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Thread: Is the planner dream real, if so, do you live it?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Is the planner dream real, if so, do you live it?

    I do not know if it is the lack of sleep from the past few days, or what it is, but something dawned on me. Do we live the lifestyle we preach? There are many things that we have been taught as planners... smart growth good, sprawl is bad... but if we step back and look at where we are at right now, do your life styles fit our beliefs? We talk about alternative transportation and all, but how many of us drive to work on a regular basis. I am guessing we drive just about everywhere we go. We say that it is because of the way the place that we live does not have such things, but then why do we live there? Why don’t we all live in downtown Madison WI? More so, if sprawl is so bad, why does it keep increasing. Do people really like downtowns and urban areas to live in? Or are they just becoming work centers as the American population segregates it self other “uses” of land. I know that I am just as if not more guilty of this as anyone else on here. I live and work in a community that does not even have a downtown. This city was created because of Urban Sprawl. I know that someday, once I can afford the life style I want, I will live it. I guess that I am more so asking who here is living the planners dream, and if we are believing a fairy tale?
    You get what you give.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    I live and work in a community that does not even have a downtown. This city was created because of Urban Sprawl. I know that someday, once I can afford the life style I want, I will live it.
    I think you've identified the answers to your question - often the nicest places to live are unaffordable to a lot of people. Once you can afford that lifestyle, you will live your dream. But a lot of places aren't like that, and in the meantime we have to live somewhere.... diversity is what makes things interesting. Your ideal neighbourhood may look completely different to someone elses.

    I don't live "the dream" (whose dream?) - I work on encouraging walking and use of public transport and I drive to work every day. But I am out of walking range and PT sucks out to where I work. Sometimes I even make short trips that aren't essential but I always feel guilty and try to combine multiple tasks if I go out in my car.

    You are in your job to help shape the form of things so that people will have nice places to live in the future, yes?

    Small steps. I dream criminologist-type dreams about making places safer... and if I can gradually make a few places safer then surely I'm making some difference?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Oh, and you think too much. Have a beer instead

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL
    Oh, and you think too much. Have a beer instead
    Actually, he sounds desperately in need of a nap. But we are at our most creative when sleep deprived and that right hemisphere kicks in, so maybe he is onto something.

    Most of my marriage we have had one car. I live on the bus route to the military base and I do take the bus sometimes. We chose this apartment complex in part because it was in bicycling distance to my husband's job. He used to bicycle to work pretty regularly. His back problems are too serious at the moment for him to do that. Perhaps he will never be able to do so again.

    But, in place of two cars, we have 4 computers. So there are trade-offs involved if you want to still fully participate in modern life. My husband and I both take online classes and we homeschool. Four computers at home is a substitute for sending the kids to public school and sending us to a college campus. It works for us. But it isn't necessarily leaving a "lighter footprint" on the environment. I have never tried to calculate it. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I just don't know.

    I think we do need better public transit choices available, as well as more housing options. But I also think that anyone can make better choices, within limits. I did not find a two car lifestyle to be a big improvement for us. It was necessary at the time because we lived 40 miles from the nearest town and more than 70 miles from a town adequate to serve any of our needs that weren't met by what was available on the base. Many year ago, I read a book by Charles Long called "Surviving without a salary." It made the point that a second car typically costs thousands of dollars per year and most folks never stop to think about it.

  5. #5

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    Do I personally live "the planners' dream"? Yes and no.

    Yes: I DO live in a "traditional downtown neighborhood." I can walk to shopping, restaurants, a health club, etc, and I do try to walk when I can. There are excellent roads for bicycling within ten minutes of my townhouse. And, I do live in a slightly denser arrangement than the standard single family home-and it's a quite diverse residential neighborhood (from mansions to shacks)

    No: I work 8 miles from home, and I almost always drive. I am actually more of a big city person, so I drive to the San Francisco Bay Area or Sacramento a LOT. (That may reflect a solitary lifestyle and sheer restlessness, but I burn more than my share of gasoline ). I can walk to shopping, but I usually drive to the "nicer" grocery store five miles away.

    I do prefer my older, mixed use, mixed building form neighborhood, and I cannot imagine myself living in a standard tract house subdivision-or even a neighborhood of custom homes on large lots (unless, like Miramar, it abuts the Ocean ) Given the money, I would consider a move to Berkeley or San Francisco in a minute.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Do I personally live "the planners' dream"? Yes and no.
    That's probably true for all of us - we can find examples of how we do, and how we don't. I drive to work every day, but I love living in an inner city apartment. From living in the 'burbs all my life, I shifted to the city 2.5 years ago and love it - so many restaurants, cafes, movie theatres, the CBD, oh and pubs of course , all within easy walking distance.

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    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Until we can elect public servants, not career politicians, it ain't gonna happen, they're too tied to special interests.

    Plus, critical mass among the general population hasn't been reached. In Florida at least, there is a general discontent, but I don't think most people have the brain power to tie that to sprawl issues. And all planners do not embrace the same goals. Some are land-use oriented, some transportation, etc, so I think we have different dreams and goals.

    I have no interest whatsoever in living in a downtown because I would rather have privacy and quiet and I don't have interest in the downtown nightlife. I balance that, in some measure, by owning an older home and never, ever watering my lawn. When I worked in a small downtown, it was great, I could hit the library, post office, etc., all within a block, but I don't want to live there.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL
    Oh, and you think too much. Have a beer instead
    Even you said that you think too much as well... so, when your here, we will have to a share a beer!
    Last edited by michaelskis; 07 May 2004 at 12:21 PM.
    You get what you give.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I've always strive to reduce my car time and increase my walking possibilities. I live about a 5 minute walk from a bus stop that stops right in front of my work. My neighborhood is a semi-dense 1920s era end-of-the-streetcar line area. I can walk to a park, library, a walgreens, a number of restaurants, a couple banks, and a middle school (when my kids get that age). I do drive downtown (about 1-2 miles, 10 minutes) to my work. Once there, I can park and walk. Downtown I have access to many restaurants, post office, library, and other amenities. I live a 1920s subruban life, not the perfect planner ideal of no drive, all mass transit/walk.. but better than most everyone else in my department.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    My neighborhood is a semi-dense 1920s era end-of-the-streetcar line area...
    Me too. But my job is about 20 miles away and the bus would take about 2 hours. I've applied to jobs up to an hour drive away. We've all got our own responsibilities and can't be driven nuts by what planners are "supposed" to do. Until the school systems even out even the most militant urban planners will have some serious decisions once the babies are made.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    In a word, no. I don't use public transit. I could walk the 10 miles faster than I could get here on the bus, but 100 degree heat makes that unrealistic. Not owning a car is not practical in Phoenix. You can't get to the grocery store without one, let alone entertainment, relatives, etc. I do conserve energy and water, it is the desert after all. I would love to reduce my grid dependence, but the cost is pretty steep for solar electricity.

  12. #12
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    simply: Yes

    except for having to drive to work (no other reasonable option)
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    For the most part, yes I am living the dream. I presently walk the <2 miles between my home and the office. It's most of the little exersize I get and it helps wake me up before starting the work day. Honostly, the only time I drive at all is when I go out of town or need to go to the grocery store - I don't like the one in my neighborhood. I'm moving to a new place accross town that's a good bit further out so I'll no longer be able to walk, and I'll miss that, but it's still less than a 20 minute bus ride into the central business district. Not bad, and that US$72.00 monthly bus pass is much cheaper than parking every day. The new apartment is next to a large park, the zoo and is within a few short blocks of a couple of resturaunts, a coffee shop and a corner store. How quaint.
    The only really non plannerific thing is that we still have two cars. I know that we each don't need one and it's a waste of resources and money, but I'm not sure if either one of us (especially the SO) is yet psychologically ready to go carless.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Reflections of a hypocrite

    Do we live the lifestyle we preach?

    I know I don't.

    Does your life style fit your beliefs?

    Nope. I'd rather live and work in either a new or old urbanist paradise, but that ain't happening any time soon.

    Why don’t we all live in downtown Madison WI?

    I think Madison has a local code prohibiting more than one professional planner per block.

    I guess that I am more so asking who here is living the planners dream, and if we are believing a fairy tale?

    I don't think we are believing a fairy tale. It's just more of a (either temporarily or permanently) unachievable goal for some of us. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to "live the dream" in two of my 15 years in this warped profession.

    In the meantime we will have to be happy with the urban and cultural environments we encourage others to live in.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  15. #15
          Downtown's avatar
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    Yes and No - I live in a 60s era subdivision that has the lowest taxes in the capital district, some of the best schools, is around the corner from my child's grandparents and other extended family, within walking distance of his future elementary and middle schools, as well as a major park. However, we do have to drive to school and to any shopping facilities.

  16. #16
    I guess I have never been too preachy of a planner. I would never chastise someone who wanted to live in a large lot in a suburban subdivision. I think that people have a right to live where they want. However I prefer to live in a traditional neighborhood and have never in my entire life lived in anything but that. I went to an urban university because I wanted to go to college in a City. I now live in an inner-ring suburb of Milwaukee in a traditional neighborhood. I chose to live in areas like this because I like being able to walk to places like parks, restaurants, shopping, and bars, not out of some professional obligation.

    Also, I will admit that I like driving and I like cars. I drive to work every day and you couldn’t pay me to take the bus. There is no way that I am getting up 2 hours early just to be a “good planner” Riding the bus sucks and if you asked bus riders most of them would agree. If there was light rail to work I may consider it but Milwaukee will never have the density necessary to facilitate much beyond commuter rail between downtown and the ‘burbs.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

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    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    I have biked to work for 10 years (2 jobs). Thereby meeting one critereon.

    We have lived near enough to downtown to walk to services for 20 years.

  18. #18

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    I'd say I mostly live a lifestyle that's in accordance with smart growth, new urbanism, blah blah blah... But I also know I live in a city where it's easy to do that.

    I live in a moderately dense single-family home area (all lots here are 30X125), and I like it.
    I take public transportation when possible.
    There's good neighborhood shopping where I live, but I do occasionally go to a Wal-Mart or Target.
    I love driving on the open road, but hate city driving and avoid it when I can.

    I left a job with a private firm because I couldn't reconcile the exurban subdivision land planning work of the firm with my own personal principles for smarter growth.

    How's that?

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally posted by Repo Man
    Riding the bus sucks and if you asked bus riders most of them would agree. If there was light rail to work I may consider it but Milwaukee will never have the density necessary to facilitate much beyond commuter rail between downtown and the ‘burbs.
    This attitude (which is one I agree with) is why I think trains are the only real way to get people with a choice onto public transit. Busses do suck.

    The one exception: If I worked in the inner Bay Area, there is no way in hell I would drive to work every day. My brother-in-law walks to a bus stop and takes the train. Some cities are just impractical for the suburban park-and-drive lifestyle./ otherwise....

  20. #20
          Downtown's avatar
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    As an exchange student to a suburb of Madrid, I took the bus every day, and it was clean, affordable and efficient. Why can't this be done in the US?

  21. #21

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    Our house in Colorado is pretty dreamy: enough land for garden and orchard, but walk to pizza. movies, post office, grocery store, hardware, etc, as well as to a park, local events, etc., BUT here I am in Vermont because the only way to make a living there was to drive 90 miles to the airport and fly two or three times a month (or alternatively make a 6+ hour road trip).

    Like so many others it would be hard to afford to live in the town I work in (not out of the question though, with some patience), but at least our living quarters are in walking distance of a few amenities.

    Very few people can live the planners' dream (if that is what it is), and I tend to be practical about the reality. Reduce the impacts: my VW gets 50 and can burn biodiesel, the house in Colorado has partial solar hear and solar hot water. If enough people chip away at it, it will make a difference WITHOUT having to make us all subscribe to one dream.

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    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    The grand illusion

    You know, I used to follow the ideal of living close to work and limiting automobile use, but I became a little disillusioned with the New Urbanist ideal when I heard, from people that have worked with him, that Andres Duany has a collection Porsche Boxsters and likes to go to strip clubs after charrettes. With all his moral pontificating about the evils of the automobile, I guess I expected him to have an old Chevy Nova like Ralph Nader, not some self-aggrandizing, superficial, penis-extension of a car like a Porsche. But I guess such cars are the accessory of choice for big egos.

    I live in an old city that has experienced its share of decay, industrial decline, and white flight. Living here does make me feel like I'm "fighting the good fight" and doing my part to combat suburban sprawl. I think I would experience serious cognitive dissonance living in suburbia, even though I work there. Not as much choice in where to work!

  23. #23
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Here's what Metropolis Magazine had to say:

    Inside the discussion area, Cyburbia Forums, learn why planners don't get to live in the communities they admire--because their paltry salaries don't allow them to afford these increasingly popular, and therefore pricey, real-estate markets.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  24. #24
          Downtown's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Here's what Metropolis Magazine had to say:
    Woo Hoo! Cyburbia is on the map!!!

  25. #25
    Cyburbian SlaveToTheGrind's avatar
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    Probably not, let' see:

    1. I live in suburbia in a new house with 5,000 square feet of grass in a semi-arid state that probably cost $100 to water in peak summer;

    2. Said house can be referred to as a snout house;

    3. I love large lot development;

    4. Can't walk to anything but a park/school;

    5. Drive 18 miles to work, each way;

    6. Use to have an SUV, will soon have a truck which will be used as it is intended;

    7. Am a concealed weapons carry holder and a republican;

    8. I think 99% of new urbanism projects are a joke and resemble Disneyfication more than anything;

    9. I don't live in the town I work for. I could, but don't want to;

    10. I shop at walmart, even though I do hate the place;

    Guess this may be the difference between eastern planners and western planners.

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