walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

complaining about _Cities and Suburbs_

A more complete review will presumably occur later.

But right now, I just feel compelled to say that people should _not_ be allowed to mention Measure 37 in Oregon and how much it passed by without following up with Measure 49 and how much _it_ passed by. It's okay if the text is written before Measure 49, but this book was published in 2009 so I'm kinda thinking not. I think their _source_ was written before Measure 49 and they're so mid-atlantic they didn't know enough to follow up.

As long as I'm here, they follow up with this nugget:

"Protecting land from development is extremely difficult when the individual landowner wants to sell." It is as true to say, "Developing land is extremely difficult when the local jurisdiction does not want development." Since their sentence is preceded by "There is a consistent battle between growth control and individual property rights" it seems unambiguous that the authors are anti-growth.

I can understand not wanting to grow beyond need. I can understand debating the way growth should be manifest in the built environment (e.g. TOD, vertical, pedestrian, mixed use vs. auto-friendly, horizontal, single-use). I cannot understand being anti-growth _once the people are there_. Anti-growth is kicking people out (or blocking the door to new entrants). Anti-growth is condemning the next-generation to no-place, _especially_ when presented in conjunction with the idea of aging-in-place in suburbia. I am a-o-good with elders living in the four bedroom colonial they raised their family in. I really am. Even after the fam has moved out and is now occupying 1-4 other homes (apartments or otherwise) with 0-8+ grandchildren. But if the surviving grands are still living in that home, where exactly do we expect the children and grandchildren to go? Either you grow through ADUs, like what my neighbor's neighbor did (built an apartment, grand moved to apartment, kid moved back in with spouse and children -- but even this is growth). Or you grow through multi-family where you can wedge multiple houses, duplexes or apartments/condos into a space where once there was a smaller number of homes. Or you grow by taking more land. _Just because the grands had their home first_ doesn't mean they weren't a party to this.

The authors continue: "When the demand for residential development is high and the market conditions are ripe, it is an enormous challenge to preserve farmland or greenfields as open space. This is especially complicated in a political climate where interference in the market is strongly discouraged and state regulation is criticized as "big government" obstructing individual sovereignty."

This is _complete and utter bullshit_. It may be technically true but it is not to the point. We had sprawl because it was virtually _impossible_ to do anything but sprawl: that's what zoning dictated. [Feel free to jump in with how Houston doesn't have zoning and they still have sprawl. First, it's not entirely true -- some of the zoning elements were still present in Houston. Second, it's worth noticing that they went hard over to mixed use and multi family building on greyfields when that's what made sense.] This is _not_ a case of market vs. regulation. This is a case of one kind of regulation vs. another kind of regulation. It'd be a better book if the authors could manage to remember this, and point out that people who present the debate as anything else are completely full of it.

If they had limited their generalizations to the cases that were involved in Measure 37, I might be more tolerant, but they really went nuts with this.

ETA:

I'm remembering why I never take New Urbanism seriously.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaside,_FL

New Urbanism is supposed to include walkable schools (at least an elementary school). Seaside, as freakishly tiny as this toy wtf is (not even enough population to qualify as urban by the insanely low definition of urban according to the US census), can't even manage that.

I took a lot of URBDP, ARCH and ARTH classes, all more or less history of architecture/built environment. I love this stuff. I really do. But I have zero respect for anyone who thinks Seaside, Florida has anything to contribute to the debate. (They didn't even evade the golf cart phenomena, so characteristic of gated-community sprawl in the Sunbelt.) To the authors credit, here is how they summarize Seaside's legacy, some decades in: New Urbanism "offers at least an alternative to the large-lot single-family house, and its manicured lawn that is peddled as the only way to live". American choice rhetoric. Because we needed more of it.
Tags: not-a-book-review, politics
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