Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Take a Stand ULI

The LA Times reports that the Urban Land Institute (ULI) has the following opinion of a state smart growth law called SB 375:
"General plans that encourage redevelopment within a city's core and squeeze more residences onto smaller lots are an important component of Senate Bill 375, which was enacted in 2008 to help the state meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, according to the report released earlier this month."
Great. I agree completely. Thank you ULI. But at the end they slip a little and bow down to suburbia saying that infill development "can't accommodate all of the growth that is coming to California". I disagree. If you were aggressive enough, you could easily, from a technical standpoint, build taller, walkable neighborhoods, and avoid the need to consume more land. This is often politically difficult, and I get the feeling the ULI wants to be non-threatening.

Here's what's wrong with being non-threatening. Imagine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech about the need to end hiring discrimination. He gives brilliant arguments against the discrimination, rouses the crowd with his rhetoric, and truly convinces them that this discrimination is wrong and must end. Then he says something like "but you know, this is going to be difficult, so we have to acknowledge that some businesses should still be allowed to discriminate".

What the hell is that? That's taking all of the force and moral conviction out of what you're saying. I think people don't think about smart growth because nobody has the guts to make a moral argument about the need to replace suburbia with something more sustainable. Suburbia deserves to be criticized on moral terms for its destruction of the environment and until we have leaders who are willing to turn heads and piss people off . . .

It will continue to be the rule rather than the exception, and nobody will even think about the fact that THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE.

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