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And so this is Earth Day

adaptor

Member
Messages
123
Points
6
It was said that a squirrel could cross Ohio from tree to tree without ever touching the ground. Later all the trees were uprooted for cropland coal mines and quarries. These days the fields are being converted into subdivisions and the scars into landfills. The settler's offspring still see nature as something to be conquered and exploited. Developers will build wherever they can and defy the EPA and Corps of Engineers in the process, spreading the population thinner and the concrete thicker.
No one seems to take global warming seriously. With the record high temps last week folks switched on the AC for the year. The coal fired plant that provides the power is literally buying out an entire town because the acid clouds it spews were blistering the resident's faces. And they're no longer going to be held accountable for the acid rain in New York's lakes and New England's forests. Meanwhile the entire east coast sprawl is facing drought conditions and on it goes.

Any environmental planning going on in your neck of the woods?
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
rustbelt wrote:
With the record high temps last week folks switched on the AC for the year.
And then it went and #$%&ing snowed today!!!

There is a lot of environmental planning done here, but a lot of times it seems that people only hear the message they want to hear - for example the co-worker I once had who used to scream blue murder if someone threw a piece of paper out but who had absolutely no regrets about driving her SUV for even the shortest trip...

People seem to have no problem protecting the environment, as long as it doesn't inconvenience them. I'm by no means a saint, but I do try to consider my impacts (especially when it comes to travel).
 

adaptor

Member
Messages
123
Points
6
Tranplanner,
Several years ago I was an intern at a County Planning agency where the Director brought in the newly released master plan for Toronto as if he'd just found the Dead Sea Scrolls. We hadn't seen such a comprehensive, wholistic and thoughtful public document for a North American city before. This before terms like sustainable development became popular. I don't know how it works in implementation but the scope of the effort was impressive to me.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
The thought is definitely there, especially in the older City. We are on the leading edge of a lot of environmental practices...but implementation is a mixed bag. There is just no money for new (and expensive) projects, and a lot of the (former) suburban politicians aren't as keen as the downtowners on environmental issues.

Overall, policy-wise I think we are at the forefront of the effort to include environmental aspects in all areas of City business.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
Yeah, that's what we need... environmental planning. No, wait, make that "Environmental Planning."

We can have suitability analysis, to help us understand which natural features NOT to build on... but then the suburban greenfield developers subvert this process for their own means. They end up using suitability analysis to justify their development... to figure out how to build AROUND the green and natural things that people love (or more to the point, use those green and natural things so that property values can increase). So, the suburban fringes continue to sprawl ("cluster developments around a 'nature preserve'"), and until we change our consumptive behaviors, none of this will matter because we're so enamored with having "choices" in our housing market that no matter what, single-family housing units will dominate the market.

Show me a planner who values "choice" and I'll show you a professional who supports sprawl.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
23
thems fighting words:


"show me a planner who values 'choice' and I'll show you a professional who supports sprawl"


Just think about the converse of that statement...and you should be ashamed of yourself.

And I know you are trying to make a point Beaner but to suggest that choice be eliminated from the local planning and development equation shows why local planners are perceived as being way out of touch.

It is possible to balence the scientifically justified, reasonable interests of the environment with quality, diverse development.

But you go ahead and start recommending against choice on the local level, that will really represent the interests of the community.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
I commemorated...

...by driving my 12 MPG sport ute 19 miles to work each way. That was only becasue I returned the trusty '71 Ford 250 (no catalytic converter on that beast!) to the care of my brother in law yesterday... We gave it an oil change and poured the waste oil on the weeds coming through the cracks in the driveway. That should keep 'em down for a few weeks. I also got rid of that pesky stray cat with a tasty bowl of antifreeze. We had to destroy the evidence, so we tossed the carcass in the storm sewer inlet along with out grass clippings and the rest of the waste oil.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
gkmo62u wrote:
And I know you are trying to make a point...
Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. Planners would do well to recognize that by promoting "choice" they are actually promoting greenfield development. When planners say they "support" "choice" I hope they realize that such a simple statement is not really that simple. I'm sure most of you understand that... but on this day, "Earth Day," I just wanted to keep everything in perspective. We can talk all we want about how great "environmental planning" is for community planning efforts, but when it comes down to it, these places that are "green" and "good for the environment" are really for the affluent and shut out those who are truly in need of decent, livable housing. In my mind, it's about tade-offs: Do you support the planning of places for a diverse range of people or do you plan for the "environment"? I plan for people, so an occasion called "Earth Day" is inconsequential to me.

And yes, I do believe in "choice." But I tend to think of it differently: I want "choice" for a diverse range of people, not for some mono-crop of human consumers who want that house for tax deduction and investment purposes. And to me, that's what greenfield development is all about. There are plenty of great places that remain habitable, but require policies that support redevelopment. It's easy to allow "choice" in the suburban places, but what planner has the determination to fight for policies that redevlop blighted urban centers? There's plenty of space in those old places, so forgive me on this "Earth Day" as I struggle to offer an alternative to the status quo.

gkmo62u also wrote:
...and you should be ashamed of yourself.
Why should I be? As planners, how many of us really think about housing opportunities for a family of four who barely makes $40,000 a year? What kind of choices do they actually have? I'm sure they have some choice, but it's really the upper-middle class who has the wider range of housing options. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back while recommending approval for the new 400 unit clustered-unit development on the 100 acre site because you feel good about "promoting" "choice" in your community. And don't forget about how wonderful your conscience will be since you've also looked at the site plan and observed how well it "preserves" and "enhances" the site's natureal features. Your neighbors will thank you because their home values just doubled.

gkmo62u speculated:
...to suggest that choice be eliminated from the local planning and development equation...
I never made such a policy recommendation. All I did is hold up a mirror to the ugly side of the planning profession. Please answer me this, so that I can understand your position more clearly: To what extent is promoting "choice" in your community NOT about sprawl?
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
Re: Pro-Sprawl Planners Unite!

Does El Guapo have an active imagination? Look below:

Beaner wants to take away your choices - That should scare you more than my little fake rant above. Be afraid - he knows how you should live your life and it looks like if he had the power you would be living with his choices.

Beaner should scare you more than sprawl!
El Guapo: I had more faith in you. Again, like I said in my reply above to gkmo62u, I made no policy recommendation. All I did is hold a mirror up to our proffession. Apparently, some of you did not like what was there.
 

Catrin

Cyburbian
Messages
23
Points
2
Have peace, you warriors.

Having a healthy planet is not the beneficiary of the rich or the poor. It is the baseline. Rustbelt, you know the plan. You start now and it happens…oh so slowly. 30 years to make a difference. 10 to plan it, 10 to politic and sell it, and 10 to start implementation. But if it wasn't for the planners, none of this would happen. And for the rest of you, if you think it should happen quicker, or with more pizzazz,….become a stockbroker.
 

Stalds

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
To say I'm a rookie in the planning profession would be an understatement, but from what I have seen, sprawl is definatly something that fuels a number of municipalities. I guess it all comes down to the vision, or direction in which the City desires to go. I am currently working as a Junior planner for a municipality just east of Toronto, and it seems the desire of the town is to provide an abundance of single family homes on greenfield sites, in an attempt to attract young, upper-middle class white-collar families. There has been no mention of providing "choice" within the community, the majority of developments in the past 20 years have been of the same, monotonous sort. There are attempts at protecting, or emphasizing the natural features encompassing the properties, but as already discussed, this will raise property values while satisfying the policies outlined in the OP. Many of the communities around here are exactly the same way, and the problem of providing choice in the housing market is growing significantly, yet little has been done to address it.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
The Forum is "Make No Small Plans". This is not the Friday Afternoon Club. Save the flames for those forums that encourage them.

From a distance, I do not agree with Beaner. But on certain days when developers get everything they want from the commission, I know that there is a kernel of truth to his/her thoughts.

Perhaps few of you have worked with a lower income community to develop a park and open space system...to see a cigarette outlet demolish the plans...that lost the planner his job...and which closed within three years.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
Thanks Mike. I didn't realize how my comments would provoke such a strong reaction. I expected a reaction, but didn't expect such a blistering cacophany from our fellow Cyburbanites.

I still think this a good place for this discussion, though. And I still think that the planning profession, by promoting housing choice, is that we eventually end up supporting sprawl. I don't see a way around it; it's inherent in what we do. What planner doesn't want to see more choices on the market? But by supporting choice, we will eventually allow some greenfields to be gobbled up into housing tracts. This will happen; there is no way around it. We are indeed complicit players in the game of land consumption and environmental degradation. Maybe I'm just a little more honest with myself than others in this admission.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
23
As you wish Mike....


Beaner, here is my point. Perhaps some day we can meet in the middle but you and I speak different languages.

When you say we are complicit players in land consumption and environmental degredation, I say we are helping create jobs, better places to live and work and play.

When you say that greenfields get gobbled up into housing tracts, I say that greenfield you speak of is owned by someone who has certain economic rights to that land--see the fitfh amendment.

Face it, there IS an abundance of land out there. Now can be employ better tools like conservation design, better stormwater management practices, yes we can.

I am not going to give you the sprawl is good speech. However, I think there are certain trade offs, compromises if you will, that comes with living in this amazingly free society full of individual liberties.

Your presumption about me in the end is correct, I admit, if a little more choice means a little more sprawl, so be it.

I do respect that you would take the opposite approach. I just think we forget, all to often in our jobs as well as in these forums, that the land we plan and charette and regulate and coerce is owned by people, who do have protected rights to a reasonable economic use of their land. Some of you wish they did not have that bundle of rights and find the 5th amendment a major inconvenience.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
A real reply

Beaner - In my neck of the woods - the unfashionable hinterlands - the prevailing ideology is “growth at any cost”. Until we make the message a part of the high school civics curricula and get the word out to the voters that all growth is not good – it will always be the mantra of middle-America. Dan's quote sums it up best.

Conversely, I’m about to buy a home. Do I want a decent place where I know my family can live in peace (an evil suburban development) or do I want a good value on a home (the hood)? I’ve lived in the hood for far too long in my life. I can’t stand the idiots that live there. I don’t want to be anywhere near those morons. They screw up your things, trash their places, and act like fools. They are not good to have around if you are raising children either.

I want to live next to uptight people that are very retentive about their homes. While I’d love to get a decent old home in the city near my work, if it means living next to and mingling with the WWF-NASCAR-Mullet crowd count me out. I’ve worked to hard to have some moron make my $150,000 investment a $100,000 investment that I can never unload.

So if you can clean up the dirtbags – people would flock back to the city core for the great housing and old urbanist neighborhoods. Thus, I submit to you it is a class problem - not a planning problem.

RUSTBELT - You are correct - I removed the unproductive banter.
 

adaptor

Member
Messages
123
Points
6
meanwhile, back on earth...

This discussion hasn’t exactly gone the way I anticipated. Maybe it’s due to my urbanite perspective that I failed to anticipate the passions of planners in the seemingly boundless Midwest. Environmental planning isn’t a capitalist/socialist dichotomy to me. It has to do with quaint concepts like citizenship and seeing beyond your property line and life line. And what was all that hand wringing in prior threads about a lack of APA types visiting Cyburbia? It’s obvious.

Here are some notions that are more along the lines I was contemplating in the original post:

Several counties and townships in this area recognize that while property owners have the right to see a return on their investments in land, farmland is critical to preserving the water table, providing locally-grown crops and is a critical habitat for game species as well as charismatic macrofauna (cute critters). They’re working on establishing government funds to pay land owners closer to development market rate to leave their land undeveloped. Some referendums have passed, others not. Anything like this in the works out on the great plains?

Here in the city we have lots of dilapidated buildings to tear down. Usually the demolition contract goes to the lowest bidder and the whole structure is crunched into little pieces and dumped in a landfill. Has anyone seen a successful dismantling program to keep useful building material in circulation?

I worked with a guy who thought the vast underutilized tracts in the inner cities should be used for agriculture. Imagine sheep grazing over acres of inner-city Detroit, or hydroponics farms in the old mills of Buffalo. There would be new local sources of raw materials for new industries and the possibility of job creation as well and teaching city people where their food comes from. Is this a realistic form of sustainable development?

Straw bale houses are said to be affordable and energy efficient housing alternatives for people of all incomes, yet I’ve never read about Habitat for Humanity building ‘em anywhere. Is it just to weird to not rely on Warehauser and Owens Corning for our building materials?

One last thought: -- You can’t avoid lousy neighbors. They’ve got SUVs, ATVs, 30.06s and the rest of the toys you do, and no place in an environmental discussion.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
An interesting thread.... As planners (and economic developers) we do have to bring environmental concerns and practices into our work and into the built environment. We can do much more than we have, and I think we are making progress.

(Rustbelt - when the Overture Foundation demolished several historic buildings for a new arts center in Madison - forget for a moment whether that was itself a good thing, or the accepted design - a couple of local non-profits salvaged parts of the buildings for reuse elsewhere.)

Perhaps this discussion has failed to consider that much of our work does deal with already-built sites. We do work on brownfields, infill, redevelopment, downtown revitalization, etc. - perhaps we need to do more. As for greenfield development, it will happen and the choice should be there. But it is not wrong to demand that key environments (and whole ecosystems) be preserved. It is not wrong to demand that detrimental environmental impacts like water quality or air quality be mitigated. It is not wrong to demand that accommodation for alternative means of travel, like trails or bike paths, be provided.

Unfortunately, I see few people in our profession who are truly knowledgeable on environmental issues and strategies, or for that matter, even the latest ideas in planning. They just don't keep up, or challenge themselves to look at anything any differently than the way they always have. I don't know if that is worse than the "agency" planners, such as in many DOT's, who abuse and contort information and practices to justify a pre-selected outcome.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
[Before I get on topic, I must admit, these Cyburbia forums are strange. Very strange. So, let me try understand this place: Anyone can come in here and write a blistering screed and, 24 hours later, for some unknown reason, the posting is deleted?! I don't understand that. In the end, I don't care what gets changed and moved around in here, but why would anyone post anything in here, and then, for some reason, regret what was said, and remove the posting entirely? Doing that seems to reduce one's credibility.]

Okay, back to business...

gkmo62u wrote:
When you say we are complicit players in land consumption and environmental degredation, I say we are helping create jobs, better places to live and work and play.
Yes, I see what you are saying. But no matter what you do professionally, if you are in the business of creating jobs, then you are a complicit player in land consumption and environmental degradation. New jobs means new housing which usually means more children which means more mouths to feed which means more land is converted to agriculture which means fewer shade trees to absorb rainwater and to cool the earth which means more soil erosion and higher surface temperatures which means slow but cumulative seasonal variations over time which means unpredicatble weather patterns and events which means... you get the idea.

That is the reality we live in. Regardless if you believe in private property rights or more state controls & regulations, this is what happens in the world today. Ideology has nothing to do with it.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
OK

Yes, I see what you are saying. But no matter what you do professionally, if you are in the business of creating jobs, then you are a complicit player in land consumption and environmental degradation. New jobs means new housing which usually means more children which means more mouths to feed which means more land is converted to agriculture which means fewer shade trees to absorb rainwater and to cool the earth which means more soil erosion and higher surface temperatures which means slow but cumulative seasonal variations over time which means unpredictable weather patterns and events which means... you get the idea.
- Beaner

Beaner -I don't agree with your argument that more jobs lead to more people and a degraded environment. The US is overall at a zero growth level - not counting immigration. It appears to me that immigration is the driving force of the ever expanding city. More people lead to more growth and sprawl. Not that I'm against it. It just is where our growth is coming from.

What you are suggesting seems to fly in the face of the basics of a market economy. Tell us how you plan to meet the needs of the world's people in your economic model. Give us your manifesto, please.

Rustbelt - perhaps you could tell us what you are doing personally to ease the burden on mother earth. Are you leading by example?

PS - There is no pleasing some people - Rustbelt and Gurnee bitched about what I posted. In an effort to make them happy I removed it. Credibility Beaner? I am what I am. I'm sorry if that offends you.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
Re: OK

El Guapo wrote:
What you are suggesting seems to fly in the face of the basics of a market economy. Tell us how you plan to meet the needs of the world's people in your economic model. Give us your manifesto, please.
First off, it is irrelevant where the population growth comes from. In the U.S., our population is growing, whether it's from immigration or good ol' natural-born American luv-makin. Second, I never suggested that I had a manifesto on how to meet the world's needs. I don't claim to have any answers. What I said in my most recent post has nothing to do with economic models... it was more of a logic statement... "If A, then B... if B, then C..." and so on. Things happen in the world, there are patterns, and these actions don't neccessarily follow an economic model or a political theory. It is my observation in my life that job creation tends to keep the fuel of procreation burning since it provides income which tends to make people happy which tends to give them hope which gives them a motivation to have children which then in turn increases the population which then fuels demand for more natural resources. In short, an increasing population means a greater demand for resources which means there's a greater strain on the environment. That's all I'm saying. And I'm not saying that this is good or bad... no judgement... just an observation... some see resource consumption as an indication of environmental doom... others see it as an opportunity to create technologies to make our lives better.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
So, I'm hearing you're a Malthusian?

Beaner - I hear you saying:

Jobs=Hope=Children=Resource Consumption=Strain on the Earth=Bad

Agree?

Thus, Fewer Jobs=Less Hope=Fewer Children=Less Consumption=Less Strain on the Earth.

Taken one step further

No Jobs=No Hope=No Children=No Consumption=Earth Happy=Man reverts to hunter gatherer.

So, if we don't consume resources, other than "sustainable" ones, how many people could this earth pleasantly support? Is that pre or post the invention of fire?

I'm just saying without a solution to offer observations are not worth much.

I have a solution - Capitalism (While not perfect, it works much better with the environment than socialism has been proven to and it safeguards human rights when mixed with democracy)

Maybe I'm just a little more honest with myself than others in this admission.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
I am not here to push an ideology, nor am I here to convince Cyburbanites that my world view is worthwhile. I don't even want to go there.

El Guapo, you are right, in certain instances, offering observations without solutions is indeed not worth much. But in these forums, where we are here to discuss planning and realted issues, offering an observation just as valid as offering a solution. I hope you don't expect all discussions here in Cyburbia to require a solution. And I hope you can accept my insistance in this thread that I just go ahead and offer observations and no solutions. Some discussions just never get to that point and I have no desire to do that here. The whole aim of my responses in this thread has to do with Earth Day and the Planning profession... going back to rustbelt's initial post. I guess I'm reacting to the whole notion that we planners can do something "good" for the environment. I just don't agree with that. We are complict players in the land consumption game, albeit indirectly. We are the gatekeepers, so to speak, as to helping make decisions on how land gets used. Through the course of one's planning career, a planner will recommend the development of green and relatively untouched land, ultimately creating more impervious surfaces, consumption of trees for buildings, etc, etc. At the same time, a planner has opportunities to offer a recommednation to not develop land. A planner who has 100% track record in not allowing in any development would be a true environmental planner. But who has heard of such an individual? I don't think he or she exists. When we planners start getting all warm and fuzzy and start congratulating ourselves for doing so-called "better" or "smart" or "sustainable" developments, then I get nervous and feel the need to remind ourselves that we are not as green as we'd like to think we are. We are not environmental saints. And in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe I'm just stating the obvious. But then again, judging by the tone of some Cyburbanites' posts, some here think they are doing the world a good thing by being planners.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
I respectfully beg to differ...

Beaner wrote:
A planner who has 100% track record in not allowing in any development would be a true environmental planner. But who has heard of such an individual? I don't think he or she exists.
Beaner, humans are in fact the worst infestation this planet has ever had to endure.

That aside, in my Department under my supervision a 100% Environmental Planner (note the caps) would be out on his ass. Not just becasue I would fire the stalwart (and I would) but becasue the CITIZENS that pay us to do our jobs would not tolerate it. We are NOT the hired - much less self appointed - gatekeepers of the land. We are public servants hired to perform duties asassigned by a body politic of this representative democaracy. I for one am proud of my contribution to the profession - and yes - we do a hell of a lot of environmental work for a "planning" department. I have a $136,000 planning budget net of salaries, and $550,000 land and water conservation budget net of salaries. I can't speak for everyone nor every community, but I dare say this community has its environmental priorities intact.

*pulls back from the right*

Thanks for letting me rant, Beaner! :)
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
Re: I respectfully beg to differ...

bturk wrote:
Beaner, humans are in fact the worst infestation this planet has ever had to endure.
YES! That's exactly what I'm saying! [How is it that you beg to differ with me? ...maybe I need to improve my writing skills.] We are speaking the same language!! Yes, a "100% Environmental Planner" DOES NOT EXIST!! That's exactly what I was insinuating!
 

Catrin

Cyburbian
Messages
23
Points
2
Rustbelt,
I appreciate your intent.

The local habitat for humanity has built at least one straw bale home here. Our ex-regional building director was a great proponent of alternative building styles. He always talked about the building industry being the most archaic industry in the world…..I think he was right.

Land conservation trusts are at an all time high in Colorado and my guess is that they are everywhere. Two years ago the farmland trust helped put together the first annual conference on integrated professions that deal with land issues…..but it wasn't just environmentalists ..they invited economists, planners and developers. They didn't all agree, although it stayed more positive than this thread.

Thanks to a group of diverse people, our city has done some remarkable things to promote infill dev. downtown. Developers can't build enough downtown living spaces to meet the demand…..Sorry Beaner, we have converted a historic hotel into sec.8 senior housing, an old candy factory into low/mod apts, plus affordable non subsidized apts as well as upscale apartments…..don't hit me with the elitist loft story. We still have greenfield development but it is relatively compact due to our water agreements (you must annex to get City water).

I think we (our country) have improved development in most aspects.
Auto reliance will continue to be a problem until we quit subsidizing them and charge people the real costs of owning and driving one…or several.

I wish that my city had better success in redeveloping older neighborhoods without letting them hit rock bottom first. This is personal for me. I live in an old house in an old neighborhood. When we redid our bathroom with new efficient appliances our water pressure fell to a dribble. In town, our water pressure is 35psi….new development receives about 95psi…..If I ever move to the edge, it will be to take a shower and get the shampoo residue out of my hair.
 

adaptor

Member
Messages
123
Points
6
off the deep end again...

El Guapo wrote:

Beaner -I don't agree with your argument that more jobs lead to more people and a degraded environment. The US is overall at a zero growth level - not counting immigration. It appears to me that immigration is the driving force of the ever expanding city. More people lead to more growth and sprawl. Not that I'm against it. It just is where our growth is coming from.
Demographers in this neck of the (stumpy second growth) woods have observed that though over the last 30 years our population has not grown, our urbanized areas have -- tremendously. It's the definition of sprawl: People choose homes further away from the developed urban core (in places like Sylvian Woods and Rolling Hills in memory of the things that were obliterated for their developments), on larger lots with greater driving distances to jobs, schools and amenities. Meanwhile a few immigrants trickle into the old urban core, but not nearly at replacement levels.

I suspect it's the same across the country. We're sprawling because we demand more and more and care less and less about where it comes from. In that respect I can appreciate some of Beaner's seeming disdain for the cancer like behavior of humans. But we do have the capacity to understand and alter our behavior to effect a different outcome. It's called Planning.

El Guapo wrote:
Rustbelt - perhaps you could tell us what you are doing personally to ease the burden on mother earth. Are you leading by example?

PS - There is no pleasing some people - Rustbelt and Gurnee bitched about what I posted. In an effort to make them happy I removed it. Credibility Beaner? I am what I am. I'm sorry if that offends you.
I wish I could say that in my professional life I am leading by example, but the turgid, bloated bureaucies here consider anything smacking of environmentalism (or historic preservation or several other quality of life indicators) to be a drag on economic development. Home Rule pits local governments against each other rather than encouraging regionalsim.

On a personal level, like Catrin, I chose an older home in an urban neighborhood (thankfully with better water pressure), recycle and try to compost and I do some volunteer work with a local park system. Boring stuff, eh?

I wouldn't presume to bitch about anyone's posts. I just suggest there may be reasons this forum may not have the level of serious participation some members desire.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
OK, we are growing. 260 million people in this country alone. There is some natural growth, more so in some places, and there is immigration. On top of that, demographers will tell you that household size is shrinking - fewer children in families, more older couples living longer, singles (me, Dan, Plannergirl, etc.). All of these create a demand for more housing. Add to that the desire of many people to improve their condition - upgading from substandard housing, moving to better, safer neighborhoods, moving to find better jobs with more opportunity, etc.

The question is not whether more housing (and related development) is neeed, but where and in what form. That is where we come into the picture. As planners, we work with the market to steer growth. Where? To home improvement, downtown and neighborhood revitalization, infill sites, and yes, greenfields. We also shape the character of that development. Density, design, pedestrian and vehicular movement, parks, environmental protection and conservation, etc. Do we sometimes do a poor job as a profession? Certainly. Can we do better? Yes. But environment is just one of the factors we weigh in our work, not the only one. There are other issues of importance.
 

Jen

Cyburbian
Messages
1,704
Points
24
In beaner's first post on this thread he mentioned something about consumption which made me think of an article by Mark Sagoff Do We Consume Too Much?

The last paragraph: " The world has the wealth and the resources to provide everyone the opportunity to live a decent life. We consume too much when market relationships displace the bonds of community, compassion, culture, and place. We consume too much when consumption becomes an end in itself and makes us lose affection and reverence for the natural world"

In Michigan the DEQ receives applications to alter wetlands at the rate of two a day. The greatest number of applications are to fill in wetlands. Most are approved unless there is vigorous public opposition. This sounds like business as usual to me. Just yesterday was a public notice in the GR Press about an application to dredge and fill a wetland in order to build a road and culvert to create a nine home subdivision. But to make it more palatable to the public the develop is going to recreate those wetlands on another part of the property!!?!!

They are hoping to build upscale homes that are gonna get a pond view with grass up to the water's edge. Good job preserving wetlands eh?
 

giff57

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Jen wrote:


They are hoping to build upscale homes that are gonna get a pond view with grass up to the water's edge. Good job preserving wetlands eh?
That happens so often it is not even funny. What that creates in most of the US is "Urban Goose Nirvana". They won't be so happy when hordes of geese crap all over the lawn....
 

Cardinal

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How about a little consistency? Maybe in Michigan you can fill just about anything, but in Wisconsin you can't fill anything. Unless, of course, you are the DOT, or you want to turn a pristine wetland into a cranberry bog.

I am working right now with a company wanting to make an investment equal to almost 2% of the city's assessed valuation. The problem is, less than one acre of wetlnd originally on the site has expanded to about 7.5 over the past couple of years, really due to road construction that has impacted the site's hydrology. From originally asking to fill just under 2 acres of this created wetland, we are now down to asking to fill about 0.7-0.8 acres, and compensate for it by recountouring the wetland boundaries. Instead of realizing that this is already a net gain of wetlands to the state, we are still struggling for approval.

What is wrong with using a little reason? What is wrong with trying to balance different values (i.e., environment, jobs, tax base, etc.). Just as rampant filling is a poor choice, environmental extremism is not the answer.
 

NHPlanner

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Re: I respectfully beg to differ...

bturk wrote:

We are public servants hired to perform duties asassigned by a body politic of this representative democaracy.
And thus the reality of the planning profession. Until such a time that we have an educated body politic, enviornment will continue to lose out to economic development and housing development.

The issue here is not whether we're doing our jobs as environmentalists, but rather are we doing enough as a profession to help those in the general public understand the ramifications of the continued patterns of development.

Flames aside, ideologies aside, most planners, IMHO, would like to tackle the environmental issues more that they are able to today.
 

Tranplanner

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Re: Re: I respectfully beg to differ...

NHPlanner wrote:
Flames aside, ideologies aside, most planners, IMHO, would like to tackle the environmental issues more that they are able to today.
I would definitely agree with that.

I used to work for one of those screwy DOTs (well, just a regional municipality) that would undertake an EA after having already decided to widen a road - just make the data support that conclusion, would ya? I managed to get one road widening delayed, and spooked a few engineers when I attempted a more realistic approach to travel projections...

NH Planner has a very good point about education - we planners can talk all we want about the negative impacts of growth, but until the public at large is more concious of impacts of their choices (there's that s-word again) their won't be much of a difference made.
 
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