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Thread: Smart growth strikes out?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Earl Finkler's avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    Barrow, Alaska
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    Smart growth strikes out?

    Hi---Anyone read the May APA magazine "Planning" and the review of a book by Randal O'Toole titled "The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: How Smart Growth Will Harm American Cities"

    For example, from the review:

    "Smart growth proposes that people live cose enough together to allow them to walk and use mass transit more and drive their cars less.... ...O'Toole argues that in order to pack enough people to support an ordinary supermarket within a quarter-mile walking sidstance, they would have to live at a population density double that of Manhattan, or 40,000 peple per quarter mile area".......

    and "O'Toole reads the Census Bureau and Federal Highway Administration data: 'a 1,000 person per square mile increase in density will reduce auto commuting by no more than one or two percent."

    Should provoke some discussion.

    I have not read the book, but based on the review, I think planners should be able to present arguments and information the other way.

    But the book seems to raise the question whether we as planners are sure that growth, or rapid growth, can actually be handled smartly.

    Earl
    Earl the Farthest North Cub Fan

  2. #2
    I saw the review and was going to hold off discussing it until I could actually read the book, but what the hey--now that Earl started it, let's talk about smart growth.
    I suspect O'Toole is probably correct on many points, but may be missing the big point. Smart growth requires us to change the way we live.

    If it is impossible to have enough people within walking distance to support a supermarket, maybe we shouldn't have supermarkets. (I've been to Manhattan, and all those people seem to be eating, in spite of the lack of supermarkets. They rely on corner stores.) Smart growth is not just getting people to live on smaller lots and ride the bus. Smart growth will change everything. The auto-oriented shopping malls, office parks, industrial parks, and residential subdivisions that we have been building for the last 60 years will all have to change drastically.

    So, are we ready for that? Or do we want to start drilling in the Arctic Natl. Wildlife Range so that we can keep on truckin' in our SUVs?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Perry Norton's avatar
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    Tucson, Arizona
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    Jeffery, so shopping malls, supermarkets, office parks, industrial complexes, residential subdivisions, all this will have to change or start drilling the Arctic Range. Maybe. My wife hates big stores like Home Depot and Wal-Mart. I prefer homegrown Hardware stores to the likes of Ace. But there isn't a single store I can do business with that's less than a mile away, and usually more. However, there are autos that get 54 miles per gallon, plus or minus. Nigrogen, hydrogen, greasecars, hempcars, corncars, natural gas, solar power, etc, are just some available resources. And the question I have is: which change is most likely to occur. There are production models of autos being produced today. I'm looking at them. The trouble is which comes first, assisted living or assisted cars.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Earl Finkler's avatar
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    Barrow, Alaska
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    Great responses Jeff and Perry, and I love the line Perry about Assisted Living vs. Assisted Cars.

    My 84-year-old mother has Alzheimers, and one of the most difficult things for her to give up was her car and her independence in getting around.
    Hopefully, there will be energy-efficient means of independent transportation which will be available.

    There are already some like bicycles and walking, but for the elderly those may not always be feasible.

    But I worry when President Bush says that we can conserve energy with no changes in our lifestyles. I suspect there may have to be some changes if we are all to get enough energy in responsible ways. But this nation has changed its lifestyle during wars and such. With planning, leadership and good communication, and clear goal-setting, we can do it again.

    If the Chicago Cubs can be in first place, absolutely anything is possible!!

    Earl

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Perry Norton's avatar
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    I share your concern with you Mother and Alzheimer; and the fact that there is only two years difference in our ages, give rise to a sharing that is especially difficult. I'm lucky so far

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Earl Finkler's avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    Barrow, Alaska
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    190
    Thanks Perry and all those who contribute to this board. I think Alzheimers is a particularly scary disease for anyone, but for those of us in Planning, it would not be fun. So much of our work is with our minds, and building on each experience.
    Let's hope they make some medical breakthroughs on this disease soon. As it is, I worry I am losing mom a little bit each week, each year. She still remembers me and my wife Chris and we have been trying to visit her in person from Barrow several times a year ---a trip of over 3,000 miles by air. We also have a nice time visiting by phone every week. And I have interviewed her about good times in her past several times, and played the interviews on my morning show on KBRW in Barrow.

    My best wishes to each and every one of you. Please stay healthy and active and always working on the next planning breakthrough!!!!

    Earl

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