mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

City mouse, country mouse

I loved this Lileks defense of suburbia as well as this Jane Galt post against "smart growth".

I'm unusual - I live in Baltimore City, a couple miles north of Downtown, but I don't really like the city. When I shop, it's usually in the county, and if I go through with my plan of buying a house, it will most likely be in the suburbs. I've lived in two other places within Baltimore City, but they were literally blocks away from the city line and felt like the suburbs. The one thing I really like about living in the city is my commute - I live about 10 minutes from work, and since I actually live south of where I work, my commute is easy because everyone else is going the opposite direction towards downtown. Plus, it's cheap. I do escape one of the advantages of city life in that we have head-in parking spaces on one side of the street, which makes it easier to park than in most places - but we only have the spaces because my landlord petitioned the city to get them for years.

I was reminded how the ideal cityscape excludes things that people want, like parking, when I went to a concert in Federal Hill last night outside the Cross Street Market. Notice that while "historic federal hill" has a stylish website/Moveable Type blog, it doesn't mention anything about parking. There is one garage in Federal Hill, and it was full by 8:15. I literally drove around for at least 45 minutes looking for a parking space. I finally found one about 7 blocks away, and luckily it was a head-in spot with a meter that wasn't enforced after 10, located in front of an office building that was closed for the night.

Of course, the ideal urban cityscape has no cars in it, and planners like to imagine that people don't drive - but they do. People like the historic aspect of places like Federal Hill - they are great to visit for the historical architecture as well as the ability to go from bar to bar. But most people don't want to live there - they want to live somewhere where they can easily park their cars, where they can feel safe, and where their kids have a backyard to play in.

Of course, there is one group that loves the lack of parking - traffic enforcement. While looking for a spot I saw a traffic guy writing tickets, and when I left the bar we were in, nearly every car parked along the block had a ticket on it. Great system - create an impossible parking situation, then punish everyone for trying to park their car somewhere.


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