Task force fine-tunes regulations, procedures

Public meetings pushed back as previous public input taken into account.

A city task force is taking longer than expected to make recommendations to city and University District Alliance officials about ways to improve the school community. Public meetings where the group is to get additional community input were supposed to be held in April, but are now being pushed back to âÄúfurther hone in on recommendations,âÄù Senior City Planner Joe Bernard said. âÄúThe list so far âÄî it hasnâÄôt been boiled down yet,âÄù Jan Morlock, director of University community relations, said . âÄúIt hasnâÄôt been refined yet as far as a set of recommendations.âÄù She also said that it was too early to take positions on suggestions, and that the UniversityâÄôs goal was to improve neighborhoods around campus, as are the others on the task force. The University District Zoning and Planning Regulatory Review Task Force , made up of student, neighborhood, business, University and city representatives, formed in the fall of 2008 , and is to make recommendations for changes to regulations and procedure in the University area. The group is not a final-decision making body, Haila Maze, principal city planner , said. City staff and policy makers will be the ones to act on what is suggested. Maze said that the task force worked with the University District Alliance on the public involvement portion of the process because the alliance had already assembled a group representing a majority of the interests affected. A summary report from the group, released in mid-December, refers to the task force as being âÄúunder the University AllianceâÄôs umbrella.âÄù The summary report shows concern about parking, growth and enforcement of existing housing standards. âÄúThe focus of this process is on improvements to the built environment,âÄù said Maze. “The goal regarding student housing is to accommodate it into the U and surrounding neighborhoods in a way that minimizes any potential negative impacts on surrounding uses âÄî overflow parking, noise âÄî while also providing good, quality, safe, and attractive options for students.âÄù Suggestions written in the summary report include restricting the number of critical parking permits issued for certain developments, increasing coordination between the University and the city and educating landlords on over-occupancy. âÄúOccupancy issues are an identified concern for this part of the city,âÄù Maze said. âÄúSpecifically, this refers to issues with illegal over-occupancy, as well as housing built to allow so many occupants given the site size that there are significant impacts on surrounding uses.âÄù Merrie Benasutti, from the Cedar Humphrey Action for Neighborhood Collaborative Engagement , said the issues covered did not necessarily affect the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, which her group represents. âÄúThose issues are primarily issues on the other side of the University, but certainly those are issues all around the University community,âÄù she said, adding that parking and safety were concerns for her neighborhood as well. The number of and location of public meetings, when they do begin taking place, is still undetermined.