It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged but I have a lot of ideas for entries so I hope I can keep up with it.

I would like to start back up again by discussing Sebastopol’s Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) grant from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). I am the chairman of the steering committee that successfully applied for the grant last fall (view the application here). In the application, the committee expressed a need to address issues of connectivity in our community and as such titled our effort SebastopolConnect. There is a need to improve pedestrian and bike connections between our core and the surrounding neighborhoods; improve connections between the core and beautiful nearby surrounding natural environment; improve connections between downtown businesses and their clientele; and improve interpersonal connections between members of the community to support a creative long-term plan for future development in our core.

The way the grant works is that the AIA sends a multidisciplinary team of professionals to a community to help develop a vision and framework for a sustainable future. The team spends an intense 3 days meeting with a community and developing recommendations for long-term sustainability. The team spent May 15-17 in Sebastopol and was comprised of planners, urban designers, architects, landscape architects and a transportation engineer.

poster image

The first day consisted of public workshops to solicit feedback from the community on several targeted issues: Transportation and parking, pedestrian, bike and community connections, urban design and design standards, and land use and land use standards. The workshops were well attended and the team received valuable and insightful feedback from the community. The team spent the next 2 days working on their recommendations with graphic and logistical support from a team of local volunteers.

final presentation

At the end of the last day the team unveiled their recommendations at a public meeting. Since that time they have followed up with a written report providing more detail on their recommendations and suggestions for implementation.

The steering committee made a presentation to the city council October 1, 2013. We gave brief presentations on short, medium and long-term recommendations. It was well received by the council and we agreed to delve further into the report at a study session in the near future. It’s been exciting to get to this point, and a bit daunting to think about implementing the suggestions. I plan on discussing many of the recommendations through this blog.