Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Have We Hit Peak Suburbia?

Miniver Cheevey discusses peak suburbia.

Another problem that I'm seeing in my (close-in, suburban) neighborhood is tracts of land that were bulldozed for housing projects just as the credit crunch hit. The "developers" are now nowhere to be seen. Now, the plots, which once provided habitat for wildlife and pollinators such as bees, are denuded and the land is eroding with every strong rainstorm.

Next time around, could we please exercise a little bit of planning and caution? Maybe require a "development fee" upfront to be used to clean up these sorts of messes? If not needed, half could be returned to the "developer" and half could go for infrastructure improvements: protected bus stops with seats, greenspace, community gardens, etc. Not a bad idea for McMansions (aka any house over X sq. feet), as well, although those funds should be held for 20 years and used to upgrade the property when it gets turned into multi-family housing even though the developer didn't build enough parking, sewage, green space, etc. for that use.

Sia provides an interesting alternative.


Anonymous said...

Virginia localities do not have authority to require such fees. This is a subject of hot debate in Richmond.

Brendan M said...

suburbia is the quite possibly the worst american invention. we have very few true cities in this country. while still having an impact on their environment, cities are a better solution than suburban development, so long as their edges are well-defined and they are organized in an intelligent way (mixed-use, human scale, sacred spaces, private spaces, public spaces, pedestrian-friendly, multi-nodal, with building height limits and intelligent zoning and codes). Look at Italian hill towns, set in near perfect harmony with their surroundings. The city is the most important human project.