At the CDAD June membership meeting we were joined by the Director of Open Data Joel Howrani Heeres, the Director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs Fayrouz Saad, and three design directors from the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department Esther Yang, Steve Lewis, and Alexa Bush.
Each speaker provided great information about the changes and activities in their respective city departments and we are happy to share the presentation slides at the following links:
Detroit Open Data Presentation
Office of Immigrant Affairs Presentation
Planning and Development Department Presentation
Detroit Open Data strives to increase public transparency by keeping the public informed and engaged and improve operational efficiency through collaboration. Through the creation of a data portal, citizens can now utilize data in a user friendly way. Open Data encourages data sharing through one convenient location. They hope that both government agencies and residents will take advantage of this tool to make data driven decisions.
The Office of Immigrant Affairs was launched in October of 2015. Their objectives are promoting immigrant integration, building welcoming environments, and fostering economic prosperity in both old and new immigrant communities. They also participate in national immigration initiatives. Immigrants historically have a very positive economic impact in Detroit, despite having high percentages of families below the poverty line and adults without high school diplomas. In September of 2014, Detroit became a welcoming city and started supporting programs and policies dedicated to welcoming Immigrants to the city. Some of the initiatives were refugee settlement, language access, and the municipal ID program that allows cities to issue IDs to people without considering legal status. In terms of refugee resettlement, a working group was created to form a comprehensive strategy with a focus on integrating services and proving support for housing, public health, education, transportation, workforce development, and public and community engagement.
The City of Detroit Planning and Development Department (PDD) has a new approach to planning through regional teams. Esther Yang is the Eastern District Design Director (Council Districts 3 and 4), Steve Lewis is the Central District Design Director (Council Districts 5 and 6), and Alexa Bush is the Western Districts Design Director for (Council Districts 1, 2, and 7), as well as being the Senior City Planner. The multidisciplinary teams in the department include planners, architects, architectural historians, landscape architects, and urban designers. In 2016, they are targeting multifamily housing in Detroit. They are addressing land needs at all scales because of the diversity of land needs in Detroit. As part of their plans for revitalizing neighborhoods, they are looking at economic development on commercial corridors, housing options, the commuter experience, and available or potential green space. They are involved in transit improvements, aiming to make Detroit a more walkable city with 20 minute neighborhoods, despite the Motor City history. In order to plan for these more desirable urban, mixed use neighborhoods, they are using a democratic design approach. PDD staff are working to involve citizens in the design decisions that are directly affecting their communities. They also want to strengthen community’s abilities to problem solve and their capacity to accept change.
The public should expect to see an implementation focus from the department, as well as requests for community feedback on new projects and participation in the revitalization. They define success through the amount of community participation, local business growth and success, safe and walkable retail corridors, mixed income diversity, quality housing options, inclusive growth, and a strong sense of place.
Important Contacts for Detroit’s Planning and Development Department:
Esther Yang, Eastern District Design Director (Council Districts 3 and 4)
Email: email@example.com Phone: 313-224-1279
Steve Lewis, Central District Design Director (Council Districts 5 and 6)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 313-224-1254
Alexa Bush, Western District Design Director for (Council Districts 1, 2, and 7)
Email: email@example.com Phone: 313-224-9119