Saturday, September 24, 2005

Thinking of Sarasota

WalMart in Sarasota
One Nation Under Wal-Mart. In his irreverent new book, journalist John Dicker reveals the super-high social costs of Wal-Mart's super-low prices.

"You've never been able to get rich working in a store as a clerk, but there used to be more of a middle ground. What you see in retail now is a certain bifurcation. On the high end, you have Whole Foods or Wild Oats, the kind of frou-frou markets where I have a piece of squash on layaway. On the lower end you have Wal-Mart."

Retailing in Sarasota
Architecture, retailing, sense of place, just what we alk about here. The Death of Marshall Fields and the Dissolution of the Sense of Place.

"In the end, if the alternative is to make things available more cheaply and efficiently, unique local character may seem an anachronistic luxury, but its loss is an assault on America's future. Creativity comes, not out of uniformity and constricted choice, but out of the range of possibility that only variety can provide."

Dining in Sarasota
"Next time you are out for dinner on a business trip, you may find that the food on your plate has traveled further than you have. Choosing between the locally farmed chicken or the New Zealand venison from the menu can help the environment."

For instance, while on a business trip to Canada, ordering a steak that has been flown across the Pacific from New Zealand will contribute three kilos of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the environment.

Locally produced fresh food and seasonal produce make environmental and economic sense. Local people are supported and greenhouse gasses are reduced.

Planning for Growth
Best-laid growth plans often just gather dust or can we learn from Idaho (spud country).

Why do plans fail?

1. No money to carry out recommendations. Plans are relatively inexpensive to put together and by their nature encourage visionary or blue-sky scenarios. For instance, this year's $637,000 Downtown Mobility Study called for $100 million in downtown transportation improvements but offered no specifics on how to pay.

2. Leadership and visions change. Short-term governing and long-range planning do not go together. Every two or four years, mayors, council sand commissioners change. But plans are written for 10, 15 and 20 years.

3. The plan isn't enforceable. Good intentions do not get plans implemented. How many city and county officials campaign on a promise to encourage sprawl? [I would add good intentions and citizen input last only until the next election.]

4. Goals are vague or unrealistic. Some [of the]Boise Visions recommendations were specific, like creating a parks and recreation plan. Others were vague, like "develop and maintain public infrastructure in a manner which supports an upwardly mobile population and work force." [Do we have any like this?]

5. Incorrect or poor data. Planning for growth requires accurate growth forecasting — not just how many people are coming, but where they will live and work. [How many luxury condos can downtown support?]

College Master Plans in Sarasota
Maybe some guiding thoughts for New College, RSAD and USF-Sarasota as they contemplate campus master plans.

"A nearly century old plan with ample open space and clusters of academic buildings enlightens the campus plan for a new century.

Inspired by the unrealized 1908 plan for the University of Wisconsin, the planning firm Ayers/Saint/Gross is creating a campus plan for the 21st century. Springboarding from a plan developed during the City Beautiful movement. ASG is expanding and redefining the best elements of university campuses. The new plan will provide an aesthetic framework emphasizing architectural interplay and open spaces within which traditional or contemporary structures may be developed."

Planning in Sarasota
A little something for our Planning Staff to enjoy.

"In Fallen, [David Maine] takes another tack: the technique, almost as old as Methuselah, of telling the story in flashback. The first chapter begins with the aged Cain waiting to die, reflecting on a ghostly visit by his murdered brother.

As in The Preservationist, Maine also tells part of the story through a minor participant in the better-known tale. We get an early look at Cain through the eyes of his son Henoch (spelled Enoch in many versions of the Bible). Cain and Abel are bywords for murderously feuding siblings, but Henoch?

Elaborating on a brief reference in Genesis to one of the world's first settlements, Maine writes that ``Henoch the man had not designed Henoch the city. Cain had done so, from his hidden lair. Henoch had merely carried out his instructions. The boulevards and bazaars and palaces and plazas were all Cain's doing.''

The idea is intriguing: Cain, the murderer doomed by God's mark on his face to be shunned by all humanity, as the world's first urban planner."

Taxing in Sarasota
The SHT has a great graphical tool for checking your neighbors' taxes. Go to this site and click on the map. Zoom in to street level and you can click on the colored dots to see property valuations and taxes.


Sarasota Secret Society Blogger said...

I agree. Let's get rid of Wal-Mart. Most economist agree that their elimination would only increase retail sales prices by roughly 20%. We'll take care of the burden it creates on the lower-income folks by giving developers a 40% density bonus instead of the 20% under consideration.

There's no free lunch.

Bud said...

This is a facinating local Blog. Glad I found it. I'll be back often.