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Find the silver lining - 'Everything sucks' urbanism is the wrong approach


Some planner has learned that not everything has to be the super dense urbanism thing. You can actually have things like suburbs in a city and they are still a vital part of that city. Good for him. Maybe if some of the planners that right books and blogs and things actually worked for cities other than New York they might understand there are different opinions out there. I believe strongly in the right design for each area urban design for urban areas, suburban for suburbs and rural for rural. Granted we don't need to slap in suburbs everywhere, but you get the idea.

Michele Zone

I really enjoyed the article. It's an excellent piece about a means to create genuinely affordable housing in spite of how much zoning has changed. In most places in the US, you can no longer create a lot of the historical walkable neighborhoods with SROs and row houses and so forth. The rules changed and the existing neighborhoods were grandfathered in, but you can't build a new neighborhood like that.

I have read articles about New Urbanism where they drew up a plan, took it to the city and were told "No, you can't build that" even though, historically, you absolutely could build that and it's a great neighborhood design. So then they go and look up all the local rules and take the same plan and try to rename things while making the fewest changes possible to the plan. So an overly narrow street get renamed "service alley" and I think something that was intended as a courtyard got renamed "parking" or something. And then they go back to the city to get it approved.

It sometimes took several iterations before it got approved and they had to make some actual changes at times to the plan. But this was how New Urbanists got some of their designs accepted.

And this article shows a neighborhood built in the 1980s, not the 1950s or earlier, and the neighborhood contains small single family homes, not row houses or the like. This looks like a very viable means to add some affordable housing in some places, housing that fits with the American expectation that a home should be a single family detached house, not a duplex or a row house, etc. It should also be housing that can be financed with the existing financing infrastructure in place. Alternative housing, like co-housing, tends to have trouble finding loans at all in the US. Our financing mechanisms just don't allow for it. It is mostly aimed at single family detached housing.
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