Charlottesville is seeking proposals to complete its Comprehensive Plan update, revise the city’s zoning code and come up with a plan to tackle affordable housing needs.
The city posted the request on its website last week. A contract could cost in the range of $1 million, according to city officials.
The request for proposals asks for a firm to finish the Comprehensive Plan update, conduct community outreach and data analysis, craft an affordable housing plan and update the city’s zoning code.
“When we were jumping into the Comp Plan, we did not understand how big a project we were doing,” said Planning Commissioner Lyle Solla-Yates. “The affordable housing need hit us hard, and I think that’s the biggest issue.”
The Comprehensive Plan, which is a guide for local land-use decisions, was last updated in 2013, and the zoning code hasn’t been substantially revised since 2003.
The plan update started in 2017 but has been on hold since the winter as the Planning Commission realized the massive undertaking needed to address affordable housing and the code.
“The Planning Commission is not professional staff that takes on a project of this magnitude alone,” said Chair Lisa Green.
The consultant is needed because the Department of Neighborhood Development Services doesn’t have the staff resources to complete the work.
Green said the Comprehensive Plan would be completed first, and the zoning code would then be rewritten to match it.
“One of the biggest things that we did not do well in 2013 is we did not go in and do a zoning overhaul on the zoning ordinance to make sure that the ordinance matches our comprehensive plans,” she said. “Right now, those are sometimes at odds with each other.”
NDS Director Alex Ikefuna, who has called the zoning ordinance a “wastebasket of errors,” said it no longer represents current conditions.
“Times have changed. There are new issues,” he said. “Affordable housing is becoming a challenge.”
There’s no timeline for when a consultant might be hired or how long the work could take.
“We want this as soon as possible,” Green said. “It is an urgent need for the city.”