Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Development May Precede Transit

Yesterday's DesNews ran a story on Salt Lake City's general plan update to accomodate -- even encourage -- growth north of I-80 and west of 6400 West. Part of the reason is to help SLC grow its population again, to maintain its status as Utah's chief city. The city has apparently lost population again in recent years.

However, Mayor Rocky Anderson seems to be worried that growth in these areas would be encouragement of sprawl. "If we don't have a transit connection (first), we're going to be creating suburban sprawl," said spokesperson Deeda Seed. "It's going to be a little pocket of unconnected people out there in the middle of nowhere, and that makes no sense from our perspective of urban planning."

"We should try to consolidate and concentrate our growth around city centers that are already there in place and actually look for enlivenment and development potential there rather than continuing to go further and further away from those areas where we work and where we play," said Lynn De Freitas, executive director of Friends of Great Salt Lake, along with Marc Heilson of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.

They feel that development should not take place in Salt Lake's Northwest Quadrant until light rail is extended to serve the area, but that is at least 15 years away. In the meantime, the Wasatch Front's population continues to grow, and higher density development near downtown encounters resistance (see earlier blog entry on this topic).

City Councilman Carlton Christensen points out that development in the northwest quadrant could take place along transit-oriented and quality growth principles, in anticipation of future transit extensions to the area.

The DesNews makes the same point in an editorial in today's paper, saying, "the city need look no further than the Daybreak development in South Jordan. Located in a remote location of a bedroom community, it is an example of how a development can be planned in such a way as to encourage walking and neighborhood interaction. ... Eventually, (Kennecott Land) plans to bring light rail in to further enhance the project. In the meantime, however, officials report that home sales are brisk."

Rapid growth is a reality for us here in Utah and along the Wasatch Front. We cannot wait for infrastructure such as transit to be built first before we allow growth in new areas. But we can develop with the idea in mind that transit will come someday, and in ways that will encourage less driving for many daily tasks.

1 Comments:

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Brian said...

I agree with the Deseret News editorial wholeheartedly. Daybreak, in my opinion, has great potential especially considering their unique qualities such as a single landowner and massive long-term financing.

The trick will be to see if they can recruit the retail and commercial base necessary to their overall plan. I have confidence that Kennecott has the resources and patience to do it, unlike others who have presented their developments as the "Sustainable City of the Future" and failed *cough*Eagle Mountain*cough*.

It will be exciting to see how Daybreak and following phases evolve over the next few years - especially as the proposed light rail comes closer to becoming a reality. Certainly it should be the type of development Salt Lake City should consider while they mull options for the northwest quarter.

And for the record, I'm not a Daybreak shill.

 

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