Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Environmental Advocates Split on Density...

Apparently, some within the environmental movement disagree whether compact and higher density developments oriented around mass transit are really worth the greenspace-saving benefit they bring:

But, increasingly, even the staunchest environmentalists are advocating plans to build up cities near transit hubs in order to curb sprawl and limit emissions of greenhouse gases. That has created a split in the environmental movement.

Nowhere is this trend more evident than in Berkeley, where voters on Tuesday approved a blueprint for reshaping downtown that includes five new high-rises. The blueprint, Measure R, was bankrolled by developers and backed by the Sierra Club, helping the initiative win 64 percent of the vote.

“The Sierra Club has come around to the idea that infill development is the way to go if you’re going to protect open space in other places,” said Mayor Tom Bates of Berkeley, who supported Measure R.

The Sierra Club’s affection for so-called smart-growth policies has not pleased all of its members, said Kent Lewandowski, chairman of the organization’s Northern Alameda County group, which has roughly 10,000 members. The policies encourage development of housing near public transit to reduce commutes and curb the growth of suburbs. “It’s controversial in the club,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “We’ve got longtime club members who see efforts to promote density as colluding with developers. That’s not true; we haven’t gotten paid a dime. Others are against living in an urban environment.”

It seems quite odd that some environmentalists aren't interested in the big picture benefits of smart growth development when it comes to preserving open space and using light imprint infrastructure methods.  It's almost as if they would rather sacrifice these real world benefits in order to stick with some dogmas of the past.  This won't serve their overall mission and efforts well in the long run.

Read the whole story, here.

Chad Emerson

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Reminds me of the fight between New Urbanists and landscape urbanists...

Posted by: Sarah Schindler | Feb 3, 2011 9:50:59 AM