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AronG's Achievements


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  1. It's still only halfway through, but it's been incredible to watch the steady progress over the last 5 years on envision cayce. Feels like restaurant/market/mixed use areas is the one big thing that's missing from forming it all into a cohesive neighborhood, so here's hoping that starts to fill in.
  2. I've never managed to fully understand all the incentives and requirements buried in the UDO vs. the SP vs. the base zoning, but the results are sadly clear lately. Instead of harnessing the new development interest along Main St/Gallatin/Dickerson to add amenities and improvements that lay in the new density in ways that make the areas more pleasant, walkable, transit-friendly, and lively, we're making it easiest for developers to just cram in more car-focused development. So instead of thriving pedestrian districts with human-focused streetscapes, we're getting drive-throughs, gas stations, and parking garages, often fronting the corridor with long stretches of pedestrian dead space. I'm always optimistic that one day the tide will turn, but it's a sad failure of city planning that we're seeing these patterns this close to downtown. Each one locks us into the current dead end a little harder, ensuring most people will continue to have little choice but to drive everywhere they go, and we can all look forward to more traffic and an even more pedestrian-hostile streets.
  3. This drives me absolutely crazy, and it absolutely turns most of the planning conversations in this city around pedestrian/bike infrastructure into some kind of stupid pointless ritual. This is not a bike lane. It is not any kind of bike thing. Riding a bike here would be suicidal. No-one does it, and no-one is ever going to do it. Any idiot that drives the cloverleaf to take a look at this, or even glances at it on a map, knows that. They might as well have painted a picture of a kid in the middle of the interstate and called it a new playground, it would make as much sense. I have no idea who is responsible for this absurd creation or what bureaucratic rule motivated them to do it, but I assume it's a dim relic of the past. The infuriating thing about it is, why in the name of all that is holy are planning people still drawing maps pretending like this is part of a bike network? Not only is it not a bike lane, it's the opposite of a bike lane. It's a complete, impassable obstacle to anybody on foot/bike trying to get between, say, the east bank, and McFerrin Park, a neighborhood with lots of cool stuff that people might like to frequent without driving. This isn't some isolated example, either. The vast majority of the planning conversations on bike networks around here use utterly delusional maps. The green lines on this map would make you think that we have an existing bike network to tap into and extend. The reality is, we have only small, isolated stretches of actual, safe bike lanes that anyone other than a hardened road warrior would use. Just in this one section, I see Dickerson, Spring St, and Main St included as "existing bike lanes", each of which is completely delusional. And at a quick glance, some of the dotted blue "proposed bike lanes" don't make sense either. Why does this map show a proposed bike lane leading through the cloverleaf and onto Ellington? It's like some kind of joke. "The new neighborhood is going to have great connectivity; here's a new bike lane to get on the interstate!" (?!?) Maybe they're gonna stencil little bicycle pictures onto Ellington and add it to the "bikeway network" too... For me, I've tried to participate in the Nashville planning process for years, and it's getting hard to play along any more. I've never been able to tell if the planning people are well-intentioned and incompetent on this topic, or if they're just wearily going through the motions to provide a nice greenwashed photo op before we sink a few more hundreds of millions into infrastructure for suburban commuters. I wish organizations like Nashville walk and bike would call them out more, or at least be more public about what we actually have to work with right now. A realistic map of Nashville from a pedestrian/bike perspective would show a city of islands, connected by a few dangerous corridors that allow the brave or desperate to risk their lives crossing between them. If you've tried to get around this city outside a car, you know this very viscerally, but no one in planning seems able to acknowledge it. The best hope for the East Bank is to create a traffic-calmed island with the density and mix of uses to have good internal foot traffic, and to pick a few corridors in and out and make drastic improvements to enable safe non-car connections to surrounding neighborhoods.
  4. Sure wish they would make something public about what they're planning with this spine road. They're calling it a new arterial, and between that and the material CM Mendes posted (https://www.mendesfornashville.com/news/transparency) regarding their partnership with the state, it's starting to look pretty likely they're going to run the same old playbook and talk a lot about "multimodal" while they build a road that's 95% designed around high-throughput capacity for interstate commuters. You can't make a road like that pedestrian-friendly just by sprinkling some amenities on the side. I think about this every time I play frogger to get across KVB and 1st. If we build the east bank with infrastructure that's focused on removing all friction for interstate commuters, that's what the developers are going to build for. And once it's built out with giant parking garages everywhere, it's going to be a lot harder to change patterns. If they go a different route and put in infrastructure that doesn't maximize vehicles-per-minute, but focuses on people instead, the new district can grow to fit.
  5. Is the city planning any improvements to the greenway in conjunction with this project? Seems like this project could be an incredible new anchor that could draw a significant amount of foot/bike traffic onto the greenway, except it's so run-down and unpleasant right now... Holding out hope the developer is going to try to get some improvements to get more of an ATL/beltline vibe...
  6. Thanks for the response Brett. Your historical context is always interesting, but as ever, I feel like something simple keeps being made more complicated. The historical plight of women, renting vs owning, indoor vs outdoor plumbing, etc. all add interesting color, but are unrelated to the very basic fact that historically, houses were converted to townhomes as demand rose. Townhomes were converted to flats, flats into mid-rises, etc. Supply increased organically to meet demand. The rising price of land was shared across more homes. In our neighborhoods today, that is just not allowed. The only thing we do allow is to buy houses and turn them into bigger and more expensive houses. So that's what we get. I'm not sure why you would hold up District 5 as a counter-example. The majority of District 5 is, as you mentioned, base-zoned for single family detached housing (RS5, etc.). This isn't about historical rules that dictate style and materials. It's about whether you are legally allowed to put more homes on a given piece of land. In Lockeland 50' x 150' lots (empty ones, post-tornado) are going for $500K+. Historically, a developer would have looked at that kind of demand and easily made the call to put four townhomes, or eight flats. Their motivation would obviously be to make more money, but the result would be more housing with more families, at a lower price point, instead of depopulation. There's a building like that near me behind the church on 17th & Fatherland. Or somebody just posted on twitter the other day the nice old 1930 12-apartment building below on Russell St. If we didn't lock down our neighborhoods now to make this kind of thing impossible, is there any debate that these would be dotted all over the place? If they were, we'd have some much-needed diversity of housing options in our neighborhood for those that can't afford a $ million house. And instead of depopulating, resegregating, and becoming rich enclaves, our inner neighborhoods would be evolving , gaining population, and more inclusively sharing the highly sought-after benefits and opportunities of living in an inner neighborhood with easy access to a thriving metropolitan city center in the modern economy. You can straw man me as some kind of deluded, rosy, pro-outhouse density-ophile if you like. I'm sure the conversation is tiresome, and I should probably shut up about it. But I keep sitting on the front row watching as our inner neighborhoods are reserved for an ever smaller, richer slice of the population. And it seems worth debating.
  7. My whole point was that scenarios like CD5 are not caused by "gentrification" though. They're caused by zoning restrictions, which funnel development towards high-$ renovations instead of adding housing. Pre-zoning (roughly 1920s), neighborhoods "gentrified" without depopulating, because builders added housing gradually as demand grew. Now we turn high-demand inner neighborhoods into rich enclaves which are inaccessible to young families and gradually depopulate. Meanwhile we allow new housing only on the unpleasant corridors, which take a while to make up the difference with young professionals.
  8. This mentality drives me crazy. "Gentrification" doesn't lead to larger houses with fewer occupants. Restricting development so that the only option is to upgrade older, smaller houses into lux 4,000 sq ft, million-dollar mansions does. And when it comes to parking-driven development, we do have the option, via infrastructure and zoning, to channel dense development towards transit, and walkable neighborhoods. Or we can keep pushing it towards pedestrian-hostile interstates and highways. It's not some mysterious, unsolvable problem. It just takes some effort to start shifting the mentality. Maybe some future generation will care enough to do it.
  9. Ugg, are we still dumb enough to keep painting "bike lanes" squeezed in between fast-moving traffic and parallel parked cars? There's like a million people trying to get around this city on bikes and scooters, but no-one is ever going to use these, because they're a death trap. It's like design 101 to move the bike lane inside the parallel parking. 1000% safer for all concerned, and people will actually use them.
  10. Rooting for Brett on this one too, but I have to respectfully disagree that "design accountability and an opportunity for Public discourse" have anything to do with what made East Nashville special. At least as it pertains to the built environment, almost everything that's great about East Nashville pre-dates the era when it became normal for John Q Public to weigh in on every decision that somebody makes before they build on their property. Neighborhoods like Five Points, McFerrin, Lockeland, Cleveland Park, etc. are special, and are highly sought-after because they were built out in the old style, before our urban design was reworked around cars. They're built in walkable street grids with sidewalks (mostly), and various types of residential and commercial uses interspersed together so that you don't have to walk a mile to get to a restaurant or market, and people can interact easily with less friction. I love reading about the old neighborhood; here's a great history (https://lockelandsprings.org/lockeland-history/) from an early resident of Lockeland mentioning a broom factory at 16th & Boscobel, and a cigar factory at 19th & Lillian. It was a blue collar neighborhood then, friendly to people experimenting with what they could fund and build on their property. If you tried to build out an area like Five Points today with our public feedback as it is, you wouldn't get the good stuff like 3 Crow, Cumberland Hardware, 5P Pizza, etc. in a dense row (possible because they were built for people, not cars). You'd get big parking lots with tiny buildings. You'd get lots of lanes to allow traffic to move quickly, and correspondingly dangerous crosswalks. With enough funding you might be able to push for a very restricted amount of hotel/residential units, which would necessarily target the very top of the market. I get that people like to be heard, but almost every public feedback meeting I've been to devolves into the same predictable complaints, and they are objectively terrible criteria for urban design. Why does anything have to change? What are you going to do to make sure there's enough parking? Are the roads even big enough to handle this much traffic? Why don't you just build something with much lower density? None of these are beneficial or contribute to the special-ness of East Nashville in the slightest. On the contrary, every time developers update their plans based on those criteria (or cancel them), we get less special. We get more Cool Springs suburban-style development: soul-destroying wastelands of car-centric strip malls, fast food chains, and income-stratified residential developments. Maybe I've just been to the wrong meetings, but I would love to know there are examples of actual constructive public feedback that resulted in a better end product. Instead it's almost all depressingly unconstructive sniping, which our politicians hear and respond to, and developers factor into their plans and price tags, and we're all worse off for.
  11. The framing of the Tennessean article ("developers cheering", etc.) plays to the worst elements of our public feedback process. We have plenty of people that want to believe there's an option to pause everything and preserve the neighborhood in amber, and this kind of thing tees them up to get blindly angry about the decision in front of us without stopping to understand it at all. The reality is, as long as Nashville's star continues to rise, demand for this neighborhood is only going to keep growing, and nothing is going to stop developers from pouring money in to meet that demand. Our zoning certainly shapes how and where they apply those resources, but there is no option to stop everything and preserve the neighborhood with no changes. We can incentivize good development that will result in a pleasant neighborhood, or we can incentivize poor development and live with the results. Neither option is going to save Fond Object though. Right now most residential zoning in the neighborhood is ridiculously restrictive. The result is that developers pour money into gutting & rebuilding the few available houses for the ultra-wealthy, gradually pushing out the middle class, and now the upper middle class. That's why we get to listen to The Promise making us all squirm because the local elementary school is 96% white. When you have to be a millionaire to afford to live within 10 blocks, that's what happens. It's depressing to hear everybody contort themselves trying to come up with ways to plaster over that problem without addressing the root cause. Allow more housing! (Or I guess admit that resegregation is an unfortunate but acceptable consequence of our desired restrictions.) Now we have to make a decision about Five Points, and it looks like it's getting caught up in the same kneejerk resistance. What's sad about it is that it's our process that's broken. Taking every single development decision to public meetings for review and assent is an absolute recipe to bring out the cranks and the haters who love to exercise that veto power. 90% of the neighborhood lives here because it's walkable and has local shops and restaurants and great neighbors, and they would love the results of mixed use development of the RM20 variety. But they're leading busy lives, not monitoring every development so they can show up to all these meetings and provide counterweight to the regular protestors. So a small section of loud angry voices dominate the feedback process, and we get a crap result like a dozen bland condos planted smack in the middle of Five Points. This update is, in my opinion, a conservative effort to update a small area of our zoning into something that makes more sense. But it will 100% result in a wildly better Five Points in 10 or 20 years than reversion to crappy 80s-style commercial zoning, if it happens. So here's hoping you get it through Brett. I'm sure you'll be exhausted if you do, but we have many other neighborhood centers that are crying out for something similar.
  12. Love the genre of drivers chiding dead pedestrians for their "illegal" behavior when we've built a system that would necessitate a half mile hike just to cross the street. I see people every day take insane risks in their cars to shave a few seconds off their commute, but sure, let's put the blame on someone who didn't want to add 10 minutes to their trip home to travel 50 feet *and died for it*. Once you notice the weird terminology we use for these (i.e. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/01/14/six-ways-the-media-is-still-blaming-the-victim/) it's hard to ignore. An entire framework we've built just to avoid assigning any culpability or responsibility for a system that results in the violent death and injury of hundreds of thousands of people every year.
  13. Wow. One story!?! Well I am truly sorry to hear that. We have so much to be thankful for in this neighborhood, so much history and creativity around us, so much interest and energy to channel into positive development. Instead, many of these meetings are dominated by people who show up with a lot of bottled up fear and anger. The current Edgefield group seems like an example of that category. I don't know how you deal with it. There are plenty of people in the neighborhood with a more optimistic outlook, and with actual constructive feedback on how to channel the development energy. Most of them don't have the time or motivation to show up to all of these meetings, but we'd all be a lot better off if we could find a way to encourage and focus more on that type of feedback and less on the pitchfork mob. Barring that, I hope some semblance of sanity can be preserved for this property. That intersection has evolved a lot over the last few years. 10th St felt like a drag strip there before the "Shoppes" were built and the stop sign was put in. Now it feels like a decent project here along with some street improvements could really extend the walkable fabric of the neighborhood. Here's hoping... Thanks for your efforts, as always.
  14. Doubt if I'll make it to the meetings, but I'm further down on Fatherland, and my feedback is that R8 is way under-zoned for S 10th (or 11th, or a lot of the area within a few blocks of 5 points). We have less and less diversity of price point in this neighborhood every year (remodels in Edgefield are listing for north of a million $ now!), and the only way to do anything about that when demand is this high is to let the density increase from these old R6/R8 lots to encourage a lot more townhome-style developments, which are currently stifled by processes like these gauntlets of public hearings before anyone can plan anything. If they're gonna go commercial instead of residential it will still be a big amenity for the neighborhood *if* it's built to fit into the overall walking district (i.e. doesn't have a bunch of parking to solicit traffic from outside the neighborhood etc.). Speaking of which, can this project be used to bring forward some of the improvements to 10th St? Either a bike lane, or calm the traffic by going down to one travel lane all the way from Shelby to Main, bulb out the curbs so drivers will slow down as they come around the corners, better crosswalks, etc. Thanks for your efforts Brett.
  15. Isn't that kind of the point of having a council person though? To represent district priorities to the administration and call out the metro bureaucracy when it's falling short? I try to "lean" on public works and the mayor, but the difference in an individual citizen and a representative of a district is pretty stark.
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