January 30, 2005

More Signs Of ‘Smart Growth’ In California

Even in the land of the car, people are starting to understand that auto-centric development -- to the total exclusion of walker-friendly environments -- at some point starts hurting quality of life. Suburban sprawl simply doesn't scale -- and as more areas get developed and sprawl moves ever further from jobs, such as has happened with heavier development around and beyond Rte. 495 in Mass. -- people get tired of sitting in traffic.

"There are signs that the smart-growth message is breaking through in [Coachella V]alley," observes the Desert Sun (Palm Springs). For instance, there are more projects in the works that combine residential and commercial elements to create self-contained communities.

"Increasingly, the aim of city planners and developers is to build areas where people live, shop and mingle without having to drive."

For example, Palm Desert "has zoned its long-undeveloped northern district, known as University Park, to include more high-density housing and pedestrian friendly commercial centers." And in the downtown area, "a mixed-use center - possibly including condos or apartments - is among several ideas being considered to replace the deteriorating Desert Fashion Plaza."

People in the article talk about the need for "a sense of place," where people can live, socialize and walk around as well as shop. Fighting traffic to drive in and out of soul-less strip malls isn't the lifestyle many people want anymore.

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