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Archive for Saturday, January 19, 2013

Letter: No planning

January 19, 2013

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To the editor:

Recent city zoning actions on West Sixth Street have nothing to do with city planning or urban design.  They simply follow the recent pattern of replacing good planning principals with “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Let’s face it; our plans mean nothing. Land-use decisions depend on what the developer can bring to the table. Whenever a proposal is contrary to the “plan,” the plan is amended after the decision, unless the applicant has fallen out of favor with commissioners.

Planning is no longer part of the process prior to the land use decision. Plans are considered to be mere encumbrances and obstacles to be dealt with after the decision is made. Our professional planners are charged not with “planning” but with creating reactive mechanisms to navigate the maze of non-compliance without embarrassing the commissioners. Too often, land use decisions are accomplished with a wink and a nod outside of the planning process.

City planning should create stability. Folks should have reasonable expectations of how the future will impact their investments, and what the surrounding environment will be. That will no longer the case in Lawrence, if we continue to eschew planning principles in favor of “Let’s Make a Deal.”

We are losing the opportunity to design inviting gateways along major streets leading into Lawrence. We continue to create trashy gauntlets of “strip malls” and “big box stores” that must be painfully navigated before a visitor arrives at the jewel that is the true City of Lawrence.

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Simply because investors buy property anywhere is NO guarantee of development nor should it be. Investing is a risk knowingly participated by those that have money or too much credit.

It is not the taxpayers responsibility to make risky investments pay off. Nor is it the responsibility of elected officials to misrepresent the largest group of stakeholders in Lawrence,Kansas which are the thousands upon thousands of taxpayers.

If investors lose on their investments that is their problem not the problem of the taxpayers.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Good letter Price Banks.

Beautiful gateways are not accomplished by way of ugly apartment projects,strip malls or large big box buildings of any sort. Nor by reckless spending of tax dollars on ugly field houses.

Beautiful gateways can be accomplished by way of massive and beautiful low budget and low maintenance Kansas landscapes. Nothing that requires a sprinkler system.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Reckless planning is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes. Why does city government protect the politically connected real estate industry instead of taxpayers? It's OUR money.

Reckless planning has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive gridlocked roads for every chore. But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - developers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Reckless growth is the result of over four decades of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. The subsidies range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town thus killing the downtown business district.

We've subsidized reckless planning at such a basic level for so long, that many taxpayers believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of reckless planning sponsored by the development executives.

Reckless growth definitely wastes our tax money. It pulls economic resources away from the downtown business district and spreads them out over sparse developments away from the core. This is economic displacement which prevents solid and consistent economic growth.

Taxes subsidize millions of dollars worth of new roads, new water and sewer lines, new schools and increased police and fire protection at the expense of the needs of the core business district. This leads to degradation of our older neighborhoods and higher taxes.

Again why does city government protect the politically connected instead of taxpayers? It's OUR money.

Bill Moyers http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/transcript.html

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Phil Minkin 1 year, 11 months ago

As with many things, in zoning the Golden Rule applies: He who has the gold, makes the rules. Zoning may slow them down, but they usually find a way.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

No because taxpayers are largest group of stakeholders in any new project. For without taxpayer support very few projects would move ahead.

God forbid those politically connected to the real estate industry such as lenders,developers,property managers,land owners,contractors etc etc etc step up and finance their own way. Funding their own profits is a new concept in the late 20th - 21st century. Now so much is on taxpayers who are not part the profit sharing.

City Hall and these project minded folks are always putting out some story that somehow we stakeholding taxpayers should be grateful for them bilking us out of tax dollars.

Too many reckless ventures never pay back the taxpayers so how exactly does that improve the quality of life for the largest group of stakeholders?

When it comes to exercise taxpayers do not need $40 million tax $$$$$$ buildings. Sidewallks,bike and hike trails,bicycles,feet,legs and shoes plus the great outdoors have been performing quite well for at least 100 years.

If the lions share of the population used indoor facilities there would need to be a facility at every corner to meet demand. As it is there is a fair amount of turnover meaning going out of business.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

Right on! Planning is non-existent. Lawrence is becoming a generic bedroom community. What does Lawrence have left?

parrothead8 1 year, 11 months ago

Of course it's easier to do business in communist China. No regulations whatsoever. All you have to do is make a deal with the government, they supply the dirt cheap workers, and the business does what they want with little regard for the local population or environment. Is that what you want Lawrence to aspire to?

3up3down 1 year, 11 months ago

Oh ya, like that wonderful gateway on west Clinton Parkway. Stupid round-a-bouts. Now there is a wise investment by the city.

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