It was a good event. However, it was too one sided. Mr. Lineburger told us all about urban walkability, but there was no discussion about the problems that actually affect Cary. Things like traffic, sprawl into the rural areas outside of Cary. We need to recognize that Cary is, to a large extent, a town of low density suburbs which happens to be the type of living experience that is still in demand. So what if we are not getting as many twenty somethings as Raleigh. We are getting the families and the older people who want to live in quiet areas further from "night life". And we are very successful at that.
If we were going to have outside speakers and consultants, they should have presented other points of view, and talked about the things that affect most of the people in Cary.
Post by Buffy Adams on May 3, 2013 17:36:14 GMT -4
It was good to have Mr. Lienburger and consultants Jamie and Lee Ann tell us what to think, so we wouldn't have to think for ourselves.
Seriously, Lienburger spoke only about rail, not about buses. But fewer than 20% of Cary will be within a mile of a rail stop, and it will only go to RTP, Durham, and parts of Raleigh. For most of us, bus is the only form of mass transit that will do any good.
Mr. Lienburger talked mostly about "walkable urbanism". Yet, most people in Cary live in low density suburbs, and will continue to live in them. Most people moving here want them. Some time should have been spent addressing the type of life style desired, and currently enjoyed, by the majority of existing and new residents.
I should add that I did not attend due to a conflict, but I listened to a recording a friend made. Those little digital recorders are handy things to have! But I now have the entire audio and I am waiting for the Town to post the video on the web.
I have listened to e-mailed recordings. Some observations: - Chris Lineburger told us what to think. He had one point of view and hammered it in. There was no opposing point of view presented. - Only the subject of "walkable urbanism" was covered. That applies only to certain areas, such as downtown Cary. It does not apply to the areas most Cary residents live in. - Not addressed were issues that affect most Cary residents:
What do we do about increasing traffic?
Do we and how do we protect the rural and semi-rural areas around Cary?
Should we continue to change low and very low density areas to higher density on our land use plan?
How important are large blocks of trees inside of Cary?
Should we impose Cary's plans upon those people outside of Cary and Cary's ETJ, as we do now?
and many more things.
I hope the "Area Conversations" will address those and other issues, and will not simply be a platform for outside people to tell us what to think.
Post by Jamie Berger on May 4, 2013 10:04:21 GMT -4
I made the comment below in response to JR's comment on Facebook. I thought it might be useful to post it here.
I was at the summit; I’d like to touch on some of your concerns. I agree that Chris Lineberger had an opinion, but that was made obvious by a disclaimer. I think Cary residents are intelligent enough to be able to listen to a presentation and form their own ideas based on the information given. You’re correct in saying that there was no opposing point of view presented, but in my opinion, that was not at all necessary, for two reasons.
First, the alternative to what Lineberger promoted is simply the status-quo: Cary continuing to grow and develop in the same way it has for the past couple decades. We didn’t need anyone to stand up there and tell us what that growth would be like- every Cary resident already lives that reality; we *know* what the alternative to walkable urbanism is.
Second, even if they did want to present an opposing point of view, they’d have an extremely difficult time finding anyone of credibility in the real estate analysis, urban design, or planning sectors who would do that. Walkable urbanism is now widely accepted as the more sustainable, more livable, healthier, and, especially, more economical kind of design. I can say with almost complete certainty that they would not be able to find someone of Lineberger’s prominence (or even a less acclaimed expert) who would advocate the business-as-usual suburban sprawl development.
Lineberger explained that walkable urbanism would apply to many areas, not just downtown. Many of the strip malls, the mall, and large shopping centers would be fairly easy to retrofit into walkable urban spaces. Cary Towne Center and many older strip malls are declining in Cary and walkable urban districts could replace them. As Lineberger explained, this kind of development increases the property values of surrounding single-family homes by 40-200%.
Some of the issues you raise were in fact addressed. Walkable urbanism is a solution to increasing traffic. Protecting rural areas can also be addressed by infill (which Lineberger promoted) and increasing density within Cary. As they explained, Cary is over 80% built-out, and doesn’t have much room left to expand; infill and increasing density are really the only options for growth. Most rural areas are outside Cary.
Again, the density issue was addressed. Large blocks of trees and the imposition of Cary’s plan will likely be discussed further down the road.
I hope this helps to address some of your concerns. Feel free to message me if you’d like to discuss this more.
Finally, I'd like to add that there's no need to be alarmist about Cary changing fundamentally and becoming a totally urban area. Even Lineberger stressed that single family housing can and will stay. Most of the new urbanist development would occur in the downtown and in declining commercial centers.
I'd urge those of you who are skeptics to explore why it is you feel so opposed to new urbanism. There are many benefits to this type of development:
Walkable, car-independent neighborhoods are also much better for the environment. Urban sprawl is one of the main contributors to climate change. Driving less means fewer emissions and less air pollution. Higher density development also leaves more room for the remaining rural areas and forests in Cary; again, sprawl is linked conclusively to widespread habitat destruction and species loss, as well as the loss of viable farmland.
Walkable neighborhoods also make life easier for people who cannot drive (for reasons of age (young or old), income, disability, etc.) They give more mobility to the elderly and allow people to be an active part of the community for a larger portion of their lifespan.
Jamie, Sorry for butting in. I hope JR will also reply. Just a few comments, more to follow after I have some sleep
1. The status-quo is not the only alternative.
2. As for other experts with a different point of view, Joel Kotkin comes to mind. But there are others.
3. Increasing the density and "walkability" of downtown and a few other areas of Cary, and infill, will not protect rural areas. The markets are quite different. People who buy larger lots in the edge of Cary are not the same ones who would be interested in "urban walkable" dense neighborhoods. (and vice-versa). An increase in availability of one doesn't affect the other.
4. Walking (and running) prevents obesity and many health problems. Go out to the "car dependent" outer suburbs and you will see people walking and running. Having a bar or restaurant within walking distance does not decrease obesity. We need sidewalks, which most subdivisions are getting.
5. The people of Cary do have reason to worry about the town leadership and our planning staff. In recent years they have changed the designation of some land on the Comp. Plan from very low density to mixed use. There is at least one street, outside of Cary, that is a small, lightly traveled country road but shown on the Cary Transportation plan as a future through street with much heavier traffic, in spite of the residents wishes. Cary has taken over rural areas that, at the time, were outside of Cary.
I attend the 5/2 summit. It was very nicely done. But I felt that the speakers were pushing a foregone conclusion of their vision. I found a couple of points interesting, there seemed to be a big push to get the 20/30 something crowd into Cary, by giving them an active "night life". I find that 20/30 somethings tend to live in cities that have a college, which is usually why they are there to begin with, and then they end up staying after they graduate. But, once they marry and have children, they tend to migrate to the suburbs. This was presented as the "old fashioned" way, but I disagree, I just think is natural.
Also, they showed a clip from I Love Lucy of Lucy and Ricky moving to the suburbs for Little Ricky - their example of the "old fashioned" way. Then the speaker went on to say that examples of more modern thinking would be living like the people on Friends, Seinfeld or Sex in the City. I found that very funny, because in two of those shows (Friends and Sex in the City), the characters with children ended those shows by moving out to the suburbs. Seinfeld ended when the 4 friends violated a "Good Samaritan" law by refusing to help someone in trouble and ended up in jail. I thought it was an odd example in trying to promote their vision.
My question is, when a town reaches capacity (or is close to reaching capacity), why is there a continued need to develop? There are always houses selling, so it is not like people can't move to Cary if they wanted to... is there ever a point when we tell developers and planners that our traffic is at capacity, that our area is full, and that adding more people would actually reduce the quality of life for those who already live here?
I think Cary residents should be able to build Cary up in whatever way they like (the residents and business owners, not the developers and politicians). But I think setting limits would be prudent.
Robin covered most of what I would say (thanks Robin).
People who live in low density "car dependent suburbs" also can have a quality of life and community cohesion. Happiness is living in the type of neighborhood you like, low or high density, walkable or driveable. I live in a large lot (1/2 acre) subdivision on a cul-de-sac. I and my neighbors are happy there.
Maybe we can't walk to bars and restaurants, but the people in my neighborhood are frequently out walking or running. The kids spend time outside. Obesity is no more of a problem here than in "walkable" neighborhoods. Perhaps the fact that we can't easily walk to a bar or restaurant keeps us from being obese. Quiet streets, making walking enjoyable, and large yards for the kids to play in help also.
People in walkable neighborhoods still have to drive to work, unless they happen to be wait staff or retail clerks. Cary is more of a community of professionals who won't go to the local bar to look for a job. So being more walkable won't help the traffic problem. Increasing density, with more people in a smaller place, will create more traffic problems.
I am very much against sprawl. However, the market for urban, higher density housing is much different from the market for fringe sprawling subdivisions. An increase in the availability of one won't affect the demand for the other. I have never met anyone in a large lot house on the edge of Cary who bought it because they were not able to find housing in a dense neighborhood.
It is often claimed that the way to get people in their twenties is to have nightlife. For some, that may be so. But for them, they will probably life near colleges such as NC State or UNC, or somewhere like Glenwood South, not Cary.
But for may in their twenties, the kind of suburb that exists in Cary is what they are looking for. As has been pointed out, the Smart Growth America survey found that more young people would rather live "away from it all" than in "the center of everything". Many in their late 20's are starting families. Those that have babies or young children (as do many by the time they are 30) do not need a night life. They are already busy at night. And of course, those who are working on starting their families have something to do at night
Cary is successful at getting people in their 20's. It is just that we are more successful at getting people in their 30's.