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Thread: Is it really possible to "keep up" with rapid growth?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Nov 2004
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    Austin, TX
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    739

    Is it really possible to "keep up" with rapid growth?

    I spent some time driving around my city (Austin) this weekend and noticed endless signs of growth that has gotten out of hand. There is sprawl as far as the eye can see, shopping centers popping up in every corner and roads that are extremely inadequate for the load put on them.

    All this made me wonder if it is even possible to plan for growth like this. Can you really "plan" for this or do you just slap a zoning code on large tracts and let the developers have at it? It seems that if careful planning were required before anything could be built, then it would limit growth and/or increase the cost of housing in boomtowns such as this one. It seems that the area might suffer economically in such a case.

    Austin did try to limit growth many years ago by just not expanding its infrastructure... sort of an, "If we don't build it, they won't come" mentality. Well, that completely backfired and now we have a city of 750,000 in an area planned for about 350,000. So, limiting growth really doesn't work I guess...
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Sep 2005
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    North Florida
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    Even the best plans can be subverted.... Money, political power, these tend to screw-up the best laid plans. I have been struggling with this question:

    If only those without the big bucks have to follow the plan, is it fair and equitable?

    The answer is that planning is not fair as long as not everyone has to follow the plan. So, we tend to plan 'incrementally', or, take our small victories where we can find them. So, overall we lose the battle, but what would it look like with no small victories?
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  3. #3
    BANNED
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    Mar 2006
    Location
    Mobile, Alabama
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    194

    Standardize

    Quote Originally posted by jread View post
    All this made me wonder if it is even possible to plan for growth like this. Can you really "plan" for this or do you just slap a zoning code on large tracts and let the developers have at it?

    Austin did try to limit growth many years ago by just not expanding its infrastructure... So, limiting growth really doesn't work I guess...

    I would say it could be done once a really good pattern is developed and standardized. A bad plan or a fake would be a de ad hand and could cause atrophy. It must be simple enough that everyone, even a child, could understand it and would comply voluntarily. I would say basic guidelines and zoning would be sufficient and let that be put up for adoption. Keep more detailed plans in the back of your mind and ready in case anyone should ask; a fully staffed planning department should be able to work everything out – I think that would well include sales and marketing people; it should not be forced.

    The pattern could be replicated like cells dividing in any healthy organism. It is pity that such pathological growth is setting in there in Austin. I see that the city is stung out along two parallel freeways. I would say such linear growth should be narrowed to one sufficiently wide freeway and encouraged while continuous growth in all directions must be eschewed. http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=28681

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin%2C_TX

    http://terraserver-usa.com/image.asp...X=24&Y=130&W=2
    Last edited by bud; 16 May 2007 at 1:50 PM. Reason: add link

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Apr 2003
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    Philadelphia, PA
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    I think it's completely possible to plan on that scale. Denver isn't doing a perfect job but i think what they're doing is a step in the right direction and shows that it can be done. Salt Lake City seems to have a handle on things.

    Not that you're guilt of it but too many people confuse zoning with planning. Zoning can be a planning tool but it's often mistaken for a comprehensive plan. To use it in place of one is, to me, a sign of sheer apathy or laziness or avarice depending on who lets it happen.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian MM1648's avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Location
    Texas
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    54

    Downtown

    Quote Originally posted by jread View post
    Austin did try to limit growth many years ago by just not expanding its infrastructure... sort of an, "If we don't build it, they won't come" mentality. Well, that completely backfired and now we have a city of 750,000 in an area planned for about 350,000. So, limiting growth really doesn't work I guess...
    Growth can be limited with urban growth boundaries and other growth management tools. From what I understand, Austin is trying to concentrate growth and at the same time provide the space for a growing population in the dowtown area/cbd.
    Today's classic was yesterday's innovation. -Landry

  6. #6
    Member
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    Mar 2007
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
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    15
    Growth boundaries are good but everyone needs to believe in them. We had a 2010, 2020 and 2030 growth boundary. When housing in Bakersfield became expensive the development moved out into the hinterlands we got hit with explosive growth.. Now we are annexing parcels not even in our sphere of influence and we have annexed and approved tentative tracts in areas included in our 2020 growth boundary. Growth is pretty much umstopable once it gets rolling.

  7. #7

    YES- good planning and growth NOT mutually exclusive

    Hello-
    Planning does NOT have to be anti-growth, OR confusing. There is a GREAT book called "Suburban Nation" which clearly explains how it can be done- every little detail is covered. I will not expound on it, since I cannot do the topic justice.

    I am also in (FAR South) Austin, and it pains me to see how the downtown-near central/78704/east side is planned very carefully (good job too!) while the rest of the city is IGNORED. I love the high density down-town plans, and the hi-rises- but am priced out of buying there (as are most people).

    I am working on figuring out a way to make existing sprawl areas more walkable /livable- any ideas? I have some ideas, but will need zoning changes to do them. I think that this is as important as planning new stuff, as the existing developments are already causing traffic headaches- and there is just SO MUCH SPRAWL (like in your pic).

    I am all for growth, (not like it can be stopped, unless a recession) but NOT sprawl, cul-de-sac, auto dependent growth. And Thankfully it is not only UNNECESSARY, but it is easier and more profitable to build mixed use, smart neighborhoods!

    Happy to hear from someone else in town!
    SJW

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