The proposed HOH Specific Plan draft lays out the current development and growth climate of Flagstaff and proposes eight goals for future High Occupancy Housing.
“The goal of [the HOH Specific Plan] document is to produce a new Specific Plan for the City of Flagstaff that defines future urban patterns for High Occupancy Housing (HOH) developments. The Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030 (Regional Plan), the Flagstaff community, and research on some practices to achieve the goals set forth within this plan will guide these patterns.”
It is important to note that in Flagstaff our Regional Plan is a guiding document, not a zoning document. Under Prop 207, it will remain this way. In most cities Regional Plans and Specific Plans are written to help inform and shape zoning. As long as Prop 207 remains the law of the land, zoning changes can lead to cities being sued by property owners. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will see substantial changes to the zoning code as a result of this document. However, we can expect some, like those currently proposed for the Transect Code.
HOH Specific Plan Introduction
Favorite Takeaway: Our 60ft maximum height restriction for downtown buildings is based on the average height of a mature Ponderosa Pine.
- Site and Area Analysis (Demographics, Parking, Transportation, Housing Affordability, Economic Development, Peer Cities, Planning and Land Use, Northern Arizona University Housing, Property Management, Essential Services)
- “Like many similar communities, Flagstaff has an undersupplied housing market and affordability issues. The 2016 median housing sale price is $315,500 while the median household income is approximately $49,000 (U.S. Census Bureau). 24% of the Flagstaff population is living in poverty.”
- “NAU is in the top 1 percent of universities nationally for total on-campus housing capacity.” Meaning, NAU houses more students on campus than 99% of other universities.
- Many livability issues related to HOH are property management issues that can and should be dealt with by property owners. For example, “In some of our Peer Cities, property managers are required to provide specific educational material to help tenants recycle the right items in the correct place.”
- Street and parking congestion is best relieved by increasing walkability and public transport, not by expanding roadways.
- Affordable Housing needs to be incentivized differently if we want to see more of it. Under Prop 207, one of the ways cities can encourage the type of growth they would like to see is through building incentives like reduced parking or specific tax breaks. HOH developments are ideal partners for affordable housing if we re-incentivize.
- We are not alone. Cities all over America of Flagstaff’s size with universities are experiencing growing pains and we can learn from each other.
HOH Specific Plan Concept Plan, Vision from the Regional Plan, Activity Centers, and High Occupancy Housing Site Design
The Concept Plan for the public review draft has two illustrations.
- These will change based on public input
Concept Plan 2 (left above) Urban Regional Activity Center
- Variety of large, medium and small scale HOH buildings interspersed with residential and commercial buildings. This is where F3 recommends a percentage be attached to the number of single family and, where appropriate, cultural resources, are to be maintained in an Urban Regional Activity Center.
- Street and alley grids, street furnishings, and civic spaces and parks, are meant to make the area more walkable to provide a variety or amenities to a diverse population.
- The location of parking and stormwater systems show what efficiencies the city may be able to achieve with the right policies, programs, and partnerships.
Concept Plan 3 (above right) Suburban Regional Activity Center
- The parcels in this area are larger than in an Urban Activity Center but are still broken up by road and pedestrian connections.
- Pedestrian connections are frequent enough to mimic an urban street grid.
- The site still has a variety of buildings and situates the mass of the buildings towards the largest street with a more welcoming entrance on the smaller street.
- Streets on the interior of the development provide the “main street” for shopping and residents.
- Larger buildings have a variety of entrances including stoops along the internal street to distinguish the residential building from the mixed-use building.
HOH Specific Plan Goals
Goal 1: New buildings, including HOH, connect and enhance the urban patterns, especially those of the Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. This may be achieved through the promotion of small and medium-scale buildings, historic preservation, street patterns, and pedestrian connectivity.
- Suggested Improvements for this goal:
- Add an implementation strategy that specifically relates to retaining single family homes downtown and on the South Side. This could be done by incentivizing building and maintaining single family homes through tax breaks, grants for up-keep, etc.
- Additional direction in Implementation Strategy 5 (When the demolition or removal of a historic structure cannot be avoided in an HOH development, encourage the developer to make the building available for relocation) directing city staff to look at ways of making it easier and less costly to relocate a home.
Goal 2: HOH buildings anchor the commercial core of activity centers. Their proportions and design are tied to the activity centers type (urban, suburban, rural), scale (central business, regional, neighborhood), and proximity of historic districts and neighborhoods.
Goal 3: The creation and operation of HOH development supports increasing the mode share of pedestrian, bicycle, and transit travel.
Goal 4: Civic and pedestrian spaces provide high quality “front porch” experiences that enhance cultural and social activity for high occupancy housing residents and neighbors.
Goal 5: Balance the needs of stormwater management and place-making to remove barriers to small and medium HOH development.
Goal 6: HOH developments make significant contributions to Flagstaff’s energy and solid waste goals.
Goal 7: Ensure continued and improved coordination between the City and NAU to collaborate on projects of concern to NAU and the wider community and to address nuisance issues in neighborhoods.
- This goal needs to include an Implementation Strategy about communicating directly with The Arizona Board of Regents, ABOR. As NAU’s governing body, ABOR is making decisions for NAU about growth that directly effect our lives in Flagstaff, but without ever consulting the city itself. This has to change for us to see any substantive change in the way NAU’s growth effects our daily lives.
Goal 8: HOH buildings create housing choices and transportation, land use and building efficiencies that support meeting Flagstaff’s sustainability and affordable housing goals.
Goal 9: HOH buildings are designed as flexible and adaptable buildings that can support changing economic conditions and support entrepreneurship and local business.