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krazeeboi

Richland's air is dirty

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The State reports that smog in the Columbia area exceeded federal air pollution standards twice this month, continuing a recent trend that threatens public health and economic growth in the Midlands. Richland County has consistently received an

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The State reports that smog in the Columbia area exceeded federal air pollution standards twice this month, continuing a recent trend that threatens public health and economic growth in the Midlands. Richland County has consistently received an

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This is all the more reason for people to move back into town and live close to work, drive less and walk to local events and shopping.

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Well, the intown school districts had better shore up for one. And even if we want people to live closer to their jobs, we must realize that for many (probably most) metropolitan areas, job creation happens faster on the fringes than in the core. Columbia has around 9M sq ft of office space, and only about half of that is in the CBD. And of course, most industrial space is not in the core. People will never abandon the suburbs; it just ain't gonna happen. So we need to make the suburbs more sustainable and beef up public transit.

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Well, the intown school districts had better shore up for one. And even if we want people to live closer to their jobs, we must realize that for many (probably most) metropolitan areas, job creation happens faster on the fringes than in the core. Columbia has around 9M sq ft of office space, and only about half of that is in the CBD. And of course, most industrial space is not in the core. People will never abandon the suburbs; it just ain't gonna happen. So we need to make the suburbs more sustainable and beef up public transit.

You can't beat Dreher. I just hope it is leaving itself plenty of room to add on to its new building.

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The fact that SC, has eliminated auto inspections and doesn't do emissions testing on vehicles is one of the big problems. The second of course, is continued land use patterns that encourage automobile supported low density development. SC has some of the worst land use planning in the country and the only thing that is saving it from choking in it's own filth is its small relative population. It's only going to get worse.

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The State reports that smog in the Columbia area exceeded federal air pollution standards twice this month, continuing a recent trend that threatens public health and economic growth in the Midlands. Richland County has consistently received an

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SC WILL have to do something about this sooner or later, or Federal Funding will be cut off for highway projects (i think). I thought I remember a date around 2010 when the air would have to meet standards, but I'm honestly not sure.

You guys better get that interstate to Myrtle Beach completed ASAP. All those people in the Great Lakes are going to be so angry if they can't reach the Strand without going under 65mph the whole way.

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Density, mass transit (especially rail), living close to work, etc. etc. are all nice in concept, but in all practicality it's not going to happen to any large extent in our Southern, Sunbelt metro for a variety of economic, social, and cultural reasons.

We need to be both pragmatic and think out of the box. Columbia will almost certainly never have the level of urbanity like Manhattan or San Francisco or even in-town Atlanta to support "classical" urban planning remedies to air pollution.

There are tools, however, that we can use or study to use to help alleviate our mobility and pollution problems:

- Instead of thinking of light rail, which won't be even politically, let alone economically, feasible until our core metro reaches 1 million, let's look at high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, jitneys, and continued tax credits on fuel-efficient vehicles (e.g., hybrids).

- Emissions testing of cars would be a good idea - better to do it before we get slapped as a non-attainment area by the EPA. Southeastern cities' climates unfortunately naturally lend themselves to ozone and other problems (specfically because of heat and wind patterns).

- Let's look at how we build, even on the suburban fringes, parking lots and roofs - these things tend to become heat bubbles (one study said that this heat bubble effect actually raised the average temperature in the Atlanta metro core by 8 degrees F). There are greener pavement and roof techonologies, which can be encouraged through tax credits, etc., that are more environmentally friendly. There is actually a certification for "green buildings", and one of the new USC dorms actually is certified as one.

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Thats a pretty good post all around I think. Though we would be wise to build things ins a more compact and orderly fashion. We build in a new area before the current one is finished being built.

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Thats a pretty good post all around I think. Though we would be wise to build things ins a more compact and orderly fashion. We build in a new area before the current one is finished being built.

I agree that encouraging compact development is desirable (which doesn't necessarily mean "dense" or "urban", merely "sustainable with respect to infrastructure and environment over the long haul").

The problem is that managing sprawl in the Southeastern US is especially challenging due to the following factors:

(1) Land is relatively cheap

(2) Water is relatively cheap (as opposed to, say, Texas and other places out west, where land is cheap but water is not, hence why it can grow as fast but have some sense of semi-dense, orderly development that doesn't leap-frog).

(3) Local governance tends to be or can be relatively weak, ill-informed, or apathetic; In the Southeast, state governments have the most power, followed by counties, and cities/towns are on the bottom of the list. In the north, you have stronger cities, towns, villages, townships, etc. Counties are pretty weak up north (they are practically non-exisitant in terms of power, in say, Massachussetts. Home rule is a newer concept around here, if it is implemented at all (Virginia, for example, will probably never have significantly more than the meager home role laws it currently - so counties and the state will drive issues).

(4) Number (3) becomes more of an issue when:

(a) developers overwhelm local governance

(b) New South/Sunbelt boosterism prioritizes quick growth over orderly/sustainable development

(5) Relatively weak collector/distributor and arterial roads, which are often forgotten about in the rush to build interstates, subdivisions, and shopping centers. You can't just have interstates and cul-de-sacs connected by old two-lane farm-to-market roads laid out decades if not centuries ago. Northern cities tend to have dense, well-developed grid street patterns to diffuse traffic. Some newer areas like Texas have wider feeder roads parallel to interstates which, while not really promoting "beautiful" urban development, is a heck of a lot more efficient in funneling traffic between a wide variety of street types and highways. Hence why you have nightmares of traffic not just on interstates (which are bad as well), but in arterials in semi-dense areas like Perimter Center in Atlanta and Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia; there's been too much emphasis on raw highway capacity and not enough on network-wide ability to efficiently allocate traffic.

(6) A historical, rural-oriented culture that favors spreading out and not having dense, urban development. At worst, there is a certain fear that density will bring about Detroit rather than Greenwich Village on one's doorstep (this is not without some justficiation - with the exception of a few neighborhoods in Atlanta and Charlotte, there was not much experience with truly safe, dense, vibrant urban communities until recently). Whereas in New England even the most rural villages had relatively dense, economically diverse town centers. Cities tended to grow organically out from these initial bases. In the South, most county seats consisted of the courthouse, a few law offices, and maybe a general store or something. With the region developing in the age of the car, there wasn't any real emphasis on growing off the hub of the town/county center - things developed from the beginning along interchanges, etc.

I will say that the "good news" is that sprawl, whatever its demerits, is a certain sign of economic health, in the social, economic, and cultural context of the Southeast US. I would much rather have the sprawl of Greenville, hopefully minimizing its problems as much as possible, over the stagnation of a Marion or Bamberg. My hope is that people, with experience and education, realize that growth-at-any-cost isn't feasible in the long term, and that congestion, pollution, quality-of-life issues, etc. need to be addressed before they get out of hand.

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More and more people and officials are starting to realize that our sprawl patterns are not healthy too. It will take time, but eventually things can and proabbly will change for the better. Sprawl will not go away, but it will change to a more sustainable way of doing things, which is key. People will stil want their plot of land no matter what.

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^And I don't think anything is wrong with that per se. But being forced to drive everywhere is.

The book I'm currently reading (among others) entitled, This Land: The Battle Over Sprawl and the Future of America highlights what some states are doing to promote smart growth. I didn't know that Sanford proposed reducing the acreage requirement for new schools--not exactly a paradigm shift, but definitely progressive. With all of the issues slapping us in the face today, we've gotta get on the boat sooner or later. Richland County councilmembers, take note!

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