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View Poll Results: Should we allow the densification/redevelopment of close in urban residential neighborhoods
Yes 13 76.47%
No 4 23.53%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-16-2015, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpdivola View Post
The blog Brownstoner occasionally show the gradual evolution of NYC over time: small wooden house is replaced by larger big row houses, which is then replaced by an apartment building.

NYC is the most extreme example, but this used to happen in all of our traditional dense urban cities before the advent of modern zoning. This gradual densification allowed NYC (and European cities) to develop dense urban cores suitable for walkable retail, efficient public transit, grand civic space, etc. Modern zoning has ended this process. For a long time, it didn't matter since cities were in decline and people were leaving. But, now that people are moving back to cities, zoning is severely limiting their potential (and contributing to soaring prices).

Under current zoning, we will never again be able to build urban cores to rival the grand European cities or even SF or Boston. Sure we allow infill development. But, the reigning orthodox is that it must conform to the existing neighborhood. One-story commercial strips and vacant lots on commercial streets and downtown districts can be redeveloped. But, residential streets are off limits to anything that doesn't match it's neighbors. Replacing a couple houses with an apartment building is basically illegal in most city cores.

US cities were so depopulated by 50 years of decline, that this wasn't an issue until recently. Modest opportunities for development was enough to satisfy demand in most cities. But, in cities were it wasn't (Bos, SF, NYC, DC, LA) prices have been soaring as demand far exceeds supply (and this will eventually be an issue as the sunbelt fills in its empty lots).

Long term, this isn't sustainable. We need to go back to redeveloping neighborhoods. I'm not saying we need to destroy all our history. But, in cities like DC with around 120,000 single family or row houses, we could redevelop 20,000 (16%) of them in the walkable/transit friendly core as small apartments at 5x the density (+80,000 new units). Central rowhouse neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Shaw, and Bloomingdale would become like Dupont currently is. (A mix or rowhouses and low rise apartments, Not exactly Hong Kong). SFH neighborhoods could gradually become quiet rowhouse neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Bloomingdale are today.

If we want cities to become more than just little niches for the affluent, we need to get back to building up cities en masse. Better to build up true urban cores than little walkable TOD nodes across the sprawling suburbs. TODs and suburban downtowns have their place and are better than traditional sprawl, but are no replacement for dense urban cores and will never really support car-free urban living.
This post is extremely relevant to where I live (Vancouver, BC).
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Old 01-16-2015, 12:45 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIMBAM View Post
This post is extremely relevant to where I live (Vancouver, BC).
Vancouver seems to be zoned for single family homes in much of its area with the remainder zoned for very dense development

Old Urbanist: Vancouver and the Zoning Straitjacket
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Old 01-16-2015, 02:27 PM
 
Location: South Park, San Diego
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Our city is experiencing growing pains like this, but like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco the zoning is updated fairly frequently to accommodate at least some development pressures. In fact there is a thread in the San Diego forum discussing exactly this topic:
Are you opposed to San Diego doubling in population by 2030?

Downtown Little Italy and East Village neighborhoods, respectively formerly mostly single family and mostly warehouse districts both were up zoned with a resulting slew of new development and denser/larger mix of buildings. While every development there is of course not necessarily great, the overall neighborhoods have gotten way better as they have become denser. Other outlying core neighborhoods have all been brought under the City of Villages concept of planning- denser transportation corridors at a "village" center, with areas of lesser density to help define each community.

There are a number of city zoning ordinances that take into account transit opportunities which may trigger a tandom parking overlay zone or other rules that allow increased density that might not otherwise be allowed in the general area. The city did recently half the required lot size for allowing ADUs, (even as parking and other requirements make them rare).

Even historic, core neighborhoods like mine have individual planning ordinances that overlay the city's. While my specific block has been down zoned from a few decades ago to preserve the historic single family housing stock; there still are several multi-family properties grandfathered in, it has greatly increased potential density in the "village core" retail areas of the neighborhood and a couple of blocks on either side to encourage more development there.

It is always an ongoing battle with more than a few unhappy players but for cities that are growing it is extremely important and revelant to seek out and create a well thought out plan to grow dynamically and sustainably.
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:02 PM
 
33,046 posts, read 22,053,448 times
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Originally Posted by creeksitter View Post
When accessory dwellings are allowed the density can double without affecting the character of the neighborhood. Less likely to have problem renters when they are in the owner's back yard.

Plus a city without "organic" neighborhoods is very sterile indeed. Are there not abandoned industrial sites where denser infill can occur?

I want renters to have as many ownership options as possible - something they don't get in accessory dwelling units. Renters should nt be a subjugated class.
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:05 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,519,126 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creeksitter View Post
When accessory dwellings are allowed the density can double without affecting the character of the neighborhood. Less likely to have problem renters when they are in the owner's back yard.

Plus a city without "organic" neighborhoods is very sterile indeed. Are there not abandoned industrial sites where denser infill can occur?
I am all for ADU's, I think if there is enough space for one, anyone should be allowed to put one in. They make great guesthouses, AirBnB rentals, and rental units in general. And I agree, it helps add density to a neighborhood without having much effect on the character of the neighborhood.
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