Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This City Would Be Illegal In This City

One thing I mention frequently but which some seem not to believe is that just about everywhere in this country it would be illegal to build the kind of dense residential urban neighborhoods one associates with, well, urban living. My block, a completely typical South Philly block (not my block, but similar), could not be built today without an unlikely to receive zoning waiver. Most units on my block, and in my area generally, do not have dedicated off street parking. Any new development - say, a new block of rowhouses - with 5 units ormore requires dedicated parking for each unit. Parking takes up space, requiring more land which inreases the cost/sq. ft, and reduces, all things equal, residential density.

Far from wanting to mandate a specific kind of development or land use, people like me want to loosen restrictions in areas which prevent dense development from being built, even if local land costs and demand warrant it. In my area that means reducing parking requirements for residential and commercial construction, around transit lines farther out it means allowing medium rise mixed use development around stations. In the completely car-centric burbs it means reducing minimum lot sizes and setback requirements.

And then if no one wants to live in the resulting urban hellhole that's fine with me. Developers won't build them, but they will be allowed to.