Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits - The Slow Issue - GOOD

Trying out my first post with the blogthis! option on Google chrome. I was reading this the other day from and if you do not know about them, I highly recommend them as a read on all sorts of issues. Anyway, this one was especially important because it involves the urban growth boundary and its effects.

Now I am a huge fan of the boundary, yes I know it stymies development, that’s the point, too much is developed too fast without people truly seeing the cost. No not all development is bad, but unfortunately, my view is, and that most is. Downtowns are empty while we push further and further out, people sometimes think that they want more space and more "freedom" but reality usually hits them hard after a couple years when they figure out that indeed that is not what they are getting and so they want to move further out to get away from everybody else.

That is not what we should be doing, the boundary in this case, for all its faults, has allowed local food to be huge in a large metropolis, it has pushed urban densities to where a world class transit solution is viable, it has allowed cyclability at huge percentages (for the US) and has enabled Portland to be a microbrew haven. This would not have happened without the boundary and it needs to be placed in more cities and states.

We love Vermont for all its natural beauty and old traditional New England towns, that was not possible without the growth roadblocks that were set up many years ago, that prevent Wal-Mart from taking over the state, that encourage local production and farming and that allow limited smarter growth. Yet time after time we see the same people who yearn for the Vermont life, voting for this development or that shopping complex when it comes time due to, "expanding the tax base" it never does and never will. It is a myth in all but the smallest communities, and even then, once the long-term social costs have been taken into account, it’s truly rare that a community truly benefits from strip development. There is a cost to this and its time people in positions of power at the city and state level realize this and make amends before we all end up like another suburb of Los Angelus, disconnected from each other, with little public transportation, and few true open spaces.

All development is not bad, but most is, and until the first thought of planners and planning boards is not to allow that new development, but to make sure the downtowns are filled with mixed residential/commercial buildings, encouraging walkable communities, and encouraging cycling and other active transportation, and focus on true densities and mass transit options, things will not change.

No comments:

Post a Comment