Learning from the Hub
In it's efforts to appeal the Hub approval, Stand Up for Flagstaff studied the Flagstaff zoning code, the principles and purpose of transect zoning in particular, and how other cities are applying it. We presented our recommendations to Council for changes that would help our code fulfill it's purpose of protecting community character as Flagstaff grows. Four key recommendations are highlighted here:
1. Make the code clear about what building types are allowed in which zones, and specifically that Commercial Blocks not be allowed in existing neighborhoods. The Superior Court decision that denied our appeal of the Hub was based primarily on the ambiguities in the code that the Hub's developer was able to exploit for it's project. We want to see that ambiguity resolved in favor of community character. There are many types of buildings, besides single family homes, that are currently permitted in neighborhoods under that transect code which will allow them to accommodate higher densities as Flagstaff grows. It is important that these neighborhoods remain mixed-use, and not be replaced and transformed into off-campus dormitory zones.
2. The traffic study the city accepted for the Hub remarkably stated that the addition of 600 short-term residents to an old-town Flagstaff neighborhood with narrow streets that already experience congestion, would not substantially affect traffic and parking in that neighborhood. Stand Up for Flagstaff has raised with Council and city staff the need to review and change the way traffic studies are designed and performed in Flagstaff. We think that traffic is an important safety issue in our neighborhoods, that the purpose of city rules and regulations is to protect community health and safety, and that traffic studies must be improved to reflect real conditions in Flagstaff.
3 and 4. The Hub developers purchased and combined multiple lots and filled them with one large building equal to the 8 next largest buildings in downtown Flagstaff. This kind of lot combination, without mandatory review for how it will affect community character, and the absence of building size limits for Commercial Blocks, both contributed to the inappropriateness of the Hub in it's location. Other cities are successful in protecting community character because they make sure their regulations help them apply a critical eye to projects that endanger character. These are two missing pieces in the current code that should be added in order for Flagstaff to do the same.
Read our expanded list of recommendations to Council here.
Here are links to pages describing the problems associated with the Hub: