30 December 2016

Comments Sparked > (Re)Urban Atlas Post on December 27

 Mapping the Value of Neighborhood 'Character'
The Atlas of ReUrbanism begins to explore how older buildings help density and affordability, but it doesn’t go far enough
Your MesaZona strongly encourages readers to look at the entire article that ends with this paragraph : "Unfortunately, the interactive maps don’t let you layer on the number of affordable housing units per block—you’re left to take the analysis of the report, plus city-specific fact sheets that drill into some extra detail, at face value. The report does include an interesting chart that compares character and density (below), which might be interesting to folks who see new construction as the only answer to increasing densities. Rather than look at historic buildings as targets for tear-downs, why not look first at the vacant space within them? Furthermore, the authors write, “how much additional development capacity could be realized if surface parking lots were replaced by housing, office space, and retail?”
Here are recent comments considering different points of view in this triangle
  • People want quality of life and affordability
  • Developers want to get maximum revenue
  • City government wants to show increasing development and tax base increase
This is an important conversation. I argue that what people want (as consumers of housing and neighborhood) ) is quality of life and affordability while developers who build things want to get maximum revenue from least cost and city government wants to show activity and increase the tax base (or something like that). In my view the people who consume housing are the most important part of this triangle but the least in control and worse, there are no metrics that pull together quality of life for this part of the population with the money metrics profit dimension of the developer. Sadly developers can usually make more profit by developing on greenfield sites even though these developments are pretty awful to live in and are just another step in degrading the environment. Metrics matter, and as long as profit is the dominant metric there will be decisions that focus on this to the detriment of everything else.
Peter Burgess .... http://truevaluemetrics.,org 

kclo3 PeterBurgess
Spoiler alert: it's the city government that imposed the 20th century zoning restrictions on the developers that prevented them from developing greenfield sites to the same density and urban quality as the "historic" areas. Believe it or not, developers around the world know how to design long-lasting urban spaces that contribute to QoL and sustain generational affordability through filtering, when given the permission to do so. Invented metrics such as neighborhood "suburban character" and "sunlight blocking" are excuses employed by those actively fighting against the aforementioned goals of urban living

PeterBurgess kclo3
Thanks ... point well taken ... but there are plenty of 'developers' who still only understand the 'green' of $$$. That is not to say that there are not some excellent practitioners who have a super understanding of what is needed to create the best of living conditions and quality of life. We need to be clear about which is which!

A better way to determine equitable and livable neighborhoods is by looking at Chicago's greenmap project. We studied sustainability via social, cultural, economic and environmental criteria. All play a role in determining character and affordability. Our findings show higher neighborhood connectivity in low income neighborhoods that lack economic opportunities and almost no neighborhood connectivity or character in affluent neighborhoods. Urban planners seem to lack any understanding as to how to plan and coordinate affordability with regard to social and cultural neighborhood makeup. It appears that in most cities with a diverse population gentrification is the solution to poverty and blight. This only exacerbates our urban problems


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