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Thread: Methods to end various aspects of sprawl?

  1. #51
    Cyburbian
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    Also, changing an area of over 2 million people with many different suburbs and cities is no small feat. Imagine if I were to try and change the whole country. I would get nothing done and have no life of my own.
    Even if I were to fail, it wouldn't be the end of the world and wouldn't be impossible. (for me to fail that is)]

    However my personal faith and goals are NOT the subject of this thread.

    So could we please discuss the subject at hand? I guess I ought to have phrased it better.
    How can we end the various aspects of sprawl in single areas, such as midwestern cities?

  2. #52
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    One idea is impact fees. If you make developers pay for the added expense of sprawl, it can be effective in deterring its more grotesque forms.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    How can we end the various aspects of sprawl in single areas, such as midwestern cities?
    All you need to do is make harder to rezone farmland. If land can't be zoned for development, it obviously can't be developed.

    As many on here have been trying to tell you - identifying what needs to be done is easy, actually doing it is hard. In this day and age, the physical act of building or changing something is relatively easy, it's the politics that are hard. No one here is saying that things won't change in the next 50 years - they will, but it will be a slow progression. Many of your thoughts and ideas seem to be directly from the words of Jane Jacobs - from 50 years ago. I know that you're only interested in Kansas City, but you really need to look at areas that have developed extensively in the past 10 or 20 - many of the issues you talk about don't exist in those areas. The issues causing sprawl in most cases now are completely different from "people abandoning the city".

  4. #54
    Cyburbian
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    I have read Jane Jacob's book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" and it is one of the main books I'd look to, especially in dealing with urban issues. In fact, it is one of the books I brought with me to college, in addition to my many architecture books.

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I have read Jane Jacob's book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" and it is one of the main books I'd look to, especially in dealing with urban issues. In fact, it is one of the books I brought with me to college, in addition to my many architecture books.
    I would imagine that most people here have read that book - and it's a good book - but remember that it was first published almost 50 years ago.

  6. #56
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    identifying what needs to be done is easy, actually doing it is hard. In this day and age, the physical act of building or changing something is relatively easy, it's the politics that are hard.
    CJC hit the mark. We are all throwing out ideas to you, it is just following through is the hard part. I understand that sprawl is enemy number 1 to you, but have you ever thought about changing the way development is done in the midwest by utilizing the principles of LEED ND?
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  7. #57
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    I don't know much about LEED, but the general idea I've also been trying to get across is we do need to change not only how development is done, but also how many things are done today.

  8. #58
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    What is LEED?

  9. #59
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by KSharpe View post
    What is LEED?
    Leadership in Energy and Enviornmental Design.

    This used to apply specifically to new single structure design, but they have branched out to neighborhood design, or LEED ND. It is sponsored by the US Green Building Council and incorporates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism, and green building into a national standard for neighborhood design. Some communities in California are moving in this direction and my firm is working on a few plans (i am working on one of them) that implements the preliminary principles of this initiative.

    http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=148
    Last edited by Raf; 09 Oct 2007 at 2:46 PM. Reason: added link
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  10. #60
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by KSharpe View post
    What is LEED?
    The latest green buzzword:

    http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19

    Don't get me wrong, the intentions are good, but there is WAAAAAY too much greenwashing going on around here with LEED. LEED ND is good at heart, but again I've already seen instances of it being used for greenwashing.

  11. #61
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    define greenwashing CJC? I thought going green is a good thing on our industry my friend.
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  12. #62
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    define greenwashing CJC? I thought going green is a good thing on our industry my friend.
    An example of small scale greenwashing: A two unit building on a site zoned for up to 65' heights in San Francisco less than a block from a heavy-rail subway station is bought. The building is gutted, a two car garage (with built in natural gas pumps) is added and it is converted to a single unit. But - it's green because it qualified for LEED gold status. It's a way for the folks who shelled out $4 million for it to feel "green".

    Large scale? A community actively rallies against any infill projects, including those right next to an existing commuter rail line, then proclaims that it is "green" by rezoning farmland on the fringe of town to include a new LEED ND neighborhood.

    If we're unwilling to take advantage of existing infrastructure (billions and billions of dollars worth), how green are we?
    Last edited by CJC; 09 Oct 2007 at 3:54 PM.

  13. #63
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Point well taken CJC. This LEED ND is in reference to greenfield development. Obviously infill is the way to go with any development application to help curb sprawl.
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  14. #64
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I found some interesting stats on the amount of waste generated by demolition of existing housing which is pretty terrifying when one considers razing entire neighborhoods.

    An estimate of 77.6 lbs/sq ft of debris are generated during residential demolition based on sampling studies as documented in “Characterization of Building-Related Construction and Demolition Debris In The United States” (prepared by Franklin Associates for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, June 1998).

    The 77.6 lbs is derived from 39.6 tons of debris from a basic house (1600 sq ft average size house used as a basis for calculation), plus 22.5 tons of concrete debris from the slab. The total, 62.1 tons, is divided by 1600 sq ft and multiplied by 2000 lbs/ton to equal 77.6 lbs/sq ft.
    Holy crap, that's a lot of...crap!

    We can talk all we want about recycling materials, but in reality, the amount of things to be salvaged from housing demolition is minimal by comparison to what is tossed and expensive because of the time and labor involved.

    Which brings us back to the issue that CJC and CPSURaf have been raising (as opposed to razing) about infill and the need to establish policies (such as, perhaps, LEED ND) that encourage making more efficient use of existing developed lands. Its hard to resist the temptation of starting all over with a blank slate, but I think the more economical (in terms of money, energy and use of land) approach is to find ways to work with the existing urban fabric. Yes, it is more challenging, but finding ways to both improve the efficiencies of existing housing and increase density can yield great results. As I mentioned earlier, allowing second rental units on properties is a rather simple and effective approach. The owners often live on site (and many older residents use it as a way to supplement limited income), it can increase density tremendously because it introduces a smaller apartment on existing properties rather than trying to rezone it to accommodate more single family dwellings (where you could not achieve the same kind of density).

    Here in Albuquerque, the greater metro area is approaching 1 million people which in theory should afford us some improved efficiencies in terms of transportation, service delivery, infrastructure, etc. However, we rank 99 out of a list of 100 mid-sized cities in density. I call us the one story city. If we don't find a way to increase density within what is currently built out, we are going to be in some seriously deep doodoo.

    Some things are happening, though. The downtown area is seeing a lot of nicely designed, dense infill and many of these developers are smaller, local operations as opposed to the large national corps. that develop 200 plus units at a time on the fringe. The first ring of streetcar suburbs (which are really very close in - just a mile or 2 from downtown) are allowing second units and second story additions (while curtailing maxing out lots with McMansions) and the results look promising. Nob Hill (the streetcar suburb in question) is the most walkable area in the city next to downtown.

    HCB, I don't want you to think that I am not sympathetic to the cause. I even published an article last year with Stephen Wheeler (now at UC Davis) examining the historical development of the Albuquerque metro area in the context of sprawl development. We were seeking to identify the various typologies of development that have developed over time (and what fueled them) and also identify what the predominant patterns of today are - with the goal of devising ways to curtail inefficient land uses. Not all sprawl takes the same form or presents the same problems, so understanding the more subtle nuances among different types is an important part of devising a more reasoned response.

    The article is called "The Rise of the Regional City: Spatial Development of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area" and though you (unfortunately) need to subscribe to read the article form the New Mexico Historical Review where it was published, a very brief synopsis is included here: http://www.unm.edu/~market/cgi-bin/archives/001698.html

    This is actually part of a much larger project to do this kind of analysis for, I believe, 16 major US cities and which is headed up by Stephen (I was just his grad assistant on the Albuquerque project and did most of the map and graphic work, but not so much the writing). I don't recall if Kansas City is on the list or not.
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  15. #65
    Cyburbian
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    ty for the replies, and wahday, the only issue I have with your post is the part about the demolition of houses.
    Recycling the concrete would remove 22.5 tons from that equation.

    For example, the old Denver airport's concrete was taken up, made into concrete again and reused for additional housing. The same could be done in the demolition of homes.

  16. #66
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    ty for the replies, and wahday, the only issue I have with your post is the part about the demolition of houses.
    Recycling the concrete would remove 22.5 tons from that equation.

    For example, the old Denver airport's concrete was taken up, made into concrete again and reused for additional housing. The same could be done in the demolition of homes.
    Fair enough. And I have seen some interesting recycling of broken up concrete slabs in retaining walls (turned upside down and with plantings in between). Its pretty cool looking, I will admit.

    Still, nearly 40 tons of waste per house has to go somewhere and loading all that crap into the local landfill does not seem particularly "sustainable" or otherwise environmentally responsible (and grinding up and reusing concrete also pollutes the air). Plus, demolition alone has significant impacts on air quality alone (not to mention debris we would rather not dump in a landfill to begin with). I don't mean to nitpick. I'm just trying to encourage a big picture view here that takes into consideration the total energy use, environmental impact, financial cost and waste creation from a proposal of the scale you are suggesting. This will help determine what the net gain really is, which I think is often overlooked (partly because they are not hard "costs" for the developer, but rather ones that the community at large bears such as with air pollution and other environmental damage - negative externalities and all that).

    I have a similar feeling about "green" building approaches that emphasize too much the construction of new structures (and often for the well-to-do) without tackling or acknowledging the issue of how we are to make our existing housing stock more efficient in a cost-effective manner.
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  17. #67
    Cyburbian
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    If we aren't to demolish the houses, what are we to do with them? They are too big to allow for dense development, and they are too far from the streets.

    How can we change this:
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...2190&encType=1
    Into a development that has a grid-like system with shorter blocks (shorter than 400ft long), that have at least 6 units per acre, houses that are 20ft from the street at the most etc...
    Last edited by HeartlandCityBoy; 09 Oct 2007 at 8:17 PM.

  18. #68
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    If we aren't to demolish the houses, what are we to do with them? They are too big to allow for dense development, and they are too far from the streets.
    Leave them where they are. Encourage denser mixed use and walkable development along the major streets and transit corridors. Allow backyard rental units to be constructed. Etc, etc. Some areas are going to remain auto-oriented, that's just how it is.

  19. #69
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    No those areas are not going to remain auto-oriented and they are not going to remain less dense. If we developed like you are suggesting, then massive amounts of land would still be consumed by the development.

  20. #70
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    No those areas are not going to remain auto-oriented and they are not going to remain less dense. If we developed like you are suggesting, then massive amounts of land would still be consumed by the development.
    How so? Everything I mentioned was infill.

  21. #71
    Cyburbian
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    And then after you infill... What are you going to do? Expand out because people refuse to demolish the less dense and extremely poorly designed areas?

    Choice: Infill until you can't anymore... Then expand out (consuming more land) or....... Infill until you can't anymore... Then gradually remove the least dense development, replacing it with more dense development... Then when that is done, expand with equally dense development.

  22. #72
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    So...who's going to fund this massive razing project?

  23. #73
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    And then after you infill... What are you going to do? Expand out because people refuse to demolish the less dense and extremely poorly designed areas?

    Choice: Infill until you can't anymore... Then expand out (consuming more land) or....... Infill until you can't anymore... Then gradually remove the least dense development, replacing it with more dense development... Then when that is done, expand with equally dense development.
    Just using the infill methods I mentioned, and looking at current and projected Kansas City population growth - you have literally HUNDREDS of years before you face that choice. Of course, you're forcing me to deal in absolutes - and as I hope you soon learn - dealing in absolutes will get you absolutely nowhere.

  24. #74
    Cyburbian
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    CJC, however you must realize that absolutes do exist and are a complete reality...

  25. #75
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    CJC, however you must realize that absolutes do exist and are a complete reality...
    Not when dealing with humans with you know, emotions and feelings and ideas of their own. Now, if you're planning to chase all of the humans out of Kansas City, then...

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