Opinion

Density Isn’t a Dirty Word

Density Isn’t a Dirty Word

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San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

Funny thing about density: The groups for and against growth in their communities generally want the same things.

fix san diego opinionThey want a “livable” community. They want pleasant, walkable streets. They want restaurants with outdoor cafes, lots of great little shops, lots of available services and they like to run into friends on the street. They want great, human-scaled architecture. Neither group wants more traffic and congestion. Most would like to see a streetcar or some form of decent transit.

So how did the dreaded “D” word become such a contentious issue in San Diego when most everyone agrees on what they want?

Part of density’s bad name comes from the way we talk about it. You may notice that when residents talk about what we want for our communities, we talk about people and experiences.

But when the conversation turns to density, we talk about objects — number of apartments, big buildings, etc. To make matters worse, community planners talk about density as “dwelling units per acre” (du/acre), which doesn’t exactly speak to people and experiences.

READ MORE: ‘There Ought to Be Much Less Conflict When a Development Comes Along’

We, the people, intuitively get what cities are supposed to be all about.

Cities are about people, community, engagement and serendipity. When you put people together, magical things happen. Even if it is just bumping into someone on the street, studies show that social exchanges make cities more innovative, more productive, safer, economically vital and happier places to live than their outlying, isolating suburbs.

So instead of thinking about density as impersonal “dwelling units per acre,” let’s talk in terms of how people make a great city. Let’s understand density as increasing the opportunities for social exchanges between people, or “social exchanges per acre” (sx/acre). Let’s talk about people and experiences.

When you start to use social exchanges per acre as a measure of success for a community plan, you start to see everything differently.

Land use becomes about putting lots of different uses close together, so people can walk to work, stores, restaurants and services. Street design becomes about making pleasant, vibrant, walkable streets. The architecture of our buildings and the design of our public spaces become about creating places that people want to be in, sit and stay in. Density becomes about putting people together — not about stacking dwelling units on top of more dwelling units.

However, even a new way of thinking about density won’t solve San Diego’s planning woes, because, in general, our planning is not based on people. It’s based on cars.

You might think I’m exaggerating when I tell you that nearly every urban planning and design decision made today is based on how many seconds you have to sit in your car at an intersection, and where you will park the car once you’ve arrived at your destination. Success is spending fewer seconds at an intersection, and having the option to park your car for free wherever you go.

When you look at city planning from this auto-centric point of view, which most of us have been taught to do, higher density doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is obviously a huge disconnect between what people intuitively want in a great community, and what San Diego’s policies and laws dictate. The two don’t match up.

It’s no wonder that developments like One Paseo create such an outcry. While One Paseo developers are telling people what they want to hear — walkable, vibrant, pleasant — they are forced to design it for cars, widening streets so cars don’t wait at intersections, and adding more parking. People pick up on the inconsistencies.

Until San Diego policies are in sync with what people want, there will always be discord around issues like density. The first step in creating better communities is to put people first, and institute a pedestrian priority policy for all major planning decisions, including land use, mobility, urban design and economic development. When people are our No. 1 priority, adding more of them will also be valued, and density will no longer be a dirty word in San Diego.

Walter Chambers is founder of Great Streets San Diego. Chambers’ commentary has been lightly edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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71 comments
Glenn Younger
Glenn Younger subscribermember

The money for more infrastructure in exsisting neighborhoods must come from somewhere.
Either taken from existing programs
OR it can be raised from increasing the tax base with higher property taxes from increased density, increased sales tax from a vibrant business community, or increased income tax from a great job/business climate. We are really talking about is new development done in a way that is easier to provide services for, and that contributes to those services and features that improve the neighborhood.
Simply asking for more services and infrastructure while also asking for lower density assumes that the money for services and infrastructure magicly appears.

beachbm6988
beachbm6988

Not true.

Mass transit has the potential to create thousands of jobs (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-j-hanley/public-transportation-jobs_b_1662270.html). San Diego is accomplishing this by selecting key corridors to expand transportation options; such as the I-15 , I-94, I-805 BRT; and Mid-Coast Trolley extension to UCSD/UTC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Diego_Trolley). Separated bike corridors are also slated for main thoroughfares throughout the urban core and mid-city which will tie into a larger county network.

I'm not even going to explain how successful Bus Rapid Transit Systems have been in Australia and Latin America; nor bicycle infrastructure in other global cities.Public Transportation: A Missed Opportunity to Create Jobshttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-j-hanley/public-transportation-jobs_b_1662270.htmlLast week's disappointing June jobs growth report was not welcome news to the thousands of Americans still out of work. Congress had an opportunity to address the workforce shortage with the recently passed transportation bill, but squandered that op...San Diego Trolley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Diego_TrolleyThe San Diego Trolley is a light rail system operating in the metropolitan area of San Diego. It is known colloquially as The Trolley or by tourists as The Red Trolley. The operator, San Diego Trolley, Inc. ( SDTI), is a subsidiary of the San Diego M...

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Anyone that lives or prefers to live in the Suburbs by Walters definition is a deadbeat?
I hope your piece get traction Walter
http://sdgreatstreets.org/2014/01/30/the-right-to-live-in-the-suburbs/The right to live in the suburbshttp://sdgreatstreets.org/2014/01/30/the-right-to-live-in-the-suburbs/Bike San Diego Congress for New Urbanism Move San Diego San Diego County Bicycle Coalition Urban Green Walk San Diego San Diego Urbanists Livable Streets Coalition SDAPA SD Architectural Foundation PPS - Project for Public Spaces Saint Louis Great St...

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

Those that advocate increasing density have either forgotten of how to connect the dots or are developers or the political benefactors of the latter. California's governor has tried to point out the seriousness of the ongoing lack of potable water in this state yet those with cranial density still promote structural density. On one hand we hear about population growth and then we read about people leaving California. It's past time to smell the coffee.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

"Until San Diego policies are in sync with what people want, there will always be discord around issues like density."
Walt, you assume everyone wants to live in boxes stacked on top of each other.
Many of us don't..... and we like our cars.
Public policy should accommodate everyone. For me and many others that includes adequate roads and parking.

Sharon Gehl
Sharon Gehl subscribermember

I agree that people should be given priority over cars, but perhaps those against growth really don’t see the value in walkable streets. They tend to live in single family homes too far from jobs, stores, or restaurants to walk; they need a car to get anywhere. New people moving into the neighborhood would just get in their way when they drive to the mall.

hockeysuit
hockeysuit

Walt: Nice succinct summary of the factors that contribute to (or detract from) the livability of our communities.

Glenn Younger
Glenn Younger subscribermember

The Gaslamp is a good example of increased density making a neighborhood better. Walkable neighborhoods require LESS parking. Change and growth allows for improvement.

Well said Walt!

Don Wood
Don Wood subscriber

Density is not a bad thing by itself. Usually when neighborhoods rise up against a development project, it is because the developer has taken it upon himself to ask for significant exemptions to the approved community plan in terms of increased density and building heights. If a developer proposes to build a new project at a density and height that comply with the approved community plan, density is not a problem. If the writer is defending any developers right to build new project that violate the density and heights in the community plan, he's got a problem.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

Ministerial (Process 1) Density is dirty and cheap. CEQA is not followed and minimum effects are not analyzed. Let alone mitigated.

In San Diego, increased density does not come with associated infrastructure.

jeff n cv
jeff n cv

I can't help but see a totally liberal agenda here - for example, only high density housing projects are approved by the city planning office without adequate parking available, the size of parking spaces are squeezed smaller - making it harder to park anything but a "Smart" car, the cost to register a car will increase , etc. etc., and all to force us through public policy to take very unpopular public transportation....DId you know that not a single mass transit system anywhere in the world can support itself without public tax assistance? Why does government keep insisting on this boondoggle ? Just ask the big construction companies who earn billions off building these losers who they give their campaign contributions to....

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

"a streetcar or some form of decent transit"

Gosh, I much prefer a form of indecent transit.

We live in a car focused society where people don't want to live in sardine cans. With the current job climate you never know where you will be commuting to in the future. Mass transit is expensive and we waste a lot on it already. We should be designing for the reality and not some pipe dream.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Just for the record Its not the concept I have a problem with.
If there is a market and a community wants it then I say go for it.
I know the infill density model will go over like a lead balloon in Clairemont. The community wants no part of it

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

There really isn't any benefit to services and infrastructure that comes with higher density. When you densify a neighborhood you need to increase all the components, and that's usually at a fairly high cost compared to sprawl.

Despite some dubious claims by the anti-car crowd, the denser the area, the more expensive it generally is, the more polluted it generally is, and the unhealthier it generally is.

There already are dense urban core areas that anyone who wants to live that life can relocate to, without ruining San Diego.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

"Your Link not working"

It's a preview link, so it doesn't automatically take you to the actual web page until you click "Proceed to this site."

"And I assure you even if one does not own a car the garage gets used."

Yes, because nature abhors a vacuum. This is also why a newly built or widened freeway always fills up to capacity within 10 years.

"Most homeowners are middle class working families."

Proving that our zoning code prices people too poor to own cars out of our neighborhoods.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

The "subsidy" definition does not pass the smell test either.
Its a subtle bashing of those of us that choose to live in the suburbs manifesting itself as a form of class warfare even though most of us are just middle class. Its roots are in the idea all wealth is government and hey, you didn't build that

Donald Kimball
Donald Kimball subscribermember

The suburb subsidy argument does not pass the smell test. San Diego has has these massively subsidized suburbs since at least the 1950's, so the city should have gone bankrupt years ago. In general, you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the total value of all subsidies in USA plus environmental impact exceeds the gross domestic product for several decades, so the USA collapsed decades ago.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

The word "deadbeat" doesn't appear anywhere in that article.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Per capita water use is highest where density is lowest: "Typical low-density development (with the large lot sizes and acres of non-native turfgrass usually accompanying it) results in higher total water use as well as higher per capita water use."

Therefore, anyone truly concerned about our water resources supports higher density.

Shane Phillips
Shane Phillips

Mark, I think most density advocates would agree that public policy should accommodate everyone.

Now, I want you to think about where you're most likely to find a home that you can actually afford, regardless of your preferences. It's out where cars rule and no one is "stacked in boxes," as you say. On the other hand, the most expensive homes you'll find in any city are almost always in the city center -- certainly by cost per square foot -- where transit and walkable infrastructure are at their best. And those home prices are far greater than the cost of the actual construction, once again, unlike the suburbs. That leads me to believe that it's those who prefer dense, urban life that aren't being accommodated, not the other way around. If there were enough to meet demand it wouldn't be so damn expensive.

Walter Chambers
Walter Chambers subscribermember

Should public policy accommodate those who want to live in low density areas? http://sdgreatstreets.org/2014/01/30/the-right-to-live-in-the-suburbs/The right to live in the suburbshttp://sdgreatstreets.org/2014/01/30/the-right-to-live-in-the-suburbs/Bike San Diego Congress for New Urbanism Move San Diego San Diego County Bicycle Coalition Urban Green Walk San Diego San Diego Urbanists Livable Streets Coalition SDAPA SD Architectural Foundation PPS - Project for Public Spaces Saint Louis Great St...

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Mark, as long as the price of parking is never set below market equilibrium, parking will always be "adequate."

Donald Kimball
Donald Kimball subscribermember

I think the technology will soon allow autonomous cars, and a Toyota Prius with 2 people is more cost effective than the San Diego Trolley. I have lived in San Diego 20 years at the same house, and have had 4 different great jobs, but I would not want to move every 5 years just to be able to walk to work. This is expensive, and the may conflict with other family priorities, such as my wife's job location, and my children's school system. Cars can go all kinds of places, and carry all kinds of things, and get their faster than buses and trolleys. Wow, what a concept!

marco gonzalez
marco gonzalez subscribermember

Or, we could provide alternative transportation options that allow people to get from where they live to where they work without having to get into a car. "Higher density" doesn't mean the end of single family residences; it means re-thinking lot sizes, lawns, heights, common areas (parks), and access to transit.

Donald Kimball
Donald Kimball subscribermember

I work in downtown La Jolla, and I can easily walk to stores and restaurants. Only I can't afford to live there. The stores are way too expensive, and the restaurants are very nice but pricey. I can also walk to the beach and go surfing, but my small high tech start-up pays a lot in rent for this perk. You can live in more affordable Chula Vista and walk to the cheap liquor store with bars on the windows. If you have a wife and 3 kids, the suburbs are much safer, better schools, and more affordable per square foot. Even a small safe back yard with a mud hole for my boy's Mighty Tonkas is not affordable in these high density developments.

Zag Gahn
Zag Gahn

So, I take it you live in the GasLamp and don't drive in a car from the suburbs to get there ...

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Sorry, the gaslamp got better because the baseball stadium made a cleanup a requisite. If anything it is comparatively (given city population growth) less dense in residents than it was in the 80's when I used to enjoy it.

Shane Phillips
Shane Phillips

This doesn't make any sense. Those exemptions aren't free. The city has deliberately set limits so that they can charge developers extra money to build at greater densities and heights. If they were getting it for free you MIGHT have a point, but that's not how things work. If it was cities and the communities within them could just say no to any exemptions, ever, but they want the money that comes with those exemptions. You can't have it both ways.

Joe LaCava
Joe LaCava subscribermember

Not true La Playa Heritage. Such projects have to replace the curb/sidewalk along their frontage (unless its recent) plus have to pay fair share contribution to mitigate their "infrastructure impact" (Development Impact Fee or Facility Benefit Assessment.) Such projects typically aren't big enough to front-end major infrastructure improvements.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Per unit, increased density pays for twice as much infrastructure as single-family residential. Proof is at the link below.Streetsblog Capitol Hillhttp://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/05/08/nashville-study-walkable-infill-development-provides-the-most-revenue/Study: Walkable Infill Development a Goldmine for City Governments by Angie Schmitt A study out of Nashville by Smart Growth America provides more evidence that building walkable development in existing communities is best for a city's bottom line. S...

Zag Gahn
Zag Gahn

Density has become a bad D-Word in San Diego, because communities that have been accepting it, often do not see it accompanied by the necessary infrastructure to support it. And we are the worse off because of it.

paul jamason
paul jamason subscribermember

Jeff, did you know that most roads cannot support themselves without non-driver public tax assistance? "A new report from the Tax Foundation shows 50.7 percent of America’s road spending comes from gas taxes, tolls, and other fees levied on drivers. The other 49.3 percent? Well, that comes from general tax dollars, just like education and health care."

No one's forcing you to live in a high-density neighborhood (a rarity in San Diego) or eliminating our robust, subsidized freeway system. Some people, particularly younger Americans, want density and transit options. When you fight freedom of choice, who's forcing their ideas on whom?Streetsblog Capitol Hillhttp://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/01/23/drivers-cover-just-51-percent-of-u-s-road-spending/There's a persistent misconception in American culture that transit is a big drain on public coffers while roads conveniently and totally pay for themselves through the magic of gas taxes. And that used to be true - at least for interstate highways, ...

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

@jeff n cv "without adequate parking available..."

How can parking be "inadequate" if the price of parking is set at market equilibrium?

@jeff n cv "DId you know that not a single mass transit system anywhere in the world can support itself without public tax assistance?"

No, because that's false. The northeast corridor's Acela Express high speed rail line makes a profit (see link below).Amtrak Loses $32 Per Passengerhttp://www.businessinsider.com/report-amtrak-loss-comes-to-32-per-passenger-2009-10This is the kind of story that helps both sides of the high speed rail debate. Overall, Amtrak is being subsidized to the tune of $32 per passenger according to a new study. But, that includes big time losers like the line between San Antonio and Los...

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

"Mass transit is just another form of welfare". Jim Jones just left the rails; it was simply a matter of time.

I LOVE public transit. I wish it worked better. Texting for bus arrivals is great, but when they are only scheduled every 20 minutes or worse, there's a lot of time wasted, particularly if you have to transfer. As a retiree, I can afford the extra time it takes, but a lot of working folks simply can't.

In New York, the subway is typically a lot faster than other means of getting from point A to B. When Los Angeles attempted to put in a subway system, they faced two problems, (1) the density wouldn't support it city-wide and (2) there wasn't enough money in the world to duplicate what New York had. So, they completed a small portion and changed the subject. Personally, I think a natural gas powered bus system is a much better solution for mass transit in most existing cities. You just can't un-ring the bell in places like L.A. or San Diego.

I'd love to see a gypsy cab system like they have in some Mexican cities, but it doesn't match our bureaucratic approach to everything. My wife and I are both still pretty active, and we're trying to cut back to one car. Habits die hard, but we'll get there.

P.S., Jim: We're not doing it for the environment; we're doing it to save money.

Carolyn Chase
Carolyn Chase subscriber

What's sad Erik is that we don't even use the funding we do have to invest in world's-best-practices for transit that could apply here. So we get density without the right infrastructure to support it. Cars aren't going away and "most areas" in our region can never be served adequately by transit. But a quickly increasing elderly demographic is going to require additional innovation if seniors are not going to be housebound. E-car-services are innovating new ways to match riders with drivers. Many of us will want to walk more - even on our hills. Meanwhile, too many millions are spent on planning for more of the same. One best new thing in transit for a reasonable price: Texting for real time info on the next bus! REALLY makes the system way more usable. The certainty of knowing then the next vehicle will arrive is a one of the key factors of users being willing to use the transit system.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold subscribermember

It never ceases to amaze me how planning discussions are divorced from observed facts in San Diego.

A) The social experiment in the Bay Area has PROVEN that people WILL drive up to 3 hours each way - or do extraordinary things like crash for 4 workdays on a coach - so they can buy a home and work in what they consider an area with decent employment prospects. I think you could have said this was an open question. When the population of Tracy (much less Temecula) explodes we have confirming evidence.

B) We ALSO have found out, much to the surprise of many economic developers, that the jobs do NOT migrate out. For a whole host of reasons (for good thinking on this see Krugman as well as Ed Glaeser) companies find it more beneficial to stay in proximate location to one another rather than chase their employees to the exurbs.

C) While San Diego is land constrained, Southern Riverside (and Imperial COunty are not).

Taken together it seems obvious - PEOPLE ARE COMING whether you build the housing here or not. They will either be arriving on the freeways and leaving at rush - straining our infrastructure and requiring construction of stuff that ultimately has no (negative?) benefits for the overall quality of life or they will be living here. The only other option is to make things SO onerous for firms/industries that drive our economy (telecomm, biotech, Navy) that they reduce employment and tank demand - a prospect that few seem interested in.

Now what makes me sad is that I think many also understand the above but don't care. They bought 30 years ago and understand, either in very detailed ways or intuitively, that stopping development is for an individual homehowner a wealth-creating strategy. =

KatFerrier
KatFerrier

Walt, I think you have very eloquently and succinctly laid out a communications framework for the City's Planning Department. Not a defiance of height restrictions or density, we have these allowances in many corridors. Just a way to humanize the conversation and approach it more practically in my opinion.

Steven Greer
Steven Greer subscriber

"We should be designing for the reality and not some pipe dream."

The reality is the future has very little water in it. Your "Freedom Fries" lawns are drinking my water, and it's time for you to stop. Your bucolic memories of suburbs like the ones in Poltergeist are the un-real ones. Unsustainable and plastic. They need to wither away.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

@Jim Jones "We live in a car focused society where people don't want to live in sardine cans."

Is that a good reason to take away a person's right to live in a sardine can if he or she wants to? That's just what San Diego's zoning laws do.

@Jim Jones "With the current job climate you never know where you will be commuting to in the future."

For that very reason, some people prefer to live in dense areas where there are more job opportunities per square mile.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

OMG Derek, more links from left wing blogs and far left groups and global warming chicken littles with sloppy methods and unverifiable data that talk about other cities with different circumstances proves nothing about San Diego.

I've been to most of the dense urban centers of the world, London, Bejing, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and many many others. They all are more polluted and more expensive than the surrounding less dense area's. They are exciting places, crowded, vibrant, but they are not better.

More importantly they already exist, so there is no need to turn San Diego into San Francisco, you can just move to San Fran instead.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

"[infrastructure in a densified neighborhood is] usually at a fairly high cost compared to sprawl."

That's false, and here's proof: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/05/08/nashville-study-walkable-infill-development-provides-the-most-revenue/

"the denser the area, the more expensive it generally is"

It's easy to reach that conclusion when you ignore the cost of owning a car required to live in a low-density suburb, about $9,122 per year according to the AAA: http://newsroom.aaa.com/2013/04/cost-of-owning-and-operating-vehicle-in-u-s-increases-nearly-two-percent-according-to-aaas-2013-your-driving-costs-study/

And it doesn't help that denser areas subsidize less dense areas.

"the more polluted it generally is"

Yet suburban residents pollute more than downtown city residents: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2014/01/06/suburban-pollution-cancels-city-savings.html?page=all

"and the unhealthier it generally is."

False. "[O]verall, urbanites tend to rate their own health more highly and are less likely to die prematurely than rural Americans." http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304793504576434442652581806

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

OT Derek. Your Link not working
With the new RV restrictions and the logical extension of the runoff rules the poor and semi-homeless won't be driving much longer anyways,,, Lets put them in boxes,.....
And I assure you even if one does not own a car the garage gets used.
Most homeowners are middle class working families.
Bashing them for that attainment does not help your cause imho

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

You're right, it's class warfare. We in the middle class are unwilling to pay for the true cost of driving, so we shift the cost of building and maintaining freeways onto people too poor to own cars through the TransNet half cent sales tax. "[E]ven if [fuel tax] funds were fully devoted to highways, total user fee revenue accounted for only 65 percent of all funds set aside for highways in 2007." (See the link below.)

Through the zoning code, we also price people too poor to own cars out of our neighborhoods where we don't allow houses to be built without garages that the poor don't need, and we force the poor to pay for our parking lots so that we'll have a free place to park wherever we go.

It's class warfare, and we in the middle class started the war.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

You're right, it's class warfare. We in the middle class are unwilling to pay for the true cost of driving, so we shift the cost of building and maintaining freeways onto people too poor to own cars through the TransNet half cent sales tax. "[E]ven if [fuel tax] funds were fully devoted to highways, total user fee revenue accounted for only 65 percent of all funds set aside for highways in 2007." http://www.pewstates.org/uploadedFiles/PCS_Assets/2013/Subsidyscope.org%20—%20Transportation%20Sector.pdf

Through the zoning code, we also price people too poor to own cars out of our neighborhoods where we don't allow houses to be built without garages that the poor don't need, and we force the poor to pay for our parking lots so that we'll have a free place to park wherever we go.

It's class warfare, and we in the middle class started the war.

marco gonzalez
marco gonzalez subscribermember

Actually, the City horribly failed the "smell test" when, for instance, it failed to upkeep its sewage infrastructure and was having spills 365 times per year. And this is just one example where infrastructure spending in the urban core was either put off or avoided altogether because of our past sprawl development paradigm. We didn't go broke, but we are certainly broken.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

The article says the lifestyles of people who live in the suburbs are subsidized, and that's true. Here's proof:Streetsblog Capitol Hillhttp://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/05/08/nashville-study-walkable-infill-development-provides-the-most-revenue/Study: Walkable Infill Development a Goldmine for City Governments by Angie Schmitt A study out of Nashville by Smart Growth America provides more evidence that building walkable development in existing communities is best for a city's bottom line. S...Best bet for tax revenue: mixed-use downtown developmenthttp://bettercities.net/article/best-bet-tax-revenue-mixed-use-downtown-development-13144Studies in Florida and North Carolina show that dense urban development pays off for local governments. Big-box retail doesn't. At a time when local governments are struggling financially, two studies - one in Sarasota County, Florida, the other in A...

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

The implication is there Derek.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

I'm ill informed because my wife and I worked hard to purchase a house in a suburb because we did not want to live in an urban area?
Nice subtle dig Walter.
As far as "Low density developments are essentially government subsidizes".
OK.
So what. We pay taxes also but from your reference are we suburbanites to interpret that we are deadbeats and a drain on society?
"If you can afford to live the life of the “landed gentry”, good for you!" Congratulations. Just don’t expect the rest of us to pay for it."
My bet is most Suburbs in this city would love to divorce ourselves from this city.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Mark, "adequate parking" to a developer is the amount where the cost of adding another parking space (MC) equals the revenue that would be generated by it (MR). This means that if parking at a particular parking lot is always free, then it was overbuilt if it doesn't get completely full at least occasionally.

To a city planner or a motorist, "adequate parking" means the parking lot is always free and there's always an open space, but that's wasteful because it forces MR to always be zero.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Derek. If a developer produces housing without a minimum of adequate parking there will be market equilibrium.
He will go broke while the ones that do provide it will prosper.
"Ample parking" is positive, not a negative.

Shane Phillips
Shane Phillips

The problem there Donald is that they're not expensive because they cost a lot to build, they're expensive because they're scarce relative to demand. This is why density is valuable, as the author writes. If you artificially limit construction in the most areas you end up with an increasingly unaffordable city core, where rents far exceed construction costs. Compare that to a free market, where prices equal economic costs (including a competitive, but not high, profit level).

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

it was all CCDC and Clark and a handful of others who redeveloped downtown, including the gaslamp, for a higher class of drunk. Petco park wasn't the entirety of it, but it is the crown jewel. Unions were given their cut so the developer could get their, artists were given rent control units to placate that crowd, some affordable housing remoras were allowed to latch on the beast, etc...

Situation normal, milk the middle class cow to keep the money rolling to the usual suspects.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

The Gaslamp got better because of Petco Park? Gee, it was supposed to be East Village that was saved, wasn't it? Quite a price we're paying, 11 mil annually to service the bonds.

Besides, where is the added housing density in Gaslamp?

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

Not when projects are approved Ministerially - Process 1. With Ministerial approval bypassing CEQA, no Infrastructure is required.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Mass transit is just another form of welfare.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Not arguing that. I do water audits of the landscape. Every time there is conditions like this That service gets resurrected.
My point is water is a commodity and is bought and sold through transfers.
If history holds true like every other time we will be scratching our heads watching the sprinklers run on the freeway landscapes

-P
-P

Mark, if this drought goes on for much longer, don't be surprised if watering you lawn becomes restricted, only watering on odd or even days, that sort of thing, getting more restricted if it keeps getting worse, possibly leading an all out ban.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Steven. There will be water in the future it will just cost more. If I choose to have a lawn its my business if that is how I choose to use it.
Not yours.
I like the suburbs. Its where my wife and I prefferd to raise our son. You want to live and raise your family in the urban environment then great. Do it.
My property keeps increasing in value. you know why?
supply and demand.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

No, building codes and restrictions aren't set by the will of the community:

"Richard Willson (1996) surveyed planning directors in 144 cities to learn how they set parking requirements. The two most frequently cited methods were 'survey nearby cities' and 'consult Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) handbooks'. Both strategies cause serious problems."

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Pointless comment by you, by "default" there are no building codes and restrictions, all codes and restrictions that exist are added to the "default" to reflect the will of the community.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

So you're saying it's acceptable to make things illegal by default as long as the government provides a process to get an exception?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Gosh, you are correct Derek, here in San Diego a developer has never been able to bend or even break zoning to meet demand. Simply impossible, and if those crowds of people demanding we turn San Diego into Hong Kong don't disburse the brownshirts will turn the fire hoses and batons on them!

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

@Jim Jones "If there was demand for them from actual consumers they would be built."

How can they be built when they are prohibited?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

"In a free-market capitalist society, things aren't prohibited just because people don't demand them."

Products exist due to consumer demand. If there was demand for them from actual consumers they would be built.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

@Jim Jones "there is no demand for them, that's why the zoning doesn't allow them."

In a free-market capitalist society, things aren't prohibited just because people don't demand them. They simply aren't put on the market.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Nope, it's due to the fact that there is no demand for them, that's why the zoning doesn't allow them.

Get the residents of La Jolla or even City Heights to demand high rise sardine cans and they will get them, but if it's just a few quasi-religious Church of No Cars worshipers going against the vast majority...

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Jim, is the fact that I can't find a sardine can in other parts of the city of San Diego due in part because of laws that prohibit them?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Derek, you can find a sardine can downtown if you want one (and can afford one), regardless of building restrictions, which was exactly my point.

If you want to live in a more urban environment than san diego there are several cities that fit that bill, some just a few hours north of here.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

@Jim Jones "No ones right to live in a sardine can is being taken away, Derek."

I don't think you're correct that residential towers are allowed anywhere in San Diego.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

No ones right to live in a sardine can is being taken away, Derek. You are free to live in a sardine can and skip to work if you want to.

What the car haters are doing is attempting to infringe on the car owners, who are the vast vast vast vast majority, not the other way around.

I should not be held hostage to your religion.