Thursday, January 14, 2016

Smart Growth is dead. Landscape Urbanism lives on in Marinwood-Lucas Valley

A lecture on Landscape Urbanism by Professor Charles Waldheim of Harvard.

We are in the midst of fad of "Smart Growth" promoted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)".  Smart Growth which promotes walkable communities and smart growth with its Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Traditional Neighborhood Design.  It is a sort of "Disneyland" approach to design to create nostalgic urban utopias.  In this video Charles Waldheim introduces the concept of Landscape Urbanism that promotes the idea of the natural environment as the unifying approach to design. 

The Smart Growth approach design has been in use for decades, beginning in socialist countries like East Germany and later China where individual property rights are not recognized as an essential element in a free society.  It is shocking that Smart Growth is coming to Marin of all places where for decades we have valued our natural environment in our approach to community planning.  

Architects should be studying Marin for walk/bike friendly cities and towns.  Instead they are imposing their will upon us to urbanize .  In a few short years,  all of this "Smart Growth" will seem like another passing fad.  Smart growth developments have failed all over the world.  Planners are actually surprised that people prefer a little single family home with a backyard instead of being crammed into apartments above a store.  Stores need parking, low prices and appeal to a regional shopping base. Small shops in the Smart Growth Urban village fail with the lack of foot traffic. People no longer chose to live above their "store" . A dynamic economy requires connection via personal transit. Mass transit is impractical for the tradesman, sales person or consultant. We don't work in factories and  have centralized  urban based economies. We have vastly different lifestyles than nostalgic vision of the  Smarth Growth advocates.

The economic reality will begin to really sink in soon.  All levels of government are broke and funding will disappear. The romantic ideal of returning to a 19th Century style Urban Village will fade.

Most of us in Marinwood have been living the "green" lifestyle for decades.  We watch our energy usage, have organic gardens, collect rainwater, recycle, compost, etc.

Very little building has been occuring in Marinwood-Lucas Valley.  There may be small developments here and there but nothing that constitutes "sprawl" since Eichler and Hoytt completed their developments in the 60s. Therefore trying to remedy our "sprawl" with further growth and compaction of our community with high density housing seems very misguided at best.

How does moving in 1500 new people into the bedroom community of Marinwood-Lucas Valley make us consume fewer resources, the roads less crowded and make us more independent? .

We need to preserve our green space not compact our beautiful neighborhoods in Marinwood-Lucas Valley.

It will be the wise political leader who recognizes that "Home Sweet Home" is the Marinwood-Lucas Valley we have now. 

We are believers in principles of community, sustainable living and protecting our open spaces. We are believers in Landscape Urbanism.. 

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