Category Archives: Planning

Sept. 27 forum will probe aldermanic candidates’ positions on sustainability

A forum for Savannah’s at-large aldermanic candidates is scheduled for Sept. 27 from 6-8 p.m. at the Coastal Georgia Center. The event is organized by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign and The Savannah Branch of the U.S. Green Building Council. Details from the Savannah Bicycle Campaign:

Alderman At-Large candidates will gather to field questions regarding their positions on transportation and sustainability issues. The forum is free and open to the public, will be moderated by Orlando Montoya, news producer with Georgia Public Broadcasting in Savannah, and Jim Morekis, editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah. Candidates will answer formal questions delivered by the moderators during the program before taking questions from the audience and from the media.

More information is available here.

Parking lots cause lots of problems, inspire lots of quotes and, once upon a time, started a movement

Bill Dawers  has strong feelings about parking lots, which he shares in his City Talk column, “Another parking lot detracts from downtown’s vibrancy” in today’s Savannah Morning News:

“They tend to rend the residential and retail fabric. They repel pedestrians. They generally generate far less economic activity than more intense uses. They create heat islands. They contribute to problems with drainage and polluted stormwater runoffs.”

And he’s not alone in his thinking. Here’s Donald Shoup quoting Jane Jacobs on how parking lots affect the sidewalks they border and the city at large:

“The presence of open shops and people on the street encourages other people to be out as well. People want to be on streets with other people on them, and they avoid streets that are empty, because empty streets are eerie and menacing at night. Although the absence of parking requirements does not guarantee a vibrant area, their presence certainly inhibits it. ‘The more downtown is broken up and interspersed with parking lots and garages,’ Jane Jacobs argued in 1961, ‘the duller and deader it becomes … and there is nothing more repellent than a dead downtown’.”

John A. Jankle and Keith A. Sculle review Jacobs’ ideas about what parking lots do to neighboring properties:

“A kind of ‘unbuilding’ or running-down process was set in motion. Thus, parking lots were ‘instruments of city destruction that could ‘disembowel’ a city. ‘City character is blurred,’ Jacobs continued, ‘until every place becomes more like every other place, all adding up to Noplace.”

And they offer a quote of their own:

“Nothing over the past century in America has proven as disruptive of the traditional urban landscape as parking. Perhaps nothing has made American cities less memorable…nothing fragmented the urban space more than the parking lot.”

It’s important to remember that the preservation movement in Savannah, which has prevented downtown from becoming “Noplace,” has its roots in a fight over a parking lot.

“Savannah was becoming Anyplace, USA and it was losing its soul. By the mid-1950s, the loss of the Wetter House, beloved City Market and demolition threats to the Isaiah Davenport House sparked the formation of Historic Savannah Foundation. Led by seven visionary women, HSF purchased the c. 1820 Davenport House and thus began the organization’s formal entry into the world of preservation and real estate.”

Why was Davenport House being threatened with demolition? So the land could be used for a funeral home parking lot. The question now is how to promote better uses for spaces left behind by buildings that were not saved.

Dawers offers more thoughts (and photos) on his blog.

Lawmakers propose disastrous, job-killing, backwards-looking transportation plan

In a July 5 article called “How the Great Reset has Already Changed America,” for the Atlantic, Richard Florida describes how our elected leaders are lagging behind and even moving in directions that suggest a disconnection from our current reality. He writes, “… our political and business leaders continue to look backwards, wasting precious time and resources on futile attempts to resuscitate the same dysfunctional system of banks, sprawl, and inefficient and energy-wasting ways of life that brought about the crisis in the first place.”

It’s hard to imagine a better example of backwards-looking ideas than House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica’s proposed transportation reauthorization bill, which he announced yesterday. It will eliminate dedicated federal funding for bicycling and walking. Mica apparently deems spending in these areas to be “not in the federal interest.” Meanwhile Sen. James Inhofe, the lead Republican negotiator on the transportation bill in the Senate, has stated one of his top three priorities is to eliminate “frivolous spending” on bicycle facilities, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

These merciless cuts are not aimed at reducing the deficit, reviving the economy, creating jobs, improving transportation choices or serving the American people.

It’s clear they did not.

 

Savannah Morning News columnist wonders about walking

A helpful reader pointed out Jane Fishman’s Dec. 11 Savannah Morning News column, “Walking in Savannah proves to be a not-so-easy task.” Having participated in an event that brings thousands of people to city streets, she wonders why they don’t make walking part of their daily lives.

“Don’t they like to get somewhere during their walk or run? How many times can a person walk or run around the park without wanting to use that time and energy to arrive somewhere?”

She quickly and astutely zeroes in on the problem, which is one pedestrians and cyclists share: Many local streets, having been designed (or redesigned) exclusively for cars, are not enjoyable places to walk.

“Of course, who can blame them? Have you tried to walk on Eisenhower Drive? How about Waters Avenue? Not even the reliable Abercorn Street, which traverses Ardsley Park, has a sidewalk that will accommodate your walking.”

These thoroughfares are dangerous by design. It’s unfortunate that using these streets requires pedestrians to be “adventurous and bold,” but the fact is that many citizens have no choice but to walk on streets that are unwelcoming at best and deadly at worst.

Tybee Island meeting seeks public input on U.S. Highway 80 bridges

hgwy80bridgesThe idea of riding a bicycle from Savannah to Tybee Island is understandably appealing both to area residents and visitors from all over the United States. Unfortunately, the trip can be a dangerous one. Major barriers to safe travel by bicycle include the bridges at Bull River and Lazaretto Creek. A public meeting tonight on Tybee Island is part of a study of the situation. Details on the meeting are as follows:

Pub Mtg 1 Press Release 090810.docx
Thursday, September 16, 2010
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Tybee Island City Hall
403 Butler Ave.
Tybee Island, GA 31328
The purpose of the study is to determine the feasibility
of replacing or modifying the existing bridges with
a design that includes shoulders, as well as protected
facilities for bicycles and pedestrians, either on one
bridge or a separate bridge. Also as part of the study,
the flood-prone areas of US 80 shall be identified and
interim solutions recommended.
Thursday, Sept. 16
6-8 p.m.
Tybee Island City Hall
403 Butler Ave.
Tybee Island
“The purpose of the study is to determine the feasibility of replacing or modifying the existing bridges witha design that includes shoulders, as well as protected facilities for bicycles and pedestrians, either on one bridge or a separate bridge.”
More information is available on the Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization website.