What is “urbanity” anymore?

23 12 2009

(A roundtable discussion here at The Placemaking Institute)

Harry Moroz: “Today’s mayors enjoy the same access to President Obama as their predecessors did to FDR, but so far they’re seeing different results: deteriorating urban conditions and a stimulus package adapted to the needs of state governors…Last summer, when Obama was still on the campaign trail, he seemed eager to listen…These arguments won mayors a candid and bipartisan relationship with the White House…In the midst of this promising dialogue, however, the economic crisis has taken a firm hold…Now mayors are pointing out that the stimulus package was supposed to help cities avoid this nightmare scenario.”

Stamford, Connecticut, Mayor Dannel Malloy: “I think we were listened to…I just think we were then ignored. And I don’t think we were necessarily ignored by the president. I think we were ignored by the Congress.”

Vice President Biden: “Congress, in its wisdom, decided that the governors should have a bigger input.”

Thomas Mann: “Obama’s hands were all over this bill from start to finish. … The nitty-gritty legislative work identifying where and how these decisions could be implemented … was done in Congress with the direct participation of key Obama administration staff.”

Michael Cooper/Griff Palmer: “(The federal government left the details up to states, which) “have a long history of giving short shrift to major metropolitan areas..(After looking at approved transportation projects in all 50 states) it is clear that the stimulus program will continue that pattern of spending disproportionately on rural areas.”

Gold Collar: How State Job Subsidies in the Chicago Region Favor Affluent Suburbs

Craig Muckle, Safeway’s Eastern Division manager of public affairs/government relations for (via Robert Steuteville): “We are definitely focusing on stores in our urban core and will not be building stores in urban areas that are growth dependent.”

Seth Harry, an architect in Woodbine, Maryland, who has retail expertise (via Robert Steuteville): “(The housing meltdown has had a significant impact. Supermarket operators can no longer build in the distant suburbs in the expectation that thousands of housing units will soon spring up to support the store) (because) that model is more or less dead. Even the guys who built empires based on that model are recognizing that they are looking at a new paradigm.”

Philip Langdon: “New urbanist developers see food production as a vital feature of future residential and mixed use communities. In recent years, Americans have become increasingly concerned about where their food is grown, whether it’s free of contaminants, how far it’s transported, and how consumers can gain a more satisfying relationship to agriculture. These concerns are causing more and more farms and gardens to be planned, and planted, in new urbanist developments. Laurel, a traditional neighborhood development (TND) that was recently laid out in Yuma, Arizona will contain a 25-acre community farm. Serenbe, a TND in Palmetto, Georgia, southwest of Atlanta, is regionally renowned for high-quality food production.”

Sean Patrick Farrell: “The call to forge deeper connections with the food we eat has pulled thousands to the nation’s farmers’ markets, sprouted a million backyard seedlings and jump-started an interest in scratch baking, canning and other county-fair pursuits. Now add hunting to the list. Novice urban hunters are forming classes and clubs to learn skills that a few generations ago were often passed down from parent to child…Nationwide, the number of hunters has been in decline for decades. The country’s shift from rural to urban life is the main reason, said Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, a survey and research firm that specializes in natural resources and outdoor recreation issues.”

Amanda Harrell-Seyburn/Neal McNamara: “Lansing (Michigan) is in an excellent position to cast off the separate-use mentality of the last half-century. The city has piqued the interest of developers — some of whom helped build sprawl — to start looking at the city as a place to build up rather than abandon. Lansing is embarking on its first meaningful master plan revision since 1958 (coincidentally, around the time that cities started to be destroyed). And the City Council, spurred by a large group of committed citizens, recently passed a “complete streets” ordinance, which could help calm some of our more dangerous thoroughfares for walkers and bikers (and save room for the precious cars)…The development practices that have gutted our cities are destined to fail, so we must act now to ensure that future development is sustainable and healthy for our mental and physical environment.”




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