Planner Kevin Klinkenberg has contributed a post today to my site Savannah Unplugged: Savannah as a model for the nation: not 1733, but today. The article has also been cross-posted to his New Urbanism Blog.
From Klinkenberg’s article:
But while the story of Savannah’s past is well-known, what about its present and future? Is Savannah a model for what American cities should aspire to become today and for the near future? And by that I mean not only the landmark historic district, but also the southside, the islands and all of the surrounding area. Sticking strictly to issues of urban planning and design, I propose that Savannah is absolutely a model for the rest of the country for two reasons that are key to issues of our time.
Those two reasons are 1) choice of lifestyle and 2) scale of development. As Kevin notes, we’re seeing a “mini-boom” right now in infill development in Savannah’s historic neighborhoods as well as new homebuilding in suburban areas.
As I watch Atlanta area politics from 250 miles away, it seems like there’s a sometimes-desperate tension between suburban and urban interests. Kevin’s article posits pretty simply that suburban and urban lifestyle choices need not cancel each other out here in Savannah, so why should they cancel each other out in Atlanta or anywhere else? The simple reality is that thriving American metro areas need high quality of life in the cities and in the suburbs. During last year’s T-SPLOST campaign in Savannah, Atlanta, and other cities, there seemed to be a lot of suburbanites who rejected out of hand the priorities of urban residents — and vice versa. Such lack of compromise and understanding will make it hard for us to get anywhere in terms of infrastructure spending, zoning ordinances, and other major public policy issues.
There’s a lot more in Klinkenberg’s article.