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happy urbanism

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
one thing i hate is being a planner with extreamly different views that the general thought in the office. My city is guilty of sprawl, but i think it should be eliminated.. no more curvey cul-de-saq streets.

GRID is it, with corner gas stations or grocery or delis. (my current neighborhood is like this). I can walk for 1 minutes and be at a gas station/convience store, 1 minutes and get car or home insurance, 1.5 and be at an old fashioned ice cream stand, 1.5 and be at a pizza/sandwich shop, 3 minutes and be at an italian resturant, music store, and clothing store. ITS GREAT! I get my house insurance from a place a 1 minutes walk from my front door!

These are low-density commerical uses, they don't generate much noise at all, the resturants fill the air with good smells, and they all close and get real quiet by 10-11pm anyway.

The neighborhood is a mix of single family, duplex, owner-occupied and rental. Front porches on modest homes, with detached garages in the rear.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Sounds like a good neighbrohood, Boiker. Do you live near Bradley, or downtown (or in the Heights?)

I consider myself lucky enought to live in downtown Vacaville (I own a townhouse-it cost what a nice house in Peoria or Fort Wayne India would, but that's California for ya!) I CAN walk to a supermarket in 20 minutes ( not a great walk, but doable). 10 minutes to coffee, five minutes to a corner store, three minutes to the post office, and 5 minutes to a new fancy restaurant (I like to eat). And, to make up for the last, my health club-Gold's Gym-is moving one block away this fall! Walkable neighborhoods rule! And, it is definitely a mix of people-races, incomes, etc. I've got a huge mansion a block and a half away, and a tiny wooden house with plywood walls around the yard across the street :)

I don't know if you can mandate this kind of neighborhood, as it seems that people in the US have bought into the whole ideology behind Euclidean zoning. And, the whole development machine is predicated on separate "pods" of different land uses. They can't do a mixed use project cause they don't know how anymore.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
I live on the bluff about a 3/4 a mile north of Bradley on University St.

It's a car's world now, not a persons. We still have neighborhoods, corner stores, etc. ONly they are spaced apart on a cars scale, not a persons.

It's crap. I don't know of many people who get into 'accidents' walking around a downtown area or mixed use area.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
boiker,

The urbanism you speak of is indeed desirable and makes for a more interesting way of life. Driving everywhere is a pain. But with the way we tend to develop our neighborhoods and cities, it seems all we get is single-family detached homes in a suburban style neighborhood. This kind of development program, regardless if you have curvilinear streets or a grid pattern, makes the feasibility of access to pedestrian-friendly uses and amenities quite difficult. These places, the groceries, offices, and shops, rely on a sizable market in order to turn a profit. Unless you have high-density development patterns to surround these uses, i.e. 4-story brownstones, you will continue to see development occur on the fringe, in the sprawling areas, where the amount of automobile traffic creates a market worth capturing. When towns and cities start to include many zones for dense residential development in their master plans, you will see these lifestyle patterns becoming more common. But in the meantime, as places continue to zone mostly for single-family detached homes, regardless if it's New Urbanism or not (those places, although described as being "dense" still contain a majority of single-family detached homes), you will have the sprawling, low-density places that we all seem to loathe.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
And, the trend to gigantism in commerce continues. New supermarkets are now a MINIMUM of 60,000 square feet-that requires a huge catchment area-and a huge parking lot. Those Walmart Superstores-150,000 square feet. It is physically impossible to make a Super Walmart "pedestrian friendly" even with all the quaint neo-Victorian facadework and changes in color that we planners like to impose.

Davis, about a half hour away from me, tried to impose a limit on grocery store size to preclude the move to fewer, larger stores. The limit did not hold.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
BKM wrote:
And, the trend to gigantism in commerce continues. New supermarkets are now a MINIMUM of 60,000 square feet-that requires a huge catchment area-and a huge parking lot. Those Walmart Superstores-150,000 square feet. It is physically impossible to make a Super Walmart "pedestrian friendly" even with all the quaint neo-Victorian facadework and changes in color that we planners like to impose.

Davis, about a half hour away from me, tried to impose a limit on grocery store size to preclude the move to fewer, larger stores. The limit did not hold.
but the reason these giant super markets exist is because of the convience of driving your car to one place and loading up. If there were more smaller and specialized local stores within the walking distance of an area you would be pedestrian friendly. I would probably go to the store more often, I'd buy what i need for 2-3 days and walk home with a bag or two. Instead of a carload of 2 weeks worth of groceries.

The 'scale' of the car has enlarged the scale of everything. Cities used to be compact and dense because, public tranport and walking was the way to get around. Once the car was mass marketed, you could go farther independtly that you could before. now cities are hardley dense, stores are gigantic, and there are oceans of parking around every establishment (which causes even less dense development). Mom and Pop can't compete with big boxes because our life choices changed.

Peoria, my town, is only a town of 113,000. It takes people who live on the far north side of town almost 25 mintues to get to downtown the far southern portion of town.

on another note, a new super-walmart has just started construction in that hyper-suburban north side of Peoria. 210,000 sqft. Its almost a self contained shopping mall!
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Well, this lifestyle is based on, as James Howard Kunstler puts it, a raw material (oil) provided by people who hate us. No oil: No Super Wal Mart :).
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
And . . .

25 minutes-that's nothing.

There are people in the Bay Area who commute an hour-and-a-half EACH WAY-just so they can afford "The American Dream Home" in some distant suburb. Generally, its a cost thing. BUT, what we are seeing out here is people willing to make this commute just for space and "luxury" (if you consider a large tract home luxury in any form). They can afford a modest bungalow in the Bay Area, but drive an extra 40 miles, and you can get a 3,000 square foot new home in a gated community with plenty of parking for the Lincoln Navigator. Now-that is their choice, and our impact fees are so high that they are at least paying SOME of their own way (and my salary as a planner :). But, the point is, suburbia is deeply engrained, and it won't go away until the underlying economic and social factors change (i.e., cheap oil).
 

adaptor

Member
Messages
123
Points
6
Just as bad as the sprawling superstore suburbs is the effect on redevelopment in the older towns and cities.
I drive the streets here and wonder why the trashy '60s and '70s commercial structures were permitted to be sandwiched between traditional pedestrian scale retail. And it's almost impossible to get somewone to build infill housing without 2 car attached "snouts" amidst the vernacular homes. No one sees the incongruity.
I live in a neighborhood with some ammenities and services in walking distance, but not much diversity. Folks seem content to drive out to Borders for their books and music rather than support and independent bookstore., or visit the Gap or Target rather than support neighborhood boutique retail. It's a wonder any traditional businesses like the hardware store hold on at all
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
BKM wrote:
And . . .

25 minutes-that's nothing.

There are people in the Bay Area who commute an hour-and-a-half EACH WAY-just so they can afford "The American Dream Home" in some distant suburb.
Ya, but I'm only talking about the scale of a small city. I worked in the burbs of chicago and I know the 1 hour plus commute. it sucked, thats one reason why i moved to a smaller town.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
rustbelt wrote:
Just as bad as the sprawling superstore suburbs is the effect on redevelopment in the older towns and cities.
I drive the streets here and wonder why the trashy '60s and '70s commercial structures were permitted to be sandwiched between traditional pedestrian scale retail. And it's almost impossible to get somewone to build infill housing without 2 car attached "snouts" amidst the vernacular homes. No one sees the incongruity.
I live in a neighborhood with some ammenities and services in walking distance, but not much diversity. Folks seem content to drive out to Borders for their books and music rather than support and independent bookstore., or visit the Gap or Target rather than support neighborhood boutique retail. It's a wonder any traditional businesses like the hardware store hold on at all
those traditional hardware stores seem to offer service more than cheap products. If you EVER have a question about anything hardware related, just go talk to Gus at the hardware store and he'll tell you everything you need to know and more about equipment, tools, how-to, etc.

People generally don't have many questions about books besides, do you have such and such. Maybe it's just a sepcialization market.


I agree, snouts suck. especially in a neighborhood full of front porches and brick homes. "What's this vinyl sided garage door doing here? Oh, there's the front door."
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Well, Rustbelt. I read something once in a book about Tokyo (in a discussion questioning the idea of excessive historic preservation): WE GET THE CITIES (AND BUILDINGS) WE DESERVE. I'm sure the property owners where the strip malls were built are very satisfied with the monthly cash flow, and their customers are happy with the convenience for their drive-in lifestyles, and that is all that matters. Heck, I live in a suburban environment, and I feel irritation when I can't park easily.

Our culture celebrates convenience, consumption and the private automobile. As planners, we can tweak the resulting "National American Parking Lot," but fundamental change-maybe not yet. Despite its weaknesses, the New Urbanist movement at least is bringing these issues to the forefront.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
BKM wrote:
Well, Rustbelt. I read something once in a book about Tokyo (in a discussion questioning the idea of excessive historic preservation): WE GET THE CITIES (AND BUILDINGS) WE DESERVE. I'm sure the property owners where the strip malls were built are very satisfied with the monthly cash flow, and their customers are happy with the convenience for their drive-in lifestyles, and that is all that matters. Heck, I live in a suburban environment, and I feel irritation when I can't park easily.

Our culture celebrates convenience, consumption and the private automobile. As planners, we can tweak the resulting "National American Parking Lot," but fundamental change-maybe not yet. Despite its weaknesses, the New Urbanist movement at least is bringing these issues to the forefront.
damn conveniences. I've asked good friends of mine what they want as they progress through life. And many respond, i want a big house in a subdivision with an acre of land. I ask them why they want that and they really dont have good answers. They'll say, I know it's safe, and it would be a trophy house, to go with a trophey car(s).

Society isn't going to change without another major event, like WWII or the depression.

the depression marked an end to most classic architectural styles and neighborhoods shifted into smaller homes that were but for function rather than function and appearance.

WWII marked an end to everything that was done before. The war was over, people were coming home, having kids, buying a car. They wanted to use that car, They bought a ranch (ick) and 'the new american dream' was born. I don't think it was all about excess consumption then. But it sure is now.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,125
Points
26
BKM wrote:
Well, this lifestyle is based on, as James Howard Kunstler puts it, a raw material (oil) provided by people who hate us. No oil: No Super Wal Mart :).
Quoting James Howard Kunstler? This thread is now doomed...
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Kunstler

Yeah, I know. He is a bit, shall we say, strident. But, I find some of what he says funny (although when he advocated levelling every Arab city with bombs after 9-11, he lost me a little bit).

He is definitely a doom-and-gloom kinda guy.
 

adaptor

Member
Messages
123
Points
6
Not what we deserve.

BKM wrote:
I read something once in a book about Tokyo (in a discussion questioning the idea of excessive historic preservation): WE GET THE CITIES (AND BUILDINGS) WE DESERVE. I'm sure the property owners where the strip malls were built are very satisfied with the monthly cash flow, and their customers are happy with the convenience for their drive-in lifestyles, and that is all that matters. Heck, I live in a suburban environment, and I feel irritation when I can't park easily.
I don't buy the deserve sentement. I think the issue is what we think we can afford. State Universities in Ohio slapped up poured concrete campuses in the '70s and now we're stuck with crumbling, stained, hot, brutalist infrasturcture. Home builders don't want to pour a yard of concrete more than they have to so they push the garage closer to the street. The strip mall owners can be satisfied with their DriVit boxes for a few years then abandon them for greener pastures while we deal with the check joints and resale shops that infest their decaying remains.

I walk a lot less than I used to as well. But that doesn't mean I have to ignore the scenery.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
True (affordability), but in most respects the beautiful towns and villages that we all love (in theory) were built by a much less affluent society.

Admittedly, the modern era buildings are serving a mass market in a much more democratic fashion than the pre-modern era.

BUT:

If we as a society say we can't afford a beautiful university campus or neighborhoods, part of the reason is that we seem to be able to afford gigantic multi-lane freeways, huge airports metropolitan areas covering 1000 square miles, a huge prison infrastructure, etc., etc., etc. You cannot make a 1000 square mile metropolis beautiful-there is too much infrastructure, too many highways, etc.

And, all of us seem to afford two (or three) cars per family household :) (Hey, I just bought a new car (a Subaru), so I'm a hyporcrite :)

Its all a matter of priorioties.
 

Richi

Cyburbian
Messages
432
Points
13
good point BKM Less affluent socities did build good stuff. I think we sometimes forget that GNP is not the same as quality of life.

This really hit me walking around Szeged Hungary a couple of years after "the change" as they say. Although many families own a car there (Trabants all over the place El Gaupo as ell as Laddas and other little cars) almost no one drove to work and most autos are used only once a week or so. And people got around as quickly and for far less cost than we do here. Think of how much transportation costs your family Total cost, insurance, auto payments, gas, two car garrage etc. This doesn't even start to cover the indirect costs.

Now back in the days when every road offered LOS or maybe a B the auto was a "wonderful" way to get around. But at LOS D, E, and F It sucks as the only way.

it really is how you look at it.
 
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