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A CREATIVE PATH FOR PROCUREMENT

A FLEXIBLE IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

For Tactical Urbanism projects, procurement of materials often involves creativity and collaboration. Rather than relying solely on purchased materials, leverage partnerships to access existing materials wherever possible. Items such as tape, paint, delineators, granite blocks, or benches can commonly be found in existing City supply inventories and reused for pilot or interim-design projects. Non-profit community partners may be able to help source in-kind donations from local businesses. Artists or fabricators on your team may have access to tools or raw materials. For very short term projects, you may be able to borrow or rent key materials instead of buying them (plants, shade elements, etc.)

In most communities, Tactical Urbanism projects rarely fit the typical mold for permitting or installation, so you should expect to have to troubleshoot and be creative in this aspect of your project planning. Whether you’re a resident trying to lead a demonstration project or a city staffer trying your first interim design project, you will likely hit stumbling blocks. This is normal. Don’t be discouraged. Cities around the country have found a variety of ways to “get to yes” for unusual projects, and many examples are described in the Case Studies in Chapter 3 (temporary traffic control plans, block party ordinances, temporary occupancy permits etc.) Thus, you don’t have to have a water tight pilot project delivery program in place before you try something new. In fact, testing the project and the process will help your city develop a better program, allowing you to try out options and gather feedback to learn what works and what does not before you make something available citywide. Think of it as piloting your pilots!

In terms of professional services, Quick Builds for Better Streets notes that quick build projects are “rarely compatible with traditional bidding processes. Cities need either on-call contracts or in-house crews. On-call contracts...are probably the only form of formal government project procurement compatible with quick-build projects.” Wherever possible, look to integrate volunteers into the work plan. Demonstration projects typically rely on volunteers for project outreach and installation. But, volunteers can be a major asset in pilot and interim-design projects as well. While the city may lead in installing traffic control elements or surface treatments, community members can be engaged in other aspects of a project, such as decorating benches or planters, planting greenery, or posting wayfinding signs. Engaging volunteers in creating the project not only provides valuable person-power, it also builds long-term community ownership of the project. To recruit volunteers, try to leverage collaborations with existing organizations such as schools, churches, service groups, neighborhood associations and advocacy groups.

As you look to scale up your process, aim to identify what Quick Builds for Better Streets calls “a system for seizing opportunity.” For many cities, this involves creating a new program structure that is designed to enable community-led projects (such as Burlington, VT’s Demonstration Project Policy, Portland’s Intersection Repair program, or the MemFIX framework in Memphis, TN). It may also involve blending longer-range planning efforts with community requests (such as the City of Denver’s collaboration with BikeDenver, the local bike coalition, to collaborate on an annual demonstration project of mutual interest.

For Tactical Urbanism projects, procurement of materials often involves creativity and collaboration. Rather than relying solely on purchased materials, leverage partnerships to access existing materials wherever possible. Above: Non-profit community partner Local Motion helped purchase materials for a demonstration project created in partnership with the Burlington, VT Department of Public Works (Street Plans). Below: a local landscape company drops off plants for a neighborhood traffic circle demonstration in Long Beach, CA (Street Plans).

Tactical Urbanist's Guide to Materials and Design v.1.0  

The only materials and design guidance for Tactical Urbanist demonstration, pilot, and interim design projects. Funded by the James L. Knigh...

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