Monday, April 12, 2010

Articles on Density, Transportation

As you may or may not notice, I am trying to create a dialogue about issues that are often ignored by our region's business and government leaders, mainly urban sprawl and the social, economic, and environmental impact of geographic sprawl. I see physical connectivity as crucial to economic sustainability and vitality in Detroit, and that our lack of regional planning as a central cause of our economic stagnation.

So when I post articles that have nothing to do with Detroit, there is still a message involved. For example, these articles from the Natural Resources Defense Council speak to the benefits of density and the impact of density on the overall cost of living. In Part II of the blog, the author shows examples of smart growth developments.

Now I'm not saying people shouldn't have choice in where they want to live. Yet there are things that our business and government leaders can encourage that will result in economic benefits and efficiencies without compromising market share (see automotive industry) or control (see government planning and zoning).

And since we have such a huge opportunity to rebuild in Detroit, we can incorporate connectivity and accessibility in how we develop our land and our transportation systems. Our citizens deserve these options if the outcome is a lower-cost of living, greater accessibility to the market, and more disposable time and income to spend in that market. We can make that happen here in Metro Detroit.


  1. I do agree that the population density issues in Detroit pose some serious problems, particularly when referring to essential public services that can not be addressed efficiently; however, the concept of relocating populations imposes on individual freedom. I do not want to draw stark comparisons to other examples of "relocating" large populations of people - mostly because historical examples tend to be littered with violence and genocide. In my opinion, incentives and penalties need to be aligned for those who are not willing to relocate. My biggest concern is that the gentrification of these neighborhoods would solve a few immediate problems and yet may introduce a whole separate set of iniquities.

  2. Now I'm not saying people shouldn't have choice in where they want to live.

    On the contrary - arguing for smart growth is saying that people SHOULD have a choice in where they live, and how they live, and how they get around.

    After a half-century of mandated and subsidized sprawl and segregation, arguments for transit and density are arguments for providing new choices in the marketplace. You note this at the bottom of your post, but it shouldn't have to follow an apology, as if smart growth is some kind of "vast social experiment" or whatever the kids are calling it these days.