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Old 01-16-2013, 07:37 AM
 
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There was a time, from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s when we had a particularly enlightened city government that "got it" about the importance of revitalizing the abandoned urban core, focusing on infill and VMU as opposed to endless sprawl. What followed after a bit of lag was an intense period development that has absolutely floored long time residents and newbies alike. Sectors that were once dead have become vibrant and alive filled with people enjoying a variety of things to do.

Did we learn from this and decide to repeat these successes? NO.

Those days are over. The NIMBYs hit back and hit back hard and appear to have won. In reaction to the rapid development, the NIMBYs have managed to elect a retrograde council that ONLY listens to the neighborhood groups. The pendulum has swung so far in the other direction I fear another decade of intransigence and stagnation.

I'm at an age now where I would like to enjoy the potential of this great city. It really could be a world class city some day (not in my lifetime). I would love to see it on that path. But the committee of people who just don't get it are organized, get riled up at the first whiff of a VMU project anywhere close to a neighborhood and fight with such vehemence it's impossible to get a variance. OH, and the deck is completely stacked against the well meaning developer with a set of zoning and environmental regulations that make sensibly dense urban development in the city core impossible. The starting place for any urban project is - it's prohibited, unless a variance is granted. This almost never happens now.

It's so maddening. I want to leave. But it's the city I love and grew up in and has my career, family and friends.

I also wonder - is this unique to my city or is this a national trend? Have the NIMBYs won against the Urbanists?
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
I also wonder - is this unique to my city or is this a national trend? Have the NIMBYs won against the Urbanists?
Depends on the city. In some cities, new urbanism has gained popularity, in others (I can think of a few, locally) people are staunchly opposed to it, and in most larger cities, it seems to be a mixed bag.

Frankly, it's a matter of the age of the residents of an area and how "settled in" those residents are.

The cities (locally) most opposed to developments are filled to the brim with the elderly who still see their neighborhoods as they were in the 1940s. They fight change because they see change as a problem in and of itself.

The Milennials, however, seem to, at this point in their lives, want density and proximity to destinations. Cities heavy with Milennials, then, are tending toward some approximation of new urbanism.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:59 PM
 
Location: Southern California
15,087 posts, read 17,563,220 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
...

I also wonder - is this unique to my city or is this a national trend? Have the NIMBYs won against the Urbanists?
Depends on what the people want.

[either way, democracy wins]
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MIKEETC View Post
Depends on what the people want.

[either way, democracy wins]
I'm pretty sure people don't fall into two camps around urban development.
An Urbanist can be just as nimby as a historic preservationist when someone is trying to put a big box store on their block of ma and pop stores.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Southern California
15,087 posts, read 17,563,220 times
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Originally Posted by HiFi View Post
I'm pretty sure people don't fall into two camps around urban development.
An Urbanist can be just as nimby as a historic preservationist when someone is trying to put a big box store on their block of ma and pop stores.
Agreed.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MIKEETC View Post
Depends on what the people want.

[either way, democracy wins]
Do you think that democracy always results in the best choice?
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:00 PM
 
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Komeht, NIMBYs are a force to be reckoned with almost everywhere, but they don't always win. In some cities, even some neighborhoods, there are pro-smart growth organizations that push back against the NIMBYs. They don't always win either, but when two sides of an issue are publicly presented, it gives elected officials cover to choose in favor of smart growth and infill, if they're inclined to do that.

It might be that your city needs an organization like that to start agitating. Some business people can be recruited for organizations like this. If they see all the growth flowing to another city while your city slows gurgles down the drain, they might be interested in getting a more balanced approach.

Beyond the immediate run, you probably want to get your Zoning Ordinance rewritten, rather than rely on variances. You don't necessarily want to have the current crew do it, but you might want to start agitating for a rewrite, towards the day that "Yourcity Tomorrow" (my name for the smart growth org) has more influence.

Strategies depend on context. Sometimes the regional level can be helpful. Some of the Council of Governments and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (who allocate federal transportation funds) will push for sensible growth, some are too afraid of offending their member cities.

Sometimes the state level is useful. Oregon, for example, mandated that cities create urban growth boundaries that put a brake on sprawl. The state level planning frameworks (or lack thereof) vary tremendously.

Don't give up! In the 1960's, Portland was a small, backwards looking city, dominated by a corrupt inbred elite. And then it started changing.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:35 PM
 
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There is a large portion of the city that are urbanist - indeed, the urbanist ideas carried the day for about a decade and a half here and the results have been spectacular. The problem has been pushback that occurred - the current leadership has very very very strong neighborhood bent and the urbanists support is mere lip service.

Regarding the zoning - we badly need a total revamp of the zoning code which has become ridiculously complex with multiple contradictory overlays over much of the city. It, like most places, is a use base code which pretty much sucks to begin with. The various overlays mean projects can take months working through the complexities only to find out there is no real answer, or multiple real answers. In any case - there isn't the political will to do so right now, and given current leadership, now would be the worst time to revamp the code.

The state is even more retrograde than the city - so they aren't any help and the county is only interested in promoting as much sprawl as possible.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:01 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 18 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,996 posts, read 102,581,357 times
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Shouldn't this be in your city's forum?
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:11 PM
 
Location: Southern California
15,087 posts, read 17,563,220 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Do you think that democracy always results in the best choice?
No.

[but it is better than the alternative]
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