Friday, November 14, 2014

Roseland Village Shopping Center Transformation


For several decades, Santa Rosans have talked annexing the lands to their south.  Mostly, it was about gaining sales tax from businesses which operate in County territory, or vacant land which could be developed.  They did the former, and were opposed by environmentalists like me when they tried to do the latter.  Urban sprawl, you all.   Left out of the conversation was the housing there built under county standards.  Cheap enough for lower rents, nothing there for the City to covet.  The island of poor residents fighting for their survival is now called Roseland.

Last night, I attended a meeting on the future of Roseland’s defunct shopping center, held at Roseland Elementary School.  Against the background of plans by the City to finally discuss annexation, the ghost of redevelopment past is rising up to work its magic on a dying business property.  Those in attendance represented a cross-section of residents and involved city and county organizational staff.  Supervisor Efren Carillo and Kirsten Larsen (County Comm Development Commission) hosted the discussion, which attempted to elicit the insights of participants around the current and immediate future uses of the Roseland Shopping Center as demolition continues.

After providing background and an update on the demolition, the group divided into five tables in front of large display photos of the site.  Their assignment was to agree on the current use of the site, what they thought the activities would become once the buildings were demolished, and what they see as the most useful activity design might be for the interim period while the long-term design of the site is being developed.  Post-It notes were used to reflect the ideas, and each group then reported out at the end of the meeting on their results.

I’ve been to many meetings like this, and have groaned about how few ever learn what was offered, and how quickly the guidance info disappears into bureaucratic files.  But I had an idea. 

I used my IPod Touch to take photos of the Post-It covered display photos.  When I got home, I used Google’s latest map development tool to overlay the info onto an online Google Map.  This morning, I sent the internet address of the map to the County staff with permission to use it as this wish.   If the microphones they were using for amplification and translation had digital audio recorders in them, it would have been even more cool to link participant voices to the map.

Friends ask what drives my passion for technology improvements.  The usual answer is that I see it helping us work more effectively together.  Like this.