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Susan Brooks

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How do we fix the sprawl?

I'm from Houston. Actually, just outside Houston, but near enough to it to make my point. I live in the suburbs. My city is very spawled. Once a city has already been built around the need of a car, how would/could that town "fix" the infrastructure to allow it to be more walkable? What's the first step? Who do I need to talk to in my local government to try to get these changes made?

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    Oct 31 2013: Doing nothing is not how we got to this point, and so far, the zoning laws haven't really elicited any personal freedom protests. Design, be it central overall design, or incremental additions and evolution of laws and permits design is what got it to this point.

    Walkable cities is an excellent idea, not only for oil dependency reasons, it's also great because of habitat destruction and to alleviate the problem of disconnected habitat islands. From the human perspective, it's great for children to grow up being able to independently meet with other children, adults to run into adults without planning and making appointments, and for seniors to be able to meet other seniors without being isolated from everyone else in specialty facilities. Walkable cities are excellent for humans to integrate with the whole spectrum of other humans and be our natural social animal selves.

    We don't have to wait for transportation to become unaffordable as Michael suggests, although it is already happening. Some excellent suggestions for action have been suggested by Kieth, Lee, Robin and Colleen. As Christopher states, it can be done by local politics. I'd add a suggestion to keep an eye out for permit applications and tenders to find specific instances to either protest or support. Also, if you live within the area that could feasibly become more developed, then I suggest neighborhood meetings with the idea of investing in apartment or condo development.
    • Oct 31 2013: We have no zoning here in Houston and every time it is put on the ballot it is voted down. That can be considered a protest against zoning laws. Houston isn't without its problems, but what problems we do have are generally no worse than other large towns. Therefore, it can be argued that a lack of central planning is not a hindrance to the success of a city. If central planning is unnecessary then it is a waste of resources at a minimum.

      If people wanted to live in walkable cities as a general rule then walkable cities is what we'd have as a general rule. As it is, I suggest you leave people to live their lives the way they see fit.
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        Nov 2 2013: Robert,
        When I first read your comment..."no zoning here in Houston", I thought.....that can't be true!!! So I checked it out, and learned that Houston is the only major U.S. city with no formal zoning codes....amazing!!!

        Houston does, however, have development regulations, and in reading them, it appears that they are similar to zoning in many respects. Houston also has a planning and development board, so there is some oversight. So, it appears that Houston is not totally without "central planning" of some kind.

        Even with zoning regulations and/or some kind of central planning, it is possible for people to live their lives the way they see fit...there are still individual choices. For example, we have zoning and planning regulations in Vt., and there are still lots of people living in the way they choose....building their own preferred type of home outside designated growth centers, off the grid, etc.

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