My Recent Activities
I spent most of the week in Charlotte NC, participating in the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) conference. SACOG suggested I attend due to my position as chair of the SACOG Land Use and Natural Resources Committee. I learned more about new urbanism concepts like mixed-use, walkability, and placemaking, which I believe are essential to improving the quality of life in our communities.
I participated in two off-site tours on the first day of the conference. The first was at the US National Whitewater Center. I’d love to see something like this in the Yuba County Sports & Entertainment Zone near Hard Rock and Toyota Amphitheater. Next, we toured Davidson NC, a small town on the northern edge of the Charlotte metro area. The town has a form-based development code focusing on community design and placemaking rather than traditional 20th-century segmented land use zoning. A few of the requirements from their code include: buildings must be a minimum of two stories, off-street parking lots must be in the rear, building access must be provided from the street, and buildings are up close to the sidewalk rather than set far back. We visited a newer neighborhood with a mix of uses (including commercial with residential above) and a mix of housing types, including single-family homes, townhomes, and even small garage apartments. The design included narrow streets, and many garages were behind the homes on alleys to promote safety and walkability. We also visited a new “second main street” in the town that contained retail on the lower floor and residential units on higher floors.
I attended sessions over the next few days, and a few stood out. One was called “Surbaban Main Streets: a new era of opportunity and Imperative.” The session provided data on the changing demographics of households (the number of households with kids in the home is dropping) and the increasing desire for many on both ends of the age spectrum to live in a walkable community with services nearby. Based on these trends, we are underbuilding mixed-use walkable communities, which are needed in all communities, not just dense urban cores. While in Charlotte, I also had a chance to experience the “sound end” area along the light rail line south of downtown (which they call uptown). The line has a trail for walking/biking along it, a decent amount of transit-oriented residential development, and a lot of bars and restaurants. I noticed in the evening many people were out enjoying the trail, the bars, and the restaurants.
Looking ahead to this week
This Tuesday is a Yuba Water Agency board meeting with a reasonably light agenda, and after the regular board meeting, we are having a special board workshop. Later that afternoon, is a Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority (TRLIA) meeting and a South Yuba Transportation Improvement Authority (SYTIA) board meeting. The TRLIA agenda includes budget approval and the next step in the 500-year flood protection effort. The SYTIA agenda includes updates on the East Wheatland Expressway and South Beale Rd Interchange projects. The other board meeting I have this week is Yuba LAFCO, and the agenda contains primarily administrative items.
Additional items on my calendar include a coffee meeting with a constituent, the National Association of Counties (NACo) Broadband Mapping Working Group, lunch with the Yuba County assistant community development director, the Greater Sacramento Economic Council (GSEC) board retreat, and the Together We’re Better Golf Tournament to raise money for the United Way and other local charities.
*Picture is a collage of various things from my week: Dusk over the Uptown Charlotte skyline from a 22nd-floor rooftop bar, a view of the Charlotte light rail line through the south end area looking toward uptown with an adjacent walking/biking path and adjacent transit-oriented development [in the evening tons of people using the path and visiting restaurants and bars along the path], touring a new suburban mixed-use main street in Davidson NC, touring the National Whitewater Center, and touring a 21st-century development in Davison NC with a mix of housing types.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you!