New Urbanism is gaining steam these days, in blue states and red states. As seen in Grist Magazine's recent interview with Mayor Rocky Anderson, conservative Salt Lake City is pulsing with green technology and dense, transit-friendly development that's putting many progressive American cities to shame. The city has implemented the internationally-recognized Salt Lake City Green program, a methane-capturing facility, numerous LEED-certified buildings, and people are now willing to raise sales taxes to increase transit service.
Joel Kotkin is one of America’s most prolific commentators on urban affairs. At first glance, he appears to support something very much like New Urbanism. According to one newspaper story quoted on Kotkin’s website, he favors “suburbs that are not defined by sprawl but a sense of community. He wants village-like suburbs that combine parks, restaurants and some retail within walking distance of single-family homes.” (JoelKotkin.com) Similarly, New Urbanists have created suburbs such as Celebration, Fla. which combine stores and housing.
Sam Staley coauthored an article in the Washington Post. I think he is one of the more thoughtful smart growth critics- partially because he agrees with me sometimes, and partially because his tone is a bit more measured than some others I might name. Moreover, he seems to be playing with more or less the same deck of facts that I play with. On the other hand, he interprets those facts differently than I do; he tends to see the glass as half-empty while I see it as half-full, and vice versa. Below are some of his thoughts and my responses.
This past Friday Kevin Hardman, CNU member and former developer’s task force chair gave us a tour of his latest project Parkside at Old Town on Chicago’s near North Side. Located at Division and Clybourn in Chicago this development is part of the Cabrini Green Hope VI public housing transformation in Chicago. Under HOPE VI public housing units are being transformed across the country into mixed income communities comprised of 30% returning residents, 30% subsidized housing, and 30% market rate. The development is a mix of mid rise apartments with first floor retail lining an interior network of townhomes. Kevin explained the complications and some of the frustrations of the project beginning with the street widening. Pictured to the left is Division Street, where thanks to Division street being an IDOT state route, they forced a road widening on the city DOT. Despite CDOT and developer protests, IDOT took out a lane of parallel parking and added an additional travel lane. We did not take kindly to this turning radius and fast moving traffic including a two land right hand turn lane that turns right into a one lane side street. (pictured here). One of the streets also has a cul-de-sac which Kevin explained was not good urban design, but is attractive to parents with children. The development is adjacent to a large park and fieldhouse.
During the Florida CNU, a lengthy discussion was started on the issues that we face with regional planning in Florida. The regional planning process in Florida is very complicated, and many times the vision is never developed beyond policy. Regional Planning Councils around the State are working hard to develop plans, private developers are creating plans, and local municipalities are creating visions for their growth. All of these plans includes visions and policies that over lap city and county boundaries. Many of these policies are never illustrated, and the vision is left to the imagination of the next planning session. Amazingly enough, when a plan is drawn, these plans are rarely placed on a State wide map with adjoining regional and city plans, or compared to regional transportation or water management needs.
Andres Duany’s suggestions on how to save New Orleans may be falling on fertile ground these days. My analysis: people are beginning to sense Duany's’ genuine appreciation for New Orleans, a city which evokes his emotional attachment to similar cities found in his native Cuba, and that his suggestions are addressing practical concerns such as parking issues voiced by local residents. People are seeing that Duany is not playing SimCity with their town.
NU-Tube: Video for Santa Fe Project does a smart job introducing principles and sustainability benefits of New UrbanismSubmitted by Filmanowicz on Sat, 01/13/2007 - 2:04pm
This video isn't your daddy's view of New Urbanism. But amid the quick cuts and other cool effects, it does a nice job of introducing viewers to New Urbanism. Just now breaking ground (and already so pre-sold that it's generating a long waiting list) Oshara appears to be an emerging exemplar of green urbanism -- a traditional neighborhood of connected streets and blocks, onsite stormwater retention and other examples of smart infrastructure and green buildings to boot. The developers back up their vision with research showing that residents will generate energy-use and pollution reductions of nearly 50% through reduced use of automobiles and more efficient heating and cooling of buildings. (Interesting political footnote: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson suported granting an easement over a freeway to better connect the project to Santa Fe's existing street grid.)
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The Cuban and Norwegian chapters of the Council for European Urbanism (CEU) have been busy arranging two great opportunities to learn more about (and influence) Cuban urbanism: a week long tour traveling to Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad (Feb 24 - Mar 3) and a charrette focused on Old Havana's waterfront and nearby Casablanca (Mar 4-10).