Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 10:28:51 AM EST
Goal 7: Improve land use planning so most people live nearer the natural landscape.
As people have become more urbanized they have lost touch with the natural environment. This has led to the lessening of understanding of our place in the environment. It has also diminished our ability to enjoy the outdoors. That there is a desire for this can be seen in the growth in attendance to national parks. Having a domicile near the natural environment can enhance the daily experience of living and lessen the burden on the few dedicated areas. Resistance to change in land use patterns can be expected to be raised by current land owners and local municipalities which are geared to a growth model.
The implementation of this goal follows from the prior one on transportation. By having communities built in a linear, compact design the surrounding land can be put to better use. It can be reserved for outdoor pleasure, left in a natural state, or used for agriculture as appropriate. The natural landscape can be facing the housing zone while the commercial and industrial sectors are "in the back". Community planners have to not only set land use policy, but must also establish tax schemes which benefit the entire community, rather than playing off one sector against another.
As mentioned under education, the local tax collected for education should be broadened so that the moneys raised are not just used locally, but are commingled to provide a regional source of funds. This eliminates the current condition where one community is forced to bid against another to attract business or development. Many rust belt cities now have areas of underutilization (that is vacant lots). Promoting urban gardening using these lots would have many benefits. Food could be locally grown, thus cutting down on transportation costs and improving freshness. Farming could provide job opportunities to local residents, even if it were only part time. This would also give a sense of purpose to many disaffected young people. If the urban farms were community owned the profits could be used for worthwhile projects. The use of greenhouses could extend the growing season even in more northern locales and allow for cultivation of non-native crops. Working together on farming could improve community relations.
In suburban regions ecologically useless green spaces, such as large expanses of lawn, could be replaced by gardens. I assume that the more affluent residents won't be interested in farming, but they could subcontract out the management and labor to groups willing to do this task. The benefits of locally produced food would still remain. Zoning for new developments could require set asides for such use rather than just common areas or open space.
If local food merchants feel threatened by competition from these in-filled farms, they can be the ones who manage them and then sell the output in their own stores or on site as appropriate. The farms can be government owned, leased to private managers or run as cooperatives depending upon circumstances. Community gardens are quite popular where they have popped up (such as parts of NYC), but are usually unplanned and run into problems with local government. Instead the local government should be leading the programs, not all development means more buildings.
The full list of goals can be found here.
The list of general objections can be found here.