Friday, June 17, 2005

New Urbanism

I live in one of these new urbanism neighborhoods that are so controversial around these parts. I chose to build there before I had even heard the term new urbanism or ever knew there was such controversy about these neighboorhoods from the BOMA perspective. I like the look of the rear-loaded garages and the clean sight-line along the fences down our street. All services happen via the alley, so we have no trash cans or mail boxes along the front. The clean-ness of this really struck me when we were looking for places to build and led us to decide to build where we did. We have been very happy with the resulting house and the neighborhood as a whole.

The operative phrase for me in my last paragraph, though, is that we chose where and what we built. This week's decision to attempt to ban front-loading garages and the efforts to enforce some kind of new urbanism standard on all new development is a bit much. If someone prefers a front-loading garage, whether it be for aestetics, functionality, or cost savings, so be it. Not my business, or the BOMA's. Why should the city have a say in the matter? If a neighborhood makes the decision to enforce these standards, that's OK too. You know what you're getting into when you decide to build in a neighborhood... you can choose which neighborhood to build in by weighing your opinion on these standards and making your own decision. Want less restrictions? Build in Neighborhood A. Want a lot of restrictions so that there is consistency to the look-and-feel? Build in Neighborhood W.

A major hat-tip to Drinkin' the Franklin Kool-Aid on this topic, as well as the battleground debate. I used to be just a national issue kind of guy who in recent years started working on state-wide issues. I never saw a lot going on in the local issues. Lately, though, with the issues and controversies that have come up via the zoning and BOMA meetings, I have seen the error in my ways and have shifted my opinion on these matters. When buying alleged battlefield property and worrying about where someone's garage is become the focus of your local government at the expense of budgets, roads, and sound fiscal management, something is amiss. It's good that people are starting to take notice...

Update (June 17th 4pm): A pretty active Fark going on the topic now... Some amusing comments, some ignorant (such as how alley-access garages will cause everyone to park on the street. Funny how that hasn't happened in my neighborhood. It's not like it's any different to park in the back in your garage/driveway and enter the house than the front...), but putting Franklin in a not-so-good light nonetheless. This reminds me of the Fieldstone flagpole controversy due to the half-truths and misinformation flowing around that one... Pretty amusing, nonetheless...


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