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Thread: Methods to stop sprawl, and encourage urban growth?

  1. #51
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    I agree with otterpop: the US won't be swayed to give up their cars in the near future. I also appreciate boilerplater's summary of Kunstler's book. I haven't gotten around to that one yet!

    But IMO, the U.S. has created to much sprawl to simply forget about it. We are in a unique (as far as I can tell) situation of an overwhelming amount of suburban sprawl, and even as we implement better methods of building and transportation, the car will still be a necessity in many communities.

    I am a huge fan of sustainable growth and all it has to offer--I'd rather ensure the preservation of some kick-butt natural areas in my country than let everyone build their own villa--but that's another story. In the case of the US, however, I think sprawl has pretty much won :/ like it or not. Sustainable development in the future will hopefully be able to mask the areas currently riddled with sprawl, but they'll still be there.

  2. #52
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    ...or would you introduce some green space and cul-de-sac areas for quality of life in this one area?
    One thing I've always found interesting - the two cities that have by far the highest percentage of their land devoted to public open space are NYC and San Francisco, which are also the two most dense cities in the US. I guess your question is talking about building more private open space in the form of yards and such, and I'd love to see a total for SF and NYC that included that space as well (many houses and buildings have backyards, some fairly large)

    The problem - if my city burns down (again) and is rebuilt with cul-de-sacs and lower densities, where would the rest of these people go? The density would be so much lower that there would be hundreds of thousands of people needing to live somewhere else. And me personally? If the city was rebuilt with cul-de-sacs and a more suburban land use pattern, my quality of life would be much lower.

    Quote Originally posted by ricohockey View post
    I agree with otterpop: the US won't be swayed to give up their cars in the near future. I also appreciate boilerplater's summary of Kunstler's book. I haven't gotten around to that one yet!

    But IMO, the U.S. has created to much sprawl to simply forget about it. We are in a unique (as far as I can tell) situation of an overwhelming amount of suburban sprawl, and even as we implement better methods of building and transportation, the car will still be a necessity in many communities.

    I am a huge fan of sustainable growth and all it has to offer--I'd rather ensure the preservation of some kick-butt natural areas in my country than let everyone build their own villa--but that's another story. In the case of the US, however, I think sprawl has pretty much won :/ like it or not. Sustainable development in the future will hopefully be able to mask the areas currently riddled with sprawl, but they'll still be there.
    The idea is not to get people to give up their cars. The idea is that when building new areas, or redeveloping old areas, to make them more accessible to other types of transportation. You can find plenty of transit and ped-friendly places built at similar densities to auto-dependant areas. No one is saying that a guy in rural Wyoming is going to survive car-free, but what percentage of the country lives in rural Wyoming (or similar circumstances)?
    Last edited by Gedunker; 19 Aug 2007 at 5:13 PM. Reason: sequential replies

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    One thing I've always found interesting - the two cities that have by far the highest percentage of their land devoted to public open space are NYC and San Francisco, which are also the two most dense cities in the US. I guess your question is talking about building more private open space in the form of yards and such, and I'd love to see a total for SF and NYC that included that space as well (many houses and buildings have backyards, some fairly large)

    The problem - if my city burns down (again) and is rebuilt with cul-de-sacs and lower densities, where would the rest of these people go? The density would be so much lower that there would be hundreds of thousands of people needing to live somewhere else. And me personally? If the city was rebuilt with cul-de-sacs and a more suburban land use pattern, my quality of life would be much lower.



    The idea is not to get people to give up their cars. The idea is that when building new areas, or redeveloping old areas, to make them more accessible to other types of transportation. You can find plenty of transit and ped-friendly places built at similar densities to auto-dependant areas. No one is saying that a guy in rural Wyoming is going to survive car-free, but what percentage of the country lives in rural Wyoming (or similar circumstances)?

    Certainly not; I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think what I meant to say was that by building better landscapes, people who want to will more readily be able to lessen their need to own a car or multiple cars. Hopefully by increasing our choices for public transit, people will have options as far as "do I want to pay 6 bucks for a gallon of gas or do I want to take the metro today?" Thank you for bringing my fuzzy explanation to light & for sharing your input.

  4. #54
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    Kunstler is a little crazy, but is he crazy like a fox?

    I too was really alarmed after reading Kunstler's book. Sure, he posits some things that are farfetched (pirates will maraud the west coast!) but the basic logic is hard to dismiss.

    Peak Oil is a lot like global warming. It sure looks like its happening, but its hard to be 100% sure. But the question is: should we be preparing for the likelihood that gas will skyrocket within our lifetimes? Or should we put all our faith that "technology" will save us? If we answer this question wrong as a society we are basically FUBAR.

    Kunstler (and others I've read) make a strong case that other technologies will not be able to fill in the gap left by oil. Oil is in our food, our transportation, our plastic, everything. We don't realize how much it is a part of every single process. Even if we can replace its energy with ethanol, nuclear, renewables, etc., how do we replace all the production chains and ways of life that will have to be reengineered?

    So getting back to the sprawl discussion, this is my major point in favor of curtailing sprawl. Although I personally hate sprawl, I sometimes think to myself: self, why are you trying to tell the rest of Americans what they should and should not like? But I come back to the idea that we as planners need to be looking into the future and planning accordingly. And the future has some huge issues that many here would just like to shrug off. But once you look into the evidence, its hard to do that.

    This go beyond whether or not you like sprawl. The real issue is whether sprawl is sustainable for the human race.

    Also, I'd like to say that "sprawl" and "suburbs" should not be synonymous. The old streetcar suburbs are an example of how lower density SFD's can be done responsibly. Sprawl is the lack of connectivity, transit, and soul that is in conjunction with SFD eternity.

  5. #55

    Stop Sprawl Make Better Cities

    I've always been both dismayed and enthralled by the small and medium cities/towns that I've visited.

    I think one way to revitalize these places is simply to make them more livable and thus lead by example.

    I don't think our fractured and localized govt. system lends itself to grand plans aimed at effectively dealing with something like sprawl which encompasses social, economic, and political factors all intermingled. You'd need some benevolent, or at least benign lord of the manor.

    How can we get young, childless people to abandon their cookie-cutter apt. complexes? How can we get people out of the "Mega-Mart's"? How do we get people out of their cars and onto the sidewalks, plaza's, restaraunts, etc.?

    Zoning is one way. The old idea of seperate use has to be scrapped. No one is going to be building a smelter or gas plant, or slag heap in a populated downtown. Commercial and residential go together like peanut butter and jelly. Many of the small town I've been to have managed to, in some, not all cases, revitalize their commerical floors, ie, bars and restaraunts and "knick-knack" stores" but look up, and you'll notice the lights are out on the 2nd, and 3rd floors. They're basically using them as storage because the local zoning boards and laws won't allow them to rent the space out as living quarters. Anyone who's read Jane Jacobs or William Whyte knows a locale needs mulit-use and round the clock pedestrian traffic. People beget more people. Its why we don't hang out in parking lots.

    The next is some creative financing. Go to a town like Greenville, Missisippi or Lawrenceburg, Indiana, et. al., you'll notice many abandoned buildings. Why not make "homesteading" a normal financing tool?

    Get the buildings off the tax rolls. Depending on your particular communites situation, give the building to anyone with a WILLINGNESS, possibly to fix up and live in a building. Inject some profit motive. Many homesteading programs demand people have a lot of money (and thus greater choice in location) to fix up the building. Others demand the individuals NOT sell the place for 5 years. This retards any market activity. Materials, transactions, and simple residence generates tax revenue. It shouldn't matter, within reason of course, who buys or how long they stay.

    Market these places to a more "alternative" population. Most homosexuals don't have children and thus schools aren't the immediate concern they are for some other citizens. Advertise to artists who might be more attuned to the "funky" atmosphere and creative possibilities along the interactive nature of dense places.

    Stop sprawl? Sure. Make the cities/towns we have better thru smart policies and practices.

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