Over 30 community members attended the DivisionVision meeting held at the Red and Black Cafe Monday night to develop a planning strategy for the Division Street business corridor. Many issues were discussed including the recent state and federal grants allocated for Division St transportation and development projects, communication building among current businesses and organizations in the area, Community land trusts and planning for the next neighborhood street fair to be held in July.
A lot of energy and discussion was put into community land trusts and local development corporations. This was largely due to the groundswell of opposition around the planned Starbucks (and possibly Subway) currently under construction at SE 20th and Division St. There was general agreement that the community needs to plan in advance of economic development so that self-serving developers cannot make economic choices counter to the will local communities. It is clear that time is of the essence in the proceedings. The Division/Clinton Street business corridor is in a process of rapid economic development and it is vital that the development does not further gentrify the neighborhood and filter needed dollars out of an already sluggish local economy.
In addressing these issues it has become apparent that City Hall wants to play prisoner to the will of developers. In the long run this structural problem will have to be meaningfully addressed, but for the time being it has become obvious that those who own the land will play a vital role in how it is developed. Community land trusts have been developed elsewhere to counter the adverse effects of non-responsive local governments and greedy developers. The question is whether enough energy can be put into creating a critical mass of community owned land in order to counter adverse market effects and increased gentrification. The time to act is now.
To get involved go to www.divisionvision.org or attend meetings held the third Monday of each month at different locations in the area. To get involved in the campaign to stop Starbucks go to www.nostarbucksin7corners.org or attend meetings held regularly at the Cascadia Rising Infoshop (1540 SE Clinton St.) every Wednesday at 6:00pm.