Update: Well I guess I was too hasty to heap praise on Glenn Roberts and his blog. As Matt the Engineer points out in the comments the “density advocate is arrogant” idea is alive and well. I still think the Zoning Issues blog is a good idea and I hope Roberts keeps it up. But I also hope that we can start to move away from the idea that you have to live in a neighborhood to have an opinion about what goes on there. That’s why I wrote this post. Please read it again if you haven’t already.
So I have not read through every post on Glenn Roberts’ Ravenna-Roosevelt Land Use blog. But here’s why I think it is important both to the ongoing Roosevelt zoning discussion but for land use around the city.
First, Mr. Roberts isn’t saying “damn these outsiders drifting into town trashing our plan!”(at least not that I have seen). All I have seen on his blog and comments here is honest criticism of the ideas an approaches some of us have for Transit Oriented Development and density. I like the fact that the blog hasn’t resorted to name calling or neighborhood xenophobia. I hope that it can be an example for other neighborhoods and even cities as we continue to expand the scope of our discussions about land use from the neighborhood to the city and regional level.
Second, the blog is a resource for neighbors and others as well who are trying to track land use issues. Those of us who try to keep up with this stuff can attest to the fact that in spite of all the information that is on line and presented at meetings, much of what goes on with land use happens in conversations. A lot of evolution happens over e-mail, beer, and coffee. Summarizing some of that or sharing the latest updates about what’s going on is a great service. Reading permit applications or code without a filter isn’t very helpful.
And third, it’s about land use! Don’t be afraid, wade in. The biggest canard about land use is that “it’s too complicated.” The basic principles aren’t. Land use is about, you guessed it, how we use our land. We get to decide how that’s done. Sure, figuring out the setback requirements and FAR for a mixed use project down the road is a pain in the neck. That’s complicated. But getting engaged in the discussion of what we want to see in our neighborhoods and communities is not. Land use is too important to leave to someone else, and Mr. Roberts blog helps by getting people engaged. I hope it will continue long after the dust settles (if it does) over the latest zoning discussion.
Lastly, I have commend to you his latest post about Queen Anne. It appears to be a spot on mockery of density freaks like me. I found myself nodding and saying “yeah, bulldoze Queen Anne.” I’ll admit I agree, in principle, with his numbered points about density:
I don’t see any drawbacks to this plan and am expecting a lot of support from the blogging community.
- There will be thousands of new jobs in the building industry.
- After the 20 year build-out Seattle reaches carbon neutrality.
- Noise from I-90 and I-5 and other transit corridors has ceased.
- Millions of trees flourish in rural areas.
- There are no more commuters, so the light rail system is used only for transporting food and clothing into the city to be distributed to those living here.
- There will be no more NIMBYs. All of us will be living in the same neighborhood, and decisions will be made for us.
Won’t it be great?
Yeah, actually Glenn, it would be!