walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Garages

Tom Keene had PK Verleger on talking about structural demand destruction for gasoline, the refining industry, fuel industry companies and a few other odds and ends. Verleger is one of those people who thinks the limiting factor is refining capacity. I'm not sure that I agree with the _the_ part of that idea.

In any case, it got me thinking about a variety of things. The more research I do, the more I conclude that while densification is going to happen (because it is happening, and the easiest prediction in the world is more of the same), and a lot of that means multifamily whether for sale or rent, densification in the form of single family homes and row homes on very small lots in bands a bit out from really dense districts (including, but not limited to, the "downtown" or CBD of yore) are part of the built environment now and will be for a long time. Increasingly, so.

I'm currently reading _The Rise and Fall of Downtown_, which is interesting, if problematic. The bit about subway development (or proposals and bond issuances not actually going anywhere, more like) has me thinking about metropolitan population and transport technology. There is _no_ reason to believe we're going to lose all the personal transport technology that has developed since (roughly) WW1: personal cars probably aren't going away any time soon, car sharing _really_ isn't going away (whether as zipcar or taxis), and smaller incarnations could be around forever (those electric golf carts may yet form our future traffic jams).

Which means anyone who has such things will be storing them, and people who live in single family housing a bit out from the core will _definitely_ own them. Garages are going to be with us for a long while, which makes me think once again about the garage on the alley vs. the garage at the back of the lot _without_ an alley vs. the front facing garage. While some neighborhoods in older city/suburban developments have alley systems and can face garages on them, most neighborhoods do not. Putting a garage at the back of a lot when there is no back-street access carves up a whole bunch of yard with impermeable surface (unless you're prepared to ban paving -- good luck with that). Putting the garage at the front of the lot has a reputation for making a house unwelcoming, not oriented towards the street and the life thereon, blah, blah, bleeping, blah.

Here's where I was headed with this post: we spend an inordinate amount of time with one or more of our two garage doors open, sitting either in the driveway, or just inside the garage, while one or more of the children plays in the general area (on the grass, the walk, the sidewalk, the garage, the driveway, etc.). We see this happening all over our neighborhood. I remember doing this as a child (altho I do not remember my mother sitting outside with us while we played, my oldest sister is 7 years older than us so I wouldn't remember when she was young enough to require that degree of supervision and she was old enough to keep an eye on me when I was old enough to be playing out there). And _our_ garage fronted on a steep driveway down to the street, which had a whole lot of risks associated with small kids and bicycles, especially since we were a corner lot and people turned in from Dayton at a good clip very often.

So why the idea that garages facing the street are inherently anti-social? My husband and I have had dinner out there more than once. I don't see a real difference between that an sidewalk cafes: we strike up conversations with our neighbors who walk around the 1 mile loop and pet their dogs and chit chat about whatever is happening. When the kids in the neighborhood do something inappropriate, we give them what for. What exactly is the difference?

(And _yes_ we do park our cars in those garages.)

ETA: Here's an excellent example of the anti-garage-facing-the-street phenomenon. I've _always_ been mystified by people who say they don't know their neighbors. We knew our neighbors in the suburb that became Shoreline, WA. I did _not_ know my neighbors in the first apartment I lived in, which was a city neighborhood (walkups, too). I chatted with my neighbors when I rented a house in Ballard and I _really_ got to know my neighbors at the condo, and later in New Hampshire (downright rural). But Welch Plaza, not so much -- people were gone a lot. Finally, suburban/small town Acton, I know a ton of my neighbors.

I don't think the overall density of the area OR the local density (apartments vs. single family, car-oriented vs. walkable) has much if anything to do with whether you know your neighbors. I don't think length of time in a place has much to do with whether you know your neighbors (altho _expectation_ of length of time may). I don't think the kind of person you are has much to do with whether you know your neighbors (I've changed, but I haven't waffled in a way that would explain what happened to me). I'd _love_ to know what determines getting-to-know-neighbors, but I don't think it's garages facing the street or not.
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