So you may have heard that people are freaking out at the concept of allowing (not requiring) higher density around mass-transit stations. There’s plenty of other smart people who have covered the issue in great detail, but the overall conversation has reminded me of something I’ve wanted to write about for a long time.
We live in a city, and a pretty good one as cities go. There’s certain things that go along with living in the city, and I’ve tried to boil them down to a list of things that are fair and not fair to expect.
You have a right to:
- Live in the city, which is culturally, demographically, and environmentally different than suburbs and towns.
- Easily walk or bike anywhere in the city, including for short distances to take care of things in your daily life such as food, drink, basic goods, and entertainment
- Be within useable distance of rapid transit that will quickly get you to your job and back, and to other popular destinations in the city
- Be safe in your person and property, regardless of whether you live in a nice or not-quite-yet-nice part of town.
- Take advantage of the cultural and entertainment options that a city provides, including live music, theater, art, and tasty dining.
- See a lot of changes, because living, thriving cities will always be changing.
- Be accommodating of new people who want to move to the city and take advantage of all the things you enjoy about it. This will mean that the city will get more crowded.
- An affordable place to live. Note that affordable will increasingly mean small.
- Pay more taxes in a city in order to pay for services that keep you safe, that keep you moving, that keep your kids educated, and that give a hand up to your less fortunate neighbors.
- A generous amount of free public space where you and your neighbors can go and enjoy the outdoors
If you live in a city, you DO NOT have a right to:
- Demand that any part of the city will forever retain the look, feel, or amount of space that you find in the suburbs.
- Implement laws and regulations that stifle the life of the city in an effort to try and keep it the same as when you first moved here.
- Close the walls of the city and prevent other people from moving in and enjoying it with you. New people bring new ideas, new opportunities, new business, and new culture to you. This is a good thing, so make room for them.
- A large house or a substantial yard. Those will always be expensive and increasingly rare in a city.
- Restrict other people’s transit options to slow, crowded buses.
- Travel in a car at speeds above 30mph or without stops through any part of the city. Note that this means it will take an increasingly long time to drive anywhere.
- Free parking anywhere, including the spot on the street in front of your house. You also do not have the right to insist that someone else build a garage to preserve your easy access to on-street parking.
- A guarantee of a view or to full sunlight onto your property throughout the year.
- The peace and quiet of a farm, the forest, or other places that aren’t cities. Living cities make noise. Get used to it.
- Endlessly complain about how great things were before [insert new group here] moved in
Cities are great, but they’re not for everyone. Things will change whether you like it or not. Enjoy it, and let’s figure out smart ways to accommodate growth around here. Transit stations are the right place to start.
The discussion will continue next Wednesday at Langston Hughes.