Birmingham needs a Mayor for every neighborhood – not just Downtown. While Downtown has thrived, the last few years for Birmingham’s other 98 neighborhoods have been characterized by blight, overgrown lots, abandoned properties, and crime. Spot development projects and election-year neighborhood clean-up efforts are not a substitute for a comprehensive vision for meeting the needs of all of our neighborhoods. Birmingham needs a Mayor that is committed to neighborhood revitalization every year – not just when there’s an election.
As Mayor, I will implement a six-part plan for revitalizing Birmingham’s other 98 neighborhoods:
Engage neighborhood leadership to develop neighborhood-driven revitalization plans. Neighborhoods should drive the development in their neighborhoods. Far too often, Birmingham residents are told what projects will come to our neighborhoods without the neighborhoods themselves determining what kind of development they want to see in their neighborhoods. As Mayor, I would work with each City Councilor to engage neighborhood leadership in their districts to develop four-year neighborhood revitalization plans where the neighborhoods themselves tell City leadership what form they want revitalization to take in their neighborhoods.
Launch city service response and revitalization teams to lead neighborhood revitalization efforts. Every city agency has a role to play in revitalizing our neighborhoods. Once the neighborhoods identify what kind of development they want to see in their neighborhoods through their neighborhood revitalization plans, I would appoint neighborhood revitalization teams comprised of points of contact from each City agency that work with neighborhood leadership, the Mayor’s Office, and their City Councilor to execute the neighborhood revitalization plan and serve as the first point of contact for resident requests for City services.
Giving neighborhoods more of a voice in capital development projects. Birmingham’s capital budget for new developments has to come from our neighborhoods. As Mayor, I would work with the City Council to introduce participatory budgeting into Birmingham’s capital development budget giving our neighborhoods direct opportunities to determine what investments the City makes in their neighborhood.
More aggressive land banking and demolition of vacant and blighted properties and expanding the City’s commitment to cleaning up vacant and overgrown lots. With over 10,000 blighted properties and hundreds of overgrown lots across the Birmingham, I would expand the City’s investments in demolishing abandoned properties and maintaining vacant lots by $3 million.
Ensure that every Birmingham resident is within a five miles of a grocery store. Far too many Birmingham residents have to drive more than 20 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store. Even as Publix comes downtown, other neighborhoods throughout Birmingham do not have easy access to fresh fruit and vegetables and a pharmacy. As Mayor, I would more aggressively use tax incentives and the other economic development tools at the Mayor’s disposal to recruit more grocery stores to the City so that no Birmingham resident lives more than five miles away from a grocery store.
Earmarking at least $5 million annually for repaving our streets, fixing potholes, and repairing sidewalks. Over 200 miles of Birmingham’s streets are in disrepair creating a backlog of over $50 million in future repairs. Bond funding for repairing our streets and sidewalks every few years is not enough as safe streets and sidewalks should be a priority in every City budget. As Mayor, I would develop a five-year plan for street resurfacing and commit at least $5 million annually to street resurfacing and repairing sidewalks.