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Arts and Entertainment Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 9 years ago

Arrested Redevelopment: fight sprawl, not healthy growth

by: Lisa Nisenson

We're taking a leap here and assuming TWIS readers are behind rebuilding cities. But just in case, raise your hand if you think we need to go tear up more cow fields to build McMansions over water supplies. Thought so.

Both Manatee and Sarasota Counties are climbing out of the foreclosure pit enough to think about the future. Several news organizations are covering this one, and the local pols seem to be saying the right thing, even though the state basically gutted growth management last year.

But here in Sarasota, growth management does not equal more redevelopment. It equals nothing. Several groups (Google “growth Sarasota”) want to be the guardians of controlling rampant growth. In doing so, it seems like they not only fight sprawl, but redevelopment as well. They fight everything.

A couple of points:

  1. You can’t be against sprawl and be against redevelopment at the same time.
  2. One of the tools no-growthers rely on is something called traffic concurrency. We looked up “traffic concurrency Florida" and found a curious paper called “Rethinking the Florida Transportation Concurrency Mandate.” Since we are lazy, we went straight to the end, and there’s a sentence that says “achieving this objective (avoiding congestion) is possible only by allowing low density development in the midst of large arterial roadways and substantial freeway networks.” WTF?  The no-growthers are pushing policies that backfire.
  3.  Concurrency basically says build more roads as growth comes in, but that can’t happen in cities. The whole concurrency thing is a ruse to stop development. Yes, we need to make sure roads, parking and such is in order, but plenty of cities have added plenty of redevelopment and lived to see people moving about nicely. They usually do it by coordinating land and transportation planning, something concurrency doesn't let you do and something the no-growth crowd is fighting. They not only fight the problem, they fight the solution.
  4. No-growthers also have this thing about new growth paying its own way. So those of us who are newcomers are “the problem.” But look around: All those bursting pipes and beach closings show that old growth actually never paid its way.
  5. Finally --- and we can’t say this enough --- the market is craving more work and living space closer to where there is a “there,” like downtowns. Folks with high SRiQ scores actually like to walk, enjoy the fact that transit is there for us, and don’t think that taller buildings send out toxic killer plumes. We like the things no-growthers fight because they are part of great places and a better deal for taxpayers, and it’s about time we said so. Loudly.

Sure, there can be rotten redevelopment just as there is bad sprawl. However, with the growth rules lifted, that means that opposition to redevelopment will send demand to where it is easy to build. It’s called sprawl.

We are fired up on this one just like TWIS is fired up about the noise ordinance and how people are treated downtown. We are fired up about how to make a great city. In four sentences or so, what would you tell the city about planning for the future?  

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