The Austin Chronicle

Austin @ Large: Disclosure Review

By Nick Barbaro, September 5, 2003, News

I guess it just slipped folks' minds, what with everything else going on, but Austin@Large had an eminently logical suggestion for process improvement in development review almost a year ago -- in our Nov. 1, 2002, issue -- and it seems even more timely now than it did then. And, Toby, you can have it for free.

The idea, already in use elsewhere, is pretty simple: have development plans posted in public, on the development site. In Vancouver, for example, a large sign describes to all passers-by the exact use, size, height, number of units (if residential), number of required parking spaces, and many more salient facts, along with the name and contact info for the developer and for the relevant City Hall contact.

This greatly simplifies the problem of notification, which is a major pain in the ass in the current process. (Neighbor: "What do you mean, you're building that monstrosity next door to me?" Developer: "Why didn't you bring this up when I filed everything two years ago?") Public posting is simple, costs nothing, promotes communication and compromise, and would be a quick answer to critics who suspect that "streamlining" the process means shutting the public out of it.

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