Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is this a dream?

There are some people who have a dream to make Colorado Springs into a Utopian city. In the vision statements of this dream, there are a few things that I would like to point out. First has to do you transportation: "We embrace a culture of a highly-mobile community through viable alternative transportation options (e.g., buses, light rail, shuttles, bicycles) to reduce road congestion and automobile-generated pollution." This statement is repeated throughout the country in one way or another; that is, the sentiment that there is too much pollution and too much congestion is a widely discussed topic. People blame the congestion (and pollution) on sprawl and thus encourage government to develop public policies to diminish this "problem". But as we have discussed in class, bad public policy usually is followed by bad public policy.

The second part of the vision statement that I would like to point out has to do with public safety: "
Parks, public spaces, and streets are family friendly and safe to enjoy free of crime and drugs 24/7." Now, I understand that this is a vision, but if you don't explain how you are going to achieve this safe environment then I don't see how it would be possible. The government currently offers what it sees as the best option for the public's safety, and in general I think the public is safe. However, would I let me (theoretical) children go play alone in a park, or street? Heck no! So this vision, while it sounds nice is not something that is actually probable in the next ten years (especially when there is no indication how these dreamers plan on making it so).

The next bit of the statement of vision that I would like to draw your attention to is about a planned environment: "
A vital downtown Colorado Springs is a focal point of the greater Pikes Peak area preserving, creating, and promoting a safe and vibrant hub for business, family entertainment, culture, arts and educational activity. Downtown will be a destination for local residents and area visitors. Downtown Colorado Springs incorporates mixed use development creating a high density area that is walkable, bikeable and pet friendly." Is it just me, or does this statement seem to be totally about stopping sprawl? They say that we need to concentrate our efforts into the growth of the downtown area (growth going up), not in growth outwards. They seem to believe that it is vital that we (the general public) live in a high density area. Personal preference aside, this is still only a vision. People must live where they find the highest utility, not where some dreamer tells them is best for society.

The final aspect I would like to point out of this vision statement has to do with the economy of this dream city: "
Our employers attract the Nation’s best talent for quality jobs and have a commitment to community." This goes into what we talked about in class one day, a city government basically bribing employees (or entrepreneurs) to come to their city. One reason this might be seen as desirable is that is might bring the "local knowledge" up within that society. However, doesn't new business and new people in a city mean that there might be more opportunity for sprawl? What if this dream city does not "agree" with these entrepreneurs and they decide to leave the city for a different one? There are simply too many maybe's to be worried about to believe that this concept of "Attracting the Nation's best talent" will actually work. How do you plan on attracting these people to your city anyways?

According to The Gazette, '
“We’ve got a lot of vision out there,” said David Menter, the Transit Planning Supervisor for the Mountain Metropolitan Transit the agency that runs the region’s public bus service, “but vision hits reality in the annual budgeting cycle.”' I think that if they did not rely on a budget, and just let the city run on its trial and error there would be an even better result than these dreamers are dreaming about.


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