Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fancy a barren SLC? You wouldn't be the first

Avenues residents: "I'd prefer a vacant field, thank you very much."
A little dispatch from the Avenues today. For those unfamiliar, the Avenues neighborhood of SLC is
filled with old, restored homes that were built in the early to mid-1900s.
It’s a historic district with tree-lined streets, and while there are some homes built in recent decades, these have generally been carefully integrated into the area's general look and feel (with the help of the historic board). While there are some young renters here, the general setup is a gaggle of successful older people looking to preserve the area (from construction and development, etc) at the expense of pushing people with more moderate incomes to West Jordan and points south. Avenues residents don't necessarily want to push lower-earning people elsewhere (that's just a byproduct), they're just trying preserve their tranquil neighborhood.

Each month this well-to-do neighborhood of SLC puts out a newsletter and it’s filled with all sorts of tasty morsels. The March edition described how the Greater Avenues Community Council has been wanting a community garden for years, but weren't able to find a proper location. Why was it so hard? Well, here's one reason:
In 2007, the committee worked with Salt Lake City to obtain permission to use the vacant field at the top of Lindsey Gardens Park, behind the fire station on 11th Avenue, at the corner of 10th Avenue and M Street. The City agreed to allow the field to be used as a community garden. The committee contacted all the adjoining homeowners to the site. Some homeowners objected to the increased traffic that a community garden would bring to this area and the City then withdrew permission for this site.
So, certain residents were anxious about the radical change a garden would bring to their neighborhood. A garden! That's how far certain residents have gone in terms of their wanting to preserve the status quo. And the worst part is that Salt Lake City actually listened to these people. When one prefers a vacant field to a productive garden (in SLC proper, mind you), you know something has gone wrong with the community. Need I remind readers that when developments like this are pushed elsewhere, we all get a little fatter, poorer, and less productive? Probably not, but the guy who prefers the field should probably hear this. And if this man prefers to live by fields, that's his call, but one simply can't expect that well within an established neighborhood of a capital city.

Note how much driverless vehicles (by Google, say) will help with this dynamic, as eliminating the need for parking around new developments may go a long way to appease NIMBYs. What also might help this dynamic is simply building what you want on your own land. Who says all the neighbors have to consent?

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