Des Moines Urban New Years Resolutions

According to Quirkology, most people who make New Years resolutions fail to keep them.

At the start of the study, 52% of participants were confident of success. One year later, only 12% actually achieved their goal.... An extra 22% of men achieved their resolution when they engaged in goal setting, and women were almost 10% more likely to be successful when encouraged to persist in the face of setbacks.

My own personal New Year's resolution was not to make a New Year's resolution. I failed.

If the City of Des Moines were to make some New Year's resolutions, here would be my suggestions:

  1. Promote rehabilitation of public nuisance structures rather than demolition. There are several state code provisions that allow for the City or a non-profit to assume control of a derelict and vacant property in order to stabilize and/or rehabilitate it. There is currently a presumption of demolition as the City's final recourse.
  2. Establish a Community Land Trust to preserve subsidy, build, and retain affordable home ownership options. A community land trust separates the value of the home (owned by a private individual) from the value of the land (owned by a non-profit organization). The land is leased to the home owner under a long term renewable agreement, with the restriction that the home must be sold at an affordable price to the next owner.
  3. Pursue creation of new National Register historic districts across the City. A federal historic district allows for developers and home owners to utilize historic rehabilitation tax credits to help fund substantial renovations. This type of historic district does not impose requirements on home owners unless they utilize rehabilitation tax credits or other federal money to fund a renovation project.
  4. Institute urban form-based zoning overlay districts in areas with developable land - particularly Downtown and the East Village. Form-based zoning promotes walkable, urban development by focusing on the physical building and planning characteristics rather than the use.
  5. Enhance the Neighborhood Based Service Delivery program. NBSD provides a point of contact and defined resolution process for public safety calls, as well as helping officers and community members interact on an ongoing basis to trade information.

Just a few thoughts off the top of my head for ways to enhance the urban experience here in Des Moines.

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