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Thread: Neighbors for More Neighbors - Yes In My Backyard - Higher-Density Housing

  1. Top | #11
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toni View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    ...
    It's good to hear that some places are moving toward building more high density and affordable housing. Many large Americans cities are no longer affordable to the workers that they need, including middle class professionals. ...
    So do you think cities should never have zoning limits on housing density? If limits are acceptable then do the homeowners have some right to assume they won't be increased all of a sudden after they've taken out a mortgage for that higher value?
    I think it's a better idea to de-centralize industries across the board and to stop concentrating so much in such small, dense areas. I think it's bad for the environment, bad for people, bad for the economy.
    My only issue is with the lost financial value to the current owners due to the zoning downgrade. Zoning laws are there to protect that, and it's not right to automatically accuse them of bigotry. As a New Englander I take offense at that. People sacrifice the right to do whatever they want in order to maintain that value. Other people can live very comfortably in high-density if that's what they want. And many wouldn't be happy away from city life, the traffic and noise and public amenities. There are places for that. Some very expensive and exclusive. But if you take away zoning protections then the more private and tranquil life afforded by low density will only be obtainable by the super wealthy in gated communities. Little Westport is somewhere in between, but it hardly lacks housing for its workers. And $1.2M homes probably means they commute to NYC anyway. Also there's an over-abundance of housing nearby in the much less affluent Norwalk and Bridgeport. These little towns aren't like the midwest with its open layout. New England towns have tiny, twisty roads that don't readily adapt to mass transit or a massive influx of cars.

  2. Top | #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    How is one to do that with a large population?
    Instead of a few gianormous communities, make smaller communities, more easily connected via mass transit such as light rail.

    Already and for always, large cities have divided themselves into neighborhoods. It's just too impossible to know or feel connected to a million people or more. That's for starters. But also: people absolutely require connection to nature, to sunlight and moonlight and starlight, to seasons, to plants and animals and growing seasons. They also need to be closer to where food is produced--and that's healthier and greener for everyone....

    Since we are stuck with large communities,
    No, we are not. Besides, what you are talking about is large cities which is the antithesis of community.

    one must ask how to create an approximation of small communities in them.
    Or have small, interconnected communities.

    A good way, it seems, is to build casual meeting areas, like benches on city streets. Some place where people can feel welcome to stay as long as they want, without being pushed out after a few minutes of (say) eating what they bought in a nearby café.
    Beaches on city streets? Sure because everybody lives on a coast and the ocean levels aren't rising and there's no such thing as skin cancer or water pollution....

    We have city parks. Some cities do it better than other cities. Some communities do it better than other communities. Some communities are simply built in such a way that all the 'extra' green spaces are maintained as lovely parklike settings, with plants and wildlife and a bench or two or even water fountains and bike paths. You don't have to be a large city to do that.


    High density has the additional virtue of consuming less land than low density. It can also mean shorter commutes and better support for mass transit. So high density is environmentally good in those ways. I think that some environmentalists seem to have romantic notions of living on a farm, but there isn't enough land for everybody to live in a farm-sized estate.
    High density means high concentration of impermeable surfaces, the need to transport things like: food long distances and removing people from nature. It also means a higher concentration of air pollution, light pollution, sound pollution, pollution in general and higher stress for individual humans living in those conditions.

    I grew up in farm country, with family who ran farms back when it was not very profitable to do so. I know that it is not 'romantic' an enterprise at all. Nor is that what I am suggesting. What I am suggesting is that instead of massive urban areas surrounded by massive urban sprawl where quite a number of people don't actually recognize cows (sounds stupid but trust me: I've had to point out to more than one urbanite what an actual cow in a pasture was and I won't even go into the amount of time and energy I've spent explaining the difference between a cow and a steer and a bull or that while beef cattle produce milk, they are not raised to produce milk except for immediate offspring for short term and that specific breeds of cows are specifically bred and developed in order to produce breeds that are extremely prolific milk producers with a high level of butterfat and that the same was done with goats and sheep and (slightly different) hogs and chickens, etc.

    But goddamit, everybody ought to know what a cow is and what a rooster is and what a chicken is and so on. And how to tell corn from soybeans from wheat from alphalpha in the fields. And how to tell if a tomato was allowed to ripen on a vine or grown to pack well to be shipped thousands of miles away. Or whether strawberries were likely to taste good because they are in season locally or whether they were shipped from CA or FL.

    And there absolutely need to be wild spaces, buffers of undeveloped land in addition to wetlands and deserts and forests and beaches, etc.

  3. Top | #13
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    Seattle is an example of urban growth with little long range palnn8ng. Busness and reasidebtial areas can go anywhere without thought to coordinated planned transit between the two.

    It is too late to do any thing different. It keeps growing as it always has.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Seattle is an example of urban growth with little long range palnn8ng. Busness and reasidebtial areas can go anywhere without thought to coordinated planned transit between the two.

    It is too late to do any thing different. It keeps growing as it always has.
    It’s never too late. Never give up trying to do what is right.

  5. Top | #15
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toni View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich
    How is one to do that with a large population?
    Instead of a few gianormous communities, make smaller communities, more easily connected via mass transit such as light rail.
    How would that work? Small sets of apartment blocks and office blocks surrounded by parkland?

    A good way, it seems, is to build casual meeting areas, like benches on city streets. Some place where people can feel welcome to stay as long as they want, without being pushed out after a few minutes of (say) eating what they bought in a nearby café.
    Beaches on city streets? Sure because everybody lives on a coast and the ocean levels aren't rising and there's no such thing as skin cancer or water pollution....
    That's benches, not beaches; Public bench / contemporary / wooden / cast iron - CITY OF BATH - Factory Street Furniture not 25 Best Beaches in California

  6. Top | #16
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    One problem with denying more affordable housing in an area of very expensive housing is that eventually, it becomes close to impossible to find workers who are willing to work in those areas. This includes not only workers at the bottom of the pay scale but teachers, nurses and other professionals who make middle class salaries but don't earn enough to live in these very expensive areas. Cities need a lot of workers. Why should those workers be shut out due to the unavailability of affordable housing. Is it better to have workers who are literally homeless? Yes! There are workers in some of these expensive cities that are living on the street due to a lack of affordable housing. I've read their stories. I can't imagine having to bathe in a public rest room before going to work in the morning, but there are people who do that because of a lack of affordable housing. Sometimes they lose jobs because it's pretty hard to get enough sleep and maintain decent hygiene when you're living on the street.

    People who have skills that are in demand, will eventually move to cheaper areas, instead of having to commute long distances to work. Atlanta is a good example. The roads to ATL are horribly congested. Imo, no one's property values should be as important as what is best for an entire community. And property values fall for a variety of reasons. So yes, I do find fault with wealthy people who claim to be tolerant but freak out when someone wants to build an apartment complex or some smaller, more affordable homes in close proximity to them. Gentrification has done a lot more damage to people then including more affordable housing to an area ever has. I never said that there should be no zoning laws, but I will say that they should be a lot more reasonable than they currently are in parts of the country. Not everything should be about protecting wealthy homeowners.

  7. Top | #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    One problem with denying more affordable housing in an area of very expensive housing is that eventually, it becomes close to impossible to find workers who are willing to work in those areas. This includes not only workers at the bottom of the pay scale but teachers, nurses and other professionals who make middle class salaries but don't earn enough to live in these very expensive areas.
    That trade-off should be left to the home owners. They're largely the ones who'll need to pay higher salaries to bring those people in. It's none of our business.

    Cities need a lot of workers. Why should those workers be shut out due to the unavailability of affordable housing. Is it better to have workers who are literally homeless? Yes! There are workers in some of these expensive cities that are living on the street due to a lack of affordable housing. I've read their stories. I can't imagine having to bathe in a public rest room before going to work in the morning, but there are people who do that because of a lack of affordable housing. Sometimes they lose jobs because it's pretty hard to get enough sleep and maintain decent hygiene when you're living on the street.
    That shouldn't be an issue in Westport's case since there's lots of affordable housing in surrounding towns. But in those towns the new housing is being built in the city centers rather than invading the surrounding suburbs.

    People who have skills that are in demand, will eventually move to cheaper areas, instead of having to commute long distances to work. Atlanta is a good example. The roads to ATL are horribly congested. Imo, no one's property values should be as important as what is best for an entire community.
    My initial reaction to that was to say this sounds like communism. But when it comes down to it my argument is that what's best for the entire community is exactly what's at stake. As with all moral issues the question comes down to what works in the long run on the largest scale. Kant's improvement on the golden rule, the Categorical Imperative. Zoning regulations are there to make people feel confident enough to invest their future in a community. When a town gets a reputation for granting eminent domain or trending towards high density on the backs of established neighborhoods families get second thoughts about moving there. And not just them but the banks who write the mortgages. It's a domino effect that possibly undermines all the reasons that made affordable housing desireable.

    And property values fall for a variety of reasons. So yes, I do find fault with wealthy people who claim to be tolerant but freak out when someone wants to build an apartment complex or some smaller, more affordable homes in close proximity to them. Gentrification has done a lot more damage to people then including more affordable housing to an area ever has. I never said that there should be no zoning laws, but I will say that they should be a lot more reasonable than they currently are in parts of the country. Not everything should be about protecting wealthy homeowners.
    Gentrification is an entirely separate issue. Affordable housing is reverse gentrification where the rich flee the area. Do you find fault with everyone who doesn't want to change zoning law to bring in higher density housing? Or do you only take sides against the rich? Are you willing to say that you'd have no problem at all with zoning changes to your own neighborhood as long as it was "what is best for the entire community"? I mean who gets to decide what's "reasonable"? You seem to think it's everyone but the people who live there.
    Last edited by Treedbear; 05-30-2019 at 07:42 PM. Reason: everyone who doesn't (not: anyone who does)

  8. Top | #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post

    That trade-off should be left to the home owners. They're largely the ones who'll need to pay higher salaries to bring those people in. It's none of our business.



    That shouldn't be an issue in Westport's case since there's lots of affordable housing in surrounding towns. But in those towns the new housing is being built in the city centers rather than invading the surrounding suburbs.

    People who have skills that are in demand, will eventually move to cheaper areas, instead of having to commute long distances to work. Atlanta is a good example. The roads to ATL are horribly congested. Imo, no one's property values should be as important as what is best for an entire community.
    My initial reaction to that was to say this sounds like communism. But when it comes down to it my argument is that what's best for the entire community is exactly what's at stake. As with all moral issues the question comes down to what works in the long run on the largest scale. Kant's improvement on the golden rule, the Categorical Imperative. Zoning regulations are there to make people feel confident enough to invest their future in a community. When a town gets a reputation for granting eminent domain or trending towards high density on the backs of established neighborhoods families get second thoughts about moving there. And not just them but the banks who write the mortgages. It's a domino effect that possibly undermines all the reasons that made affordable housing desireable.

    And property values fall for a variety of reasons. So yes, I do find fault with wealthy people who claim to be tolerant but freak out when someone wants to build an apartment complex or some smaller, more affordable homes in close proximity to them. Gentrification has done a lot more damage to people then including more affordable housing to an area ever has. I never said that there should be no zoning laws, but I will say that they should be a lot more reasonable than they currently are in parts of the country. Not everything should be about protecting wealthy homeowners.
    Gentrification is an entirely separate issue. Affordable housing is reverse gentrification where the rich flee the area. Do you find fault with everyone who doesn't want to change zoning law to bring in higher density housing? Or do you only take sides against the rich? Are you willing to say that you'd have no problem at all with zoning changes to your own neighborhood as long as it was "what is best for the entire community"? I mean who gets to decide what's "reasonable"? You seem to think it's everyone but the people who live there.
    What makes you think I am not concerned for ‘the whole community?’

    In my neighborhood, I have seen a large increase in higher desnsity housing ( to accommodate a revolving door of college students) as family homes are converted to student housing, pushing families out to the burbs, destroying neighborhood schools with most students walking to school to a scenario where all students now ride busses and young families are pushed into square, generic apartments with no walkability. My neighborhood has easy walkability to parks, walking/biking trails, the library, swimming pool, movie theater, post office, downtown with family friendly dining options including an ice cream parlor. The kicker? Because of a decreased number of persons of traditional college age, there is a decreased number of students and decreased need for all those lovely—and affordable! family homes which are now student ghetto housing. Fewer families are risking moving into my neighborhood since their kids now must ride a bus past the now empty schoool building and other family friendly amenities (such as theY) are relocating to areas which require large parking lots because they are far from houses with families.

    It does not take a genius to see that my community is transitioning from very walkable and family friendly to high density neighborhoods built to service a transitory student ovulation which is dwindling.

    Will this affect me personally? Well, my kids aren’t dumb and they can see as well as I do that this is becoming a community that is no longer family friendly but one that provides cheap labor to a handful of employers and a revolving door of an ever decreasing student population.

    If you want healthy communities, you build them to be attractive to families. If you want a stable society, you support families and individuals,not corporations.

  9. Top | #19
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toni View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    ...
    What makes you think I am not concerned for ‘the whole community?’
    ...
    Did I say that? Did anyone say that??

  10. Top | #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toni View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    ...
    It's good to hear that some places are moving toward building more high density and affordable housing. Many large Americans cities are no longer affordable to the workers that they need, including middle class professionals. ...
    So do you think cities should never have zoning limits on housing density? If limits are acceptable then do the homeowners have some right to assume they won't be increased all of a sudden after they've taken out a mortgage for that higher value?
    I think it's a better idea to de-centralize industries across the board and to stop concentrating so much in such small, dense areas. I think it's bad for the environment, bad for people, bad for the economy.
    I thought the same thing at one time.

    Having experienced higher density living in Europe, though, changed my mind. The Germans probably (ok, most certainly) do a better job planning than the US, and the combination of parking and living space is much better balanced.

    You occasionally still have to deal with somewhat noisy neighbors and other issues (I’ll be honest, I loved my house in the desert that was on almost a full acre), but it wasn’t a bad thing being able to walk to the grocery store. The problem with that is that it needs to be combined with much better infrastructure for public transportation and similar requirements, and the US sucks at that.

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