Our City Online

Messageboard - Development

NOTE: You are viewing an archived version of the Columbus Underground forums/messageboard. As of 05/22/16 they have been closed to new comments and replies, but will remain accessible for archived searches and reference. For more information CLICK HERE

Retrofitting the Suburbs to be More Sustainable

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Development Retrofitting the Suburbs to be More Sustainable

Viewing 15 posts - 46 through 60 (of 89 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #455147
    Jason Powell
    Jason Powell
    Participant

    This is why, when the term “density” is brought up in any proposal for most suburban communities, people tend to freak out. It’s not people on top of people. (^^I see the exaggeration :) It’s more people in a better arrangement than what currently exists that allows for more efficiently run neighborhoods. The problem most people have, as well as I, is that a majority of dense “walkable” proposals for suburban communities are planned poorly. If they looked great and were highly functional, they would become more excepted. However, too often these projects suffer from bad zoning codes, dumbing down the design to save money and a overall general lack of knowledge of what good design really means.

    #455148

    Geno99
    Participant

    InnerCore said:
    Yes, that’s pretty much the definition of sustainability.

    Where do all the extra people come from? Is it natural population growth (which is kinda slow) or are fewer people moving someplace else? I guess it could be both. But you can’t have growth in all sectors. You can’t build more suburbs, densify the existing ones and have people moving back to the cities and do all that without the changes all slowing down in all the areas. I guess unless there is a population boom.

    #455149

    Eugene_C
    Participant

    InnerCore said:
    Yes, that’s pretty much the definition of sustainability.

    Economic activity from more people in the same area.

    #455150

    InnerCore
    Participant

    Geno99 said:
    Where do all the extra people come from? Is it natural population growth (which is kinda slow) or are fewer people moving someplace else? I guess it could be both. But you can’t have growth in all sectors. You can’t build more suburbs, densify the existing ones and have people moving back to the cities and do all that without the changes all slowing down in all the areas. I guess unless there is a population boom.

    Here is essentially how the population moved over the 2000 decade:

    As you can see we expanded out a lot faster than we needed to. So basically we are building more roads, water and sewer lines, etc. than we need to. That is the issue with sustainability. Once you get to a certain level of density there are enough people using the same amount of public infrastructure to pay for it. However we don’t follow that model.

    Let’s say we need 50 units per acre to sustain an area. What we do is let an urban area get to 75 units per acre while we let the suburbs get built at 25 units per acre and then we take from the urban areas to pay for the suburbs. That in and of itself is fine because the whole area average 50 units per acre and is sustainable.

    However then because the people in the suburbs get to live better of the backs of the urban areas more and more people wanted the suburbs. So we went out and built more and more of them without building up the urban areas to compensate. So now the overall area drops to 30 units per acre and is not longer sustainable.

    Instead what we should be doing is waiting until more of the urban area increases up to 75 units per acre before we build additional suburbs maintaining sustainability for the entire area. It’s called the urban growth boundary. You can’t grow out until your core grows enough to support the outward expansion.

    #455151
    rus
    rus
    Participant

    Love the different definitions of sustainability.

    * Lots of people in a small area.
    * More people in a smaller area that’s a better arrangement allowing for more efficiently run neighborhoods ( note: “better arrangement” and “efficiently” not defined ).
    * Economic activity generated by more people in the same area.
    * Taxes paid by residents of an area which support sewers, roads, and other public infrastructure.

    Looks like yet another meaningless buzzword. If it can mean anything then it means nothing.

    #455152
    Josh Lapp
    Josh Lapp
    Participant

    I think the two below are pretty succinct definitions:

    “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level”
    “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources”

    So in terms of urbanism, we’re talking about a city/neighborhood/area that is able to be maintained at a certain level without depletion of the rest of the city/neighborhood/area.

    The trends of the past 50 years are inherently ‘unsustainable’ due the frequent disinvestment and destruction in favor of building new in greenfields. Looks at the map below (thanks InnerCore). You’ll see that 2000-2010 the south and east sides were emptied of residents who presumably moved to all the ‘blue’ greenfield areas around the fringes.

    Keep in mind the city and region both gained population but some areas were drastically emptied out. Same goes with Northland, Eastland, Westland -> Tuttle, Polaris, Easton. This constant shift of people and development is inherently unsustainable when we have a finite amount of land and resources.

    #455153

    jbcmh81
    Participant

    rus said:
    Love the different definitions of sustainability.

    * Lots of people in a small area.
    * More people in a smaller area that’s a better arrangement allowing for more efficiently run neighborhoods ( note: “better arrangement” and “efficiently” not defined ).
    * Economic activity generated by more people in the same area.
    * Taxes paid by residents of an area which support sewers, roads, and other public infrastructure.

    Looks like yet another meaningless buzzword. If it can mean anything then it means nothing.

    You keep attempting to create a problem/conflict where one doesn’t exist. “Sustainability” has a lot of components, so what you see as multiple definitions are really just parts of the same one.

    #455154

    InnerCore
    Participant

    Sustainability is a multi-faceted concept frequently invoked in environmental discourse. Its precise meaning as well as differences to similar concepts such as sustainable development are a matter of on-going argument. Most interpretations focus on the property of environmental, social or socio-ecological systems to maintain important indicators of system integrity, functioning or well-being over extended periods of time.

    Simply definition:
    sus·tain·a·ble
    səˈstānəbəl/
    adjective
    1.able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

    You can be sustainable in a lot of different ways. If I eat 2000 calories and exert enough energy to use up those 2000 calories then my diet is enough to sustain my weight. However if I eat 10 lbs of food a week to get that 2000 calories and I can only replenish my food source at 8 lbs a week the food supply needed for my diet isn’t sustainable .

    In regards to development sustainability is usually looked at from three main factors (Economical, Social, Environmental):

    #455155

    NEOBuckeye
    Participant

    One of the United States’ biggest and perhaps most fatal flaws is the notion of freedom as extended and applied to land and resource use. You are totally free and supported here in terms of being a total glutton and developing land at the far fringes of town, even while existing developed land and properties are neglected and abandoned. This is accepted as the norm, and when people challenge this norm they are often attacked rather viciously for having the audacity to question the gaping holes in our ethos.

    The end product is a map like what InnerCore posted, with the City of Columbus sprawling ever outward across Central Ohio, with residents in and out of the city pushing to build up the hinterlands at the expense of the city’s core. I’ve never faulted Columbus for having the vision and leadership (Mayor Jack Sensenbrenner) to annex everything in sight, because it has allowed Columbus to maintain the strong financial health/tax base and resources that now elude Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and other cities that are now landlocked by rings upon rings of suburban micro-governments. At the same time, however, even Columbus’ “annex to financial health” strategy is inherently unsustainable and will fail eventually as the city overextends and over-leverages its resources and infrastructure, because it has done little to maintain its core infrastructure, and will also still need to maintain its fringe infrastructure in due time.

    Portland-style growth boundaries here might have also helped manage some of this at one point, provided they also kept suburban development and growth in check, but you can’t underestimate the monumental resistance that such expressed concerns for planning and resource restraint seem to arouse amongst the “Because freedom.” defenders.

    #455156

    Nancy H
    Participant

    Read this recently on allaboutcities.ca. Kind of scary. Also kind of reminds me of Grandview Yard.

    “More recently, to combat sprawl, many cities are re-zoning large swaths of industrial or commercial land into high-density residential.  But what gets built in many ways resembles the suburbs in character.  Buildings and units look very similar; everyone buys in at the same time so will tend to be of similar backgrounds; and the large retail chains scoop up the retail spaces.  Put all this together and you get a suburb in the city, even if the residents take transit to work and live in condos.”

    One of the things that has made the Short North work is no single broad brush stroke created it. Individuals and couples moved back, in the 1970’s and started fixing up “that old house.” Many older residents and lower income families stayed (and are still here). Then in the 1980’s developers started working on renovating properties on High Street to fill the need for goods, services, food/drink and entertainment. Now, we finally have developers filling in the blanks that are vacant lots. Lots of different people with lots of different ideas and wallet sizes.

    Too much planning by too few individuals makes for a boring neighborhood.

    #455157
    rus
    rus
    Participant

    Nancy H said:

    One of the things that has made the Short North work is no single broad brush stroke created it. Individuals and couples moved back, in the 1970’s and started fixing up “that old house.” Many older residents and lower income families stayed (and are still here). Then in the 1980’s developers started working on renovating properties on High Street to fill the need for goods, services, food/drink and entertainment. Now, we finally have developers filling in the blanks that are vacant lots. Lots of different people with lots of different ideas and wallet sizes.

    Too much planning by too few individuals makes for a boring neighborhood.

    Seems like that goes against a lot of what some here want.

    That said, one of the reasons people could move into the short north back in the day was everyone else moving out. Property values decrease to the point where it’s attractive to others.

    In that sense, I can see why some today would like the near east side.

    #455158

    InnerCore
    Participant

    Nancy H said:
    Read this recently on allaboutcities.ca. Kind of scary. Also kind of reminds me of Grandview Yard.

    “More recently, to combat sprawl, many cities are re-zoning large swaths of industrial or commercial land into high-density residential.  But what gets built in many ways resembles the suburbs in character.  Buildings and units look very similar; everyone buys in at the same time so will tend to be of similar backgrounds; and the large retail chains scoop up the retail spaces.  Put all this together and you get a suburb in the city, even if the residents take transit to work and live in condos.”

    Part of the problem is that you have people discussing issues while others are conflating or confusing issue unintentionally and intentionally ^^^^.

    From a general perspective there are few types of zoning. In the US the most popular type of zoning is euclidean zoning. It’s where you basically take an area and zone it for one use. Many refer to it as single use zoning. This is the zoning that became popular and helped not only create suburban sprawl but destroy the fabric of our cities.

    This is exactly what you are describing. Where you take a large piece of land that was previously zoned industrial so no residential was allowed and then change it to residential with only a little retail is allowed.

    It is this very reason why people like myself and other in that thread want form based zoning. Under form based zoning we don’t regulate the use as much as we regulate the form. So the entire area doesn’t have to be so homogeneous which brings me to my next point.

    When an area isn’t sustainable then you get to the point where large tracts of land can be bough and controlled more easily. This is one of the biggest problems with GY. Developers tend to do OK when they can only purchase a piece of land here and there. Another reason to build a solid street grid. But when you get developers who buy many acres of land they tend to simply put large homogeneous projects no matter what zoning instead of letting the neighborhood grow organically.

    Nancy H said:
    One of the things that has made the Short North work is no single broad brush stroke created it. Individuals and couples moved back, in the 1970’s and started fixing up “that old house.” Many older residents and lower income families stayed (and are still here). Then in the 1980’s developers started working on renovating properties on High Street to fill the need for goods, services, food/drink and entertainment. Now, we finally have developers filling in the blanks that are vacant lots. Lots of different people with lots of different ideas and wallet sizes.

    Too much planning by too few individuals makes for a boring neighborhood.

    SN had a structure that was there prior to the single use zoning becoming prevalent. We used to create better building forms back in the day because the car wasn’t prevalent so the buildings were built for the people and neighborhood.

    However make no mistake with out some sort of conscious effort even place like SN will become less diverse. As the area gains in popularity, prices will increase and it will become a wealth enclave. Retail rents will increase and the independent retailers will be pushed out for the national chains.

    #455159
    rus
    rus
    Participant

    InnerCore said:
    As the area gains in popularity, prices will increase and it will become a wealth enclave.

    That isn’t the point of gentrification?

    #455160

    gramarye
    Participant

    Nancy H said:
    “More recently, to combat sprawl, many cities are re-zoning large swaths of industrial or commercial land into high-density residential.  But what gets built in many ways resembles the suburbs in character.  Buildings and units look very similar; everyone buys in at the same time so will tend to be of similar backgrounds; and the large retail chains scoop up the retail spaces.  Put all this together and you get a suburb in the city, even if the residents take transit to work and live in condos.”

    Calling that a “suburb in the city” is playing pretty fast and loose with the definition, at least if the transit that they’re taking to work is actually convenient and not a matter of financial necessity and the condos aren’t suburban-style autocentric condos.

    I agree that too much conformity can be a bit boring, but the point of urban revitalization isn’t to produce kaleidoscopic architecture and it certainly isn’t to keep chain restaurants out (if those restaurants are comfortable adapting to urban building forms–obviously those dependent on drive-thrus might not find an urban setting as appropriate for them, but that’s shouldn’t be because of a conscious attempt to keep chain restaurants out).

    Also, I think a lot of the rezoning of old industrial and commercial land that has been happening has been to mixed-use development, which now actually has a place in many zoning codes, rather than just to strictly residential use. I could be wrong on that, but my sense is that a lot of zoning boards that have embraced the notion of rezoning for reuse are familiar with the concept of mixed-use development and are on board with it.

    #455161

    InnerCore
    Participant

    rus said:
    That isn’t the point of gentrification?

    It’s not the point of gentrification it IS gentrification.

Viewing 15 posts - 46 through 60 (of 89 total)

The forum ‘Development’ is closed to new topics and replies.

Subscribe below: