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Monday, February 27, 2017

Updating a Comprehensive Plan

A comprehensive plan update will suffer from later inattention until it is linked to a city’s economic welfare. In other words, a city is a farm and every acre within its boundaries combines to produce an average yield per acre. This yield must meet or exceed a city’s average expense per acre as operating, maintenance, improvement, and debt service expense increase with age. Annexation of acres for new revenue often repeats past mistakes by assuming that the new income will not be reduced by the increasing expense of aging. As expense increases, a city with fixed income is often accused of profligacy when seeking to increase revenue in response. Budget cuts ensue and decline takes one more step toward blight.

As the journey continues, decline becomes visually obvious and flight from fear begins as annexation attempts to surround disease. The disease expands and the city fights to protect annexation corridors and avoid encirclement by surrounding suburbs. This occurs time and again across the nation because a city does not recognize that it is a farm and must understand the yield from each of its acres over time. It becomes more severe when a city is surrounded by suburbs and must meet the increasing expense of aging with inadequate development capacity and activity allocation. At this point redevelopment and increasing taxation become unwelcome visitors met with skepticism, cynicism, assumption, opinion, prejudice, disrespect, and obdurate behavior resistant to change. A comprehensive plan cannot meet these objections with credible solutions until it can explain and correlate land use allocation, shelter capacity, occupant activity, and economic productivity. A new mathematical language and science of city design is required to credibly defend comprehensive plan recommendations.

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