Friday, July 30, 2010
The ordinance, crafted over two years by the Mayor’s Affordable Housing task force, allows developers to build denser housing than normally allowed by an area’s zoning if it’s considered affordable or sustainable and located in certain areas a quarter-mile from major transit corridors. Exactly how much denser the projects may be depends on how affordable, how green and how close to transit they are. The rules would allow such projects to be directly approved by Planning and Zoning, instead of having to go before Asheville City Council for a vote.
However, at the commission meeting last Thursday, there was a sharp split between advocates of the proposed rules, who believe it would provide a major boost to making Asheville a better place to live, and those who fear it would intrude on neighborhoods and harm the democratic process. The commission ended up voting down the initial proposal, with members Jerome Jones and Cindy Weeks supporting it. The body then unanimously approved asking city staff to revise the proposal to exempt neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes and to reduce the areas affected by the proposed ordinance to those within an eighth of a mile of transit corridors.
The article focuses on how much of the opposition centered on the alleged negative effect that the ordinance would have on single-family residential areas. As in other sustainability efforts, the single-family detached home continues to be a sacred cow--immune from even allowing compatible uses nearby.
This is really unfortunate as, historically, the neighborhood corner store was a key part of the community. In addition to providing basic sundries without having to resort to traveling on crowded city streets and state roads, the corner store often provided a community gathering place.
Today, though, the single, segregated use model of residential development often treats anything other than similar, homogeneous residential detached houses as some sort of development pox.
The key to advancing a sustainable development pattern is not to absolutely bar compatible uses but to craft land development codes that allow compatible commercial uses to appropriately conform to compatible residential uses. This can be done through a wide variety of codes ranging from design regulations to sign ordinances to building codes.
Unfortunately, it appears that even a progressive city like Asheville is not ready to consider the sacred cow in context.
--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Oftentimes, smart growth and sustainable development topics focus primarily on urban settings. After all, those are the areas that issues like walkability, mixed use, and transit-oriented development are most prevalent.
Even so, the domain of smart growth land use principles is not limited to downtowns, main streets, and central business districts.
In fact, the ICMA recently released a report entitled “Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities."
I've scanned the study and it looks quite interesting. Here is more:
This report focuses on smart growth strategies that can help guide growth in rural areas while protecting natural and working lands and preserving the rural character of existing communities. These strategies are based around three central goals: 1) support the rural landscape by creating an economic climate that enhances the viability of working lands and conserves natural lands; 2) help existing places to thrive by taking care of assets and investments such as downtowns, Main Streets, existing infrastructure, and places that the community values; and 3) create great new places by building vibrant, enduring neighborhoods and communities that people, especially young people, don’t want to leave.Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The annual Southeastern Association of Law Schools conference begins this Friday at the Breakers in West Palm Beach.
I had the honor of chairing the Program Format Committee this year so I'm very familiar with all of the different sessions. As a property and land use prof, there are several that are very interesting. So, if you are looking for a last minute reason to head to the Breakers, consider SEALS.
And, if you are attending SEALS, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org as I always enjoy visiting with our readers (especially when the setting is the beautiful beaches of Palm Beach!).
--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Robin S. Gregory (Decision Research), Anthony A. Leiserowitz (Decision Research), and Lee Failing (Compass Resource Management) have posted Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerabilities, and Adaptation in Northwest Alaska. The abstract:
"New York? The whole damn place has been turned into a suburb," sneered David Harvey, startling a roomful of New Yorkers who prided themselves on the same things he derided: the makeover of the city's parks; the new network of bike lanes; the pedestrian malls along Broadway. "The feel of the city is losing its urbanity and being made okay for suburbanites to enjoy Times Square," he continued, going on to condemn New York's gentrification not on aesthetic or nostalgic grounds, but for being at the root of the financial crisis.
Harvey is merely putting into Marxist terms the same laments offered recently by Patti Smith ("New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling... So my advice is: Find a new city") and the anonymous blogger behind Lost City, who viciously described Bloomberg's city as "homogenous, anodyne, whitewashed, suburban, toothless, chain-store-ridden, ordinary, exclusive and terribly, terribly expensive. A town for tourists and the upper 2%."
While I personally do not subscribe to Harvey's ideas, they do provide a thought-provoking (or maybe just provocative) frame in which to consider the trend toward urban gentrification in some of America's largest cities. After all, it was not long ago that places like Times Square or large chunks of D.C. were largely abandoned and crime-ridden.
In many respects, the revitalization of these areas has produced good results like increased safety and revenue for cities. Indeed, just last month I spent a wonderful evening in Bryant Park reading a book, dining, and relaxing in that near perfectly formed public space. In that park's relative recent history, this would have been a dicey thing to do. Clearly, the revitalization of places like Bryant Park has been useful and good things on many levels.
But, if you're David Harvey, the likely retort is "At what cost?"
--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Chelsea Chapman (Wisconisn--Anthropology) has posted The Ontological Problem with Sovereignty: Indigenous Nations, Territoriality, and the Making of Natural Resources in Alaska. The abstract: