Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The suburbanization mindset

An all too familiar kind of mind is at work here: a mind seeing only disorder where a most intricate and unique order exists; the same kind of mind that sees only disorder in the life of city streets, and itches to erase it, standardize it, suburbanize it.
I've been away for a few days, so I am still catching up on the last week of the City Builder's Book Club. Over the weekend, I came to think more about an offhand comment made by a police officer at a community meeting last week. He came to give a presentation on a few issues relevant to us. One of the last was about the proposed parking lot revamp for one of the stores. I don't know why he was chosen to show this, but he passed around a design sketch from an architect. Parking is always a bit of a contentious issue because there's a lot of people flowing into and around the district, both by car and by foot. Anyway, right at the end, he commented that he "would rather see some of the small storefronts torn down and a big parking garage put in their place." Understandably, I got a bit upset about this, but I let it go since it was just his opinion, and he doesn't decide these things.

Representatives from the police department have also been fairly negative over the years about bringing in liquor licenses and extending restaurant hours. It makes some sense. To them, they see it as stretching their already thin resources. They look at the apparently (relatively) easy jobs in suburban precincts and seek to import that form into the city. I agree that it's perverse that adding liquor licenses to a district doesn't add additional funding for police and emergency services there. It's a function of our obsolete system of licensing, which should be replaced by proper excise taxes that pay for the local services they require. But even without that change, it is clear that the kind of "suburbanization" that the police officer desired, and that Jane Jacobs talks about in the above quote, is not the answer either.

No comments:

Post a Comment