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Re: SG-W:/ Where do we go from here?


First off, a quick question on methodology.  You mention in the op-ed 
an "overall residential density of 3 units per acre".  Does the area 
half of this include the Arb?  The UMich campus?  Pfizer's 170ish 
acres?  On the housing units side, how are students living in dorms or 
co-operatives counted?  I'm not challenging your conclusions--in fact 
I'm very much in favor of higher density--but I'd like to know how you 
got your numbers so that I can discuss intelligently when I'm 
challenged while quoting you.

Meanwhile, I think the accessory-apt idea is a phenomenal one, and 
definitely worthy of reconsideration.  The Planning Commission did 
recommend approval the first time around, so there's only one layer of 
resistance to work on.  Your other suggestions might take a little more 
work, but I do happen to know that at least one of the students that 
the Mayor has nominated to work on the Cool Cities Commission feels 
strongly that density, mixed-use, and walkability are huge creators of 
coolness--so these proposals can be worked on from both the 
conservation angle and the coolness angle.

I'm interested to know whether you have any specific proposals for 
increased density in and regional mass transit to other cities in the 
county and the region.  Having grown up in Chelsea, I can say that 
increasing density in the city limits will meet with strong resistance 
(one village trustee recently proposed a development moratorium--it was 
mocked by another trustee, who held that it was a useless idea because 
"there's no more development that could be done"), but I can also say 
that the surrounding townships are interested in preserving farmland 
and clustering development, so regional efforts are not completely 

I will put out one recommendation for regionalism on the table, again 
from my high school years in Chelsea:  if regional mass transit is 
going to attract riders who are not transit-dependant, it must travel 
from Point A to Point B without many intermediate stops.  The old AATA 
210 line to Chelsea/Dexter cost $2 and took 75 minutes to get between 
Chelsea and Ann Arbor; driving took 20 minutes.  Nobody with the 
ability to drive will choose a transit option that takes four times as 
long.  If transit between Chelsea and Ann Arbor is to attract any 
riders, it must have *one* stop in Chelsea and *one* in Ann Arbor, and 
must take I-94 between them.  the Dexter-Chelsea/Jackson Road route 
with a dozen intermediate stops will never work.

At any rate, I do know there is plenty of interest in density among Ann 
Arbor's younger population, and will say that increasing density and 
making Ann Arbor "cool" are inseparable processes.  Both involve 
affordable housing, mixes of uses, and a transportation network that 
places pedestrian activity above driving.

Richard Murphy
Master of Urban Planning student, UMich.

On Nov 22, 2003, at 10:41 AM, Matt Lassiter wrote:

> I wonder if the activists on this list have any thoughts on our 
> general ideas and specific proposals, especially the immediate steps 
> that the city of Ann Arbor can take to pursue sustainable development 
> inside as well as outside the city limits.
> We didn't have space in the column to address the most important 
> current need--strong statewide action to empower regional governance 
> including countywide zoning and planning, and ideally an urban growth 
> boundary instead of a sporadic greenbelt, with higher density in Ann 
> Arbor combined with clustered development around the current towns in 
> Washtenaw and an efficient regional system of mass transit.  We are 
> all working under the severe structural limitations to Smart Growth in 
> this state.  Ann Arbor cannot solve the sprawl problem or the 
> affordable housing crisis acting alone, but the city could do much 
> more to make the situation better and could stop doing things to make 
> it worse.
> As the City Council takes up the enabling legislation for the 
> Greenbelt, and hopefully as the accessory apartment proposal makes its 
> way back to the municipal agenda, I hope there is grassroots support 
> or at least debate on the zero-loss proposal and higher density zoning 
> requirements that we suggest.

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