A practical and economic way in addressing climate change and urban sprawl is making cities walkable.

economics

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Discussion: Land Use Economics & Prompt

 

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 A practical and economic way in addressing climate change and urban sprawl is making cities walkable. This involves increasing dedicated bike lanes, increasing sidewalks/walking paths, and adding natural amenities such as trees, and drought-tolerant plants such as succulents, etc. Creating a walkable city promotes a higher quality of life while decreasing carbon pollution of vehicles on the roads. An easy way this can be funded are through state grants, philanthropy, and development impact fees. Another tactic used by cities/counties to address climate change is adopting a “Going Green” master plan which involves replacing carbon-pollutant vehicles with electric and/or hybrid vehicles, installing solar panels in parking lots/parking structures, collaborating with utility companies to change out standard light bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs, and promoting green energy initiatives to small business owners and developers. Furthermore, cities have received state/federal grants to purchase water efficiency products to distribute to residents such as shower heads and toilets. With that, cities/special districts also have given rebates to residents who’ve purchased water efficient appliances, artificial grass installations, and solar power installations. Also, certain cities will allow electric/hybrid vehicles to park at parking meters or other paid parking locations for free. To that end, certain cities provide charging stations for electric vehicle users for free as well. Charging stations can be paid by cities directly but is usually more cost effective to have a private/public partnership to jointly cover the cost. I’m aware there are cities who will require the developer of a project to incorporate charging stations, solar power, and other green energy technologies to be consistent green energy ordinances passed by city councils.

            Sprawl is a big deal. In my hometown, we passed Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) ordinances to block cities/county from developing on the green belt. There was a lot of controversary but was mitigated by allowing cities to develop a certain amount of affordable housing only and allowing school district to build schools. Residents, such as I, were concerned if cities/county developed all the ag land by building malls and homes, the quality of life in cities impacted would be decimated. Having grew up behind strawberry fields, this was bad. The developers came in saying they would offer millions of dollars for city enhancements and community projects. For the most part, residents said no to sprawl and voted to keep SOAR in place until 2050. Cities recognize the need for more homes. Cities also understand there are impacts to municipal service levels when populations increase. The question is who pays in order to guarantee new residents receive water, sewage, trash, and public safety services? Developers can pay for landscape maintenance, streets, easements, fire station, and/or police sub-station but what about ongoing labor/infrastructure costs? It’s been my experience cities usually absorb the expense. A problem I see cities get into when absorbing additional strains on city services is the staff’s inability to provide services due to lack of resources/personnel and aging infrastructure.      

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