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Poll results: What is your position on traditional style planning/development?

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  • Supportive

    14 60.87%
  • Opposed

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Thread: "New Urbanism", Traditional Neighborhood Development, Smart Growth etc...

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    "New Urbanism", Traditional Neighborhood Development, Smart Growth etc...

    What is your stance on the New Urbanist movement? For the sake of this discussion, we will also consider TND (Traditional Neighborhood Development), Smart Growth, Form Based Code, Agricultural Urbanism, Agrarian Urbanism, Pedestrian-Oriented Development, Sustainability etc... to be part of the same movement.

    Also for the sake of the discussion, this is about the ideas of New Urbanism, and not about the label. What do you think of the principles and ideas put forth?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Trying to create an enemies list?

    What about the option of offering choices? What about identifying what the public wants?

    "I hear the train a'coming..."

  3. #3
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I selected "supportive" but I do not feel the need to take a stance on the issue. Like Mike implied, what we should be focusing on is allowing people choices - the freedom to pick from a variety of living environments that they like and can afford. Considering that my options were to take a stance to support it or to take a stance not to, I'm not sure my vote really says anything at all.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    Trying to create an enemies list?

    What about the option of offering choices? What about identifying what the public wants?

    "I hear the train a'coming..."
    Offering choices is exactly what New Urbanism does.

    What if the public wants sprawl and want an automobile oriented society and what if they want their Wal-Mart and their McDonalds? What if they want their 1 acre lot and their 4,000 square foot home?
    What if they want all of that? Should we just ignore the consequences and let them have it because it is what they want?

    If a loved one wants to smoke 10 packs a day, drink 2 six packs (of beer) a day, eat McDonalds for 3 meals a day, shoot heroine daily, smoke pot daily and live in a darkened home without windows watching TV all day. What would you do? Would you say: "oh, he is fine, if he is happy then it's okay", or would you say: "he needs help, we need to help him and convince him to change, and get him the help he needs".

    As someone in favor of traditional planning & architecture, this is how I see things. Human beings are ill, including our society, and we need to work to heal that sickness. Sprawl is one element of that illness that needs to be cured so we don't destroy ourselves in the future. Because we are ill, we can't always make the best decisions on our own (we rarely do) and we need others to help us.

    If you get ill, don't you seek after a doctor for advice? Or do you sit at home trying to solve the problem yourself?

    I believe architects and planners should serve the public like doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, police and firemen do. We are here to serve the public, but we are also here to help improve society and educate people in better ways of living.

    _____________________________________________________________

    I don't care about an "enemies" list. I'm genuinely curious. This is a Planning/Architecture website, and I want to know what the opinions are.
    I do also believe it is important to know where people stand on issues, especially if one is going to have a discussion about it. One shouldn't hide their opinion when discussing things.
    Last edited by TradArch12; 31 May 2011 at 9:19 PM.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I think equating living in suburbia to smoking 10 cigarettes per day and shooting heroin to be quite a stretch. Also, not to down our profession, but I really don't think you can describe planners as "doctors" of the built environment. Science and medicine are practiced as sciences, meaning they use experiments that have control groups to make determinations and learn -- planners cannot very well do that. Nor should they.

    I think this argument is exactly why new urbanism and the like get less support than they likely deserve. It is extraordinarily arrogant and ignorant for planners to assume we have the answers and to force people to adjust to our ideology. Does Urban Renewal ring a bell with you? Too many people pushing the new urbanist pill use this same bullying mentality. No one is going to die of a sprawling land overdoes. Exagerating the symptoms and causes does nothing to support your movement except push more people away.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    I think equating living in suburbia to smoking 10 cigarettes per day and shooting heroin to be quite a stretch. Also, not to down our profession, but I really don't think you can describe planners as "doctors" of the built environment. Science and medicine are practiced as sciences, meaning they use experiments that have control groups to make determinations and learn -- planners cannot very well do that. Nor should they.

    I think this argument is exactly why new urbanism and the like get less support than they likely deserve. It is extraordinarily arrogant and ignorant for planners to assume we have the answers and to force people to adjust to our ideology. Does Urban Renewal ring a bell with you? Too many people pushing the new urbanist pill use this same bullying mentality. No one is going to die of a sprawling land overdoes. Exagerating the symptoms and causes does nothing to support your movement except push more people away.
    It will cause the death of our "society"... It will be a financial and environmental disaster. It also could definitely turn international if we continue to be dependent on our cars and on oil. But we won't get into that discussion. Peak oil is definitely coming fast, and continuing the status quo is going to make things worse.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I think that statement is a stretch too. You are assuming that no technological advances will be made that minimize suburbias environmental impact?

    I am all for TND and TOD - but you cannot force the rest of the world to conform to your ideology. Period. Exaggerating the situation does not add to its validity.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    I think that statement is a stretch too. You are assuming that no technological advances will be made that minimize suburbias environmental impact?

    I am all for TND and TOD - but you cannot force the rest of the world to conform to your ideology. Period. Exaggerating the situation does not add to its validity.
    The rest of the world? Most of the rest of the world hasn't fallen into sprawl. There are plenty of cities in Europe and elsewhere that have sprawl, but it isn't close to the level of the United States.

    And no, I don't believe technology can save us. Technology makes things better, but it cannot solve the problem.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Did you post this thread because you actually want to hear other people's opinions or just so you could argue your point of view with anyone who posts an opinion different than yours?

  10. #10
    One if the core functions of public health is education, telling people the facts so they can make informed choices.

    IMO people are Oren uninformed about some of the consequences of their decision to live in peripheral, low density areas. They discount the negative impacts of long commutes and are unaware of the health impacts of living in unworkable areas. Most don't really think of the environmental impacts either. If people were more aware of these problems, fewer would choose to live in these areas.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    Did you post this thread because you actually want to hear other people's opinions or just so you could argue your point of view with anyone who posts an opinion different than yours?
    Well, the first reply was pretty argumentative, so I replied. Everyone is welcome to post their opinion, I wasn't planning on arguing with people, but that is how the first few posts went due to the replies.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I am going to throw this out there - many of the concepts of NU are indeed functionally justified by the public good and the fiscal responsibility they create. I think NU should not be equated with the stylistic conventions of traditional architecture, even though they often occur together.

    As one example, an interconnected street network allows greater efficiency of emergency services with fewer stations (police, fire, EMS); allows walkability and proximity to transit stops (improving the efficiency and "ped shed" of public transit), shopping and schools; and reduces congestion on arterial streets by providing multiple routes; and has been shown to reduce traffic fatalities. As long as the public is going to be paying to upkeep roads and provide emergency services and transit, I believe the public has the right to adopt standards that make these systems more efficient and safe - which was the original justification claimed for the flawed conventional arterial-collector-local networks. This is exactly why Virginia outlawed the cul-de-sac (the state maintains just about all roads in VA). I was quite impressed at the Denver CNU conference by the sophistication of the transportation and emergency services research going on.

    When one starts talking about the fuzzier quality of life and finally aesthetics, I think the arguments become more complex as do questions of whether any one NU form is the most effective approach (i.e. critiques pushing for more trails and "green" infrastructure in NU; and the debates on what elements really make for a health-promoting environment). Are tree lawns and recessed or alley accessed garages required by TND because they further walkability, or simply because they look nice to their proponents? And we're obviously not to the point yet in the U.S. where we could agree that reducing VMT and GHG emissions is a valid planning goal (given that planners are debating this!) but certainly many states and regions have adopted this as a goal.

    I would add - there are different roles when one is a public sector planner vs. an advocate. So in response to your perception that our urban planning is not creating a healthy society, I think you would be in line with many health-related foundations, the CNU, the "1,000 Friends" groups, not to mention Prince Charles (had to throw that one in there!). But in the public sector, the decision makers would have to weigh this viewpoint and evidence against others ...
    Last edited by docwatson; 01 Jun 2011 at 12:21 AM.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quite frankly, planners that force citizens to own and use cars are engaging in professional malpractice. Period.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TradArch12 View post
    What is your stance on the New Urbanist movement? For the sake of this discussion, we will also consider TND (Traditional Neighborhood Development), Smart Growth, Form Based Code, Agricultural Urbanism, Agrarian Urbanism, Pedestrian-Oriented Development, Sustainability etc... to be part of the same movement...
    You lump a lot of things under the New Urban label, many of which can be equally consistent with conventional development. At any rate, a supportive/indifferent/opposed rating system is far too simplistic for so many ideas. It really comes down to the right approach for any given circumstance. That may be a dense TND in one spot and it may be large lot detached homes in another. Neither is inherently good or bad, except in context.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    Context is definitely important. Couldn't agree more. And Cardinal is also correct in saying that there are many concepts put forth under one label, and for this discussion, that may not be a bad thing. It actually eliminates the little bickering points that those various groups have with each other and gets down to the most basic of premises...sprawl or not?

    I've got to side with the traditionalists on this one after living in numerous places from extremely rural to dense urban. Suburbia, and especially that "dream" of the 2, 5, 10, and 20 acre ranchette, is killing this country. Look at Teton County, Idaho if you don't believe it. Almost 7,900 platted unbuilt lots, each of 2 acres on well and septic, in a county of just over 8000 people?!!? Functionally, as humans, we just need more interaction and higher densities. But that's defintiely not trying to say that we all have to live in 100 story skyscrapers in Manhattan though.

    I also get what tradarch12 is saying about our influence as planners. Granted, I'm a design planner and not a municipal planner, but I definitely feel that there is a large psychological influence in what I do. A space is easy to design to be solely functional, but a functional space that is also aesthetic, inspiring, interactive, multipurpose, and subliminally guiding in a positive manner is much harder. Defining beauty is harder still, but you know it when you see it.

    Man...I'm rambling and need some caffeine...sorry.

    Suburban sprawl can not be saved by technology, but needs to be redesigned in my opinion.

    To that last point...Chris Anderson of TED addressing the graduating class of the Harvard School of Design made a similar statement with this piece of his speech:

    Can the coming world of 10 billion people survive and flourish without consuming itself in the process. The answers if they are to be found, - and I think they will - will come from... design. Better ways to pattern our lives. There is nothing written into our nature that says that the only path to a wonderful, rich, meaningful life is to own two cars and a McMansion in the suburbs.

    But it's becoming urgent for the world to start to see a compelling alternative vision. Probably it's going to come down to re-imagining what a city can be, and making it so wonderful, that few people would want to live anywhere else. If there are to be 10 billion of us, we will have to, for the most part, live close to each other -- if only to give the rest of nature a chance. Indeed more than half the world already lives in cities and the best of them offer so much to the world : richer culture, a greater sense of community, a far lower carbon footprint per person - and the collision of ideas that nurtures innovation. And the future cities you will help create need not feel claustrophobic or soulless. By sculpting beautiful new forms into the city's structures and landscapes; by incorporating light, plants, trees, water; by imagining new ways to connect with each other and work with each other, you will allow the coming crowd to live more richly, more meaningfully, than has ever been possible in history - and to do so without sacrificing your grandchildren.
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.-- William H. Whyte..

  16. #16
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    HEY!

    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Quite frankly, planners that force citizens to own and use cars are engaging in professional malpractice. Period.
    You forgot this



    Skilled Adoxographer

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TradArch12 View post
    What is your stance on the New Urbanist movement? For the sake of this discussion, we will also consider TND (Traditional Neighborhood Development), Smart Growth, Form Based Code, Agricultural Urbanism, Agrarian Urbanism, Pedestrian-Oriented Development, Sustainability etc... to be part of the same movement.
    How about just support good planning based on local/neighborhood context under the guise of your local com plan? If it fits, than great, if you include these type of elements, even better. If a development does neither, than move to deny. How hard is that?

    Good planning doesn't have a label. Good planning takes a lot of elements put together but more importantly implements a comp plan that has been adopted by a community's governing body. Take it for what it is worth.

    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Quite frankly, planners that force citizens to own and use cars are engaging in professional malpractice.
    Who said anything about forcing someone to use a car? We can't change people's preferences. Look, when it begins to effect someone's bottom line, than you start to see a change (i.e. high gas prices). But being an idealist, you can never see that because you are too high and mighty in your high tower...
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    How about just support good planning based on local/neighborhood context under the guise of your local com plan? If it fits, than great, if you include these type of elements, even better. If a development does neither, than move to deny. How hard is that?

    Good planning doesn't have a label. Good planning takes a lot of elements put together but more importantly implements a comp plan that has been adopted by a community's governing body. Take it for what it is worth.



    Who said anything about forcing someone to use a car? We can't change people's preferences. Look, when it begins to effect someone's bottom line, than you start to see a change (i.e. high gas prices). But being an idealist, you can never see that because you are too high and mighty in your high tower...
    As I pointed out in my original post, I don't really mean this thread to be about New Urbanism as a movement or as a label. I'm asking about opinions about the ideas put forth by New Urbanism as well as the other ideas mentioned.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TradArch12 View post
    As I pointed out in my original post, I don't really mean this thread to be about New Urbanism as a movement or as a label. I'm asking about opinions about the ideas put forth by New Urbanism as well as the other ideas mentioned.
    The problem is these aren't "new" ideas. "Old" Urbanism is simply trying to get back to the way we used to design prior to euclidean zoning. On top of that throw in building codes/fire codes/improvement standards and now trying to do something that was so common practice is now virtually impossible.

    Does this make any sense?
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    The problem is these aren't "new" ideas. "Old" Urbanism is simply trying to get back to the way we used to design prior to euclidean zoning. On top of that throw in building codes/fire codes/improvement standards and now trying to do something that was so common practice is now virtually impossible.

    Does this make any sense?
    But I would argue it's not impossible and that is EXACTLY what New Urbanism is. Old (traditional) design strategies and values with new codes, new best practices, new understanding of consequences, new technology.
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.-- William H. Whyte..

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by prana View post
    But I would argue it's not impossible
    Yes not impossible, but a lot of hand holding especially for fire safety (street widths, setbacks, blah blah blah) and public officials
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    Hand holding. Education of municipal staffs, developers and the general public. Sure.

    But it's change and no change comes without that. Those that simply fear it is too much work and it is just easier to keep screwing it up even though we know better are worse than those that actually oppose it.
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.-- William H. Whyte..

  23. #23
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    The problem is these aren't "new" ideas. "Old" Urbanism is simply trying to get back to the way we used to design prior to euclidean zoning. On top of that throw in building codes/fire codes/improvement standards and now trying to do something that was so common practice is now virtually impossible.

    Does this make any sense?
    This is why I chose indifferent. From where I sit its sort of silly to even talk about new development at all. It is far more important that we retrofit the older urban areas.

    If we ever grow again, then I would be supportive of sensible design solutions many of which would draw both on old urbanism and what we have learned since then.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  24. #24
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    This is why I chose indifferent. From where I sit its sort of silly to even talk about new development at all. It is far more important that we retrofit the older urban areas.

    If we ever grow again, then I would be supportive of sensible design solutions many of which would draw both on old urbanism and what we have learned since then.
    Bingo. Discussing how we are going to build more new communities (after all that is what TOD, TND, NU, etc are proposing) should be a low priority when we consider how many cities have existing housing stock, infrastructure, etc. that is rotting away.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    But the ideas within New Urbanism aren't all about new communities, it's retrofitting and fixing existing ones.

    James Howard Kunstler said in one of his podcasts that while we can try to retrofit and fix existing suburbs, there are still a lot of them that are just going to have to rot and disappear.

    Take Kansas City for example. If by some miracle, the whole area adopted these principles and started retrofitting themselves, after it was all said and done, the city would have to lose 570 square miles of sprawl, leaving only about 25-30 square miles as developed area. That is a lot of suburban sprawl that would have to revert to farmland.
    [Currently KC has about 600 square miles of sprawl, with about 1.3 million people living within it.]

    You can find all kinds of information about "New Urbanism" and related subjects (Smart Growth, TND, Form Based Code, etc...) that has to do with retrofit and urban infill rather than greenfield developments.
    Last edited by TradArch12; 01 Jun 2011 at 3:14 PM.

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