Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Charlotte, a Smart Growth mecca?

Charlotte, a Smart Growth mecca? Some of you are laughing, having witnessed or maybe even lived through our miles and miles of definitively suburban sprawl.

Others of you are probably listening for the black helicopters that will swoop in and snatch our freedom as the socialists central planners triumph.

I guess we'll have a chance to see which vision triumphs, next Feb. 3-5, when the EPA's 10th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference arrives in Charlotte. To see more, visit the conference website.

Here's your chance for some input. Lee Sobel of the EPA's Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation, sent a notice of the conference's call for session proposals – a way you can submit ideas for breakouts, workshops, trainings, tours, or networking activities. This being, after all, the federal government you may submit your ideas via the "CFSP Submittal Form." It, and the "CFSP Instructions" are posted on the session proposals section of the conference website. Deadline to offer your ideas: June 30.

All are invited to offer ideas. Some of the sessions at the 2010 conference in Seattle dealt with passenger rail, safe [pedestrian] routes to schools, health and the built environment, Smart Growth and race relations, etc. My suggestions – and no I'm not submitting a CFSP Submittal Form": Surviving and Thriving in the Down Economy; exploring the financial burden sprawl puts on local and state governments; Dealing with Legislators.

I note they'll award a Lifetime Achievement Award to someone. Past winners have been former King County (Washington) Executive Ron Sims, now deputy secretary at HUD; ex-Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening; Dr. Richard Jackson, formerly director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health and now a professor at University of Michigan; and Walkable Communities founder and pedestrian/bicycle advocate and occasional Charlotte visitor Dan Burden (who would absolutely wins the "epic mustache award" if they had one. Great guy.)


Propositor said...

Here's a telling new report on why sprawl is bad and smart growth is good.


"[Cul-de-Sac] communities contribute to higher rates of air pollution and obesity than neighborhoods with well-connected street grids"

"[The study] found a 26 percent reduction in vehicle miles per day for those who live in high-density areas."

"Lower emission levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) were found in dense residential areas with high street intersection density and mixed residential/commercial layouts."

"It found that 'every additional hour spent in a car each day translated into a six percent greater chance of being obese.' The data was obtained from a survey of about 18,000 individuals."

Quotes from the article talking about the study, located here: http://newsdesk.org/2010/05/cul-de-sac-communities-increase-air-pollution-health-risks/

Ray said...

Smart Growth? They need to secure our borders or build a wall, so all these illegals from South America and South Carolina stop flooding Charlotte. This city is beginning to look like little Mexico.

misswhit said...

We're on our way to Seattle tomorrow, will be staying in a high density, trendy, close to downtown neighborhood in an apartment advertised as being accessible to everything by walking or biking. The kicker though is that we are also reminded that parking is at a premium--on street parking almost impossible to find--everybody is looking for a place to park. We've also been warned (and know from past experience here) that traffic is absolutely horrendous. Yes, there is good bus service, but an awful lot of people are still driving (and often driving very slowly), even in this convenient walkable area.

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark Caplan said...

Planner and architect Andres Duany give a superb talk on YouTube on the "New Urbanism," which is a catchy name for Traditional Neighborhoodism:


Duany is a co-author of the inspiring SUBURBAN NATION: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. The public library has four copies. Its prescriptions are desperately needed in Charlotte. I see that CPCC is putting the finishing touches on another block-long parking garage, this one ruining the ambiance of 7th Street for the next 50 years.

consultant said...


Are you attending the New Urbanism Conference in Atlanta?

Anyone else going?

Jessica said...

I'm skeptical, but I'm also from a city that has extremely strict urban-growth boundaries in place. I truly hope the best for Charlotte and want to see it evolve, but it seems there have been too many poor planning decisions.

James said...

Crime rate and safety = urban sprawal.

Propositor said...

Lack of investment in the urban core leads to increased crime rate and decreased safety which leads to urban sprawl. To fix urban sprawl, invest in the urban core so people will want to live there. We have to address the root of the problem.

Sprawl is a band-aid on a bullet wound. It covers up the problem but doesn't solve anything. And it will continue on forever until the city bleeds out.

We have to rip the band-aid off, which will cause more bleeding in the short term, but removing the bullet will save us a lot more blood over the long term.

Bob said...

James said:
"Crime rate and safety = urban sprawal."

Interesting that you paired those two things. Since suburbanites drive considerably more than folks in denser environments they are much more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than urban residents. The actual math is:

Sprawl = higher death rates

While I have no statistics to back up my observation my subruban colleagues have a much larger problem with crime than I do in my intown middle-class hood.