For the New Urban Density Hawks, Community Character is Not an Option

By John Mirisch : citywatchla – excerpt

GUEST WORDS–Urban planning exists to serve people and communities, not the other way around. Unfortunately, urban planners these days, perhaps under the influence of academic arrogance as well as the lure of developer dollars, seem to forget this simple truism.

A particularly invidious form of planning orthodoxy involves certain adherents of so-called “new urbanism,” which looks at density, more density and only density as the hallmark of the (for them) only acceptable form of urban living.

Without considering that people of all colors, stripes and ethnicities might like to have gardens, these urban planning densifiers support policies whose main aims are to eliminate low-density housing, without regard to preservation of the integrity of communities or without acknowledging that community character means anything.

The new urbanist density hawks also use other “arguments” apart from social justice to make their moral case for high-density, including, importantly, environmental considerations. Never mind the fact that even studiesdone by density advocates show that the supposed benefits of increased density on the environment would be marginal, at best. But that doesn’t dampen the rhetoric. Far from it. Some of the most strident density fetishists decrysingle-family neighborhoods as “the enemy” and proclaim homeowners to be nothing less than “zoo animals” and “bloodthirsty dinosaurs,” who are “angry, entitled, immoral, classist and racist.”…(more)

De-humanizing fits well into the Urban landscape that embraces robots and machines over human beings, and has been ushered into our communities under the “sharing business model”. Those of us who saw this coming and rebelled by calling it “renting not sharing”, are being vindicated as the politicians who sold us out are now under pressure to push back against the monsters they created. The sick thing is that they used taxpayer dollars to pay the lobbyists who wrote the legislation they are now stuck with. Of course any laws that make can be broken, so let’s see how long it takes for them to fix what they broke.

comments welcome at the source.

While new urbanist Yimbys make claims that low-density housing is immoral for numerous reasons, many social justice groups and environmental groups take issue with policies they aggressively (and sometimes obnoxiously) push, such as California state senator Scott Wiener’s SB827, which would have used public transportation as an alibi to allow developers to densify cities by pre-empting municipalities’ general plans.

While Yimbys are evidently great at chanting, they aren’t as skillful in appreciating the irony of their dehumanizing policy goals. The contradictions and outright hypocrisy in their density fetishism is sometimes so extreme, that the cognitive dissonance should cause heads to explode. The density fetishists can’t seem to help treating people like widgets, stats or marks. They don’t seem to understand that communities are made up of people. They can’t recognize that communities are dynamic extensions of people, that they are extensions of families – however one chooses to define “family.”

Some of the most strident pro-density new urbanists and Yimbys are militant about their own personal right of self-definition, as they well should be. Whether it is a matter of how one defines “family,” LGBTQ rights, religious beliefs, ethnicity or any other seemingly trivial or crucial personal characteristic that helps people to define themselves, the right of self-definition is paramount when it comes to people’s abilities to unfold their own unique potential and to live a fulfilled life.

So is it with communities. But such self-definition for individuals and communities demands respect and tolerance, two qualities seemingly in short supply with the Yimbys and academic master planners.

Cities in many ways are like human beings themselves. Communities made up of living, breathing humans need the same right of self-definition as individuals. Like people, communities have their own unique character, their own DNA, their own aspirations which arise from the individuals who make them up… (more)




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