Tuesday, September 13, 2005

All Politics Are Local (Planning, That Is)

I think it was long-time former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O'Neil who said all politics are local. I would add to that, "and most of local politics is about growth and planning."

Want proof?

The Deseret News has started its profiles of candidates running for mayor and city council, starting with West Valley City, South Jordan and Syracuse. Plus, there is a story on a couple of initiatives in Highland. Plus plus, I have been blogging for some time about the BIG issue in Sandy, the referendum on development of the gravel pit.

So what are the biggest issues in ALL these races? They're all related to growth and planning!

A couple of quotes:

Fred Panucci, mayor of Syracuse, says the future of Syracuse is dependent on careful planning. "We cannot afford to make mistakes. I believe it is essential for Syracuse to carefully manage our growth and I will continue to make this one of my highest priorities."

Mario Cisneros, running for council in West Valley City, said growth should be careful, planned and controlled or it runs the risk of leaving residents alienated. "I think (growth) should be slow and steady, and I think it should be well-thought-out."

Mike Szlachetka, running for council in South Jordan, said the city must find a balance between residential growth and commercial development, with an eye on maintaining open space. He also spoke of "sustainability -- providing required levels of services and infrastructure commensurate with growth while keeping taxes equitable and within acceptable limits."

Come on, planners, if planning and growth are such key political issues, why aren't we leveraging this attention in local politics?


At 10:58 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Even in Bountiful, which is built out (more or less, depending on how you interpret their hillside ordinance), the mayoral and city council races are primarily focused on economic development and revitalization. The word "redevelopment" has even raised its ugly head.

Dan Lofgren, a member of the Cowboy Partners development company and Chair of the Utah Quality Growth Commission has often said that there is no end to growth. You're either growing, or you're stagnating - both economically and demographically.

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

"The word 'redevelopment' has even raised its ugly head."

It's interesting how people take the word "redevelopment." Yes, RDAs have been abused, but I don't think all redevelopment is bad. Let's say I buy an orange brick, flat roofed home that was built in 1962. The home sits on a quarter-acre lot in a nice location. But, the house has problems. Not only is it architecturally ugly, it also has asbestos, aluminum electical wiring, etc. So I decide that I want to raze the house and build another one of about the same size, and have it be designed in a very tasteful, traditional, and functional style. Is that kind of redevelopment bad? I don't think so. Now if we were talking about razing an 1880's historic rock home, that's something else.

So if a private entity buys a run-down piece of commercial real-estate, and wants to replace it with something that conforms with zoning ordinances, etc., and make it so that it enhances the surrounding area, I have no problem with it. I think that redeveloping and renewing established areas is better than having the sprawl keep going, and going, and going. Do the words "re-use and recycle" mean nothing to us when it comes to real estate?

Another thing to consider too is that there was very little urban planning 30+ years ago. So as we get a better understanding of how cities should be planned, we may realize that that certain development isn't appropriate for certain areas. An example of this is Centerville's situation with the ball park on Parrish Lane. Having a park in that location wasn't nearly as appropriate as having some sort of commercial or business development. But 50 years ago people had no idea that Parrish Lane in Centerville would be as it is now. So sometimes redevelopment is a way of correcting past mistakes. Now Centerville's ball park in in the middle of a residential area where it should be.

Now, don't get me wrong. This is no defense for the abuse of eminent domain. I'm just saying that redevelopment in certain circumstances is very appropriate.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Brian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I agree with your perspective on redevelopment, however there are many in Bountiful concerned with higher density and commercial/retail development creeping into traditionally single-family residential neighborhoods.

I'm all for re-use and multiple-use, but the attitude is not shared by all. I sincerely doubt government incentives will be used, let alone eminent domain, but there are folks out there who just don't like seeing the character of their neighborhood or town change regardless of the potential benefits. I certainly don't blame them for that position, but it is an interest that must be accounted for when managing growth.

Personally, I'm excited to see what will show up on the old Penny's lot at Pages and Main. The folks who have to share a back fence with it might not be so excited, though it's probably more palatable to them than the Wal Mart that was proposed there a few years ago.

P.S. Is there any way to edit a previous post? I had to delete and start over to remove a glaring error that changed the meaning of the original statement.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Hippodamus said...

Unfortunately, the grand-standing and election season rhetoric of candidates for local office does not necessarily correlate with meaningful actions and a long-term commitment to local planning once elected.


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