Growth tops list of issues facing city
This is one in a series of Other Voices guest columns by candidates for Grass Valley City Council and Nevada County supervisor on their visions for the future.
Grass Valley will make critical decisions within the next few years.
The first big decision is how fast to grow. Four developers are asking for permission to build 4,000 homes. If their projects are approved, the number of cars within the city would increase from 8,100 to 13,800*.
Some people say that developers will solve our traffic problems by paying for improvements to streets and intersections. This is naive. If we have learned only one thing by looking at traffic problems across the nation, it is that cities grow themselves into traffic congestion, not out of it.
We cannot handle 5,700 more automobiles without traffic becoming significantly worse. So as a council member, I would vote to approve no more than one of these four major projects.
If the City Council does approve one of these projects, other key decisions will be made about how it is designed. It is critical that any new neighborhoods be designed to minimize their impact on traffic.
For example, new neighborhoods can include offices and stores. This creates more options for people to live within walking distance of where they work and shop. For those who have further to travel, and do not want to drive, pedestrian and bicycle paths can link them to the rest of the community.
For more information about minimizing traffic through neighborhood design, please visit my Web site* and read the discussion of “Home Zones.”
In general, designing neighborhoods more around people and less around cars can reduce the impact on traffic, reduce costs, increase safety, enhance community and recreation, and make physical activity more appealing, thus improving health.
Urban planners and designers have great ideas for minimizing traffic and maximizing our enjoyment of living in town. I look forward to learning more of these ideas from the project designers and city staff.
In light of the traffic problems we have today, and how much worse they could get in the future, it would not be in the best interest of the community to approve any major project that does not implement every reasonable idea for limiting the number of cars that travel our streets.
Unless we get serious about fighting traffic, today’s jammed intersections will be only a nuisance compared to the daily frustration that could lie ahead.
* For data sources and details, please to go http://www.YouKnowWhereHeStands.org
Dean Williams is a candidate for Grass Valley City Council.
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