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Re: SG-W:/ The Vision
- Subject: Re: SG-W:/ The Vision
- From: Steve Bean <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 31 Aug 99 21:26:53 -0400
>What is the goal of anti-sprawl activists?
To prevent sprawl, obviously. ;-) But even identifying THE reason for
being anti-sprawl is not so simple, mainly due to the diversity of
opinions among people who might consider themselves "anti-sprawl
activists". Many among this group consider themselves foremost farmland
preservationists or natural habitat preservationists, and within those
groups individuals each have yet more various reasons for their
positions. The list of reasons also includes the negative impacts sprawl
has on social interactions, air and water quality, other environmental
impacts (higher energy use, for example), and infrastructure costs.
>Reduced population growth
>in the periphery, increased growth in population centers; but
>in particular, I would like to know how much more density they would
>like to see in Ann Arbor.
Personally, I wouldn't like to see more density anywhere, but that's not
realistic. Of course, we're entitled to have a goal, and I think some
limit on county population (through some as-yet-undetermined means) is a
valid goal. In order to do that, or reasonably discuss density
preferences for Ann Arbor, we need more information on current population
and expected growth over the next decade or so. SEMCOG has that type of
information, so it may just be a matter of looking at it and determining
realistic (yet creative!) options for achieving our goal(s).
But to answer this question more directly, I would like to see population
increases occur in cities and towns rather than in the townships, where
the vast majority of remaining farmland and open space exists.
How much more in Ann Arbor? I just returned from vacation in Oregon and
Washington, having spent several days in Portland and Seattle. Based on
that experience I would say that downtown Ann Arbor could potentially
handle up to a 20% increase in "occupants" (not necessarily residents)
over current levels without major negative impacts. The key word is
"potentially"--proper transportation planning and
development/redevelopment in that area would be absolutely necessary to
avoid problems with traffic, parking, economic viability of businesses,
etc. I'm sure other people with more urban planning background would have
a better sense of what's possible, but I just think that any increase
beyond 20% would exceed my personal limit. I don't want to live in
Seattle--if I did I'd move there.
Where would these 20,000-odd people live, though? Some should live
downtown. (I suspect that it could be a very nice existence for a period
of time.) Some will live in the adjacent townships--let's face it, there
will be more houses built there. But preferably there will be another
option that emerges. Maybe it will be the construction of mixed
commercial/residential buildings/neighborhoods, perhaps replacing
existing strip malls.
On the other hand, we need to keep in mind that the population of the
county may start to decrease sometime in the next 50-100 years, so do we
want to go through the increase in housing just to accomodate the "peak"
in population levels? (By the way, population in the city of Ann Arbor
has actually declined in recent years, I believe. Mainly due to smaller
households.) If this is the case, shouldn't we make an effort to prepare
for these changes in population wisely, with respect to currently
undeveloped lands, among other things?
Then there's bound to be some folks out there who don't want to see any
population increase in the county (or a much sooner decrease), and while
I don't know how realistic that is, I'd love to hear from them on this.
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