Durable Growth

City Repair debriefing plus notes on induced traffic, Broadway, and the movies

A tea stand, which was an early City Repair project

A tea stand, which was an early City Repair project

It’s Friday and we’re moving closer to the holiday season.  No big topics today, just a grab bag of follow-ups and loose ends.

City Repair Petaluma: The long-planned City Repair Petaluma meeting was held earlier this week.  Attendance was good.  I counted at least 35 people, but couldn’t see the entire back row.  There was even a City Councilmember who attended for awhile.

After viewing the City Repair film and engaging in an extended question and answer session, City Repair Petaluma organizer Rachel Kaplan asked for ideas on neighborhoods where City Repair projects might be appropriate.

To our pleasure, representatives of several neighborhoods immediately responded, most of them also willing to help in the organizational effort.  The identified neighborhoods included D and Vallejo, D and El Rose, Mountain View and Mission, 2nd and F, Western and Webster, Western and Fair, and Oakhill-Brewster.

Individual neighborhood groups then met to exchange contact information and to begin tossing about ideas.

It remains a long ways from initial enthusiasm to completed project, but the self-identification of champions was a good step.  I believe that the City Repair process works best when the progress is slow and steady.  The Tuesday evening meeting was a great slow and steady start.  The process will continue.   And I’ll provide occasional updates.

And if anyone would like to be added to the City Repair List email list, please let me know.  I’ll pass along your information to Kaplan.

Induced traffic:  When I recently wrote about the proposed Rainier Avenue connector in Petaluma, I noted the phenomenon of induced traffic, an increase in car trips when new roadways are opened which prevent the promised traffic relief.

In response, I received only a couple of comments of mild skepticism.  Most readers seem to understand induced traffic.  But when I look at the local papers, I continue to read quotes, many of them from people who should know better, that Rainier will provide true traffic relief.

So it’s time to roll out a big gun.  Before the rise of Jane Jacobs, Lewis Mumford reigned as the monarch of urban study and thought.   Almost 120 years after his birth, he remains a key oracle on the theory of cities.

In 1953, Mumford wrote, “No one, it seems, pays heed to our own grim experience, which is that the more facilities are provided for the motorcar, the more cars appear.”

In the sixty years since Mumford wrote those words, no one has successfully rebutted them.  But many of our community leaders seem unaware of the wisdom.

If/Then: I love the field of urban planning, finding the process fascinating.  But that doesn’t mean that I would expect it to be ripe for a Broadway musical.

Perhaps I’ve been wrong.  “If/Then”, a musical about a 40s-something woman trying to rekindle her life as an urban planner in New York City, is currently touring the country in hopes of reaching Broadway.  And at least planners seem to enjoy it.

“Chasing Ice”: My wife generally does our household Netflix selections.  Last weekend, she came up with “Chasing Ice”, a documentary on the efforts of photographer James Balog to record the recession of glaciers throughout much of the Western Hemisphere.

It was an oddly scripted movie, shifting from the technology of time lapse photography in adverse climates to the disappointment in the initial photographic failures to Balog’s knee surgery to the presentation of the results at scientific conferences.

But despite the jumpiness, the movie worked.  The scenes on the glaciers were cinematically striking.  And the film was a stark reminder of the effects of climate change.  In my household, we moved directly from viewing the movie into a discussion of further carbon reductions we could make in our home.

Of course, urbanism remains one of the most effective strategies to slow climate change.  Of all the energy savings that we can make in our daily lives, nearly 70 percent can come solely from living in a walkable urban setting.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated.  Please comment below or email me.  And thanks for reading. – Dave Alden (davealden53@comcast.net)

Written by Dave Alden

Dave Alden

Dave Alden is a Registered Civil Engineer. A University of California graduate, he has worked on energy and land-use projects in California, Oregon, and Washington. He was also the president of a minor league baseball team for two seasons. He lives on the west side of Petaluma with his wife and two dogs. The blog that he writes can be found at http://northbaydesignkit.blogspot.com.

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