Urbanism, Two Forms

An excellent article from New Geography explaining the difference.

An excerpt.

“New Urbanism is like a virus. For 50 years it keeps coming back in mutated forms. It needs a cure.

“First, the only thing new in New Urbanism is the new construction that tears down the organic city. A form of New Urbanism has been around for 50 years. Like I said, it is a virus that keeps coming back in mutated forms. But the scheme, of more density, new mixed-use construction, and fixed rail transit, replacing existing homes remains constant. The desire of planners to determine where you live and where you work also remains constant. New urbanists increasingly do not like single family homes, which most Americans prefer.

“There is a growing New Urbanism movement across the country that says single-family zoning is bad. There are some cities like Minneapolis that have banned single-family zoning that had made up over 50% of Minneapolis. Some states, like Oregon, are considering abolishing single-family zoning. Even the Dallas City Council unanimously voted to allow two-story backyard rental houses in single-family neighborhoods. Former Dallas City Councilperson, Philip Kingston, said that single-family neighborhoods like Preston Hollow are no longer relevant. If this trend continues, your grandchildren or great grandchildren might never have a chance to live in a single-family zoned neighborhood, with front or back yards to play in, streets to ride bikes on, or familiarity with longtime neighbors.

“In contrast, what I call Organic Urbanism works with people’s preferences, particularly those of families. It protects, preserves, and nurtures the city, allowing the creativity of individuals and neighborhoods to shape the direction of the city. This includes the single-family homes as well as a diversity of housing types.

“Organic urbanism supports what people want in their diverse neighborhoods. In contrast new urbanism, particularly their allies in the planning profession, oppose such housing and favor density to support public transit and claim they make homes more affordable.

“In contrast, organic Urbanists think denser apartment development makes neighborhoods less walkable and less desirable. Organism Urbanism strives to preserve, protect, and rejuvenate the existing housing stock of diverse sizes, styles, and conditions that is conducive to a mix of incomes and lifestyles. Organic Urbanism also favors zoning for less than what is already built. Less dense zoning provides the incentive to preserve and revitalize the existing housing stock, or lose the privilege of higher density on a lot if an existing multi-family building is torn down. For example, if a duplex or apartment house is zoned single-family and it is torn down, it can only be replaced by a single-family home. This gives the owner incentive to maintain the existing duplex or apartment house or lose their privilege of multi-family.

“Organic Urbanism approaches the city like a garden. There is an understanding that the evolution of buildings and uses should evolve rather than being plowed under and planted like an industrial farm. In a garden that is nurtured, one might plant a sapling with sun-loving plants around it. Once the tree grows, one might plant, shade-tolerant flowers under the tree. There is a natural ebb and flow of decay, rejuvenation, and new construction in an organic city. Neighborhoods fall in and out of favor, creating opportunities for those of all incomes.

“New Urbanism has a goal of creating diversity by diluting good parts of the city. Organic Urbanism strives for diversity by improving out-of-favor neighborhoods.

“I will describe eight key differences of New Urbanism and Organic Urbanism.”

To finish article go to http://www.newgeography.com/content/006446-organic-urbanism-cure-new-urbanism


About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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