The front page today features a story on the dying trees in the Oak grove transplanted for the new Costco. For a combination of reasons this has seemed like a real failure.
|Front page today|
But rather than being an argument for better balance with both/and, for smarter development and better accommodation for mature trees, critics of the Costco and tree loss seem to argue more one-dimensionally against development.
Meisner believes the gridlock and traffic tied to the shopping center will put children, cyclists and pedestrians in the surrounding neighborhoods at risk. Keeping the trees, she said, was a way to keep some semblance of nature in the neighborhood, contrasting the “behemoth of a box store” that is Costco.
But the traffic and danger from the slightly smaller shopping center tree advocates seemed prepared to accept would not have been very much less. The all-or-nothing nature of the argument here is misleading. With the way Kuebler is built out, any auto-oriented shopping center is going to offer dangers for "children, cyclists and pedestrians." It's matters of degree and quantity, not of radical qualititive difference.
Earlier this month on FB there were several posts featuring suburban greenery. It was likely a response to the heatwave, invoking various expressions of planting in architecture, kitchen gardens, and parkland as the prime antidote to warming. Emotionally it is appealing, and greenery literally cools the urban environment.
|Doing this everywhere = more cars|
But most of the building forms in the associated pictures were single detached dwellings set on large lots. The implied transportation is by car, as things are spaced far enough apart that walking is not convenient. Transit will not be efficient or frequent in those visions.
|On heat islands, autoist development, and trees|
in Willamette Week
As we think about our housing crisis, about our climate crisis, and about development and trees, we need to make sure that the pictorialism of lush greenery and any romanticised notions of urban ecology don't erase our analysis of transportation and greenhouse gas pollution. (See also "We need to Center Autoism in Tree Canopy Conversation and Analysis.")
Better tree protection is great, but if it requires maintaining our autoist urban spacing and reliance on cars, we will take back what we thought to give.
|Proposed amendments - via FB|
Apparently there are some proposed amendments to our tree codes in the works. On the surface they look great, but if the proposed amendments and tree conservation plans actually inhibit new housing, they might have a crypto-NIMBY function, and they deserve careful scrutiny to ensure they strike the right balance of promoting tree canopy while also not curbing new housing for people.