Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sub-urb

Making sure "the streets drain and the toilets flush" in new subdivisions is "not enough" for city planner John Fleming. Urging the City's Planning Committee to adopt new planning guidelines for residential development, Fleming told members that "really what we're talking about is the soul of the community."

Assuming a ministerial mission to London's flocks is bound to appeal to the conceits of politicians. But the rest of us must wonder whether an honest belief by bureaucrats in a vocation of salvation would be preferable to dishonest claims that serve the soul of a bureaucrat's department instead. Fleming's office would certainly stand to gain an expanded mandate over new development under the proposed new guidelines (below), but if anyone expects widespread delivery through the powers of bureaucracy one should examine how the soul of downtown has fared after years of growing regulation and hundreds of millions of tax dollars.

But if faith costs money at City Hall, flimsy faith will have to cost more. When asked by the London Development Institute to postpone a decision on the guidelines until the City "spells out how new designs will be engineered and at what cost," planners objected that the request "would further delay implementation." After years of trying to change "the culture of development," such a delay should appear modest unless disclosing costs would suffer the less dependable faith of ordinary citizens. Much better that such costs are built into the price of new homes without notice or suspicion, even if planners do cite a survey finding that Londoners are willing to pay a "slight premium" for the new guidelines. But how many of those surveyed, like guideline proponent Coun. Nancy Branscombe's "biggest partners," already own their own homes?

New subdivision guideline features, as reported by the London Free Press:

  • Integrate natural features such as hills and trees rather than bulldoze them.
  • Design streets to promote walking and cycling rather than the use of automobiles.
  • Reject cookie-cutter housing and instead use a mix of styles, sizes and building densities to attract a broader range of dwellers.
  • Create public spaces that are easily accessed and enjoyed.
  • Consider the pros and cons of grid-like streets, overnight parking and rear laneways that clear streets of garages and driveways

1 Comment:

Fenris Badwulf said...

I like the idea of a collective soul. This demands the creation of a state funded clergy to minister to it. I am willing to offer my services as an eater of food, spender of wealth, and mumbler of incantations, in return for the spiritual health of these collectivist entities.