22 May 2008

Resident? Guess Again

Maybe it’s the monsoon-like rain. Maybe it’s the brilliant sunshine and clear skies. Maybe it’s the ebb and flow of the weather patterns over the last two weeks. The bottom line is, the Columbia Flier got it terribly wrong this week.

Of course, I am referring to the story, “Building Plans Worry Wilde Lake Residents,” that found itself on the front page of the Columbia Flier this week. After reading the story, one might get the impression that all the residents in Wilde Lake are named Lloyd Knowles.

But let’s not get too crazy here. Lloyd does get his name mentioned six times in the article (cha-ching). The reality; however, is that Lloyd does not live in Wilde Lake. He lives in an out-parcel (non-lien assessed property) in the middle of Harper’s Choice. The truth is, Lloyd and his wife (State Delegate Bobo) own a number of condos in Wilde Lake. I suppose the front page headline “Building Plans Worry Wilde Lake Landlords,” isn't as sexy.

The reality here is that Lloyd made a comment (he did not “testify”) that took up about two minutes of a two-hour event. What the Flier has discounted was many of the comments (that were positive with respect to downtown development) of residents that actually lay their heads on pillows in Wilde Lake.

Let’s hope in the future, there will be some balanced reporting, and maybe a correction next week.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

How does "Building Plans Worry Many Columbia Residents, Wilde Lake Included" sound?

With GGP proposing adding 5,500 residences and 300 hotel rooms and Kimco proposing adding 500 residences, it is interesting to see just who isn't worried about the many impacts they will have on quality of life.

B. Santos said...

Anon 7:12,

Sounds more plausible than what was printed. But dig a little deeper here. GGP has been to many of the Columbia Villages, and has not garnered much news coverage, or many residents. So to say "many" when in reality factually few have turned out, even your title needs a little work.

Tom said...

Lloyd's residence status is old news.

Anonymous said...

from the article: "destroy the ambience of Governor Warfield, which the county has designated as a scenic road, said Knowles"

Can someone please explain to me how a 1/4 mile of a 4-lane highway with a 1/10 of a mile of trees on both sides is creates ambience???

Too often in Columbia, people see the patchwork of trees an believe they are living in the forest or a rustic environment. It may look pretty, but it's not natural, green, or a working ecosystem.

if confused... go for a hike in patapsco...

creating an efficient, clear and working transportation system in Columbia will go a long way in reducing traffic, the amount of time people spend in their cars, and be much greener than the disjointed system we currently have in Columbia.

Anonymous said...

Governor Warfield's woodlands along it and in its median make it scenic. The mature trees stretch over the road and form a cool, shaded climb from North Little Patuxent Parkway up to Twin Rivers Road. While the contiguous wooded area there has been reduced substantially by development between Governor Warfield and the Mall, what remains still is both aesthetic and habitable. It isn't the forest it was, but it does still meet the regulatory definition of forest and, more importantly, serve as a functioning, albeit impaired, ecosystem. Improving its quality, not discarding it altogether, is the right path forward.

Columbia's purposeful network of open space should not be written off as a relief valve for increasing Columbia's density beyond its current zoning.

"creating an efficient, clear and working transportation system in Columbia will go a long way in reducing traffic, the amount of time people spend in their cars, and be much greener than the disjointed system we currently have in Columbia."

Anon 19:40, are you really saying current traffic + adding another 10,000+ car trips per day, lots more intersections, and red lights will "reduce traffic"? I don't think even GGP has made that claim.

Anonymous said...

By most standards (cities of comparable size).. Columbia doesn't have a traffic problem. It does have a problem of un-walkable neighborhoods.

If we truly create a walkable city in the downtown area.... where increased density, development, and planning come together successfully.... lots of people will be able to lose their cars and walk/bike for the majority of their daily activities. Right now, this is impossible in Columbia.

the definition quoted above of a "scenic" roadway is laughable. let's classify the mall as an historical building and "protect" it against future development or modifications. why not.. it's old..

Anonymous said...

"By most standards (cities of comparable size).. Columbia doesn't have a traffic problem."

It's a fallacy to argue that because some communities may have worse traffic that Columbia's current and/or future traffic problems are negated.

Both by regulatory standard (APFO) and by standards traffic engineers use, CLV (critical lane volume) and LOS (level of service) to name a few, as noted in the previous traffic studies of what's being proposed, Columbia does have now, and will have to a far greater extent if increased density is approved, traffic problems. You have read the traffic studies, right?

"It does have a problem of un-walkable neighborhoods.

If we truly create a walkable city in the downtown area.... where increased density, development, and planning come together successfully.... lots of people will be able to lose their cars and walk/bike for the majority of their daily activities. Right now, this is impossible in Columbia."

Impossible? Then we must be surrounded by a lot of superhero extras from an Incredibles movie sequel, because I see people walking and biking within and between villages all the time, using roads, paths, and sidewalks. And the last time I checked, Columbia's defacto Main Street (the Mall) has been very walkable for four decades.

Unfortunately, it appears the pedestrian improvements proposed for elsewhere in Town Center thus far all keep pedestrian and vehicle traffic at the same level, which is a recipe for increased danger with increased density. I still don't get why Town Center doesn't have (and isn't proposed to get either) the most pedestrian overpasses of any Columbia village.

And in case you weren't paying attention, the proposed transportation changes won't result in succesfully meeting today's traffic standards. GGP instead mentioned proposing to weaken APFO traffic intersection congestion restrictions, not just increasing Town Center's traffic to levels permitted in Silver Spring or Rockville, but exceeding even those limits. Won't creating Montgomery County-like city traffic in Town Center be "exciting"?

"the definition quoted above of a "scenic" roadway is laughable."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if the beholder has a greater affinity for asphalt, I doubt anyone's definition of scenic or ambience would suffice. But here, too, you're appearing to make a similarly fallacious comparitive argument. As before where you attempted to negate Columbia's present or future traffic woes by comparing to traffic elsewhere that's worse, in this case you're negating preserving Columbia's nature and scenery because it's somehow unworthy of preservation in comparison to resources elsewhere. It seems you'll use either side of these fallacious comparisons when it's convenient to promote increasing density.

"let's classify the mall as an historical building and "protect" it against future development or modifications. why not.. it's old."

You're obviously being facetious, but in so doing you're missing one of the foremost places where additional development could occur in a green way - on top of the Mall itself.

Anonymous said...

Anon (May 30, 00:13) - you hit the nail right on the head. I couldn't agree with you more! The prior anon commenter, and may other "pro-redevelopment of Town Center" people keep claiming that Columbia is unwalkable in its current state. What a crock of #@$@%&. They are just saying that in the hopes of using it as justification for the increased density. Somehow I don't see how adding 30+ intersection points around the mall will make the Town Center area more walkable. Nor will allowing on street parking all along the new "grid road network". All we would end up with is more people darting in between parallel parked cars, jaywalking, and creating risks for getting hit by cars. If pedestrian safety is their concern, then just ask the County to install a few pedestrian overpass/bridges over LPP and call it a day!

B. Santos said...

Anony-mob,

I take exception with these suggestions that downtown is pedestrian friendly and just a few overpasses would fix the problem. First off, downtown Columbia currently places the needs of automobiles far above the needs of pedestrians. Currently, most of downtown is reserved for at grade asphalt parking. Cars rule these parking lots. Pedestrians, especially those with young children in tow, are not given adequate walkways to travel the parking lots. There have been complaints from those that live in the Evergreen apartments that walking to the mall, just a few hundred feet, is difficult to impossible to accomplish safely. Traffic along Little Patuxent Parkway during morning rush hours zips along at speeds greater than 40 mph. Most other hours of the day, the same occurs.

Downtown is an automobile paradise. During afternoon rush, spill-over from the congested Routes 32 and 29 clog the streets because it is easier to treat downtown Columbia as a speed bump than to sit in traffic on the highway.

These facts combine to present a downtown that most experience through a windshield. I seriously doubt that downtown Columbia was envisioned as a drivers paradise. I believe it was intended to be experienced by people on their own feet.

In order to wrestle downtown away from automobile drivers and make it for people, changes must be made. Yes the automobile must be subjugated. Pedestrians must be given primacy. In order to do this, yes, your precious fossil burning conveyance must be made to wait. It must be slowed down. You must wait.

Overpasses do not subjugate the automobile, it placates the automobile. Parked cars on a street provide a barrier of safety between pedestrians and motor vehicles. Studies have also shown that cars driving next to parallel parked cars slow down. Your supposition that people will be engaging in risky behavior is more a matter of law enforcement and common sense. Are you suggesting that we should allow the auto to dominate downtown because people are inclined to disregard the law? Is the consequence of living in the next american city barbarism?

But look on the bright side, Anony-mob. After taking a few extra minutes arriving in downtown in your living room on wheels, you will then have the ability to get to and from different areas with freedom and safety. You will be able to actually see other people and interact with them because the car door windows that used to separate you (ensconced you?) from each other will be gone.

You will have more things to experience. Those acres of asphalt that you used to hang out in (and thats what you do with all of your automobile friendly parking lots, hang out with your precious cars, right?) will have clubs playing music, and other things going on. Oh how terrible.

And best of all, most of your life will remain exactly the same. You can still live on your cul-de-sac, use the neighborhood bike paths and remain paranoid about places you visit periodically, but not for any significant amount of time.

All I ask is that you stop deluding yourself that downtown Columbia is a paradise of community and culture. I most certainly is not. To be perfectly honest, it may never be. However, moving away from its current design is moving in the right direction. I encourage you to shed your gasoline dependent ways and join in making downtown a better place.

Anonymous said...

Take as much exception as you like, but that doesn't change current facts. People have and do walk and bike to, through, and about Town Center.

"Cars rule these parking lots"

Of course cars 'rule' parking lots - they're meant for parking cars, providing the place of transition from auto to foot. Now that we're beyond the obvious, yes, improvements could certainly be made to parking lots that would make them safer for families with small children. More walkways could be added among the existing surface parking lots' lanes.

To solve the walk from the Evergreen apartments to the Mall, all that is needed is, you guessed it, a pedestrian overpass over the Mall Loop road, connecting to the already existing pedestrian surface walkway extending south to Nordstrom's.

"Downtown is an automobile paradise. During afternoon rush, spill-over from the congested Routes 32 and 29 clog the streets because it is easier to treat downtown Columbia as a speed bump than to sit in traffic on the highway."

Town Center should remain friendly to expeditious auto traffic at the very least until we have a viable transit alternative. If you're currently lamenting Town Center receiving spillover traffic from the highways' afternoon rush hours, then you should know with certainty that adding another 6,000 residences' 10,000+ daily car trips and many red lights will make Town Center's and adjacent villages' traffic all the more worth lamenting.

"These facts combine to present a downtown that most experience through a windshield. I seriously doubt that downtown Columbia was envisioned as a drivers paradise. I believe it was intended to be experienced by people on their own feet."

Anyone who understands Columbia's genesis well knows Columbia's Town Center certainly was envisioned to be friendly to auto traffic, but also friendly to pedestrian traffic, too. We know the proposed increased density will be the opposite of a driver's paradise. And it's a bit misleading to describe having a working road system as just some kind of paradise, when, at times, it's not just a day's commute that's affected, but also the impeding of time-critical patient tranport to the emergency room or police/fire response to any number of crises.

Hopefully you also know that what's been proposed thus far falls far short of a pedestrian's paradise, too. More people = more cars = more traffic, more noise, and more pollution, results that all reduce Town Center's amenability to pedestrians.

"In order to wrestle downtown away from automobile drivers and make it for people, changes must be made. Yes the automobile must be subjugated. Pedestrians must be given primacy. In order to do this, yes, your precious fossil burning conveyance must be made to wait. It must be slowed down. You must wait."

Subjugated to what? Walking? Most people choose not to walk more than a quarter mile. So, until there's an alternative means of transit, people will continue to choose to use cars to get around. If the proposed increased density is approved, you are right - we must wait, because traffic will be congested to the point where we have to wait - a lot. Wait to get to work, wait to shop, wait to get home, wait to get to the hospital, wait for police/fire response to arrive. That's not just my conjecture, that same waiting is predicted by ALL of the recent traffic studies.

"Overpasses do not subjugate the automobile, it placates the automobile. Parked cars on a street provide a barrier of safety between pedestrians and motor vehicles. Studies have also shown that cars driving next to parallel parked cars slow down. Your supposition that people will be engaging in risky behavior is more a matter of law enforcement and common sense."

Overpasses allow pedestrians to safely cross roadways without waiting.

Law enforcement doesn't abate all transgressions and common sense isn't universal. Placing parking adjacent to roads where speeds exceed parking lot speeds puts people, especially those entering and exiting the parked cars, in closer proximity to faster moving cars, resulting both in less reaction time by driver and pedestrian and in greater severity of injury upon impact. Cars parked along roadways also result in decreased visibility of pedestrians about to step into paths of auto travel. I've flown over a car due to its driver not having "common sense". It's not an experience I would describe as vibrant.

"Are you suggesting that we should allow the auto to dominate downtown because people are inclined to disregard the law? Is the consequence of living in the next american city barbarism?"

I'm advocating just the opposite of increasing auto traffic in Town Center. It's the proposal to increase density that will promote auto dominance of Town Center, adding another 10,000+ car trips daily (something that the traffic studies predict), and consuming forest in Symphony Woods and elsewhere, wetlands along Little Patuxent Parkway and elsewhere, and forest and tranquility along and over Lake Kittamuqundi to build lots more auto roadways.

"But look on the bright side, Anony-mob. After taking a few extra minutes arriving in downtown in your living room on wheels, you will then have the ability to get to and from different areas with freedom and safety. You will be able to actually see other people and interact with them because the car door windows that used to separate you (ensconced you?) from each other will be gone."

To typify those opposing the density increase as all being SUV drivers, you're doing your argument a disservice. In fact, my last trip through Town Center was by bike.

Freedom and safety will not arise from another 10,000+ car trips in Town Center, but increased risks certainly will. If you believe those door windows will be gone, then why are the traffic studies still saying there will be 10,000+ additional car trips in Town Center resulting from the increased density?

"You will have more things to experience. Those acres of asphalt that you used to hang out in (and thats what you do with all of your automobile friendly parking lots, hang out with your precious cars, right?) will have clubs playing music, and other things going on. Oh how terrible."

We're all well aware of how many places of interest Columbia has now. There's already lots more than just parking lots. As for getting to some yet-to-be club put where a Town Center parking lot is now, just where would one be able to park? Perhaps miles away at some satellite parking facility as some proposals have mentioned? Drive to the satellite parking garage, pay to park, wait for a bus, get on the bus, pay again, ride the bus, stop and start at multiple stops along the way, arrive in Town Center, walk to club, and then pretty much repeat that process in reverse to go home. Should the convenience that exists now to get to Columbia's many existing facilities be sacrificed because some think we need more people, traffic, and clubs? Club Gridlock has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

"And best of all, most of your life will remain exactly the same. You can still live on your cul-de-sac, use the neighborhood bike paths and remain paranoid about places you visit periodically, but not for any significant amount of time."

Paranoid? Or are you using that word as a synonym for 'literate'? Both what the proposals disclose and don't disclose are causes for concern on many fronts including traffic, safety, environment, tax burdens, and quality of life.

"All I ask is that you stop deluding yourself that downtown Columbia is a paradise of community and culture. I most certainly is not. To be perfectly honest, it may never be. However, moving away from its current design is moving in the right direction. I encourage you to shed your gasoline dependent ways and join in making downtown a better place."

There's no delusion at play here regarding Columbia's plentiful current community and culture. For your invitation to Columbians to forego relying on cars, that's going to be tough when the proposal doesn't provide a viable alternative.

Is moving away from Columbia's current zoning and design that resulted in its being ranked recently as the country's 4th best small city in this drastic a way really the right direction? One sure way to make Town Center better than it is - start with a 30-year plan that will actually work.

B. Santos said...

Anon,

Do we really need to continue this conversation? Your repeated response to many issues raised is "a pedestrian bridge." This brings to my mind a bleak future world (Giedi Prime anyone?) in which downtown Columbia is some auto dominated Venice. Rivers of cars and bridges for people to get from one side to the other.

Really, pick up a planning book written anytime after 1976, it's right there, pedestrian bridges are great for traffic, horrible for people.

Other than your bridge over tomorrowland, you seem to be lacking in plans. I suppose it is really easy to sit in your car and take pot shots at those who actually make plans. I hope you get your plans out, we would love to see them.

JessieX said...

Anony-mob. I like it, Bill.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bill "I'm a patsy for the currernt administration and vociferous group of 30 pro-redevelopment loudmouths who sit on their high horse and call every one who dissents silly names" Santos and Jessiex "i'm a patsy for Bill "....." Santos. You two really showed me the errors of my ways.

By the way, this conversation has more than one Anonymous commenter.

Anon 6/5/08 (22:22) - you are absoultely right again. Mr. Santos castigated me about how law enforcement is needed but yet doesn't have the brains to realize that's exactly part of the problem today. Cars speeding around LPP and creating hazards for pedestrians. BUt, his solution isn't more law enforcement, it's "Let's add on-street parking and 6,000 more residents". That will surely create a cultural mecca out of Town Center.

Bill - if you want culture, add museums and artsy places, and theaters and so on. But, you don't need to add 6,000 residents to add those venues nor do you need those 6,000 residences to make those venues viable.

Your position is all about behvaior control, which is really frightening for those of us who believe in freedom from government control. If you had your way, you'd no doubt outlaw cars, wouldn't you?

I would like to know what studies havae said that on street parallel parking makes roads safer? Sure, you say it slows down drivers - but what if they don't slow down? Can you gurantee that they WILL slow down? Are you going to have police officers at every intersection to dole out tickets for every person who does speed? In fact, on street parking causing "blind spots" where kids (especially) and other pedestrians can dart out unexpectedly into traffic - which is COMPLETELY UNSAFE.

As for your pompous suggestion to read planning books written after 1976, get a life. Planning "trends" shift back and forth every few years, just like fashion. Anybody can write a book and be claimed a so-called "expert" but that doesn't necessarily mean it's true. I don't believe in "trends" I believe in reality and common sense. You should try it!

Why can't you accept an idea (pedestrian bridges) that accommodate BOTH sides of the issue - cars and pedestrians? Are you allergic to pedestrian bridges or something?

Have you ever been to the Avenue at Whitemarsh and seen how "great" on street parking with thousands of pedestrian shoppers mulling about works? Even with cars driving 10 mph, there are frequent "near misses" of someone getting run over. NOT safe.

Come back with some new, realistic ideas Bill, and then maybe someone other Jessie-kiss-ass will support you.

Anonymous said...

PZ Tom! You're back!

Where ya been?

Anonymous said...

Huh? I have to comment "anon" because I don't have a google id. And, by the way, you opened the door with your insults and name calling. I don't even get the "mob" part. You haven't even explained your aversion to pedestrian bridges nor addressed the points I made, nor the points made by the other anon commenter.

Anonymous said...

The names being used aren't merely silly. Labeling people as paranoid is claiming they have a mental disorder. Nor is anything positive added to the discussion by either the unwarrantedly negative and violent 'mob' moniker or equating criticisms of some of the revealed proposal portions' shortcomings to repugnantly violent personal attacks this region saw recently by those who actually did sit in a "car and take pot shots".

An inadvertant poor choice of hyperbole is unfortunate, but when it becomes a pattern, it should rightly be scrutinzed. Has this blog devolved to promoting name calling and character assassination in lieu of rational responses to some of the community's concerns?

Back to the topic..

When you claim Town Center isn't walkable or solvable without adding density (which the studies say will add more traffic), but then cite the walk from the Evergreen Apartments to the Mall as an example of where pedestrian movement doesn't work, of course the obvious solution of a safe pedestrian bridge over the one impediment on that otherwise pedestrian-friendly route will be mentioned.

If a pedestrian bridge solution there for you evokes a Venetian bridge over a river of traffic, then wouldn't adding 10,000+ car trips to Town Center with the proposed density increase produce torrential rivers of traffic? That's not something I'd want anyone to attempt crossing at grade.

Regarding your position that up-to-date planning publications poo-poo pedestrian bridges, you may want to jump forward a few decades beyond 1976. Doing a search for 'grade separation' in this 372-page 2004 Federal DOT best practices safety guide for intersections finds both transportation officials' professional organizations and government agencies still consider pedestrian bridges to be a valid means to improve pedestrian movement and safety.

Perhaps you'd still discount that publication by saying, well, that's only a guide and grade-separated pedestrian passages aren't considered or funded or built. But, in fact, pedestrian bridges and tunnels are being built, both here and abroad, both in discrete applications and as integral parts of forward-thinking sustainable transit networks.

A few examples of modern grade-separated pedestrian crossings:
2000 London Millenium Bridge, which is part of the UK's 5,000 mile national network of cycling/pedestrian routes
1999 Denver Millenium Bridge, which connects to Denver's mile-long 16th Street pedestrian mall
1986 1986 Holzbrücke bei Essing Bridge, which connects to German national bike network
2000 Rogue River Bridge, Grants Pass, Oregon
Monmouth University Pedestrian Tunnel, a 2002 New Jersey DOT Priority Transportation Project
Tucson Broadway/Diamondback Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge, a 2003 ITE Pedestrian Project Award winner
Chicago 11th Street Pedestrian Pridge, a 2004 ITE Pedestrian Project Award winner

And my favorite, which just opened last month, the Kew Gardens Walkway.

When discussing pedestrians crossing traffic, here's what's really horrible for people. I can think of 10,000+ reasons for concern regarding increasing density.

But, let's not get ahead of ourselves - the Charette's participants clearly indicated dramatically increasing Town Center's density wasn't desired. Subsequent studies have repeatedly concluded impacts would be problematic, remedies may be infeasible, and costs could be very substantial.

But even that is still getting ahead of ourselves. Has anyone yet really demonstrated a true need to increase Town Center's density?

Anonymous said...

Dear Bill,

This is PZGURU (I also don't have a google ID - although I tried to use my Wordpress blog id to log in it wouldn't work) and I take issue with you assigning every comment that is critical of your views to me. And how does that even redress the points in the comments being directed at you? If you can't answer them don't go blaming me or smearing me. Got it?

And, for the record, I support pedestrian bridges. But, I'm not the only one...

I would add to the immediately preceding comment, that there are several Pedestrian bridges in Las Vegas that not only provide safe passage over the strip, it also provides excellent vantage points to photograph the scenery and buildings all up and down the strip.


PZGURU

Anonymous said...

Bill,

I guess your silence means you don't even have the decency to offer an apology of any sort. I'm not surprised. It is ironic though how you and other bloggers used to preach about civility and not calling commenters names, and yet that's exactly what you did here. Well done!

PZGURU