Urban Planning and the Downtown Master Plan: A “Think and Drink” Q & A

There are a lot of us talking about the Downtown Master Plan. If you’re going to talk, why not know the facts? This 5-part audio series presents a Q & A session hosted by Humanities Washington at Gilbert Cellars on November 14th, 2013, which offered the public another opportunity to ask questions about the planning process and the final product as the powers that be envision it.  You’ll hear Steve Osguthorpe, Community Development Director for the city of Yakima, specializing in comprehensive planning and urban design–answer,or not answer, as the case may be–the fantastic questions that were posed by the audience. We’ve broken it down into five chunks of roughly 15 minutes. Topics are listed with corresponding times in the notes below each recording. You can jump to any segment by clicking the time link.

Enjoy. And keep on talking. Our voices make a difference, and if there’s one thing I learned from this Q & A session, it’s that the planning for downtown is a long way from being done. If you wish to contact Mr. Osguthorpe, he can be reached at steve.osguthorpe@yakimawa.gov, (509) 575-3533 or (509) 575-6183.

Part 1: (1:18 The challenge of creating new regulations for marijuana sales and distribution when there’s virtually no precedent for making these decisions. What does that mean for us? 5:25 Previous downtown planning effort 7:57 How to deal with all the empty real estate downtown 9:50 The Boise Cascade Site Plan vs. the Downtown Master Plan 10:38 How much businesses control what a downtown looks like 12:56 A description of the Master Plan plaza.)

Part 2: (00:10 Summary of Master Plan adoption and development process 2:43 Opportunities for public participation in the process 3:33 Proposed solutions for parking issues 7:28 3rd Street between Chestnut and Walnut example 11:18 Underground parking at Dragon Inn lot 11:56 Safety ambassadors in the downtown area 12:40 Is the city proposing to buy the parking lot from Morrier, since it will be considered “public parking?” 14:26 What will happen to small, locally-owned businesses when the big plan is put into effect?)

Part 3: (00:00 Delimitations of the research that has been done; importance of people/business friendly features like drop-off sites. 2:00 Pedestrian and bicicyle-friendly planning 6:45 Possibility of Yakima’s Historic Track 29 area as an alternative plaza site; the importance of honoring history in the planning process 10:15 Tourist-friendly vs. community-friendly business 11:17 Fear of being downtown)

Part 4: (00:00 Fear, darkness, gangs, the gang-free initiative, gentrification 5:00 Art in the downtown area; how to get involved 8:05 “The cool young couple;” How to communicate the plan to the public; fear of change 14:00 Tour de Farce: reception, implications)

Part 5: (00:00 Tour de Farce: reception and implications 00:35 Many do feel safe downtown; cars also a threat 2:05 Price of the Downtown Master Plan; applicability of plaza concept to Yakima 6:00 The public space hasn’t yet been designed 8:50 Air quality issues in Yakima)

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