Feb 082010

Wasted Space

Allison Arieff wrote in The New York Times on Wednesday that “[t]here’s a staggering glut of empty space around the country right now…”  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/space-its-still-a-frontier/?th&emc=th She refers not to rural and wilderness lands that almost all of us would like to see preserved, but to abandoned or underused spaces within our towns and cities.

The largest of those are parking lots.  Many shopping centers swim in acres of bleak black asphalt that have not filled with cars since some now forgotten Christmas years ago.  The New Mexico capitol abuts a repellent dead zone that’s useful mostly to legislators for a few weeks each year.  Cars, not stores or apartments, occupy one of downtown Santa Fe’s most desirable lots, at Don Gaspar and Water; the resulting open space, barren though it is, undermines the Plaza a block away.

It’s obviously utterly unrealistic to design or plan as though we were all going to abandon our cars, or even become willing to walk more than a few steps to get to them.  Some of what’s needed is too expensive to hope to get done in this rotten economy–these are not RailRunner days.  But cost effective technologies do exist that could mitigate the ugliness, reduce the environmental damage and let us, the people, use the land for a much larger portion of each year (http://www.paversearch.com/grass-pavers-introduction.htm).

Arieff talks about GIS (geographic information systems) but in many cases we don’t need computer-based data analyses or Google Earth aerial imagery to identify the opportunities.  These are not hidden vacant lots tucked away down obscure little side streets.  We’ve become sadly blind to them, accustomed to the blight, but they’re right here in plain sight, easy to spot, obvious.  Small changes could make a big difference.  All we need is political want-to.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)