The Piercing Truth

This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes

Jul 29, 2008

Form Over Function

Form Based Code... the name pretty much says it all. It's a building code whose major objective is to transform the area to which it is applied into a little slice of urbanism and The Almighty Alcalde, the City of Albuquerque Planning Department and a group of councilors led by Comrade, uh... Councilor Benton are doing everything within their power to make the Albuquerque of tomorrow an urban utopia.

So what are we talking about? An urban utopia resembles cities like New York and Downtown Chicago. They're based on walking, mass transit, and mixed use. In other words, lots of people in a small space, with high crime, high rent, high taxes, and every kind of pollution known to man, all in the name of reducing our carbon footprint. The truth is ordinary people have been leaving urban areas as soon as they could afford to for over 200 years. For most people, the American Dream is not a 600 square foot efficiency next to 250 of their closest friends.
The establishment of the Form Based Code zones is consistent with the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the City. The land use patterns realized by the Form Based Code will play an important role in improving Albuquerque’s social and economic quality of life. The new development pattern guided by the Form Based Code zones will reduce dependency on cars, increase opportunities to be physically active, and improve air quality by reducing hazardous vehicle emissions, currently the second largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in New Mexico. [emphasis added]
The Form Based Code places form above function. Current zoning sets rules for use. For example a factory can't be built next to your R-1 Northeast Heights home. In a FBC zone, there are few restrictions on what types of businesses and residences can be located in the zone. Zero lot lines and alleys are encouraged. In other words, all kinds of business and residential uses crammed into one small area - the only prerequisite being that the form is correct.

What they're saying is that if a development looks right and promotes the agenda of the planning department and the EPC then build it. Of course the agenda of any government agency is hard to predict and there's nothing more subjective than aesthetics.

Under the FBC there are no clear cut guidelines on what can be built where and developments are held hostage to a set of unpredictable arbitrary guidelines that can change with the political wind. The surest way to stifle economic growth and business development is to make the costs associated with investment unpredictable.

Albuquerque is a suburban city. Its growth was largely shaped and driven by the market place. That means all of us making buying decisions based on our personal wants and needs. Albuquerque is the result of the choices of her citizens. In the past, the city has concentrated on providing the infrastructure that supports these decisions. With the Form Based Code, the city is attempting to dictate these decisions. In short, another form of power is transferred from the consumer to the government and we all lose one more choice, one more freedom.

Advocates of the plan often called New Urbanism, will tell you that the FBC will make you healthier, more moral, and even allow you to save the planet. In reality, they're foisting their idea of utopia upon everyone and the dirty little secret is - every last one of the developments envisioned by the FBC could be built today. Yep... every one.

Life is filled with gray areas. Our zoning code shouldn't be one of them. It should be simple, easy to understand, and predictable. We don't need another layer added to our zoning code, one that is arbitrary, subjective, and most of all unnecessary.


Anonymous said...

What a load of bullshit. Albuquerque has historically subsidized the unsustainable suburban lifestyle by using city taxes to build infrastructure out to ridiculous cookie cutter developments. Now the people who took that government largess as their due are going to bitch that the city is going to put some small amount of money into making the city core more livable? What do you care, as long as the city continues spending completely undue resources protecting your precious identical McMansions in the Northeast Heights from the depredations of petty vandals while ignoring property crime in the SE and SW quadrants?

I love how all the people who've spent the last 40 years sucking on the government teat in the form of electrical, sewage, water, and transportation infrastructure provided for them free of charge are now outraged that their ridiculously long commutes from their idiotic suburbs are now costing them too much money because of gasoline prices. But heaven forbid the city try to spend some money on improving the actual city and not wasting it on your silly developments that keep your precious daughters safe from those scary brown people. By the way, you're still being massively, massively subsidized. Does that make you feel better?

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, I'm so happy I moved from Albuquerque and I never voted for any of them. I hope we remember this all when the midget runs for Mayor again.

Anonymous said...

If the FBC does lead to very dense housing at the city core exactly who do you think will buy it? We will have new high dollar properties in a densely packed area and a market full of people [buyers] who are used to living in the suburbs. The only market for this is young professionals or retirees, two groups that are notorious for NOT co-existing well in the same area due to totally different tastes and needs. Add to this the parking issues, the crime [sharks feed where the most food is and you are creating a buffet].
As far as being close to mass transit or work, where the hell do you think these buyers are going to work, in all the bars downtown? Sorry, the jobs available in the city's core area don't provide the income to pay $200 + per sq. foot for a new dwelling in that area. Finally there is always the question of resale value and although the Westside is full of homes for sale eventually they'll all fill up and the market there will level, infill with zero lot lines and alleys in New Mexico? Crazy, unless you are expecting a whole lot of people from the Bronx to move here to retire.

Anonymous said...

As usual, Mr. Eye, your post is so full of fallacy and misinterpretation that it is hard to know where to begin. Fundamentally, you forget that it was the citizens of Albuquerque who envisioned and helped create the framework for how growth should be managed and planning conducted. That years-long process of community meetings, hearings, planning sessions and fact-based research led eventually to the public-supported adoption of the Planned Growth Strategy.

Much to your surprize, not everyone wants to spend $4-$5 dollars on a gallon of gas to make short trips to the store, work, etc that they might just as easily and more cheaply perform on a bike or bus, or, god-forbid, walking- if only the urban landscape was conducive to such activities.

Your "eye" should be on Phoenix, Houston or Las Vegas if you really like the BS that we've created here. Oh- and by the way- the BS in those places is coming tumbling down- foreclosures, home depreciations, etc- the consumer doesn't want that shit anymore.

All PGS and the FBC are trying to do is level the playing field- away from the gross subsidization of suburban sprawl. You are completely wrong that current zoning allows for everything the FBC would do- if it did- we would be seeing it more. There is a huge pent-up demand for better designed communites in the market place but with current zoning, there are too many obstacles to getting it done- by your logic- current zoning is a government impediment to the free market that wants to adapt to consumer demand. You should be supporting FBC.

AnybodybutDARREN4con said...

Hmmmmmmm Albuquerque is the armpit of the southwest. Let's Nuke it and start over. I have lived in many places and, "THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS!" actually had meaning to it. Albuquerque has what they call, "PLANNED GROWTH" I call it planned crime. Ventana Ranch is the perfect example of that. Look at the crime stats for Ventana Ranch prior to the restricted income apartments going up at the corner of Irving and Universe, and look at them now.

I never recall supporting the planned growth concept that was forced upon us. And the City actually has to issue the permits for roadways, building etc.. so obviously impact studies aren't being put to use. I for one can't afford to move every time the city looks at the tax benefit of a property instead of the imapct it will have on an area. It would seem that the EYE has actually hit a sore spot with someone who dares try to prove you wrong. City Hall has lost touch with the citizens of ALbuquerque and the continued waste of tax payers money to conduct yet another study to see if a downtown arena will work, is proof of just that. Why not put it on the ballot for the next election and let the voters decide.

Elected officials need to remember that they were voted into office to represent us and listen to what we have to say. They also need to remember that when they were voted in, only a small percentage of voters turn out to vote, and out of the percentage of voters that actually voted, an even smaller percentage voted for them. Just because they got enough votes to win, does not make them the undisputed king.