Sprawl Debate And the Principles of New Urbanism

Sprawl Debate And the Principles of New Urbanism

2-3 pages assignment length-Read ‘The Sprawl Debate’ and the Principles of New Urbanism documents.

Compare and contrast Gordon/Richardson and the New Urbanism articles as they relate to the following questions:

  • Which level(s) of government should be in control of planning/zoning decisions and why?
  • What things/factors should affect planning/zoning decisions that are made?

Be sure to discuss both questions and both article’s positions for each question.The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge. We stand for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy. We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice. We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework. We represent a broad-based citizenry, composed of public and private sector leaders, community activists, and multidisciplinary professionals. We are committed to reestablishing the relationship between the art of building and the making of community, through citizen-based participatory planning and design. We dedicate ourselves to reclaiming our homes, blocks, streets, parks, neighborhoods, districts, towns, cities, regions, and environment. Continued on back… We assert the following principles to guide public policy, development practice, urban planning, and design: The region: Metropolis, city, and town The neighborhood, the district, and the corridor The block, the street, and the building 1) Metropolitan regions are finite places with geographic boundaries derived from topography, watersheds, coastlines, farmlands, regional parks, and river basins. The metropolis is made of multiple centers that are cities, towns, and villages, each with its own identifiable center and edges. 10) The neighborhood, the district, and the corridor are the essential elements of development and redevelopment in the metropolis. They form identifiable areas that encourage citizens to take responsibility for their maintenance and evolution. 19) A primary task of all urban architecture and landscape design is the physical definition of streets and public spaces as places of shared use. 2) The metropolitan region is a fundamental economic unit of the contemporary world. Governmental cooperation, public policy, physical planning, and economic strategies must reflect this new reality. 3) The metropolis has a necessary and fragile relationship to its agrarian hinterland and natural landscapes. The relationship is environmental, economic, and cultural. Farmland and nature are as important to the metropolis as the garden is to the house. 4) Development patterns should not blur or eradicate the edges of the metropolis. Infill development within existing urban areas conserves environmental resources, economic investment, and social fabric, while reclaiming marginal and abandoned areas. Metropolitan regions should develop strategies to encourage such infill development over peripheral expansion. 5) Where appropriate, new development contiguous to urban boundaries should be organized as neighborhoods and districts, and be integrated with the existing urban pattern. Noncontiguous development should be organized as towns and villages with their own urban edges, and planned for a jobs/housing balance, not as bedroom suburbs. 6) The development and redevelopment of towns and cities should respect historical patterns, precedents, and boundaries. 7) Cities and towns should bring into proximity a broad spectrum of public and private uses to support a regional economy that benefits people of all incomes. Affordable housing should be distributed throughout the region to match job opportunities and to avoid concentrations of poverty. 8) The physical organization of the region should be supported by a framework of transportation alternatives. Transit, pedestrian, and bicycle systems should maximize access and mobility throughout the region while reducing dependence upon the automobile. 9) Revenues and resources can be shared more cooperatively among the municipalities and centers within regions to avoid destructive competition for tax base and to promote rational coordination of transportation, recreation, public services, housing, and community institutions. cnu.org 11) Neighborhoods should be compact, pedestrian friendly, and mixed-use. Districts generally emphasize a special single use, and should follow the principles of neighborhood design when possible. Corridors are regional connectors of neighborhoods and districts; they range from boulevards and rail lines to rivers and parkways. 12) Many activities of daily living should occur within walking distance, allowing independence to those who do not drive, especially the elderly and the young. Interconnected networks of streets should be designed to encourage walking, reduce the number and length of automobile trips, and conserve energy. 13) Within neighborhoods, a broad range of housing types and price levels can bring people of diverse ages, races, and incomes into daily interaction, strengthening the personal and civic bonds essential to an authentic community. 14 ) Transit corridors, when properly planned and coordinated, can help organize metropolitan structure and revitalize urban centers. In contrast, highway corridors should not displace investment from existing centers. 15) Appropriate building densities and land uses should be within walking distance of transit stops, permitting public transit to become a viable alternative to the automobile. 16) Concentrations of civic, institutional, and commercial activity should be embedded in neighborhoods and districts, not isolated in remote, single-use complexes. Schools should be sized and located to enable children to walk or bicycle to them. 20) Individual architectural projects should be seamlessly linked to their surroundings. This issue transcends style. 21) The revitalization of urban places depends on safety and security. The design of streets and buildings should reinforce safe environments, but not at the expense of accessibility and openness. 22) In the contemporary metropolis, development must adequately accommodate automobiles. It should do so in ways that respect the pedestrian and the form of public space. 23) Streets and squares should be safe, comfortable, and interesting to the pedestrian. Properly configured, they encourage walking and enable neighbors to know each other and protect their communities. 24) Architecture and landscape design should grow from local climate, topography, history, and building practice. 25) Civic buildings and public gathering places require important sites to reinforce community identity and the culture of democracy. They deserve distinctive form, because their role is different from that of other buildings and places that constitute the fabric of the city. 26) All buildings should provide their inhabitants with a clear sense of location, weather and time. Natural methods of heating and cooling can be more resource-efficient than mechanical systems. 27) Preservation and renewal of historic buildings, districts, and landscapes affirm the continuity and evolution of urban society. 17) The economic health and harmonious evolution of neighborhoods, districts, and corridors can be improved through graphic urban design codes that serve as predictable guides for change. 18) A range of parks, from tot-lots and village greens to ballfields and community gardens, should be distributed within neighborhoods. Conservation areas and open lands should be used to define and connect different neighborhoods and districts. © Copyright 2001 by Congress for the New Urbanism. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission. THE SPRAWL DEBATE: LET MARKETS PLAN By Peter Gordon University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning, and Development 650 Childs Way, RGL 331C Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626 Tel: (213) 740-1467 Fax: (213) 740-6170 E-mail: pgordon@usc.edu And Harry W. Richardson University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning, and Development 650 Childs Way, RGL 212 Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626 Tel: (213) 740-3954 Fax: (213) 740-6170 E-mail: hrichard@usc.edu (forthcoming in PUBLIUS) Abstract Sprawl issues ought not be a federal issue because land-use control is local. Americans have been moving to both suburban and private communities for many years, an expression of the constitutional right to travel. They seek more direct control over their personal property rights. Both trends are at odds with the desire of planners to impose more controls via land-use and growth controls. Planners base their arguments on the need to control urban sprawl. Examining their arguments one-by-one shows that they are empirically weak. The controls are ineffective and will do little to slow down these shifts in residential location. The logic of the planners’ position would be to control development everywhere via state and even federal legislation, but this is undesirable, unattainable, and probably unconstitutional. Sprawl will remain an issue over which state and local jurisdictions will either continue to fight or find an uneasy accommodation. In the presidential election campaign of 2000, both candidates responded to a request from an environmental group for a written statement of their position on sprawl. Al Gore’s statement was more than double the length of that of George W. Bush, but both took a strong anti-sprawl position. Nevertheless, the sprawl issue never took fire in the campaign, despite the obviously great interest in the issue among the American public. The reason is not difficult to find. Land use is a local policy problem as demonstrated from constitutional decisions tracing back to the 1920s. The federal government, moreover cannot address land use directly. This explains why the Clinton administration’s initiatives in this sphere (e.g., the Communities Reinvestment Act) focused on the revival of central cities as an indirect approach to controlling sprawl. In the case of land-use controls, the central intergovernmental issue is the role of state versus local governments. The federal system gives priority to state rights, but local governments do not give up their police power of controlling land use lightly. In several states that have passed mandatory statewide growth-management legislation, some local jurisdictions (counties or municipalities) have been very recalcitrant. Another point about the U.S. presidential election of 2000 is that it confirmed the long-term trend of declining voter participation. Turnouts in 2000 and 1996 Page 3 of 3 were among the lowest in U.S. history.1 The rational economic explanation emphasizes the fact that growing affluence raises opportunity costs, which make voting and other forms of political participation less attractive and less likely. An elaboration of this view comes from both Charles Tiebout’s classic concept of “voting with your feet”2 and Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. 3 As exit options become affordable for more people, there will be less voice and less interest in conventional politics. Current and past trends in residential location echo this point. Planners proposing tougher land-use regulations in the name of preventing urban sprawl should take note. Affluence makes mobility an option for increasing numbers of people. Social, occupational, and geographic mobility are usually intertwined. People often move into new careers, different income strata, and new locations simultaneously. For many years, Americans have moved into the suburbs as they have moved up in life. The importance of either the exercise of voice or the cultivation of loyalty in communities where people have few ties and few reasons to nurture ties may be less compelling. Debates over the pervasiveness of these phenomena have recently surfaced in discussions of whether more Americans than ever are now Bowling Alone.4 Although Robert Putnam cites considerable evidence for a noticeable decline in Page 4 of 4 community and social capital, his critics suggest that he has been looking in all the wrong places; the Kiwanis Club’s membership may be down but the Sierra Club’s membership is way up.5 Others suggest that it is entirely reasonable for people to “substitute freedom of choice for the binding power of custom and tradition.”6 We live in a world of trade-offs. In the next section, we discuss the federal role in land-use planning. We then briefly discuss what we call the two migrations in the United States. Large numbers of people are engaged in two forms of exit, moving into private communities and/or into suburban/exurban locations where they expect more direct and personal control over their property. Afterwards, we revisit the sprawl debate to reiterate our position that the arguments used by planners and others for vastly enhanced public land-use controls are weak. In the concluding section, we discuss the irony of proposals for stronger state controls at a time when people are looking for property-rights assurances that they find more attractive. THE FEDERAL ROLE IN LAND-USE PLANNING In recent years, there have been many state, county, and local ballot initiatives about growth management, “smart growth,” and sprawl. In the past two elections (1998 and 2000), the majority of the initiatives to control sprawl passed.7 Yet, there remain Page 5 of 5 many jurisdictions that refused to accept a growth-management agenda, and an even larger number that did not get involved in the debate and were willing to accept development, even remaining enthusiastic about it. The result is that, regardless how fast the sprawl-containment strategy spreads, there are always cities and counties where development can take place. Thus, the anti-sprawl movement recognized that the way to control this was to press for state legislation. This explains Washington’s Growth Management Act of 1990 and the abortive Citizen’s Growth Management Initiative in Arizona in 2000 (Proposition 202). Even with a state-mandated growth-management strategy, it is difficult to control development in all jurisdictions because most statutes cannot avoid leaving some wiggle-room for pro-development cities and counties. Furthermore, even if a state program is watertight, developers can always find other states in which to develop, often just across the border. For example, when Portland Metro adopted its restrictive urban growth boundaries in 1979, much of the focus of development shifted to the contiguous Clark County in Washington State. This has continued even after Washington passed its own Growth Management Act in 1990. 8 Hence, the logic of the argument is to develop a federal land-use policy controlling development in all states. Such an evolution is almost unthinkable. Local jurisdictions have retained Page 6 of 6 controls over local land-use under the principle of the police power ever since the U.S. Supreme Court case of Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co. in 1926. The federal government has indirect influence on land-use decisions under other public interest legislation, especially in the environmental area such as the 1970 Clean Air Act, the 1972 Clean Water Act (originally called the Water Pollution Control Act Amendments), and the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Nevertheless, the federal courts have recently shown a strong interest in the “takings” issue9 with cases such as Nollan v. California Coastal Commission,10 Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 11 and Dolan v. City of Tigard.12 But this is a far cry from a takeover by the federal government of land-use controls. Some other countries with unitary rather than federal political systems (such as South Korea and the United Kingdom) have not hesitated to adopt national land-use policies with strong anti-sprawl elements, but it is difficult to conceive of this happening in the United States, given the principle of states’ rights and the long tradition of local land-use and zoning powers. The two migrations discussed in the next section reassert the important constitutional principle of the right to travel, while (less obviously) some of the discussions about spatial equity that frequently crop up in the sprawl discussions raise the similarly important constitutional issue of equal protection. Page 7 of 7 THE TWO MIGRATIONS Increasing mobility reinforces the claim of urban economists that people choose their local government (and local school district)13 at the same time as they choose their place of residence. However, the decision is more complex than simply shopping for local public goods. Because most Americans own their residence (66 percent of occupied housing units were owner occupied in 1997; the homeownership rate in 1999 was 67 percent; both proportions are historic highs), 14 and because their home is their largest tangible asset, it is understandable that choice of residence is often influenced by how property rights are secured. Such rights include the very important “collective neighborhood property rights” that assure that neighboring properties are well maintained.15 Buyers understandably look for credible commitments by cities and/or developers. These motives underlie the demand for land-use controls and zoning rules. There are two ways in which people get such rules, either in the market or from local government. Not surprisingly, private zoning predates public zoning in America. The landmark Euclid case, 16 which led to widespread zoning by cities, was decided in 1926, while private communities such as Gramercy Park in New York and Louisbourg Square in Boston have been private associations since 1831 Page 8 of 8 and 1844 respectively. Evan McKenzie provides some of the relevant history. These and other subdivisions pioneered what was to become one of the most significant trends in American urban history; the use by developers of common ownership plans and deed restrictions as private landplanning devices. Similar methods were used by 19th century St. Louis subdividers who provided such services as street maintenance, snow removal, mowing, tree trimming, and street lighting to private neighborhoods through hundreds of private street associations. By 1928 scores of luxury subdivisions across the country were using deed restrictions — including racially sensitive covenants — as their legal architecture. To guarantee enforcement of these covenants, developers were organizing ‘homeowner associations’ so that residents could sue those who violated the rules.”17 Racial restrictions were outlawed in 1948, but private zoning is now making a spectacular comeback with the rise of property owners’ associations. Common Interest Developments (CIDs) are essentially run by private governments set in Page 9 of 9 motion by the developer. They exist at the pleasure of local governments and supply and manage the public goods used by the residents. Each resident holds title to his or her own home plus a share in all of the common areas. The governing covenants are usually much more detailed than zoning codes, but the conditions of enforcement allow some flexibility (via specified rules and often requiring supermajorities) if circumstances require it. 18 Several writers have linked these phenomena to the semi …
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