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Reason Foundation

Urban Realism

Ted Balaker
January 11, 2004, 10:03am

Rich Carson criticizes overbearing zoning and calls for planners to be realistic about the car's place in society: He argues the "new urbanism," which seeks to re-create traditional neighborhoods with their small lots and front porches, ignores the fact that many people don't like living in compact cities. He pooh-poohs new-urbanists' angst about automobile-oriented developments, homes with prominent "snout" garages and cul-de-sacs. "When they banned snout houses, it just about drove me crazy," Carson said. "Why that level of social engineering? People cannot live in a house because if the garage door is closer to the street than the front door, it's a political statement?" Carson advocates for what he calls "urban realism" planning that takes into account observed trends. "There will be more cars in the future, not less. Until someone invents the Star Trek teleporter and gets to 'beam me up Scotty' there will be more automobiles." No big deal. Lots of people criticize the social engineering behind aggressive zoning, and lots of people recognize that–like it or not–auto use is a very strong demographic trend that is likely to grow stronger. What makes this assessment particularly refreshing is that it comes from an unlikely source–a Portland, Oregon-area urban planner. Carson is director of Clark County's Department of Community Development. Read the whole story here.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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