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Re: SG-W:/ Proposal B: A Time To Act

On Fri, 31 Oct 2003, Richard Murphy wrote:
> Mike, please.  Please don't say this is the last chance for urban
> density or mass transportation.  I support the measure, and I believe
> that it is important for preserving land, but it will itself do
> *nothing* for the other issues you mention.  Those other things are
> possible, but not definite, outcomes of this proposal, and it will
> require a lot more work to make them happen.

Richard, of course what you say is true.  However, Mike's comment is not
inconsistent with yours.

The more land is locked into the "sprawl model" by continuing our current
practices, the less potential there will be for creating the urban density
required to make serious mass transit a viable option here.  Proposal B
can be the *start* of a cascade of positive public policy moves, not the
endo of them.

I know of no one who thinks *Proposal B itself* will resolve this complex
set of inter-related problems.  It's wildly unrealistic to think that any
one proposal or plan could do so.  But I think it's equally unrealistic to
think that these problems are unsolvable if we attack them in sequence,
with some thought as to which initial steps can create momentum for
follow-on steps.

Land preservation in the Greenbelt is practical.  It's do-able right now.
It's something we can win at the polls, if we can cut through the
developers' misinformation campaign.  If we pass the Parks and Greenbelt
Proposal, then urban density increases become more feasible.  Then transit
improvements become more economic.

None of this is guraranteed.  There will be serious oposition to each
step, funded by special interests with something to lose.  As is certainly
true with Proposal B, unless you buy the absurdity that the developers
care more for our parks, schools, affordable housing, etc. than people who
actually live in Ann Arbor and have worked on these issues for years
without help from the now-community spirited developers.

But we need to get started soon, or we'll be too locked in to the sprawl
model to get started ever.  Sprawl subdivisions once built, will not be
bulldozed for a "better way" later.  Every month we get more locked in to
becoming the next Plymouth, the next Bloomfield.

I'll be one of the 250 volunteers who are passing out Proposal B
literature this weekend.  Not because it's my idea of a perfect proposal.
But because it's my idea of a practical way to get started moving on the
policy solutions that are in our grasp, but tantalizingly out of reach for
lack of the leadership and a practical beginning point.

A few more "practical idealists" may just win this election.  I expect it
to be close - maybe within a few percentage points.  One percentage point
will be about 100 to 120 voters.  One volunteer can reasonably hope to
influence a good fraction of this number.  Realistically, every volunteer
really counts this weekend.  You don't have to live in Ann Arbor to help.

Want to make a difference?  Just show up at Open Space headquarters
between 10 and 6 on Saturday and Sunday to get your lit drop material and
pick a route that suits you.  Or help us make calls.  You can find us at
315 W.  Huron, Suite 120 (lower level).  Enter off Huron or more easily
off Washington Street just west of First and across the street to the west
from the Kiwanis building.  Questions?  Call 213-2174.

Doug Cowherd
Co-director, Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space [volunteer]

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