Friday, November 30, 2007
Kentlands community, located near
It appears that in the long run new urbanism community planning has worked for Kentlands. The proximity will in fact bring community as reported by Salant and Kim but is this really a breakthrough? Is this something people never knew? I could have told you that fact after the first semester in the dorms my freshman year. The question that remains relates to individual preference. What does the consumer want? New urbanism might manifest community but is that what most people want? I suggest that time will tell. Shining examples of its success like Kentlands might prove new urbanism to be effective but whether or not it truly is the way people want to live will be shown in the long run as the trend continues or fizzles out.
How to "own" land in Boulder
In the city of Boulder Colorado a Judge recently ruled that the owners of a 4,700 square foot parcel of land must give one-third of this land to adjacent property owners. The "rightful" owners (Kirlin) of this land had owned the land for 23 years and had plans to build their dream house on this property. In the time they had owned this land they had paid property taxes along with Home Association Dues (HOA) on the vacant land. The adjacent property owners' (McLean & Stevens) had been using the land during this period as a resting place and for a pathway to the back of their home. The judge ruling for the McLean & Stevens (plaintiff) was as follows: "Plaintiff's attachment to the land is stronger than the true owners' attachment. Whereas the Kirklins were unaware of plaintiffs' use of the land during virtually their entire period of ownership, plaintiffs have efficiently used the land on a daily basis. Given this history of use, the equities favor transfer of title."
It is hard to imagine a life without individual property rights, rule of law or common sense. All these have been thrown aside with this with this judges ruling. I find little equity in the transfer of ones property rights to another strictly on a unauthorized use of the property over the last 23 years. I see no efficiency in the use of an others property without their consent. The final slap in the face is McLean and Stevens are seeking to have their attorney's fess paid for by the Kirklins. This is a sad period for the "People's Republic of Boulder and the State of Colorado.
Hawaii loves to conserve!
There are many people out there that would love to conserve nature and would finance this, but I know many more that would pay a lot of money to be able develop the land. This is kind of a classic example of the government not trusting the people to do the right thing. Instead of finding a way to buy the land and conserve it, the task force is looking to the government to do it for them. I wish that these task force people would see that it is also in the interest of developers not to ruin the islands, because if they did, less and less people would want to visit and they would loose business. Hawaii depends a lot on tourism and can't afford to stifle the growth of that industry, in the end it will mean more unemployment and a failing economy. Taxing the land that is bought by developers if they are ruining the land, is much more effective than just saying they can't develop at all!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The article references that these urban condos are geared to singles who want to experience all the great amenities that come with living in the city. Personally I think it is good that more high rises are being built. Let’s keep the young singles who like to have fun in the middle of the city where all the action is. This way, we can save the edges of the city for the older people with families who probably like driving an hour to work everyday to escape their screaming kids.
Colfax and New Urbanism
From an economic standpoint if people thought there was a bright future for Colfax the government would not have to step in and blight areas. These areas would be bought at a price that both the buyer and seller would agree upon. Some one would have all ready seen the incentive to redevelop that area--not government. Crime is also a big concern for redevelopment along Colfax. The city has increased police and crime has dropped, but that did not make anyone want to move there. The people who all ready live in that area are aware of the crime. I think it is something they factored in before they decided to live there. The city can try all it wants to make Colfax Main Street America, but the reality is people have all ready decided what they want and it is not Colfax. They have moved away and have realized they are better off for the decisions they have made.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Why live in a new urbanism community?
After a semester of discussing this subject I thought it was about time that I asked the question “why live in a new urbanism community?”. While the advantages of new urbanism are clearly staggering (at least if you are a supporter of it), there are also blatant disadvantages. But are the advantages great enough to outweigh the disadvantages?
Without going into too much detail, the major advantages are being within walking distance to most major activities (work, school, shopping), and more neighborhood activities. While all of these advantages derive from preference, let’s assume they all are desirable.
The advantages that come from being within walking distance to most major activities stems mainly from
The presence of more neighborhood activities presents more advantages as well. With more people being involved in the community it could be expected that the crime rate will be lower then in other areas. By getting to know your neighbor it is likely that they will look out for you and your family. They might even let you stash Christmas presents at their place or let you borrow some flour Christmas Eve so you can make cookies for Santa, saving you a brisk walk to the store that would be closed because it was a mom and pop store.
While there are many disadvantages to a new urbanism community (narrow streets, small lot sizes, short driveways, being able to say hi to your neighbor during your morning pee) I will focus on one, which I feel is the biggest, personal liberty. What bothers me most about new urbanism communities is not how they are set up or any of the disadvantages listed above, but that it is someone’s idea that everyone should live that way and desires to use the coercive power of the government to see it happen. When someone tells you what to do and how to do it, they are taking away your voice in the market, which would ultimately reduce the efficiency with which the market operates.
I guess there is no easy answer to the question “why live in a new urbanism community?”. Will the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in your specific case? If so, I would say you should CHOOSE to live there. But keep in mind that choice is not what these communities are about and don’t be surprised if the home owners association requires you to own only a certain type of dog or face eviction.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Liberty vs. Stupidity
Pierce says, “The overall package would have raised the area's carbon-dioxide emissions by 18 million to 28 million tons over the next 50 years” and “already, notes Sims, as many greenhouse gases are emitted in Washington State as the Philippines, which has 12 times Washington's population. Metro areas, he says, can't claim they're expanding for economic efficiency "and then go down to Brazil and say please don't cut your tropical rain forest””.
First, I cannot say for certain, but Ron Sims is not clairvoyant or psychic in any way, and therefore, he cannot make claims about future carbon monoxide emissions because he DOES NOT KNOW. The cars made in the next 50 YEARS will be noticeably different in the amount of emissions and may not emit carbon monoxide at all. Second, the analogy between Washington State and the Philippines is certainly not equitable. The GDP per capita (PPP) in the Philippines is 5,000 (US dollars) and in Washington State alone is more than 53,000 (US dollars). The number of roads in the Philippines that are paved is only 10%, and its national GDP is measured only in the billions. There is no comparison between Washington and the Philippines, especially economically. Third, advocates for economic efficiency do not waste time worrying about Brazil. The irony, is that those individuals who support “growth limits — tighter, denser communities”, also try to infringe on the economic freedoms of people in Brazil.
The socialist rhetoric and twisted values purposed by Peirce do not end with Brazil. He says:
“No one should have to commute more than a half-hour from home, Sims suggests."The human body," he said, "was not designed to be pounded from the stress and strain of long commutes." Plus, he said, we all need "time with our families, to live." That translates too into time for a mix of exercise and sociability, walking and biking and talking with neighbors — which reasonably compact communities make easier””.
Wow! Finally, a doctor, a psychic, a family psychiatrist, and an economist all in one! I find this statement as ridiculous as it is flawed. My freedom to NEVER meet my neighbors or walk my dog is worth the so called “problems”. In no way should anyone listen to Ron Sims or Neal Peirce and we are all a little more stupid for having done so already.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Urban Spral = Global Warming
This increase in people wanting to move away from pollution and overpopulation is only recreating the same problem further away. The government is then of course not only responsible for urban sprawl and its solution but also the impact it is having on global warming. If the government would implement smart growth boundaries then development could be quarantined to a much smaller area, allowing preservation if open space. Advocates are suggesting solutions such as an increase in land use planning, the development of public transportation that is accommodating to a greater range of people and housing that would place community members closer to school and jobs and homes that are more energy efficient. The problem with this is that many of these solutions to not consider that most of these solutions do not accommodate the lower class. Those that are already living paycheck to paycheck cannot afford the rent in housing close to the city core that is impacted by the rent gradients. The increased upfront cost for a hybrid is not in the budget for many as well as the higher cost for energy efficient windows or better insulation. If you choose to recycle through your garbage company, you actually have to pay them. Many of these options are just not an option for a family with a limited budget. So, until it is affordable to Go Green, environmentalists can continue to blame the government for urban sprawl and its contributions to pollution rather than the market that is making a big buck off of the consumer efforts to conserve.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Zoning and controls can make construction and development very difficult. In an article from Economist.com, the author suggests a circumstance where zoning could be used to hinder construction of a Planned Parenthood building in Aurora, Illinois.
Aurora’s battle nominally centered on a permit and how Planned Parenthood obtained it… When Planned Parenthood applied for permits in Aurora last year, it used the name Gemini Office Development, a subsidiary, hoping to keep the project quiet for as long as possible. When pro-life activists learned of the building’s true purpose in July, they were furious, claiming that Planned Parenthood had committed fraud… The lawyers found no wrongdoing, however, so the clinic opened just two weeks late.
The construction of the building has caused controversy, not because of where it is being built, but because of the types of services and procedures that it provides. The most controversial procedure offered by the clinic being abortion. The controversy in Illinois is not the first and certainly will not be the last for Planned Parenthood. In 2003 a similar situation arose in Austin, Texas. The main contractor pulled out and after boycotts from many subcontractors, and Planned Parenthood stepped in to assume the contractors role. The same problems may arise in Denver where another Planned Parenthood is scheduled to start construction in November.
Although the question of zoning has not been raised in the battle in Aurora, Illinois it has been used to deter and to prevent businesses to be built where they were initially planned. Fortunately, for the Planned Parenthood in Aurora the area is zoned for medical use, and can not be barred from being built based on zoning requirements. Zoning regulations seem to hinder development in many areas, but are put in place to enhance, or help guide the direction of growth and economic development. The case of Planned Parenthood wanting to move in seems to be a classic example of how zoning laws and regulations may be used to help certain parties while they hinder others. Whether or not it is fair seems to be subjective based on whether you win or lose.
Source: http://www.economist .com/world/na/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=9946963
Thursday, November 01, 2007
According to the 2007 growth and transportation survey ¾ of people surveyed claimed they feel smart growth is important and the way of future city growth. The main solution listed was to improve public transportation and current roads, and to stop building new roads. This smart growth is supposedly the answer to city traffic and congestion. Half of the people surveyed would push for public transportation to be improved. However in our own city the public transportation system is struggling. The city is increasing the rates for mass transit due to a decline in users. This system is good in theory, but people are ultimately going to be unwilling to change their preferences. Driving is a preference and it has been proven in cities that have implemented mass transit over expansion to increase traffic and congestion. The misconception is that everyone will change their preferences in order to move towards this idea of smart growth, but that has not proven to be the case.