By Dom Nozzi
The condition of the street determines what happens alongside it. I agree with Robert Gibbs when he says it is unfair to require a business to abut a streetside sidewalk when the street does not have on-street parking. The street is too hostile (without on-street parking) to have buildings butt up to it. I don’t at all blame businesspeople for pulling away from the street when the street is a “car sewer.”
In sum, either the street is forever to be a strip commercial “lost land” because it is impractical or impossible to put it on a diet (ie, remove travel lanes), or it needs to be made livable (largely with on-street parking and removal of travel lanes) before you start requiring buildings to behave themselves by pulling up to the sidewalk and having an entrance face the street.
If we try to force buildings to be pedestrian-friendly before the street is rehabilitated, we risk giving urbanism a black eye and a political firestorm of businesspeople screaming to elected officials not to force their buildings up on the sidewalk.
Sadly, we too often keep our fingers crossed and hope that we can fix the development regulations or redo the urban design along a street before we fix the street, because the latter is usually seen as being a non-starter (at least in our lifetimes), and the former is way more do-able.
But fixing the urban design before fixing the street is an ineffective path of least resistance.
Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.
Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com
My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607
My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:
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