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Old 11-05-2011, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Houston (Bellaire)
285 posts, read 502,653 times
Reputation: 522

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady View Post
OP, I hadn't thought of it in that context before, but, you know, I think you're right. Upward sprawl is just as bad as outward sprawl, and they BOTH exemplify problems in our society.

I find absolutely no joy in seeing Austin's downtown and Capitol views overtaken with tall buildings, and I almost never go to Lady Bird Lake or downtown any longer unless I absolutely have to because of the crowding caused by the upward sprawl. It's no more attractive, to me, than the subdivisions that others decry as sprawl, and it makes me wonder where Austin went.

Thanks for a new perspective on an old problem. The solution is nowhere as easy as some would try to make out, "let's build tall buildings so everyone - well, everyone with lots of money - can crowd in together downtown!". It's going to take a lot more thought than that.
So if outward sprawl is, as you say, "as bad" as upward sprawl, then where do we put all these people moving to Austin? Underground?!

Upward sprawl may be an eyesore to you and a very, very small minority of the population, but it's certainly a much smarter use of the land as it better preserves our natural resources and promotes a less auto-dependent lifestyle.

As others have said before - Austin is going to grow whether you like it or not. The question is whether you'd prefer to see tens of thousands of trees be bulldozed for more pavement and houses, or if you'd prefer more tall buildings, more open land and trees, and less pollution.
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Old 11-05-2011, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,790 posts, read 39,684,316 times
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You're making an assumption that it's an eyesore to a "very very small minority of the population", pretty much to support your own preference. Same thing as if I said it is an eyesore to a "very very large majority of the population". Neither of us has done the studies (nor has anyone, I'd imagine), neither of us really knows.

What my post said was that upward sprawl has its own serious problems (far beyond the "view" aspect which you focused on), and that those should be taken into account when advocating it as a "solution". We need to make sure that any solution isn't just as bad as the problem we're trying to solve, in other words. After all, weren't the suburbs that create the kind of sprawl you, personally, object to, a man-made solution to an existing problem, a solution that became a problem, perhaps worse, in and of itself? Same thing here.

The point was, there's not an easy solution, no matter how we might want there to be. One solution that a lot of people seem to be hell-bent on is to destroy the things that create the kind of lifestyle and community that makes people want to move to Austin in the first place. Somehow, to me, that doesn't seem a lot like a solution, though, granted, if it means that people stop moving here because it's no longer desirable and, after it has been decimated and turned into a poor copy of Anywhere, USA, move away, that's a solution of sorts. Sort of like bombing the house to get rid of an infestation is a solution.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:00 AM
 
Location: san francisco
2,062 posts, read 3,474,083 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austin97 View Post
Urban sprawl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ultimately you can define sprawl to mean whatever you want- then we are just arguing semantics which is pointless.

Arguing the effects of consuming land and spreading out is another story. Building up definitely uses less land than building out.

1) you dont consume as much natural land and replace it with roads and houses. this is a huge deal.
2) People dont drive as far so use less resources
3) The less you drive, the less accidents you have and the less people that die
4) driving cities encourage obesity
Yeah, I really didn't care much to argue semantics. Buuut, I understand where people come from, like my father, who is 61 and hates urban living. Living in an urban environment is less peaceful and dense cities can also have its disadvantages. People tend to be a lot more rude and things can get a lot more hectic.

I think what both sides always describe is a utopia of some sort. Everybody wants that perfect city and its impossible.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:13 AM
 
Location: san francisco
2,062 posts, read 3,474,083 times
Reputation: 818
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady View Post
You're making an assumption that it's an eyesore to a "very very small minority of the population", pretty much to support your own preference. Same thing as if I said it is an eyesore to a "very very large majority of the population". Neither of us has done the studies (nor has anyone, I'd imagine), neither of us really knows.

What my post said was that upward sprawl has its own serious problems (far beyond the "view" aspect which you focused on), and that those should be taken into account when advocating it as a "solution". We need to make sure that any solution isn't just as bad as the problem we're trying to solve, in other words. After all, weren't the suburbs that create the kind of sprawl you, personally, object to, a man-made solution to an existing problem, a solution that became a problem, perhaps worse, in and of itself? Same thing here.

The point was, there's not an easy solution, no matter how we might want there to be. One solution that a lot of people seem to be hell-bent on is to destroy the things that create the kind of lifestyle and community that makes people want to move to Austin in the first place. Somehow, to me, that doesn't seem a lot like a solution, though, granted, if it means that people stop moving here because it's no longer desirable and, after it has been decimated and turned into a poor copy of Anywhere, USA, move away, that's a solution of sorts. Sort of like bombing the house to get rid of an infestation is a solution.
So if urban cities are an eyesore to you are sprawling cities attractive to you? Urban cities can keep the natural beauty in tact, and if done right can blend it quite well. But sprawl does neither. It just chops, kills and continues to spread. Why is that more attractive to you?

I think what's most important is trying to figure out what is best for the city. We've all realized that sprawling out isn't the best option. So if we're going to start building upwards, then we go from there and try figuring out ways to keep Austin's identity as well.

I mean, you gotta think of it both ways. If Austin spreads people are going to say, "Austin has lost its identity, it looks like Houston, or Dallas." And now that Austin is building upwards, people are now saying, "Austin is losing its identity, its trying to look like San Francisco, or New York." I mean, at some point we have to use some common sense and think of ways of keeping Austin's unique identity instead of arguing against urban living. Because at this point, it's a fact that it is the best option.

What is Anywhere, USA? Houston? Dallas? Atlanta? Phoenix? San Jose? Jacksonville? Or is it, San Francisco? Seattle? Philadelphia? Boston? Vancouver? New York? Notice how only the dense cities have their own true unique characters as opposed to the sprawling cities?

And quite frankly, I'd prefer to destroy Austin's unique character than to go and destroy the environment. Regardless, Austin's "unique character" will at some point go away. It's not gonna be there for a thousand, or even a hundred years. So either way you look at it, urban is the best option.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:37 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,790 posts, read 39,684,316 times
Reputation: 24213
Quote:
Originally Posted by migol84 View Post
So if urban cities are an eyesore to you are sprawling cities attractive to you? Urban cities can keep the natural beauty in tact, and if done right can blend it quite well. But sprawl does neither. It just chops, kills and continues to spread. Why is that more attractive to you?

I think what's most important is trying to figure out what is best for the city. We've all realized that sprawling out isn't the best option. So if we're going to start building upwards, then we go from there and try figuring out ways to keep Austin's identity as well.

I mean, you gotta think of it both ways. If Austin spreads people are going to say, "Austin has lost its identity, it looks like Houston, or Dallas." And now that Austin is building upwards, people are now saying, "Austin is losing its identity, its trying to look like San Francisco, or New York." I mean, at some point we have to use some common sense and think of ways of keeping Austin's unique identity instead of arguing against urban living. Because at this point, it's a fact that it is the best option.

What is Anywhere, USA? Houston? Dallas? Atlanta? Phoenix? San Jose? Jacksonville? Or is it, San Francisco? Seattle? Philadelphia? Boston? Vancouver? New York? Notice how only the dense cities have their own true unique characters as opposed to the sprawling cities?

And quite frankly, I'd prefer to destroy Austin's unique character than to go and destroy the environment. Regardless, Austin's "unique character" will at some point go away. It's not gonna be there for a thousand, or even a hundred years. So either way you look at it, urban is the best option.
Not quite sure how you got here from what you say. Except that it's your preference. I'm more interested in exploring the range of options than in saying, "There's only two choices and the one I like is the only way."

I know I dislike ticky tacky suburbs, and I dislike putting enormous highrises looming over Lady Bird Lake. There's got to be something better, is what I'm saying; neither is the real long-term solution to the problem.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:49 AM
 
1,410 posts, read 2,302,874 times
Reputation: 3052
I moved to Austin in 2001. 10 years ago, downtown Austin was pretty grim - the shell of the Intel building marred the landscape, many blocks were disfigured by weed strewn parking lots. 6th East of congress was party central and there was a little life in the warehouse district. You could not get a decent cocktail that wasn't a margarita. Whole Foods was the only grocery store. Almost no-one lived there. Fast forward ten years and nearly all of the extant great Austin institutions have survived and they are thriving: The Paramount, Alamo Draft House moved to bigger and better quarters, Antones, Cedar Door, the Elephant Room, Esther's Follies etc. Except for Las Manitas, I would say nothing of value has been lost, and tons of things have been added. Terrible restaurants like Katz's and Spaghetti Warehouse have deservedly gone out of business and dozens of new restaurants, bars, clubs, shops have opened. There are very few national chains - the vast majority are one of a kind local establishments - patronize them and your money stays in the community, and if anything in this way, the growth has added to the distinctiveness of Austin's character You can still hear great live music 7 nights a week, but ACL is now filmed downtown and the Austin City Music Hall is a great new addition, as are the expanded quarters of Austin City Ballet, never mind the Long Center just across the river which is now crossable by a pedestrian only bridge. Sure parking is a tougher and more expensive, but there are more Austiny things to do at every price point. The food trucks are fabulous. "Congress" was just voted one of the top ten new restaurants in the U.S. What are people nostalgic for, besides their youth? By any measure I can imagine, downtown is a thousand times better than it was just a decade ago.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,719 posts, read 26,799,774 times
Reputation: 9236
Where do people work? Do people change jobs? Even if you choose a home near your job, that could change almost instantly. What if there are two wage earners? Can two people find a home near both jobs?

The idea that people can live in a dense urban situation, all for the good of the environment, is the "right" solution is vastly overstated. Do you know how many people work in NYC, but live in NJ and Connecticut? They spend 3-4 hours each day commuting on public transportation. How is that sensible? It may eliminate traffic, but these people lose huge amounts of time just going to work? These people live outside Manhattan because they don't have $750k for a 1000 sq. ft. apartment and the schools are terrible.

That kind of living environment just doesn't work for millions and millions of people in the US.
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Old 11-05-2011, 12:08 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,790 posts, read 39,684,316 times
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So, in order for urban to succeed at what those who promote SAY they want it to succeed at, which is to say, a way to avoid sprawl, it has to provide the following:

1. Affordable housing in a size suitable for a family of four, say (parents and two kids), with playgrounds that are not someplace you have to go with your children in order for them to get a chance to work off energy without disturbing the neighbors. In other words, it has to have something that will serve the same purpose as a yard does in suburbia.

2. Very good to excellent schools.

3. Nearby employment, so that one does not have to leave downtown to go to work. This leads to even denser development downtown, pushing land values even higher, making it that much harder to provide #1, above.

In other words, the basics that make up a life, not an entertainment. Restaurants, bars, shops, are all very good at drawing people downtown (assuming the crowding and the traffic don't discourage them from doing so and they can find a place to park affordably). However, for day to day life, the other things are more important, thus people move to where they are available, and right now, that's the suburbs or smaller neighborhoods close to downtown, but not in downtown, and NOT high rises.

I'm all for urban living, and in fact raised my kids just five minutes from downtown - but it was in a neighborhood, with houses and yards and schools, walking distance to grocery stores and shops and schools and even bars, if I felt like walking and the weather permitted, and not one building over 3 stories (not even sure there was a 3 story one, mostly one or two stories). I would never have considered raising those kids in a high rise. Wouldn't have been fair to them, wouldn't have been fair to me, wouldn't have been fair to my neighbors.

Until you solve that problem, you're not going to be able to in all honesty say that urban is the only, or even the best, solution for the very people you're trying to sell it to.

The basic problem is that once a city reaches a certain size, it's close to impossible, if not actually impossible, for these very basic amenities to be provided for the folks who are moving to suburbia and creating sprawl.
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Old 11-05-2011, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,719 posts, read 26,799,774 times
Reputation: 9236
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady View Post
The basic problem is that once a city reaches a certain size, it's close to impossible, if not actually impossible, for these very basic amenities to be provided for the folks who are moving to suburbia and creating sprawl.
Exactly!
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Old 11-05-2011, 03:12 PM
 
Location: san francisco
2,062 posts, read 3,474,083 times
Reputation: 818
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady View Post
Not quite sure how you got here from what you say. Except that it's your preference. I'm more interested in exploring the range of options than in saying, "There's only two choices and the one I like is the only way."

I know I dislike ticky tacky suburbs, and I dislike putting enormous highrises looming over Lady Bird Lake. There's got to be something better, is what I'm saying; neither is the real long-term solution to the problem.
right, right, right... i know what you're saying but between sprawl and urban, urban is the best option. everybody knows that.
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