February 16, 2005

Walkability Amidst Calif. Suburban Sprawl

"Amid a suburban county's gated communities, three-car garages and megamalls, Santa Ana is a fledgling hub of 'new urbanism,' an increasingly popular antidote to sprawl that promotes dense, walkable neighborhoods where people live, work and play," USA Today reports.

"But it's new urbanism with a twist: Latino new urbanism.

"Advocates of this budding movement suggest that places where Hispanics are fast becoming the majority could help rein in sprawl by capitalizing on Latino cultural preferences for compact neighborhoods, large public places and a sense of community."

Actually, many Europeans also experience what Mario Chavez-Marquez said of his hometown in Mexico: "We had a traditional urban square and plaza where everything is happening." The same can be said not only of Spain, but of Italy, France, and many places in central Europe that are "cafe societies."

An increasing number of Americans, too, want the option of walking places. We want public spaces where the aesthetic as well as safety needs of walkers are on an equal footing with automobiles.

We are tired of ugly "traffic sewers" like Rte. 9 where no one can walk even a quarter mile from one hideous looking, asphalt-moat-surrounded strip mall to another. LET'S START DESIGNING FOR PEDESTRIAN APPEAL.

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