Some of my best friends in city government have been planners, but despite that, I’ve always felt that as a group city planners were a hazard to themselves. Not because they’re bad people but because they’ve built a world of acronyms that only they can understand so the average Joe and Jane can’t relate — and more importantly appreciate — all the good things that the planners do. Try sitting through most planning meetings and tell me I’m wrong. Not likely.
Which is too bad because city planners do a lot of great work that is very meaningful in our community but they’re cursed with aconymitus. The truth is it’s not really their fault — they’re just using the language of the state and federal agencies that send money their way. Who’s going to argue with the hand that feeds you so the fed-speak gets passed from generation to generation until only those inside can understand it. For most of us it’s like Latin, we can see the relevance but we can’t speak it.
The good news is that the City has a great translator in Bridget Susel. She can drop acronym-bombs with the best of them but she is also well versed in language of non-planners and she is one of the best planners that I’ve had a chance to work with when it comes to interpreting fed-speak into what we speak. She’s just completed the 5 Year Plan update for the City’s CDBG programs (that’s Community Development Block Grant for you and me) and she and I thought we’d share a few pieces of it for those that have wondered what all that CDBG stuff was about.
The City of Kent doesn’t actually get a lot of Federal CDBG funds — around $325,000 a year — so it doesn’t go that far, but Bridget works hard to make sure whatever we get has a real impact in the areas of low income housing assistance which is the heart and soul of CDBG.
For the true adventurer’s you can download the full document here: 2010-2014 CDBG Strategic Plan
But for novice, I’d recommend a quick read of the executive summary (below):