.
Catalyze infill development on vacant, underutilized, and brownfield sites in urbanized areas by:
- Investing in infrastructure improvements;
- Improving multi-modal transportation networks;
- Improving parks and open spaces;
- Improving schools and other civic resources;
- Exploring innovative methods such as:
- A public-private partnership to purchase problem properties in target areas and build or rehabilitate homes while improving infrastructure and amenities
- An infill house plan program similar to Sacramento or Milwaukee
- Identifying and removing barriers to rehabilitation and/or replacement of residential buildings.
- Establishing a position in the City to facilitate medium- and large-scale redevelopment projects through the development process by guiding interactions with City departments, allied agencies, and utility companies.
Encourage the adaptive reuse of underutilized structures and the revitalization of older, economically distressed neighborhoods.
Prioritize maintaining the strength of existing commercial nodes and corridors over providing new areas for commercial development.
Continue promoting the re-use, redevelopment, and revitalization of low-performing or declining commercial areas.
Support diversity and integration of housing unit types and sizes in all land use typology areas in order to meet the diverse needs of households of different sizes, generational needs, incomes, and preferences. New residential subdivisions should achieve a mixture of housing types within a unified development.