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Old 05-30-2012, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Georgia
4,941 posts, read 3,989,015 times
Reputation: 2727

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As I've alluded to on prior threads, but which I will now expand on more here, there is one legitimate concern regarding the expansion of transit around the metro area: The enabling of sprawl. If we build more and more highways, they are just going to clog up and enable people to move farther and farther out. There is a real, live cost associated with that. That costs metro Atlantans 13.6 billion dollars each year. Why? More gas wasted, increased pollution, and a whole host of other factors such as increased stress and decreased worker productivity (since people have to leave earlier and get home later).

I worry what spreading a transit system all over the metro area would do to that. I worry that as soon as transit takes some of the cars off, more cars will come to replace them. That is exactly what happens when more and bigger highways are built, and I see no reason why that wouldn't happen with increased transit. Perhaps the same could happen in town as well.

So what to do? For years, I have thought that Atlanta should take an "if you build it, they will come approach": Build mass transit lines, and the development will soon cluster around them. However, for whatever reason, that hasn't happened. Aside from planned transit-oriented communities such as Lindbergh Center, many of the MARTA stations outside of downtown, midtown, and Buckhead are little more than park-and-ride lots and bus terminals. Clearly, something needs to change.

Which came first, then: the chicken or the egg? Lately, I'm beginning to think we should go for the chicken first. That is, we need to boost up density in the urban core, leaving a little space for transit, and THEN expand the transit. So how do we do it? My suggestion, and I know it's going to ruffle a LOT of feathers around here, is to look into a similar system that Portland, Oregon uses: Define a clear urban growth boundary around all the metro areas, and restrict growth outside that boundary. I believe this proposal would gain support from two sectors of the population--one obvious, the other one surprising. Urban Atlantans would no doubt be on board with this in large part: It would help raise property values, and it would conform to many of their values. But an urban growth boundary could also gain a lot of support from an unlikely group of people: Rural Georgians. Many of them see the ever-expanding metro Atlanta as infringing on their way of life. This could be the first ever solid method of counteracting that infringement. Resistance, of course, would come from the suburbs, particularly the exurbs that might find themselves outside the boundary.

This boundary would have to be set far enough out that little disruption would take place in terms of planned or existing growth. It would also have to maintain the property rights of existing rural homeowners: As long as you own and keep the land in your family, you can still do as you please with it. But if someone buys up a tract of land for development, then there could be restrictions on that.

I know that some people are going to decry this as "big government socialism" and possibly spam a bunch of links crying about how Portland's smart growth has failed. First, I want to emphasize that this is not a tax of any sort. It's simply a system that keeps sprawl from growing much further. Second, who really opposes that system? The citizens of Portland? No. They would have repealed it years ago if that were the case. It's the special interest groups who stand to profit on the backs of landowners and the land itself. That's who's no doubt been fueling the anti-smart-growth propaganda.

Whether or not the Transit Investment Act passes or not is, quite frankly, a trivial matter compared to this one. If metro Atlanta refuses to get its sprawl in check, then the TIA will just rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. If Atlanta is going to get serious again about maintaining its status as an economic powerhouse in the Southeast and not letting cities such as Charlotte and Tampa pass it by, then they need to do this. A lot depends on it.
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:39 PM
 
Location: ๏̯͡๏﴿ Gwinnett-That's a Civil Matter-County
2,117 posts, read 5,090,866 times
Reputation: 3497
Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
If we build more and more highways, they are just going to clog up and enable people to move farther and farther out.
That's were planning and development comes in.
Sprawl can be managed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
So what to do? For years, I have thought that Atlanta should take an "if you build it, they will come approach": Build mass transit lines, and the development will soon cluster around them. However, for whatever reason, that hasn't happened.
+++
That's because there isn't adequate management and regulation. Planning commissions take a lassez faire approach and give develepers carte blanche to do whatever they want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
Clearly, something needs to change.
+++

Agreed. We need to stand up and take action.

Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
we need to boost up density in the urban core, leaving a little space for transit,
+++

A to the MEN.

Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
and THEN expand the transit.
+++ Whatchatalkinbout Willis?
No reason you can't expand the transit all the way out to greenville and chattanooga.

Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
Resistance, of course, would come from the suburbs, particularly the exurbs that might find themselves outside the boundary.
+++
As you alluded to in the balance of you OP, the developers and related special interests will cry murder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
I know that some people are going to decry this as "big government socialism" and possibly spam a bunch of links crying about how Portland's smart growth has failed.
+++

Realistically, I think Atlanta's too far gone for infill. Portland is in a flat vally surrounded by mountains and laid out in grid/sections. How do you even do that here?

There's also that whole bit about taking cues from one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the country.

I'd like to to try impact fees personally. If buying new was actually more expensive than buying a resale, that would help a lot imo. And it doesn't leave people out in the way far out burbs.

And a moratorium on all new construction until our housing market gets off life support.

Something needs to be done about the industrial sprawl too. Whats with this endless empty warehouses then they go build new ones constantly.

These are things we should demand our elected representatives enact.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:37 PM
 
28,104 posts, read 24,632,008 times
Reputation: 9523
We'd have armed revolt if the state government tried to impose an urban growth boundary here. I appreciate you raising this as a topic for discussion but Portlandia this ain't.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:59 PM
 
12,885 posts, read 20,969,336 times
Reputation: 4066
Quote:
Originally Posted by arjay57 View Post
We'd have armed revolt if the state government tried to impose an urban growth boundary here. I appreciate you raising this as a topic for discussion but Portlandia this ain't.

But, Brother Arjay--

"The dream of the 90's is alive Portland...Portland...Portland..."
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:11 PM
Box
 
382 posts, read 535,423 times
Reputation: 227
Im not a fan of sprawl at all, but what kinda hippie ish is this? I think that sprawl should def be controlled, this idea is just a little too out there even for me.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:12 PM
 
Location: Marietta, GA
7,844 posts, read 14,514,272 times
Reputation: 3484
Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
Transit Investment Act
It's the Transportation Investment Act (of 2010).
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:16 PM
 
Location: Georgia
4,941 posts, read 3,989,015 times
Reputation: 2727
Quote:
Originally Posted by arjay57 View Post
We'd have armed revolt if the state government tried to impose an urban growth boundary here. I appreciate you raising this as a topic for discussion but Portlandia this ain't.
I think the potential may be higher than you think. The swing vote, ironically, would be the rural vote. If they see how urban planning preserves their way of life, they just might get behind this. And it isn't a new tax.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Georgia
4,941 posts, read 3,989,015 times
Reputation: 2727
Quote:
Originally Posted by neil0311 View Post
It's the Transportation Investment Act (of 2010).
Freudian slip. :P
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Georgia
4,941 posts, read 3,989,015 times
Reputation: 2727
Quote:
Originally Posted by cittic10 View Post
Realistically, I think Atlanta's too far gone for infill. Portland is in a flat vally surrounded by mountains and laid out in grid/sections. How do you even do that here?
It would be important to draw the lines based on existing population--i.e., pretty far out there. Also, there doesn't have to be just one line. You could have an "inner line" for unrestricted growth, an outer line for moderately restricted growth, and outside that, growth is heavily restricted.

Another big question is whether the smaller metro areas would have to have zones as well or if this would just be for metro Atlanta. If it's the latter, then the system would have to come up with a way to avoid exurb sprawl around the outermost ring of restriction. I.e., if the restrictions take place up to a 75-mile radius from downtown Atlanta, then sprawl could occur right after that--defeating the whole purpose of the measure.

Quote:
There's also that whole bit about taking cues from one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the country.

I'd like to to try impact fees personally. If buying new was actually more expensive than buying a resale, that would help a lot imo. And it doesn't leave people out in the way far out burbs.

And a moratorium on all new construction until our housing market gets off life support.
I am totally on board with that last idea in theory, but I'm really worried about what that would do in practice. We can't just suspend or bail out thousands of construction jobs without a real impact on the economy.

Don't know if impact fees would work well. They could try that in the "outer zone" as explained above, but there would go the no-tax argument.

Quote:
Something needs to be done about the industrial sprawl too. Whats with this endless empty warehouses then they go build new ones constantly.

These are things we should demand our elected representatives enact.
Agreed. Urban sprawl is quite possibly the single most underrated social problem this area has. And because of its very nature, it's going to spill over into other areas until we finally get a handle on it.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:55 PM
 
731 posts, read 644,725 times
Reputation: 328
A question I always ponder is why do people find this way of life appealing? I'm not knocking autmobiles or non-urban living. But why would anyone choose day after to day to drive 10, 20, 30, 40, 50... miles a day, endure horrible traffic, waste increasing resources on gas, etc?

Wouldn't it be nice to walk every now and then... or at least have the option to?
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