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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lower taxes vs. better communities

While walking past the Montgomery County Republican Party booth at the Ag Fair, of course I responded when queried.

The first thing that I remember being said to me is "Do you want lower taxes?"

Unfortunately, I didn't have a rejoinder immediately handy, which should have been "What I want most is a better community."

It happens that on our neighborhood listserv we've been discussing party competition and DC which has none of it.  I mentioned that I come from Michigan, which when I grew up, had an honorable moderate Republican tradition, that I had voted for Republicans when I first voted, that Mitt Romney was a decent Governor especially on smart growth issues, etc.

One member of the listserv, whose business has focused on hair braiding, pointed out that the strongest support for differentiated licensing for hair braiders vs. cosmeticians or hair stylists comes from Republicans (although it's because they don't believe in professional licensing in general).

Left vs. Right Spectrum infographic from Information is Beautiful.

That being said, I'd rather have lower taxes than higher taxes, smaller government than bigger government, exemplary government action rather than waste, and more support for self-help.

But given the anti-government, pro-wealthy, somewhat misogynist and racist agenda of the Republican Party "nationally" and the pro-property rights (semi-anti historic preservation) agenda locally, it's very difficult for me to vote for a Republican now.

What is the right kind of urban agenda for the Republican Party?  However, since I never managed to score a review copy of the book Seemless City by Rick Baker, the Republican former mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, I bought it, but haven't gotten around to reading it, to figure out what an ideal Republican urban agenda would be.

What is the right kind of metropolitan agenda for the Republican Party given that metropolitan areas, at least for national and statewide offices, tend to vote more Democratic as well?  It's all relative, these suburban metro voters tend to be more progressive politically than more rural areas of their respective states, but still more conservative than center city voters.  And as we discussed yesterday, suburban voters tend to be less favorable towards fixed rail transit.

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At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lower taxes can be had when cities like DC are not burdened with all of the social ills of the entire metropolitan region- when a single place becomes a dumping ground for all of the problems a metro area has then it naturally has to pay for it all. When affluence moves in and social ills are speard out over a wider region then taxes can be adjuted favorably for places like DC. there is no reason at all DC needs to shoulder these burdens and has to be taxed to death. Home Rule was all about giving taxing authority to the local government as opposed to the feds controlling it all. The local government screwed it all up in a grand manner. Its time now for DC proper to benefit in some of the boom and largess the suburbs have had over the past 60-odd years. Maybe its time for Montgomery County and other areas to pay MORE taxes and DC fewer taxes !!!

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Well, this is an aspect of the "party rules" theory; national party id politics come deeper into local stuff.

I'm sure you know that local politics is where the blood really is. Nobody really cares about the national stuff so it has to by hyped up. I went through a list of what Obama did for me: a couple of tax rebates, bikeshare, and a insurance bill that is 4x higher.

Agreed that suburban/republican voters are very suspicious of capital expenditures, and that is a huge distortion.

I say that is because it usually doesn't help me or my property values. It might help the country government, in the long term, but rarely do we spend back.

DC again is an exception; the "Plan" since 2000 has been massively increase investment (usually in a pretty wasteful fashion). It is never enough, but chunks of the city have been investment neglected for 50+ years, but it does buy some people off.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

one of the people at those meetings is a planner that I've known for almost a decade. She said the thing about DC is that there is "no love", no sense of public spaces mattering and contributing to the community in special ways. She said going to NYC for a weekend, she feels more a part of the community and cherished there.

Some of our community spaces are starting to "give back" in special ways like Yards Park, Canal Park, Georgetown Park, the splash park in Columbia Heights.

Even some of these new neighborhood playgrounds. I criticized going forward with the program without a master plan in place, but the redone one in my neighborhood is a true asset, revitalized a forlorn part of the park, and brings tons of people out.

We don't have kids so only get there occasionally with our next door neighbors (the kids love the playground), but my sense is that it is a key community meeting place in a community that doesn't ordinarily have such spaces.


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