Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eeek! Sprawlanta oozes this way!

Yikes! Should Charlotte be worried that Atlanta's sprawl will ooze over it like a slime mold in the damp woods? Or more to the point, ooze over it the way Charlotte sprawled over Derita, Newell, Thrift, Sharon and other once rural hamlets?

Here's a clever video about "Sprawlanta" which notes that if you add together all the miles driven in the Atlanta region daily, you could drive to the sun and back. And note the great visuals of some very courageous pedestrians trying to cross sprawl thoroughfares. As the video counts the number of pedestrian deaths in the region, it notes that iconic Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell died when she was struck while crossing the street.

The last section does seem a bit like a commercial for the Glenwood Park development, however lovely and worthwhile that development does look to be. Note developer Charles Brewer's remarks at the end, pointing out he just wants government to get out of the way so he can develop in a way he believes people want. If you're thinking this is of interest only to big-government commie pinko types, you might want to rethink that piece of it.


metroniner said...

Yeah that little community is fine if you are single and want to drink beer with your buddies each night. Kids need a back yard. How are the schools in the hood?

The solution to sprawl is not this. The solution to long commutes is getting a job near your suburb. Allow more local office parks (like Ballantyne offices)

Brendan said...

That's great! What's funny about the planned community in that video is that it actually resembles how Americans lived at the time of our country's founding. I find it interesting how much suburbia has made people anti-social and anti-community. Living in an uninviting "snout nosed" house, driving alone in your car to work 2 hours a day, working in your individual cubicle, spending less overall time with your family, kids, friends. We can probably trace the demise of family and community values back to the invention of the cul de sac and the freeway.

Bob said...

metroniner, you are correct, _some_ (not all) families with kids prefer a backyard. However, that demographic is now well less than 50% of the US population. Do you think we should force the majority of Americans into an environment where they have to mow grass, drive a long way to work and pay HOA fees?

Suburban jobs may help with some of the sprawl issue, but only if the workers choose to live in _that_suburb. Moving jobs to Ballantyne makes life tough on workers who prefer to live at the lake. At least downtown is centrally located (and possible to serve via transit)

Bob said...

"Note developer Charles Brewer's remarks at the end, pointing out he just wants government to get out of the way so he can develop in a way he believes people want."

Excellent point Mary. Folks often wrongly assume that its’ easier to do infill development in town – when in fact zoning and federal housing policy (FHA loan requirements in mixed use developments, yikes!) make it much more difficult. Perhaps at some point you could put together a piece on the many barriers to in town residential development? Monte Ritche may have lots to say about the obstacles he had to overcome to build Southborough.

randomusings said...

Margaret Mitchell died in 1949. Was it Sprawlanta then?

Larry said...

Dig a trench around Charlotte, fill it with gasoline and light it when people try to get out, or when developers try to build outside this perimeter.

In fact divert some of this gas to burning down the stuff that has already been built and salt the land to show our commitment to make this the kind of City Planners want us to live in.

Ron said...

gee, if there'd been a barrrier thrown up to the infill house built at the end of our li'l urban street, the developer wuldn't have been able to perch a house in a place where the city / county is now going to have to spend a gazillion dollars and tear up our street to deal with the increased runoff that's swamping the neighbors at the foot of the hill every time it rains.

but more to the point, we've lived less than 2 miles from where we work for nearly a quarter century, and the extra time we get to live our lives has been invaluable, the extra money we don't have to spend for vehicles that double as a mobile abode have been incalculable (well, i don't do math well) and the great neighbors we've had and continue to have have made our lives here enjoyable beyond anything we could've hoped.

Ron said...

and yes, i should proofread before i hit publish. "wuldn't" - sheeesh. sorry.

Sam said...
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consultant said...

Hey folks, Glenwood Park is a nice place to live. And they have back yards and a park and shops nearby (lots of families too).

What we need in Atlanta is more mass transit.

After decades of denial, the Georgia general assembly saw that it couldn't build more highways to solve the traffic congestion problem (plus, the state of Georgia is broke).

Now, the state is divided into 12 zones. Each zone will be able to plan for its own transportation needs and put those plans before local voters for approval. Improvements will be paid for with an increase in the sales tax.

Metro Atlanta will finally be able to get commuter rail and more light rail projects going.

The problem now is will this stuff get built before Peak Oil kicks in big time?

Keep in mind folks, the reason (criminal) BP is out in the Gulf operating at the edge of science & technology, is due to the fact all the easy to get to oil has been discovered and is in decline. The new stuff we're finding is in some scary difficult places.

Charlotte, you'd better get some electrified mass transit projects up and running in the next 2 to 3 years.

Danimal said...

Allowing more office parks in places like Ballantyne might make commutes sorter for people who live in Ballantyne, but you still practically need a car to get to those office parks, even if you live less thaqn a mile away. Now if those office parks were adjacent to a cluster of neighborhoods like Baxter in Fort Mill or Birkdale in Huntersville accomponied by shopping options similar to Philip's Place, with nice central graanspace with a playground you could have a modern walkable walkable community that was family friendly in a good school district. Unfortunately, most current zoning regulations in most municipalities cater to a rural way of thinking where homes are separate from 'town'.

As for Atlanta, it is not the city of Atlanta that caused the sprawl. It is the surrounding towns and counties that allowed it to happen by welcoming such subdivisions. Atlanta proper is more than happy to allow mixed use neighborhoods like Gelnwood Park in their city these days. Can anyone envision the towns in Gwinnett, Cobb or Forsyth Counties doing the same?

Ghoul said...

Here is what we need to do: watch the movie "Logan's Run". To control population growth, when you reach the age of 30, you went into a big light and were disintegrated. While everyone except those governmental types who were "in control". No more old people, old being 31+, means we need way less housing and no need for sprawl.

Ghoul said...
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DroidDude said...

I thought the video was just an infomercial for the developer. Seemed like most of the people they interviewed worked for the developer.

Having lived in LA, DC, San Franciso, and South Florida I can tell you there is no sprawl in Charlotte like there is those places. I realize "sprawl" is considered evil this days. I guess that's part of the "Change". It used to be called expansion.

I like sprawl. Its better than always knowing when your neighbors are having fish or liver for dinner. I live in a very diverse community where each home is on at least 3/4 acre. And we know all our neighbors, and we wave (not honk) and we talk to each other, help each other, and have community get togethers. Many walk. The entire neighborhood can be lazily walked in about an hour. (nice little workout) Where kids climb trees, play football in their yards, and swing on ropes over a little creek, fish in the lake or ride their bikes or skateboards. Its an absolute misery to live this way in suburban sprawl.

Since the premise of the video series is that sprawl is unhealthy, it must be healthier to live in Glenwood park, 1.5 miles from downtown Atlanta, located next to I-20 (12 lanes in that area) on one side, a concrete factory on another, go for long 5 minute walks through the neighborhood (that will build up a real sweat) then settle down for drinks & trivial pursuit with $15.00 designer beers with your friends.

FYI At the time of our country's founding most people lived on farms. In 1776 the population of Philadelphia was estimated at 30 - 40,000. It was larger than NYC and Boston combined. To put that in perspective, most of the population of Philly, Boston and New York would have probably fit in Bank of America Stadium. This entire country is a result of sprawl.

Cul de sacs and freeways go back thousands of years. Freeways being born from turnpikes. (oldest known from about the 7th century) The difference being turnpikes have a fee and freeways are free ways. Can't blame them for the downfall of society.

Danimal said...

Nobody is denying Droid, or anyone else for that matter, the right to live in cul-de-sac subdivision in the exurbs. That choice will always exist. It's only fair to allow developers to build more dense/mixed use communities like Glenwood Park in certain areas for those who would rather live in those kinds of settings. Not everybody wants to live in a 3,000 foot house with an acre lawn. A lot of people don't want to spend all their leisure time maintaining such a property. A lot of people also don't raise families or tote kids around to soccer games and dance lessons. Unfortunately, there is a myth going around that government is going to force people to live in high-rises near train tracks, etc. On the contrary, the government encourages the opposite with restrictive zoning that doesn't allow mixed use of land, and underwrites mortgages more easily to detached spread out housing, while building roads and sewers that amplify such items. Glenwook Park, and plenty other similar developments have shown that there is a market for this kind of housing. Why not accommodate that clientele?

Kristen said...

I liked the video, except for the parts where it did get infomerically. I also liked that they showed a black family too, as the legacy of redlining and urban renewal is still casting a cloud over urban renewal. I am also in favor of choices. However, I am concerned with the lost of farmland, vacant buildings and homes and destruction of communities in both rural and urban settings. Also, a significant portion of the country cannot or is not able to drive, yet should not be prohibited to getting around because they can't drive on the highway or even walk safely down the street.