“High-density Housing Reflects Dense Government Thinking”

I see that Aussies are struggling with the same phenomenom we face here in Alpharetta:

Citizens in Australia’s major cities  are becoming increasingly unhappy about what they perceive as the escalating  deterioration in their quality of life – traffic congestion, overloaded public  transport, unaffordable housing for young people, increases in the costs of  basic services and overcrowding. There is little doubt that recent election  results and unfavourable opinion polls are partly an expression of this  dissatisfaction.

‘Save Our Suburbs’ believe that  these adverse trends are the result of high-density policies that have been  imposed onto communities by state governments. Due to the misleading  misinformation that has accompanied these policies, the public may not fully  realise the connection between these policies on the one hand and deteriorating  standard of living on the other. It is only when one sweeps the propaganda veil  aside that one realises how shallow, trivial and sometimes downright deceptive  the spin has been.


We reiterate that we have no issue  with those of us that prefer living in a high-density area or with the free  market construction of buildings to fulfill that limited demand. What we object  to, is having draconian high density policies based on demonstrably faulty  premises forced upon the 83 per cent of people that Australian research shows  prefer to live in a free-standing home.

This is especially so when the  result is maddening traffic congestion, more greenhouse gases, a creaking and  overloaded infrastructure, the young and disadvantaged unable to afford their  own home and poorer health outcomes.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

And isn’t it fascinating that the same urban planning dictates we see in Georgia are being forced on suburban communities half a world away? I wonder how that could happen.

You can read the whole thing on newgeography.com here.


City Planners… Demigods or little Napoleons in Big Capes?

I recently read a stunning article,”The Next Normal: Control the Masses” which can be found here. The article contains an interview with urban planner Andres Duany and in the interview Mr. Duany displays the typical arrogance I find so prevalent when trying to discuss zoning issues with developers, city planners and consultants. For example:

Even 50 years ago, planners were still considered demigods. They had reformed cities to be beautiful, healthier, cleaner, and more stable. Planners had done more for public health than doctors. By making lives much better, they had come to be trusted by the people.

Demigods? Really? City planners did more for public health than the doctors that were out there making house calls in the middle of the night? City planners did more for public health than the doctors that were delivering babies and inoculating children against polio? City planners were trusted by people? I hate to break it to Mr. Duany but most people don’t even know who city planners are, much less trust them. The arrogance of a man that could say that with a straight face amazes me so the next quote wasn’t surprising.

While the New Urbanist system may work well, it is also expensive. To mount a charrette requires those rare, highly skilled professionals that can speak to regular folk, think clearly, and draw quickly. Charrettes can cost $300,000. We need to get the cost down to $50,000.

It is quite interesting that Mr. Duany whines about the need for those “rare, highly skilled professionals that can speak to the regular folk, think clearly and draw quickly”. Apparently Mr. Duany never met an elementary school teacher. I could walk into any school in Alpharetta and find 40 great teachers that meet his criteria and I bet any of them would be glad to organize a “charrette” for less than $300,000.

After reading that interview it was nice to see that not everyone in the development community is so contemptuous of public participation. For a much more encouraging perspective you can read urban planner Della Rucker’s refutation of Mr. Dulany here. Ms. Rucker counters:

Public participation is important not just to try to get people to go along with our vision, to give us a chance to yell loud enough to drown them out, or to allow us to demonstrate the superiority of our Grand Vision over their piddling little concerns…

Understanding the real reasons why people oppose a project requires the willingness to do so, the humility to listen, and the internal fortitude and self-assurance to admit that possibly, oh just possibly, we don’t know everything that there is to know.   That is the real mark of wisdom.

If the people who live around a proposed development oppose a development, chances are those people know something that is important to the health of their neighborhood and the larger community. If we think that we know more than to have to listen to them, then we are no better than little Napoleons in big capes, creating monuments to our hubris that our children and grandchildren will have to clean up. The lessons of the damage caused by our ignorance are all around us.

Local residents may have valuable insight? What a refreshing perspective. Too bad that isn’t the prevailing attitude of the city of Alpharetta lately.