PUBLIC INPUT Choose Tomorrow – August 2, 2012

Open house visitors were asked to respond to three questions for each of the topics presented:

1. What have you learned about this topic from the scenarios?

2. Based on what you learned, how important is this topic in your vision for the future of Greater Des Moines? (0 – Not important, 1 – A little, 2 – Somewhat, 3 – Moderately, 4 – Very, 5 -Critically)

3. What would you like to see the region do first to achieve your vision?

Their responses are as follows. Many visitors provided general feedback on each topic rather than answering the specific questions. The bold text indicates what attendees want to have happen first (Question 3).

The Tomorrow Team will use these responses to help shape the plan as it moves towards completion.

HOUSING
Average Importance: 3.3 (6 numeric responses)

  • Figure out where transit is going first and then locate housing nearby
  • A light rail system would accomplish many beneficial outcomes
  • Definitely need more affordable housing, including downtown. I have a 27 year old son who wants to return to Iowa and Des Moines. He would like to not have to use a car much, but he thinks downtown housing is too expensive here. Keep up the good work!
  • What is wrong with business as usual? Why not allow individuals to make own choices instead of government?
  • I prefer the business as usual model. Let the free market determine the type and size of both houses and lots.
  • The scenarios gave me a good idea of what housing looks like in certain situations and developments. I would have liked to see more information about why particular types of housing are more or less beneficial in these circumstances. This would help gather support and overcome general misconceptions due to miscommunication and difference in terminology. Right now is a critical time for Des Moines in general; thus, it is a very critical time to evaluate our housing system and improve it. The population of Des Moines is ready to embrace changed and with that will come a need for affordable housing, infrastructure change, and public transit change. Restore our existing infrastructure before building new.
  • The region is not as suburban as I expected. Focus on the regional systems scenario.
  • Struggle for affordable housing options within commute. Regional systems – development of transit important for future success of that system.
  • See what I expected. Not surprised by SW suburban growth in BAU. Wants to see regional systems approach. Like the density moving to the center in scenario 4.
  • That having available housing options for a diverse set of demographics is vital to the success of the community and city overall. There are a lot of misconceptions about “low-income” housing that need to be addressed, too. Housing options are vital to the stability of the city/community. I would like to see the city invest in proper transportation infrastructure along with investing in more biker-friendly roads/routes. :) I love the Tomorrow Plan. Peace.
  • Respect my property rights.
  • That Des Moines can grow and not sprawl. Stop edge-of-city, exurban growth. Perhaps this has more to do with transportation and taxing policies, but we have to figure out how to get more infill. Also, think up next to green areas, not out.

PARKS + RECREATION
Average Importance: 3.5 (2 numeric responses)

  • Stop “regionalism” before it starts. Have communities compete for taxpayers and residents. Parks as needed only – not an absolute good.
  • Learned that business as usual results in very poor use of land, much better/beneficial and imagine profitable if we follow regional systems plan. Direct money into restoring parks & rec budgets and/or into setting aside more land. State government should increase sales tax to fun IWLL!
  • We currently have plenty of green/common space in DSM and surrounding communities.
  • Water Works Park, the Des Moines and Raccoon River Greenways, and some of the metro’s vacant and underutilized spaces like Nollen Plaza are sleeping giants. We could learn some lessons from the great public spaces of the world (Paris – Tuilierres, London – Hyde & St. James parks, Amsterdam – Vondel Park, Madrid, etc.)
  • Don’t know if we need more park acreage. Would like to see all parks made more doable: Trails connecting & good play equipment & maybe exercise equipment for adults. Love the big, old parks. Let’s try to do a bang-up job with what we have now.

ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS
Average Importance: 4.0 (4 numeric responses)

  • The graphic model could use more nuance. It makes it appear as though BAU would eliminate industrial distribution along major roadways, which can’t be true if the same model simply continues.
  • Reinforced effects of urban sprawl. Empty buildings and parcels downtown are redeveloped. Need grocery and local shops to incentivize.
  • Would like to see an optimal scenario that included targeted density (industrial, residential, commercial, hospitality, R&D, etc.) along I-35 “Capital Corridor” between Ames and Des Moines (as prescribed in Capital Crossroads plan). Make Des Moines-Ames eventually one MSA.
  • Public investments – Meaning what? How much? What is the ROI? Provide reliable data.
  • Like the more intense and various cluster approach achieved with the Regional Systems approach.
  • Highlights city council failures to manage residential, commercial, and industrial zoning. Meaningless without control and regulation of pesticides, herbicides, etc., in water runoff from uninformed farmers.
  • Downtown density.

INFILL + REDEVELOPMENT
Average Importance: 5.0 (1 numeric response)

  • Affordable housing and ability to receive loans at a fair rate for African-Americans. Helping African-Americans with the opportunity to open their own business! Help them to succeed! Helping the inner city with housing without displacing them – allow them to stay in the inner city if they choose.
  • Yes, I’m for redevelopment. Keep going!!
  • This should be a high priority. Public investment can stimulate a private market reaction.
  • Strong incentives, policies, and preferences for infill redevelopment are crucial to successful transit systems, walkability, public health, habitat protection, and lowering infrastructure costs. Make it happen!
  • Concern about property rights and wanting to do what I want with my farm.
  • Let the free market determine infill and redevelopment. Do not use eminent domain, blighting, or rezoning to steal people’s property.
  • Metro region has a lot of available land for potential infill. Provide more infill development.
  • Concern about regional taxing.

ECOLOGY
Average Importance: 1.0 (1 numeric response)

  • We desperately need to protect the natural resources we have in Polk County, a survey of most valuable natural areas should be conducted.
  • Please explore Agenda 21 from the United Nations. It has a goal of social engineering that brings about a life that is limited in terms of rights to own property and to travel. A sustainable world is a good thing. Be sure that it is a local movement only.
  • I learned we need to plan the region as a whole in order to achieve the sustainable and ecological goals. I applaud the willingness of local leaders to work together. I think the Des Moines metro needs to plan its future together, not apart. I vote for option 4 for the most part.
  • We need to try to keep wildlife corridors connected – protect riparian areas. Good watershed management – slow rain down, soak it in.
  • The city, county, state, etc. should own/control the smallest volume of property possible. Private land ownership promotes the healthiest environment.
  • Chichaqua Greenbelt is an underused wildlife area on the edge of the plan area. It must be considered in policy decisions.
  • What is the ROI on regional ecology? Cost benefit is what? Provide data please.

INFRASTRUCTURE
Average Importance: 3.0 (1 numeric response)

  • Just returned from a housing development in Austin, TX. It features homes (most 2 story but some 1 story) that are from 1500 – 2500 SF. They are close together. The homes are old-style architecture in new materials (and lots of solar panels on roofs). Each lot had a small outdoor garden. A park was in the middle. Lots of trees. Just wonderful!
  • Invest the infrastructure savings achieved through Regional Systems approach into BRT and light rail.
  • Infrastructure is critically important to the future of metro Des Moines and the suburbs. Connectivity is moderately important. Implement the on street facilities for cyclists from the Des Moines Bicycle Master Plan.
  • Too much focus on green agenda and less on property rights & cost to taxpayers. How much does this cost to taxpayers vs. ROI?
  • I have supported an extension of Martin Luther King Ave to I-80 & I-35 for 33 years. When is it going to happen? We _____ have a 4-lane road all the way from south freeway to Douglas Avenue when it dead ends! That is a waste of a resource and millions of dollars if this last link is not connected.
  • Have distinct communities compete for taxpayers.

WATER
Average Importance: 4.7 (6 numeric responses)

  • We don’t do a good job right now with protecting/buffering our water ways. Begin wetland non-development as possible.
  • Water is so important because it cleanses everything – it needs to be protected so we can drink & food can be grown – it is the most important thing. Protect the land that is able to drain so that the groundwater can be restored & ecology can benefit – thank you!
  • Water is important and will be lost if not protected. Protect key areas from damage.
  • Des Moines needs to be concerned about land use upstream for many square miles. Draw a line around Des Moines and say not more conversion of farmland beyond this line. That land should be 5-10 miles inside the planning area.
  • Improve watershed management.
  • A new Harvard study has recently proven that fluoride causes brain damage. Fluoride is effective when it’s applied topically, not when injected in a manner where the water barely touches your teeth. Fluoride is also considered a controlled substance. It’s not possible for you to regulate an individual’s dosage. Please stop poisoning our water supply.
  • That developing with smaller lots could have that much impact! Revamp land use regulations. Completely rethink the term “highest and best use,” as it’s applied by local governments.
  • It’s difficult to control Mother Nature. Obviously all living creatures depend on water for survival. Do not try to control people, the government, local, state, national are attempting to usurp personal property rights. You will fail!
  • The Raccoon River is very polluted. Keep the power in local government – but I would like the communities to work together to improve water quality.
  • Regional planning can be helpful in managing flooding & water quality issues. Protect against flooding.
  • Thanks to Chris Horne I understand that regional planning for water usage & water quality is essential and it may be the only part of The Tomorrow Plan I’m in favor of.
  • Let’s do what we can to improve water quality & protect waterways. This is important!

TRANSPORTATION
Average Importance: 4.8 (4 numeric responses)

  • The importance of having options for transportation. Greater number of bike facilities for transportation.
  • We need lots of transportation options to be a viable metro. Transit efficiency and bicycle facilities!
  • The type of development I see around Jordan Creek has led to extraordinary overcapacity of parking. I actually got lost in a parking lot out there. It would be interesting to see what percent of the land there exists for the car (streets, parking lots, streets connecting park lots). The new Ankeny I-35 interchange is a big mistake. The farmland north of Ankeny is among the best in the world. This interchange will increase development pressure. Des Moines metro should not grow north. It should grow up and onto less prime ag land.
  • Concerns: Survey response is not adequate to reach any conclusion for themes. Who is in charge. Where is community involvement.
  • We aren’t giving enough preference to alternatives like walking and BIKING! Redirect funding to transit, walking, and biking.
  • Stop regionalism before it gets started. Protect individual property rights, responsibility, and choice.
  • Compact, contiguous development makes sense.
  • Would like to see full-blown BRT with dedicated lands & signaling, and light rail. Go all in. Don’t approach it half in/half funded if we want it to succeed.
  • Really like the idea of better using transportation.
  • More green space, areas where you can walk and children can play, safe environment, I can live in my same area when I retire
  • Concerned about ownership of property. Iowa Bill SF-2389.
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One Response to PUBLIC INPUT Choose Tomorrow – August 2, 2012

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