Friday, August 11, 2006

Breaking: Philadelphia isn’t alone in its ongoing struggle with ‘batshit crazies’

Funny article from Sunday’s Times about, get this, “vertical sprawl.” We’ve taken the liberty of conducting an impromptu interview with the piece. (With apologies for not posting earlier this week.)

So what is it about batshit crazies that makes them hate sound development, healthier neighborhoods, and overall economic growth/prosperity so much?
“Regions and cities, in trying to combat sprawl, are encouraging infill development,” said Ted Droettboom, an official with the Association of Bay Area Governments. “But you’re doing that with existing neighborhoods with existing neighbors, who fear traffic, who fear density and height.”
So basically, you’ve just described the symbol of the Republican Party: a big fat white guy who’s threatened by change. Interesting.

Now tell us, are those fears founded in anything? Or are they just that, unwarranted, childish fears? And please elaborate on some of the merits of these types of developments?
The trend toward infill development is in part a product of the “smart growth” movement that has gained currency among land-use planners and environmentalists. Higher-density, mixed-use development built around mass transit hubs… is more environmentally sound than suburban sprawl and produces better quality of life.
Why has it become so popular? Aside from, well, the obviousness of how superior living in a vibrant, walkable city is than living in a bleak, McMansion-covered, car-dominated suburb?
“People are beginning to realize that living far away from your jobs both has a personal cost and a financial cost,”
[…]
[There’s been] a slow but steady resurgence of urban life over the last two decades.
[…]
That influx has helped spark growth in places like San Diego, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Portland, Ore., where once-fallow downtowns now bustle with new shops and restaurants. Though nationally the housing market shows signs of softening, in some cities, the resurgence of urban living has created strong housing markets where none existed before. Elsewhere, it has driven up demand where prices were already high.
Yeah. We got the fever here too. It’s actually pretty cool, except when developers make the first 10 odd stories of their buildings bleak, soul-crushing parking.

But, we digress. The problem is many developments that are actually soundly designed and that would integrate well with the urban fabric are being vitriolically opposed by a bunch of neighborhood batshit motherfucking crazies because they’d rather die than see Philadelphia (or rather their neighborhood) change in the tiniest way.

And their arguments are so misinformed, they’re tragic. Why?
While the debate over vertical sprawl can differ from the suburban kind in the particulars — building height, for example, is often a key issue — the general issues are remarkably consistent: traffic, parking and the cost of supporting new projects with schools, water and other municipal services.
We wouldn’t call it much of a “debate” really. (All of those "issues" would be addressed by the increased tax revenue that comes with economic grotwth.) More like a self-serving, deplorable smear campaign. “Vertical sprawl?” Way to take a word synonymous with nasty suburban gluttony and unjustly associate it with sound (economically, environmentally, socially…) planning.

What the shit? Are old people just amazingly acrophobic?
There’s often little correlation between a proposal’s size and the depth of the opposition to it. In Berkeley, Calif., intense controversy has erupted over plans to turn a single parking lot next to a subway station into a 300-unit apartment and retail complex. “There seems to be an almost religious objection to height,” said Mr. Droettboom. “People say, ‘It’s just too tall.’ ”
You said it man. Fuckin batshit crazies. We need to round ‘em up, and give ‘em all a free one-way ticket to Albuquerque or something.

They are the fucking rake.

Related:
Here’s an idea: let’s write an article that actually gives the impression that batshit crazy residents diametrically opposed to any new development, no matter what it is, might have a somewhat valid argument. When, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Because, like anyone who’s afraid of potential change, they have an absolutely godawful mindset that propagates nothing but very bad things. [NY Times]
Earlier:
Breaking: David Auspitz and Vince Fumo vie for the revered title of Biggest Pompous Idiot/Gasbag in Philadelphia
Surprise, Surprise: David Auspitz and the ZBA think urban planning is a myth
Of high-rises and small-minded batshit crazies

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