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Old 01-15-2013, 08:04 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Thoughts?

It's so much more than density | Better! Cities & Towns Online
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Density is necessary to create a lively, walkable place, but it's not sufficient. There are dense places that have little interest at the ground level and are bad places to walk. Two highrise streets come to my mind as examples--Wilshire Blvd. between Beverly Hills and Westwood (unlike some other parts of Wilshire) and Brickell Avenue near downtown Miami. But you won't get any of it in low density places, people certainly won't be walking to the transit station.

The reason that those terrible planners and zoners focus so much on density is because it doesn't magically arise in the United States. In fact it is bitterly resisted, four story buildings are routinely denounced as "Manhattanization." It takes a lot of work to make an American place denser, and zoning was a very popular device to prevent that.

I wouldn't take this guy as my planning guru.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:07 PM
 
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Urbanity and density are not the same. Though I think a sufficient level of density is necessary, there are some very dense places that are not urban in the least - walled off tall apartment complexes can be found in many horrific suburbs...it's not enough to stack people together, you must create great streets to have true urbanity
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Urbanity and density are not the same. Though I think a sufficient level of density is necessary, there are some very dense places that are not urban in the least - walled off tall apartment complexes can be found in many horrific suburbs...it's not enough to stack people together, you must create great streets to have true urbanity
I completely agree.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:39 AM
 
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https://sites.google.com/site/timoth...2/fox_Hall.gif

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-SBQyr9-SE-...s1600/220a.jpg

http://ryugyonghotel.com/photos/ryug...el-tower-1.jpg


Great example of something really dense and not urban at all.

Last edited by Komeht; 01-16-2013 at 06:02 AM..
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Carlite View Post
The reason that those terrible planners and zoners focus so much on density is because it doesn't magically arise in the United States. In fact it is bitterly resisted, four story buildings are routinely denounced as "Manhattanization." It takes a lot of work to make an American place denser, and zoning was a very popular device to prevent that.
this is the problem here in Austin...EVERYTIME someone proposes a modestly dense midrise VMU apartment building the NIMBYs scream bloody murder and claim Austin freaking Texas is being transformed in Manhattan. Austin has a lower density than Phoenix...it's in no danger of being "Manhattanized", yet it gets people riled up every time.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
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Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
this is the problem here in Austin...EVERYTIME someone proposes a modestly dense midrise VMU apartment building the NIMBYs scream bloody murder and claim Austin freaking Texas is being transformed in Manhattan. Austin has a lower density than Phoenix...it's in no danger of being "Manhattanized", yet it gets people riled up every time.
"Manhattanization" is a term that should be banned. Seriously no city in the US is in any "danger" of becoming like Manhattan.

In my neighborhood the problem is not increasing density, which is more than sufficient for a vibrant community, but improving the qualities that make an urban place more enjoyable. The majority of projects are between 4-7 stories (though admittedly most everything gets approved here, eventually) and really are pretty much in line with the rest of the neighborhood's design.

I can see people being worried that quality affordable housing will be lost with all of the new construction, in that way I can see the fears of Manhattanization.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by munchitup View Post
I can see people being worried that quality affordable housing will be lost with all of the new construction, in that way I can see the fears of Manhattanization.
This is the other irrational fear that drives me insane. To simplify things for purposes of discussion there are basically two kinds of development in the urban environment.

1. Infill - where a underutilized tract (think surface parking or ultra low density improvements) is built upon with a new structure.

2. Replacement - where an existing structure is replaced with a new(and presumably more expensive) building.

In the case of infill - the mere act of adding new housing, no matter how expensive it is, does not increase housing costs for others. As a matter of fact, it almost always lowers housing costs due to filtering. Just because new expensive housing is available, doesn't mean everyone can suddenly afford it. The rich move up, vacating previous housing, which increases supply and lowers housing costs.

In the case of replacement - yes, it's possible that a low cost housing building that is replaced with a high cost housing building would decrease supply of low cost housing and as a result increase overall housing costs. However, in most areas - this type of development is relatively rare. Almost all densification in my city is infill on underutilized properties. Occasionally a derelict building is torn down - but usually in such cases the building in really bad shape, a tremendous eye sore or is such a poor use of a tract that it demands to be replaced.

There is another obvious way in which housing costs rise as a result of infill and replacement, if a development is successful and improves the desirability of any area the more people will want to live there increasing demand - this is the process of revitalization.

In the case of infill - there is no reason ever to oppose a project simply because it is high cost housing. Increasing housing options is always good at any price level because of filtering.

In the case of replacement - there may be rare instances where low cost housing is lost - but these are almost always mitigated at least in part by the developer who provides a percentage of low cost housing

In the case of revitalization - this is desirable. Think about rolling the tape in reverse. You would never take down nice new buildings, shops, businesses, cafes and whatnot to decrease the desirability of an area of town in hopes of making it less desirable. That would be insanity.

Yet, the forces opposed to infill and urbanization want to do precisely this going forward. They want to impede the process by which revitalization occurs in order to save existing low-cost housing. That is insanity.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,107,696 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
This is the other irrational fear that drives me insane. To simplify things for purposes of discussion there are basically two kinds of development in the urban environment.

1. Infill - where a underutilized tract (think surface parking or ultra low density improvements) is built upon with a new structure.

2. Replacement - where an existing structure is replaced with a new(and presumably more expensive) building.

In the case of infill - the mere act of adding new housing, no matter how expensive it is, does not increase housing costs for others. As a matter of fact, it almost always lowers housing costs due to filtering. Just because new expensive housing is available, doesn't mean everyone can suddenly afford it. The rich move up, vacating previous housing, which increases supply and lowers housing costs.

In the case of replacement - yes, it's possible that a low cost housing building that is replaced with a high cost housing building would decrease supply of low cost housing and as a result increase overall housing costs. However, in most areas - this type of development is relatively rare. Almost all densification in my city is infill on underutilized properties. Occasionally a derelict building is torn down - but usually in such cases the building in really bad shape, a tremendous eye sore or is such a poor use of a tract that it demands to be replaced.

There is another obvious way in which housing costs rise as a result of infill and replacement, if a development is successful and improves the desirability of any area the more people will want to live there increasing demand - this is the process of revitalization.

In the case of infill - there is no reason ever to oppose a project simply because it is high cost housing. Increasing housing options is always good at any price level because of filtering.

In the case of replacement - there may be rare instances where low cost housing is lost - but these are almost always mitigated at least in part by the developer who provides a percentage of low cost housing

In the case of revitalization - this is desirable. Think about rolling the tape in reverse. You would never take down nice new buildings, shops, businesses, cafes and whatnot to decrease the desirability of an area of town in hopes of making it less desirable. That would be insanity.

Yet, the forces opposed to infill and urbanization want to do precisely this going forward. They want to impede the process by which revitalization occurs in order to save existing low-cost housing. That is insanity.
I'm aware of all of this, actually was going to add a distilled version of the above to my post but got distracted...

At the same time, there are definitely still situations in which new development or redevelopment can lead to the steady decline of affordable housing. Land prices can rise sharply, causing low-income property owners to experience higher property tax than they are financially prepared for...Landowners can see the demand for property / redevelopment is high, and one by one (legally or not) evict tenants until the building is empty, sell the property to developers for a nice chunk of change, after which the lot is redeveloped into luxury apartments.

Does this mean we should leave derelict lots empty or never attempt to revitalize a neighborhood?

Not at all, and when community groups are lobbying to halt a development that is an obvious benefit to the neighborhood and blight-killer, that is when you see NIMBYs at their worst and they really earn that derisive term. However when they work to "up" the number of affordable units, or fight to have more open space included in designs while sacrificing a few units, or ensure locals work on the project or that there are dedicated retail slots to lower-paying but neighborhood-serving establishments, that is when you see why neighborhood councils / community organizations are an important part of the process.

Gentrification is generally a positive change but can be done in the right or wrong way, and it is usually a shade of gray somewhere in between that.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:30 AM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,714,506 times
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Originally Posted by munchitup View Post
I'm aware of all of this, actually was going to add a distilled version of the above to my post but got distracted...

At the same time, there are definitely still situations in which new development or redevelopment can lead to the steady decline of affordable housing. Land prices can rise sharply, causing low-income property owners to experience higher property tax than they are financially prepared for...Landowners can see the demand for property / redevelopment is high, and one by one (legally or not) evict tenants until the building is empty, sell the property to developers for a nice chunk of change, after which the lot is redeveloped into luxury apartments.

Does this mean we should leave derelict lots empty or never attempt to revitalize a neighborhood?

Not at all, and when community groups are lobbying to halt a development that is an obvious benefit to the neighborhood and blight-killer, that is when you see NIMBYs at their worst and they really earn that derisive term. However when they work to "up" the number of affordable units, or fight to have more open space included in designs while sacrificing a few units, or ensure locals work on the project or that there are dedicated retail slots to lower-paying but neighborhood-serving establishments, that is when you see why neighborhood councils / community organizations are an important part of the process.

Gentrification is generally a positive change but can be done in the right or wrong way, and it is usually a shade of gray somewhere in between that.
Agree that property taxes are an issue - but again, we should never hold back cities for the sake of preserving people in place. Instead, we should develop much more sensible tax policies that doesn't punish people living on a fixed income.

That being said, I rarely find that the neighborhood groups add anything constructive. They make random demands to satisfy the most strident old biddies who have the most time to devote. They always overestimate the negative impacts of a particular project and never envision the positive ones. Everything is always too tall, too little parking, removes too many trees, is too close to the street, has too many residents. For every unit they win in affordable housing they kill 10 market rate units in height limitations, FAR restrictions, parking requirements, set backs, and other regulations. Many many projects never get out of the design phase because it simply isn't worth the years and years you will have to do battle.

A developer today not only has to have a vision for a successful project and the wherewithal to carry it off, they must have an appetite for endless debate, a infinitely patient banker, and have really deep pockets.

Now, should every project get approved? Of course not - but the process could be infinitely simpler by developing a form based sensible codes - have the battle one time and then allow the city to evolve without an unnecessary battle over each and every project.
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