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Best way to convince a P+Z Commission?

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I live in a reasonably small town (located in the outer-ring of my city's metropolitan area) growing at a relatively quick rate... 135% at last check. Anyway, the Board of Aldermen and Planning and Zoning Commission are all very concerned about increasing their tax base, attracting major retailers- being used like a high school girl in a miniskirt in the name of big business. They do not seem to be able to exercise self-control and do not seem to realize that land is a finite resource, that adding capacity to roads is not the best solution to traffic congestion, and that gas prices are rising dramatically and that the majority of Americans will not be able to live a car-based lifestyle in the coming decade.

I don't know the best way to explain to them how fast we need to change development patterns. I've thought about doing a few photo essays, strapping a camera to my bike helmet and showing the inconveniences during a pedestrian commute, writing a lengthy letter, writing a series of letters, sending them diagrams and pictures comparing new urbanism and suburban sprawl, and sending them a copy of SmartCode.

I've yet to implement any of my plans, mostly out of intimidation- I'm a fourteen year-old brat and these are adults who make a career out of town planning- I could very well be the ignorant one. I guess I'm looking for more options and affirmation from adults about what sensible ideas would be.

Thanks for the help!


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The pictures are a great idea. Find the places in your town that you like and those that you don't like. Compare and contrast them. Look for character. Make a website. Write letters to the editor. Go to commission meetings. You don't have to talk if you don't want to, but get a feel for the methods.

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