Archive for Saturday, September 2, 2006

Team studies city’s growth

Larger group to help create ideas for ‘vision’

September 2, 2006


There were a set of "outside eyes" trained on Lawrence this week, and City Commissioner Boog Highberger said he hopes they'll be able to help the community get over some of its growth-related fears.

A two-person team from the American Institute of Architects was in Lawrence from Wednesday through Friday as it prepares to write a special report on how Lawrence can grow and develop in more "sustainable" ways.

"Lawrence has a character that everyone really appreciates," said Highberger, who led the efforts to have Lawrence studied by the group. "A lot of people's fear of growth is that we'll lose that character. I think we all now realize that we're going to continue to grow, but we have to figure out how to do it in a way that we don't lose our character."

The two-person team was in town to pave the way for an eight-person team of planning experts that will arrive in November to dig deeper into various aspects of the community.

William Gilchrist - team leader and director of planning, engineering and permits for Birmingham, Ala. - said the group will look at economic, environmental and social issues that affect how Lawrence grows, develops and lives.

For example, the group likely will look at what natural competitive advantages the community has in terms of job attraction; what environmental resources need to be conserved or enhanced; and how the universities and the community interact.

Highberger said he hopes the visits by the AIA group spur a full-fledged "visioning" process that will create some clear-cut goals or ideas for the community to work toward.

Gilchrist said that could be a valuable process for Lawrence. He told community members at a meeting Friday morning that if done right, a vision process will create much more than just ambiguous feel-good statements.

In Portland, Ore., for example, the community spent two years to come up with just two statements, but they have served as a guiding force for the city for decades. Goal No. 1 was to ensure that every child in the city could realistically walk to every type of public facility, such as libraries, schools, parks and even police stations. Goal No. 2 was that every person in the city would have a clear view of Mount Hood.

Those two goals, though specific in nature, produced broad changes in how the city grows and develops, Gilchrist said.

The AIA team - which is not charging the city for its work other than for about $5,000 in expenses - talked with members of the development community, neighborhood organizations, the university and the chamber. The team also held a special session with city commissioners.

Some of what the team heard:

l Mayor Mike Amyx told the group he wants the community to focus on creating a variety of jobs.

"I think one of the things we're missing is understanding the various levels of job needs we have in the community," Amyx said. "There are career jobs, part-time jobs, noncareer jobs. I think we need to understand we have a need for all of them."

l Commissioner Mike Rundle said he wanted help in bringing together different viewpoints and groups in the area.

"I think the biggest challenge we have is in coming together," Rundle said. "We need to come to some true agreement so we can move forward."

l Commissioner David Schauner said he's growing increasingly concerned about downtown. He noted that in his West Lawrence neighborhood many residents do not go downtown.

"As we develop more opportunities away from downtown, it is going to be easier for more people to not go downtown," Schauner said.

l Highberger said he wants the community to not only think about when and where new developments should be allowed, but also about how they look and feel.

"People like to think that Lawrence is different than the rest of Kansas, but what we have been building for years now is the same stuff everybody else in the country is building," Highberger said.


Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

Wal-Mart is ugly. How does anyone expect that monster "new urbanism" retail portion to succeed with the Wal-Mart going in next door and the new retail monster at 6th and K10 going in?

As Boog noted were doing the same things everyone else has done or is doing which will not bring in outside business.

So let's save downtown now instead of doing what so many other cities are doing including our neighbor KCMO. Many many other cities are spending big bucks bringing back downtowns therefore no reason to destroy our warm and unique downtown.

As as been stated before our family does not consider a shopping trip to KCMO metro from time to time an inconvienence. We combine shopping with pleasure such as doing first Friday in the KCMO "art district". Finding most everything locally is still within our grasp.

There are plenty of opportunities to spend money in Lawrence. With 15,000 educated and/or skilled commuters why not focus on great paying jobs. Then again if Lawrence shrinks a bit so be it.

lunacydetector 11 years, 4 months ago

portland is not a cheap place to live, so why emulate it?

a shrinking community is a dying community. lawrence is shrinking - it's a fact.

our city leaders do not have a clue of what they are doing. why are they only looking at job creation now, after so many years? what the heck do two architects know about attracting jobs? i thought architects designed buildings or landscaping. do these two wisemen and their followers coming in november know what they are doing? what makes them experts in economic development? lawrence doesn't offer incentives to businesses, the only thing we have to offer now is our 'quality of life' which is starting to suck the lifeblood from this community. higher taxes that keep going up and people leaving town.

i would like to know who in the development industry attended this meeting?

jobs will not be created and have not been created by being the most restrictive community in kansas and the midwest. incentives are paramount to attract employers who pay a decent wage. there will be good and bad, but at least there will be employers.

lawrence needs to be business friendly, not anti-business. the living wage law keeps businesses from even considering lawrence. most people by nature don't want something to be a pain in the ss AND most people do not like confrontation. doing business with the city of lawrence must be a pain in the ss because there is always confrontation from some fringe weirdo group or some weirdo kooky person. there is always some new hoop to jump through.

a shrinking community is a dying community. if the progressives (who know not what they do) remain in power, lawrence will die.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"portland is not a cheap place to live, so why emulate it?"

Can you name one city on the west coast that is a cheap place to live?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

So, Marion, with all that great depth of research, can you name one west coast city that is cheap to live in?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"one thing is correct the three commies have made this city unaffordable to alot of people"

Don't you need to scream at your dogs or your kids or something?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

Oh, yes, they are sooo baaad! Naughty, Naughty little commies, they is.

Thanks for all that truth, vito.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

I guess Marion really can't name a single west coast city that is cheap to live in.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

BTW NEW JOBS/BUSINESS is the responsibility of the Chamber of Commerce....that is my understanding. The City of Lawrence was providing $90,000 annually to the Chamber. If inspiring new upper level paying jobs is their responsibility perhaps moving that responsibility to city hall would be best in order that taxpayers can view progress.

Sigmund 11 years, 4 months ago

I'm tired of being told "If you want Lawrence to be like Johnson County, just move to Johnson County". So, if you want Lawrence to be like Portland, OR, just move to Portland, OR. The truth, for better or worse, Lawrence isn't going to become either Portland nor Overland Park, so lets just get over it already.

Now that we are somewhat grounded in reality, lets come up with just two principals and policies for a Lawrence City Commission. Here are my two.

  1. City Commissioners must recuse themselves from all matters which are reasonably expected to significantly impact their business interest and are not allowed to appoint contributors nor fundraisers to positions within City governement.

  2. The City Commission may not subsidise private business (ie the "Emp-T", advertising dollars for downtown Lawrence) nor interfere with private business by imposing new regulations (ie living wage, smoking ban, business Czar's) beyond what is already required by Federal and State Laws.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 4 months ago

"If inspiring new upper level paying jobs is their responsibility perhaps moving that responsibility to city hall would be best in order that taxpayers can view progress."

Right, that's the ticket... let city hall control each and every aspect of everyday life in Lawrence. They have done such a great job thus far. Besides, that already pretty much happened with the Hack acquisition.

I lived in Portland in the 70's when there was an influx of Californians to the city. It reminds me a lot of present day Lawrence as the city was encouraging the "visits" of those from the south, but they also requested that after the "visit", those people go back home. Kind of like some of you who prefer those Lawrencians who must commute, should move closer to their jobs... people like merrill for example.

On my drive to WalMart yesterday, early afternoon, I passed three M-T's. It occurred to me that since there was not ONE soul on the bus, how much do these M-T's contribute to pollution and how much fuel do they burn on their empty routes? My guess it that it is more than all commuters from Lawrence. Maybe this is one study that would truly be warranted. I don't see a "city in motion" there, only a bus driver in motion.

classclown 11 years, 4 months ago

Which one of them are you? Or are you just a plant?

lunacydetector 11 years, 4 months ago

....and a only a bus driver in motion driving 10 MPH over the speed limit. speeding increases fuel consumption - more waste to the taxpayer.

merrill, the city has the progressive infiltrated chamber of commerce hogtied with the "un-Living wage" law that keeps lawrence from being considered by employers.

your policy is a failed policy. it is a fact.

a shrinking community is a dying community.
welcome to lawrence, kansas business UNfriendly

Jamesaust 11 years, 4 months ago


You know some people are full of you-know-what, when they depict a city regularly and unavoidably on every list of "Best Cities," Best LEAST Expensive Cities," "Best Arts Cities,"Best Big City," "20 Best Cities for Smal Business," "Top US Cities for Doing Business," etc., etc., as some type of unmitigated hell-hole.

Have you ever even been to Portland?

The people of Portland have learned that there are in fact limits to development limits and controls. But it does not follow that those development controls are invalid. The same limits on the supply of land for housing, while having driven up the cost of housing beyond reason, are now also holding up a market that risks a painful bust elsewhere. Portland didn't come to that point by being purer than others but rather because it was a growth-laggard behind so much else on the West Coast that it was able to see development errors made by others (L.A., San Jose, Seattle) and take avoidance steps - e.g., there's no such thing as "enough" roads - roads create the cars to fill them up.

The biggest policy difference I see between Lawrence and Portland is their approach to business. Portland does not confuse business regulation with anti-commercialism. Forbes magazine (as close to the proverbial running dogs of capitalism you're likely to find) ranks Portland at the 8th least expensive city to do business in and 20th on their 2006 list of best cities for business and careers.

By contrast, most business people I speak to say the City of Lawrence is the most difficult and aggravating government they have ever worked with outside of major metros such as New York City.

Sigmund 11 years, 4 months ago

Shouldn't this headline read, "Team Studies City's Lack of Growth." If you can't accurately define the problem you are much less likely to stumble on its' solution.

Sigmund 11 years, 4 months ago


Roads do not create cars to fill them just as buses do not create riders to ride them. You confuse cause and effect, in my opinion. Put another way, coincidence in time is not necessarily causal.

Closing roads will not reduce the number of cars unless traffic congestion causes a decline in population. Having driven Iowa recently i can attest to the impact of closing Kasold. Roads need to be built to accomodate the number people driving those roads which in large part dependant upon population.

But I pick at nits. Thoughtful post.

oldgoof 11 years, 4 months ago

Sigmund and others: I keep reading on these forums that Lawrence is not growing. I suggest those posters look at the vast majority of the rest of the state. This place is a growth anchor.

Sigmund 11 years, 4 months ago

oldgoof, I dont want Lawrence too look like the vast majority of the state. That is why I and others are so concerned with the recent decline in the growth of Lawrence under the Current PLC Kommissioners. Really, you need to try and keep up.

Jamesaust 11 years, 4 months ago

"Closing roads will not reduce the number of cars...."

Shall we experiment by closing all the roads and then measuring the sale of autos?

We've gone from a world where a family shared a single auto to one where even one-person households own multiple vehicles, spending 99% of the monies allocated for transportation on just one mechanism, and then wonder who all the other people clogging the ever-wider roads are.

The KTA is just fininishing widening the road to six lanes Topeka-Lawrence - an increase of 150% of the carrying capacity. Has the population of Topeka/Lawrence increased by 50%? Have no fear - the 'population' of autos has.

(What next: homeless people with cars? Ooops, we already have that.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"How much will this study cost?"

From the article--

"The AIA team - which is not charging the city for its work other than for about $5,000 in expenses -"

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

Who invited this team to do the study? Who is paying for it? How much is it costing us?

If these professionals are volunteering their time, then why?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

You obviously didn't read the article, did you, Godot.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

Oh, I missed the part about the group not charging, except for $5,000 for expenses.

Now, why would 10 professionals give up their time to help poor, little Lawrence complete its "vision?"

Usually, when people donate their professional time, there is a charitable, or a religious, or a political purpose

We can eliminate the first two. Must be pure politics involved here.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

The American Intitute of Architects has as its number one mission the implementation of Smart Growth. This is not some unbiased group of professionals coming to listen to the wants and needs of all Lawrencians, with the intent of helping the commission develop a vision that is representative of this community. This is a political organization coming to Lawrence to give "free" advice that fulfills their agenda of influencing local government to adopt smart growth (aka anti-business, anti-growth, anti personal freedom, pro-government) tenets.

It is a joke to call the AIA visits "visioning." They would be better named "programming."

This "study" will, by no means, be "free." If the vision/programme of the agenda-driven group is adopted by the city, we will all pay for it dearly in the future.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

They may be "trained professionals," but they are not the property owners, they do not live here, and they do not have the right to dictate to us how we will live, simply because they are "trained professionals."

Have you noticed that all "smart growth" communities tend to look alike?

Smart Growth Communities = Stepford Communities.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"We can eliminate the first two."

You named three, and eliminated two, and invoked the "royal we." Could "our" motivation for those choices be political?

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

Nope. The motivation of the AIA is clear. Pure Political Propganda. They could give a s**t what people in Lawrence have to say, they have their own agenda to promote.

This "study" is pure c**p.

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