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Poll results: Does or will your comprehensive plan address the Peak Oil issue?

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  • Yes.

    4 25.00%
  • No.

    12 75.00%
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Thread: Peak Oil and comprehensive plans

  1. #1
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Peak Oil and comprehensive plans

    We've discussed the whole peak oil issue at length in previous threads. Here's a brief refresher on the topic from a 3/28/05 commentary in the Seatle Post Intelligencer:
    Peak oil goes back to a concept introduced by M. King Hubbert that oil production follows a bell-shaped curve, reaching a peak in production similar to a rollercoaster slowing as it reaches the top of the curve and picking up speed again as it plunges off the other side.

    Much debate has been spent on this point recently between those who believe that we will have an adequate amount of petroleum extending into the future and those who believe that the peak in production is nearly upon us or, in fact, may have already occurred.
    I've been debating as to whether or how to address this topic in our upcoming comprehensive plan revisions. This begs the following questions:

    Does your current local comprehensive plan address the peak oil issue at all? Does your municipality plan on addressing this issue in future comprehensive plan revisions?

    Please feel free to elaborate on any local debates on this topic and its role (if any) in your municipal comprehensive plan.
    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"

  2. #2

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    We do not. All of our planning assumes that the "Cheap Oil Fiesta" (JHK) will continue and that we will continue to build freeways, arterials, and suburban style office "parks"

    Off-topic:
    God. Can the entire concept of the Office or Industrial "Park" be abolished from planning terms and better yet, planning concepts. Who would want to work in such a dismal, isolating environment?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I answered no, but the better question is should it. I guess it should if the citizens consider it a significant issue relative to land use or other relevant issues in their community.

    It should NOT be in there because a Planner thinks it should be in there.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    It should NOT be in there because a Planner thinks it should be in there.
    But, do you agree that if it is a potential issue to effect the community we should bring it up for discussion with residents?
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Boiker Honest, I really am not am not sure I understand the issue well enough to explain it anyway.

    Seems like there is no concensus on this scientific or otherwise. Should a plan have some thing on Global Warming too?

    And I mean that rhetorically and not critically.

    The comprehensive plan focus, at the end of the day, should be land use based IMO. And if we really do have no oil left than I guess its an issue.

    Far be it for me to stick my head in the sand.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    Seems like there is no concensus on this scientific or otherwise. Should a plan have some thing on Global Warming too?
    When an advisor to the President acknowledges peak oil production as an issue, I would think it might be worth serious consideration. Which is why I posed the questions.
    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"

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    SGG don't get huffy, I simply meant its a pretty big picture global issue that may not have relevance to a local comp plan, that's all.

    And that former advisor may have alterior motives. Look him up.

  8. #8

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    Vermont requires an energy element, and while we will not use the phrase "peak oil" we will address the need to consume less energy. I don't if global warming will get in there or not, but it may. Localities can only do so much about such things, but our folks here are strongly supportive of energy conservation and green building.

  9. #9
    maudit anglais
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    We had a consultant use peak oil as a justification in a Traffic Study...basically saying "look, we know it will suck now but 20 years out everyone will be on transit". Needless to say, it didn't wash.

    Personally, I don't think a Comprehensive Plan should be developing policies predicated on Peak Oil. At most, I would touch upon it as providing additional rationale for why a community might want to move away from auto-dependent development - if that's the will of the community.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    SGG don't get huffy, I simply meant its a pretty big picture global issue that may not have relevance to a local comp plan, that's all.
    I didn't feel he was being huffy. I saw it as defensive. Your comments are rather dismissive of the whole idea. To me, that suggests you really don't understand the issue.

    Peak Oil is not nearly as controversial as Global Warming. The earth goes through warming and cooling phases that take many millenia to cycle through. It has been getting warmer for thousands of years. Caesar's army marched across the Rhine River when it was frozen solid. It has not frozen solid in a very long time now. So how much of global warming is due to natural climatic changes and how much is due to man-made causes is heavily debated. What the exact consequences will be is heavily debated. In contrast, oil would not run out all on its own if mankind were not using it up. There is no debate about how much of the disappearance of oil is due to man-made intervention and how much is due to natural processes. Hubbert successfully predicted ahead of time the Peak Oil for the American reserves and his prediction was accurate to within a few months. His methodology is a proven one and highly respected. People who try to scoff at the debate and put forth the most wildly optimistic numbers for how much oil is left only add about 10 years to the more conservative estimates. So there is no question that Peak Oil is coming in the next 2 decades. The only question is exactly when during that time will it occur. And there is no question as to what the consequences will be: it means the end of our existing way of life based upon cheap oil. Prices will go up. That will impact people who commute a long way to work in order to afford a home. Etc. Etc.

    At the APA conference, in one session, they made the point that when they did a regional planning analysis, they found that the typical question of "how to divvy up transportation dollars" was kind of a red herring: whether you put the money into light rail or bicycle trails, etc. a much bigger issue was land use. If housing is far from jobs, congestion, traffic, the pollution that goes with it, and the high costs of traveling so far cannot be fully resolved by any amount of public transit. It can only cushion the blow. The real solution is in looking at the interaction between transportation and land use. So if you think it is not a concern because the citizens of your area haven't noticed it yet, your town is likely to have a major crisis when the reality is no longer something you can be unaware of. I don't happen to be a government employee, so I am not voting in the poll. But I think the issue is important and is something planners need to be aware of, as a minimum.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    michelle, I said as much in my post that I might not completely understand the issue.

    And I think in your closing paragraph, you made my point: that its really a transportation land use issue. Some forms of growth generate greater transportation costs.

    I did not mean to be dismissive, as such i used the phrase "rhetorically and not critically"

    Again, my point is that granted on the local level some discussion of energy resources is legitimate, and tailoring a communites transportation and land use is critical from a "form" perspective, creating and developing alternative those fuel alternatives in the future is such a larger issue.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    michelle, I said as much in my post that I might not completely understand the issue.
    Just trying to sum up some of the things discussed here in the past. Not meant to be disrespectful or anything. Honest.

  13. #13

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    kudos to Michelle for a very clear (and, believe it or not ) succinct summary of the issue!

    (I know, Michelle, your posts are much shorter now! )

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    kudos to Michelle for a very clear (and, believe it or not ) succinct summary of the issue!
    Thank you. (I still need a "bow and curtsy" emoticon. )

    (I know, Michelle, your posts are much shorter now! )
    Multi-guess answer:
    a) I have more forums to harass these days and it interferes with me bothering you good folks so much.
    b) What? You must have missed this thread: One of the Guys
    c) I post more often than I used to. So I don't have to say it all in one post.
    d) All of the above.


    Now BOT: I would also like to add that I don't see where there was ever a distinction made in this thread between land use and transportation planning before I mentioned it. Did I miss something?

  15. #15
         
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    While my focus is regional economic issues, I am aware that Peak Oil or fuel consumption is not a consideration at this time in my area.

    Oil exploration continues in North / Central BC with local exploration trying to determine the recoverable reserves in the Nechako Basin.

    Off the topic of oil / transport but continueing on community planning / energy, how does the production or access to a reliable supply of electricity impact planning decisions in your areas? IMO this may have a greater impact in the near future for some locales.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    We don't in our comp. plans. But our density is quite a bit higher than in the States for suburban neighbourhoods. Lots range between 37 and 47 feet in width in general, and most cities allow as low as 27 feet. Not that that is a reason not to address it directly, but I think some of our policies allowing second units, mixed uses and smaller building lots, etc allow for greater flexibility in the interim while we all collectively get our heads around the issue. Now if I can just get the City to stop building cul-de-sacs, I'll feel like I've achieved something.

  17. #17
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Not because of peak oil - but because it is a good economic development program - we will have the following in our new general plan. (for a small but growing exurban city.)

    The recent pattern is people buying houses commute south to higher paying jobs and people working in town (lower paying jobs) have to move north to find affordable houses.

    So our General Plan will encourage a jobs/housing location nexus (encourage both working and living in town).

    This is an economic development policy -- not a housing policy -- because people working out of town tend to shop near their jobs and even take their kids to out of town schools near their jobs. People who live and work in town are likely to shop in town and put their kids in local schools.

    We will put our housing funds to help essential employees buy houses in town. I am hoping for a very broad definition of "essential," so that we primarily help local workers.

    We are encouraging new residents who have out of town businesses to bring the businesses near their houses, rather then commuting. We have done infrastructure to help incubator sites for that.

    Without calling it "peak oil," we are trying to consciously encourage local housing to serve local jobs -- the most natural way to stop commuting.

    We are also working against the standard "jobs/housing balance" where the people in housing commute out and the people with jobs commute in -- a numerical balance that greatly increases traffic but not a locational nexus between jobs and housing.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    At first glance I thought trying to address peak oil in a comp plan would look as silly as when a town passes a resolution against a war or declares themselves a "nuclear-free zone". But then I thought it could be a valuable point to build the transportation-land use connection problem around, as has been mentioned. I am for anything that makes people more aware of this and the need to plan for it. I don't do comp plans so I didn't do the poll.

    On a related note, does your comp plan address global warming? While it is still considered debatable, various policies have come into effect because of it. About 15 years ago, during the Kean administration (!) the state of NJ started a policy of requiring extra tree plantings on highway projects as a means of offsetting the effects of global warming. While the idea that more trees are going to solve the problem may be based on a limited understanding of the problem and is arguably an oversimplified response, I still think more trees can't hurt. Hundreds of acres have been reforested under this program. That is a lot of habitat, a lot of wood for carbon sequestering. I think its somewhat remarkable in a state known more for chemical plants than for environmental awareness. Do you have ordinances that call for trees to combat global warming? Would such an idea be laughed out of a meeting? How about trees to shade buildings so less energy is used for cooling? Windbreaks to reduce wind chill exposure? Such things have peak oil connectivity.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  19. #19
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    Whether or not the scientisits agree on when the world passes the 'peak oil' period, the fact remains that oil is in finite supply, and the second half of the world oil reserves are much harder to get to, and of lower quality making it more costly to produce.

    here is a link to an article by JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics...s-player=false

    We as planners have the ability to 'put off' the date of this looming crisis through energy efficent buildings, local econoic development plans and more compact cities.

    We also have the ability to make this 'oil peak' a self fulfilling prophecy by maintaining the status quoe--superhighways, sprawling cities (especially non-residential zones), car centred arterials with no sidewalks or pedestrian links from town to town (see york region), non intense development forcing public transit to run busses every 40minutes or even hourly.

    Its a tough sell to the civilian or NIMBYer...they love thier cars as a status symbol, they think public transit is dirty, they want a backyard and dont want to live in an apartment etc. etc.

    Our dependence on the automobile is more than a physical dependence, it is an economic one as well. In Ontario, the auto industry is huge, in waterloo alone, the automotive industry directly employs 13 400 and an estimated 23 000 indirect jobs. In 2001, the auto industry produced 6.3 billion in products and added 702 million into the local economy. (CAW TCA Canada, 2002).

    Perhaps we can lobby the automotive lobby to get the major automotive manufacturers to produce less traditional trucks, SUV's and cars and retool for more trains, subways and LRT cars. It may be a way to maintain the ecomomic prowess of car manufacturing while at the same time achieving climate change and energy consumption goals.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    kudos to Michelle for a very clear (and, believe it or not ) succinct summary of the issue!

    (I know, Michelle, your posts are much shorter now! )
    I know I'm chiming in here way late, but I concur with BKM, Michelle made an excellent comparison of the difference between the Global Warming and Peak Oil issues. I had been thinking of how to clarify the difference to people and when I saw this post I found the explanation I was looking for. Thanks Michellle.

    I will try an analogy:

    Global Warming is to Peak Oil,
    as what you do for a living is to how much money you make.

    We'd all like to have a job that is fullfilling/meaningful/enjoyable, but regardless of this, if it doesn't pay our bills, we're screwed. So it is with these issues. We may actually be causing temperatures to drop, or if they do in fact rise, maybe it would be good for places like Canada, which would then have a much larger area of livability, but regardless of whether humans are affecting the climate and whether this is having a negative or positive impact, we won't be able to pay the bills if the oil that fuels our cultural lifestyle runs dry.
    "The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism." -Lewis Mumford

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