"How can we credit them to do a greening project on a vacant lot?" Yarne asks, a problem that is exacerbated by the complication that neither the developers nor local government have money to fund the interim improvements.
He looked at the possibility of using developer impact fees on short-term projects, but there are legal problems with that approach. The courts have placed strict limits on how impact fees are charged and used, requiring detailed studies proving that the fees offset a project's real cost and damage.
"But there is other value we can give as a city without spending a dollar — and that is certainty," said Yarne, a former developer. He said developers value certainty more than anything else.
Right now, developers have to return to the Planning Commission every year or so to renew project entitlements, something that costs time and money and potentially places the project at risk. But he said the city might be able to enter into developer agreements with a project proponent, waiving the renewal requirement for a certain number of years in exchange for facilitating short-term projects.
"Everyone wins. We get a short-term use, and the developer gets certainty that they won't lose their rights," Yarne said, noting that he's now developing a pilot project on Rincon Hill. "If that works, that could be a template we could use over and over."
Radulovich is happy to see the new energy Rebar and other groups are infusing into a quest to remake city streets and lots, and with the use of temporary projects to expand the realm of the possible in people's minds: "Let's get people reimagining what the streets could be."