Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sam Smith reacts to Marc Fisher


MARC FISHER seems to quite happy with the Rosslynization of Washington. On the Post's chat page he commented, "An easy, dominating win for Mary Cheh. . . That's a powerful endorsement by the silent, pro-development majority against the NIMBYs and suburban wannabes who have fought against transit-oriented development around Metro stations."

This is typical of the self-defeating arrogance of the "smart growth" folks, starting right with what they call themselves. As we have pointed out, real people live in the communities that the SG types want to change and they call these communities home, not sprawl. There are lots of ways of increasing density and reducing reliance on the car, but cottoning to the greed and Soviet-style esthetics of DC developers is not the right one.

Ward Three was designed around two major streetcar lines - Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenue with a residential thoroughfare - Reno Road - in between. This plan produced some pretty good density - check out the old apartment buildings on Connecticut - but still made it an attractive community.

There is nothing attractive in the sort of buildings being dumped into DC and elsewhere in the name of smart growth. They are ugly manifestations of power without grace.

There are other ways of going about adding density. Better design - in the historic European tradition - is one. Letting people add apartments to their existing homes is another. Adding a story or two of apartments over first floor retail is another. Giving these communities more accessible services rather than just more housing is yet another. And we have suggested that UDC's campus be redesigned as an attractive commercial quadrangle with shops on the first floor and classrooms above.

But dumping more tasteless ten-story boxes is about the dumbest sort of growth you can imagine.

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