Another good piece in the News and Review today around families and the growth we are seeing in the central city.
The premise is around the need for more affordable family housing in the city. I think we all know that is a major need. Uneasy Rhetoric has commented many times on the need for this.
Part of the problem, along with price, I think we see is that people still fall under the mentality of not raising children in a city, but in the suburbs. I think we are slowly starting to see that change, but is it enough to shift the market so developers see a reasonable size demand for this product?...at a reasonable price.
I'm sure subsidies will do the trick, but is there another way to accomplish the goal? My guess is Yes. Will policy's and ordnances work? It worked for Vancouver, but would it work here? Not sure.
Also on my mind, I still think many are still only considering downtown the Central Business District. There are many many neighborhoods that surround the JKL area that I feel most people don't consider. The place we choose to live has 3 parks in all directions within a 5 minute walk which suits us well for our family. The school my kids will attend is a short car ride, or a reasonable walk, many preschool and children learning centers for toddlers, with some children theatres, with the Unity Center and Chidrens Museum down the road. Lot of stuff in the immediate area for kids.
The "Living First" (Excellent read) from Vancouver the writer mentions seems to revolve around a lot of very solid principles a couple of which really stuck my eye.
"The first principle has been to limit commuter access into downtown and let congestion be an ally in a householdÂs profound first decision to live downtown or in the suburbs."
Well if a traffic problem is one key to getting people to move downtown, we are on our way. The problem is our public transit is behind Vancouver. In addition to that, Sacramento and really most other cites in California and the US tend to use transportation money that seems to promote more use of the auto, versus mass transit. Why else would still not have our DNA line, Intermodal or just now start looking at Streetcars?
"Another basic principle has been to develop a complete neighborhood unit at a pedestrian scale with mixed use, an infrastructure of necessary utilities and amenities, an associated local commercial high street, and phasing to make ancillary amenities available as people move in and need them. It was necessary to include what sociologists call the essential Âthird places,Â after home and work, where people gather to create the tangible society of their neighborhood."
This is an area I think we are moving solidly into this around the midtown area. The infill we are seeing all over the place from the large 18th and L and L Street Lofts projects, the East End Gateway and Crystal Ice, to the small 4 or 6 unit infill at S and 20thish that will include a neighborhood bistro in an area with relatively no gathering points for many blocks, are all creating the "third places" that is mentioned.
The CBD of Downtown still has yet in my mind to really define it's "third places". K Street I think will be a citywide third place, but beyond a place like Temple I think is still to be defined and will be happen based on where high densities of people are placed.
The one criticism I have seen of the "Living First" is that Vancouver is running out of office tower sites that condo towers have taken, thus creating a potential for jobs to move out of the downtown area.
Live, Work, and Play...they all need to go together. I think Sacramento has quite some time before they need to really worry about a shortage of sites though.
I have no doubt in my mind Sacramento is on it's way, but this just shows you how far we truly have to go to really get there. My hope is over the next 10-15 years we can start seeing other cities use some 'principles' from Sacramento.
Planning beyond Portland
By Dave O'Toole
The residential future of downtown Sacramento--like the view from the top of the emerging 53-story ÂTowers on Capitol MallÂ--is likely to astound the beholder. With 20,000 housing units planned or under construction, glamorous residences like the Towers are only the beginning. City Manager Ray Kerridge recently predicted that 60 residential and commercial high rises could be developed downtown over the next 10 to 15 years.
However, unless a truly compelling and inclusive housing vision is adopted, Sacramento may be headed for the downtown destiny of cities like Seattle, San Francisco and Portland: a largely childless, family-unfriendly urban core.
One of our most cited urban examples is Portland, a city whose jewel of redevelopment, the Pearl District, has been tarnished by a major oversight in design and affordability: the near absence of children. In that neighborhood there are, according to news reports, only a few dozen school-aged children among 6,400 units of housing.
This matters because families are an essential thread in a stable and long-term community fabric. Families with children tend to be active in preserving the safety, appearance and amenities of their community. Sadly, many prospective parents downtown feel forced to move out to suburbs to raise a family. They shouldnÂt have to relocate.
Vancouver, British Columbia, presents an innovative alternative. In Vancouver, a "Living First" A housing policy led to an unprecedented urban residential transformation that, among other things, required that at least 20 percent of new housing units be affordable, and that 25 percent be designed for families. Additionally, Vancouver created fiscal incentives for developers to build whole neighborhoods where families would be accommodated with schools, child-care facilities, recreation and other amenities.
Vancouver has transformed popular notions about density, urban-housing design and the role of families in populating a city. It now boasts a broad demographic cross-section of more than 20 percent of its population living in the downtown core (SacramentoÂs share is less than 4 percent) and recently has been named the most livable city in the world.
Portland and other attractive urban models also signal a warning for SacramentoÂs downtown residential future. For a more compelling and inclusive model, our city should look north to Vancouver and pursue ÂLiving FirstÂ principles as a key component to shaping our downtown destiny.