ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), Development, Home Improvement, Housing, Informational, Retail, Small Businesses, Zoning

Let’s Play a Game: Village Vision or Village Vision 2.0?

Posted by Bonnie Limbird
We’re going to play a quick game.

Now, you can’t really mark an X in these columns on your computer, tablet, or phone, but there’s not that many to remember. 😁 Decide which version of PV’s Village Vision (the 2007 version or the 2021 version (aka 2.0)) these Action Agenda Items / Guiding Principles were pulled from:

For non-html viewers, here’s a text list:

  • Allow for a greater variety of housing types throughout Prairie Village
  • Update the zoning ordinance to reflect contemporary land use issues while preserving the identity and character of Prairie Village
  • Consider revising the zoning ordinance to allow more residential, commercial, and office development, particularly in walkable, mixed-use areas of greater intensity
  • Permit higher residential densities and mixed uses near existing commercial areas and along arterial roadways
  • Encourage neighborhoods with unique character, strong property values and quality housing options for families and individuals of a variety of ages and incomes.
  • Viable commercial centers, which include diversifying tenant size and use and adapting surrounding streets to “create a more seamless connection to adjacent neighborhoods.”

Trick question! They’re ALL Village Vision 1.0 – the O.G. version. 🙂

Village Vision 2.0 vs. Village Vision (2007)

Village Vision 2.0 did not change that much from the original 2007 version. The only reason an update was deemed necessary to the prior Council (as I understood it) was because a lot of the big picture items relative to parks and greenspace had been achieved. But the housing issues that were identified as current or future problems in the 2007 plan remained unchanged in 2018, and in fact were only getting worse with the teardown/rebuild trend for which PV is now known as being the northeast Johnson County ground zero.

Are there new terminologies used throughout Village Vision 2.0? Yes, of course. The housing world has changed in the last decade plus. Updated terms are being used, and more research has been done and analyzed. But the essential housing goals are the same: maintain/create a variety (diversity) of housing types & price points and consider revising zoning to allow more intensity (density), walkability, seamless connections (transitions), and housing stock.

One new term that Village Vision 2.0 uses is ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit), which essentially replaces ALQ (Accessory Living Quarters). ALQs and ADUs are not even mentioned in Village Vision 2007 that I could find. The reason they’re a topic now is because they’ve become a lot more popular, and there are case studies in cities across the country now that show how they’re benefiting their residents and communities. PV currently allows ALQs, but the ad hoc housing committee has essentially recommended updating the term to be “ADU” and removing current impediments in order to allow them to be detached structures, allow them to be open to non-relatives and non-“domestic help”, and allow them to be rentals (but long term, IMO, not short term).

Why are we even talking about Urban Redevelopment in either plan?

From Village Vision 2007 –

Urban redevelopment strategies will also serve to maintain and enhance surrounding property values, to retain and attract residents and businesses, and to foster a vibrant physical and social environment – all-important factors supporting the City’s overall fiscal health and maintaining a high quality of life for residents.”

pg. 17

Also from Village Vision 2007 –

“Unlike communities that were settled prior to WWII and have historic central business districts and downtowns, no center or commercial/cultural core exists in Prairie Village.”

“The current land use pattern is a direct result of classifying land into single use areas as part of the zoning or “districting” process. Residential uses are separated from commercial uses, multi-family uses are separated from single-family uses, office uses are separated from retail uses, and so on. These districts have generous setbacks, which are designed to protect more intense uses from less intense ones. The resulting pattern segregates or physically separates normally or potentially compatible uses from one another (e.g. office with residential). It also requires a large amount of single-use parking, provides minimal opportunity for shared parking, extends auto trips, and limits the opportunity for alternative modes of travel such as walking, biking, and public transit. While this type of development pattern is not unusual in suburban communities, it does not allow for the most efficient use of a community’s land resources.”

pg. 27

As we know, Prairie Village is landlocked. To remain fiscally viable and maintain a high quality of life for our residents, we have to think of more efficient ways to use our limited land resources. That’s as true today as it was in 2007.

Why are Affordability and Attainability such a big part of VV 2.0?

Affordability is mentioned in the original Village Vision, but Attainability is a key strategy in VV 2.0. That update is because what we didn’t have in 2007 that we have now in the 2020s is the teardown/rebuild boom. Hundreds of homes in the attainable range of PV’s housing stock have been replaced with “luxury” to “exclusive” stock. We’re losing our “middle income” housing stock at an alarming rate, and the Neighborhood Design Guidelines, with a revision a year or so later, hasn’t solved that problem and can’t solve that problem alone.

Public involvement in both plans

We keep hearing that “not enough residents provided input” into this plan. Actually, the number of residents that provided input on this plan is comparable to the original 2007 plan in that a very small percentage of the PV population participated in each. See chart below. And if we’re honest, the participation percentage was probably even lower on both, because the same residents were likely to have attended and participated at various steps of the processes.

There were two public meetings prior to the pandemic, several online public hearings, a Live Q&A via Zoom and Facebook Live, and at least 3 survey opportunities. With a few possible, but rare, exceptions, every one that wanted to participate in this process was able to. Period. City staff have listed all the ways they promoted this process and made sure every resident knew about the multiple opportunities to provide input. What I have found in communications is that it’s like the saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make her drink.” You can provide all the opportunity in the world for residents to engage in a process like this, but if they’re not interested, they’re just not interested. The pandemic had nothing to do with participation – if anything it made the opportunities easier to take part in.

With a few possible, but rare, exceptions, every one that wanted to participate in this process was able to.

That’s all for now! We have a City Council meeting tonight if you’d like to tune in on Facebook or join in person.

Have a great evening!

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