Yeah, this blog is still on hiatus, but after reading Ed Soja's Seeking Spatial Justice and reading a post on CHS about a new mixed use development on Capitol Hill, I got an idea. Here's what I wrote on CHS:
i just finished reading 'seeking spatial justice' by the UCLA geographer/urban planner ed soja and then saw this thread. first, i'm with everyone that thinks this style of building which is colonizing the neighborhood is repetitive, boring, and eyesore, etc. and though i admittedly, and embarrassingly, have never taken part in any of the dpd reviews, i have been curious about ways to resist this sort redevelopment.
anyhow, soja describes a community benefits agreements as 'a legally binding document negotiated by a defined labor-community coalition and developer' and explains how they can be used to require a developer to provide such things as affordable housing, child care facilities, space for local businesses, etc. in the case of this building, the way a cba might have worked would be that the community coalition would have ultimately approved the building and allowed it pass quickly through the review process, but only in exchange for, say, 25% affordable housing and 50% of the ground level retail dedicated to small and local business (or whatever, i'm making this up).
when i started my people's parking lot blog two years back, i had a similar idea, but had no idea such organizations actually existed (in los angeles, for example). it looks like it's too late in some cases, but i can't help but think that creating such a group might be the first step to exercising some sort of influence over development in the neighborhood. considering the strong reactions to these projects, this seems like something we could get started.