I just returned from a vacation in The Grand Teton Area of Idaho and Wyoming, an area where I lived for a time when I was in my early 20’s. The town of Jackson, Wyoming and the close outlying area is barely recognizable with all the growth and sprawl. I talked to a couple of people who were aware of the idea of smart growth but for the most part all the bad aspects of commercial development are in play. Over the hill in Teton Valley Idaho it is even worse. Golf coarse luxury home developments are popping up right and left. The little airport in Driggs now handles jets and they have an antique plane museum. There is some consciousness of smart growth but it looks like the golf course gated communities are winning.
In Santa Cruz County we have kept the large developers at bay by erecting a massive bureaucracy that makes it hard to develop anything. The unintended consequence of this policy is that wealthy people can afford the time and money it takes to build. Wealthy people will build wherever they want. What we have in the outlying areas of our County are big homes on large properties spread all around so that there is no way to have an effective public transit system.
Every time you need anything you have to get in the car and drive to the store and park in a giant parking lot. When we design a new building we have to address the issue of parking first, instead of quality of life issues.
We as a community and a society need to change the way we look at growth and development. We need to encourage new development to occur close in to the urban center near transportation routes and commercial services so that we can have a viable public transport system that has the ridership to sustain it. The way it is now, there aren’t enough riders to make it work.
We need to develop multiple transportation options at the same time so that eventually people will have choices of ways to get places. Personally, my bicycle is my first choice of transportation so when I remodeled my garage, I included a storage locker for 10 bikes and a work area where I can do my own maintenance.
When we designed the Solar System which sits atop our new garage, we allowed for future expansion to be able to charge an Electric Vehicle with electricity made from the Sun. We plan to add a wind turbine to the system too. Check out www.windside.com. When we retire our plan is to not buy gas or electricity and have a very small carbon footprint.
There are so many ways we can all contribute to saving the planet from the mistakes we’ve made up till now. Please call me to discuss ways to make your construction project fit into the new paradigm of development.