Neighborhood Case Study

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Is a PNA Whittier’s Next Step in Neighborhood Advocacy and Planning?

In 2012, the Whittier Alliance released a strategic plan for the next five years that pinpointed critical steps towards increasing commercial activity and housing investments, raising environmental standards, and improving the Alliance’s organizational structure. Could the adoption of a Private Neighborhood Association (PNA), as presented by the Mercatus Policy Series , support these steps? In my opinion, a full PNA will not move the Alliance forward. However, the Whittier Alliance could benefit and advance these goals if they adopted certain principles introduced by PNAs, specifically: growing community participation, empowering local knowledge in the Whittier neighborhood, and working to devolve some planning authority from the city and regional governments into the neighborhood’s hands.
Increasing Community Participation
Getting people interested and invested in urban and community planning decisions often presents a challenge. Too often, communities across the country are reacting passively to planning changes instead of taking the initiative in proposing or influencing plans at the start.
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While one might argue that, in the PNA model, a community of renters mobilized to share their preferences and vote with their feet might easily leave the neighborhood if decisions favorable to businesses and property owners and contrary to their interests prevail, this breezy conclusion rests on the shaky assumption that there exist alternative, no-less-affordable neighborhoods nearby. Finding a way to increase Whittier residents’ stake in planning decisions along with balancing the powers of businesses, property owners, and renters is the direction in which the Alliance must proceed, and it is clear that adopting a PNA will diverge from this good
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