Calibrating Our Community Design for Varying Lifestyles

By Dom Nozzi

November 21, 2002

We must have different rules that vary along a “transect” of lifestyle choices.

A system of variable rules that recognize we need different strokes for different folks.

Streets, intersections, setbacks, schools, shops, street lights, parking lots, delivery trucks, paris narrow sidewalkbuses, stormwater systems, and fire trucks, for example, MUST (in general) be more modest and human-scaled in our walkable urban core areas.

As we move outward toward more suburban locations, those features should appropriately grow in size.

Too often, we only apply the larger, suburban size to EVERYTHING. An example is that nearly all communities apply the same stormwater regulations citywide. If we are serious about urban infill, we need to relax our stormwater rules in our more compact, urban, walkable locations (similarly, many Florida cities have avoided promoting sprawl by exempting themselves from state road concurrency rules).

Applying the same stormwater requirements area-wide is an engine for sprawl. And it suburbanizes our walkable, in-town locations. Space is WAY too scarce (as it should be if it is to be walkable) in our core areas, and conventional, suburban stormwater rules are VERY space-intensive. By being space-intensive, conventional stormwater space needs almost always create unwalkable site design.

The irony, of course, is that these space-intensive stormwater rules accelerate suburban sprawl — the sort of development that ultimately WORSENS our regional stormwater problems…

What about those of us who seek a more urban lifestyle? Do we not have a choice to live in a place which offers such design?

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Filed under Sprawl, Suburbia, Transportation, Urban Design

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