Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Separated uses can make sense in some situations

A big plank of libertarian thinking is that land use regulation is bad, that property owners ought to be able to proceed unfettered.  That means that you can put a gas station next to a house, or a school next to a fertilizer plant, even if it isn't a good idea.

Mostly, office, retail and residential can be mixed.  Universities and clean research facilities too.  Maybe even nuclear processing facilities ("Toronto residents shocked by local uranium facility" from the Toronto Star).

Probably not power plants, because the emissions have negative health impacts on some (this is an issue in DC, with a power generation plant owned by the US Congress, see "Use of coal in Capitol plant draws protesters" from the Washington Times").

Even hospitals, although their sprawling nature ("Gazette) and the fact that the high pitched sirens of ambulances going to emergency rooms can be piercing and negative in the context of "quiet enjoyment" of residential living.

But it's not a good idea to put housing and schools by fertilizer plants, chemical plants, and other "dirty" and dangerous industrial uses, as the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion indicates.

Image from Daily Kos

And minimal and dis-coordinated regulation doesn't help (not unlike the same problem with delegating the regulation of so-called compounding pharmacies to the states).

 See "Fertilizer-Storage Risk Is Often Overlooked" and "Deadly Explosion Prompts Fresh Look at Regulation" from the Wall Street Journal.

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At 8:27 AM, Blogger Mari said...

My understanding is that the fertilizer plant was there first. So would possible regulation (created by government) prevent government from building schools nearby such a place?
Residential is currently encroaching on industrial space, would the kind of regulation that gets plopped out of the municipal sausage maker prevent this? Think of our own area in Ward 5, and the Union/Capitol/Florida Market which I think is zone industrial does still face the spector of encroaching residential development, and it doesn't help that a certian citrus legislator who wants to make it happen keeps getting re-elected.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

PLUS, the current councilmember for W5 wants to allow the industrial land to be redeveloped as well.

in the comp. plan amendment process, I submitted an amendment to reduce the conflicts with industrially zoned land by eliminating school and church uses as a matter of right use. They can outbid economically-driven users and they don't pay taxes too, which further increases the price they can pay to buy property.

Plus the addition of these uses (e.g., see the schools on 8th Street NE in Brookland) to industrial areas creates definite street conflicts.

But yes, the community of West, Texas should have had zoning restrictions that limited the encroachment of residential and civic uses in the "danger" area of the facility.

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Not sure if it was zoning or lack of regulation (i.e. did anyone know about the storage)

There is enough propane in some food trucks that they are excellent truck bombs. Again, who knows?

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Mari said...

Laws, rules, zoning don't matter if there is no political will to enforce or obey or respect them, which was my point. If West, TX leaders really wanted to plop 2 schools next to a fertilizer plant it wouldn't matter if there was zoning or a law, the lawmakers can change the laws if the political environment supports it.
Did you know there are a whole bunch of California schools on fault lines? How can the people the Golden State be so careless? Who decides where the schools go? The local government. The same local government that makes the rules. Do you not see the conflict of interest?


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