In general, he praised downtown Sarasota and managed to avoid what might be the hottest local topic: what do we need to do to get wider sidewalks?
He spent a lot of time on techniques for making Sarasota more walkable, a theme that fit perfectly with his new book, Walkable City Rules.
He took time to explain the reality behind induced traffic demand, advocated for 10' travel lanes, and pointed out that removing center lines on roadways reduces speeds.
He weighed in on some local controversies, avoiding comment on 'The Vue", but lambasted the new, hideous Embassy Suites tower on the southern corner of Fruitville and 41. The blank walls there might be a possible location for his proposed "remedial public art"?
He lavished praise on Sasaki Associates, the planners for the awkwardly named "the Bay", but argued pedestrian bridges never work. Said with conviction, but flying in the face of the successful pedestrian overpass up the road at New College.
He also opined about Lemon Ave. revisions, claiming out that 9 out of 10 pedestrian malls fail, which was useful information, but the City isn't proposing a strictly pedestrian (no cars) for Lemon Ave. He went on to assert parking along Lemon would improve the design.
He also spent some time discussing street trees. Here's a transcript of part of this important subject:
....and not just trees, but shade, trees, 'canopying' shade trees on these streets that don't have them and these design efforts are underway and I hope they're successful. But they make me make another point which I often argue with cities about, which is that species of tree really matters. And, and this is not an A-B comparison, because you'll notice there's not, there's there's not parking here, there's planter beds there to be honest. But, but, It doesn't take much more room to plant a oak or a sycamore than it does a a palm. And you're not getting any of the climactic benefits, you're not getting any of the space-making benefits, your'e getting much less of the beauty benefits, with a palm than you are with these . . . so, if your city's named, you know, Palm Beach or Palmetto Bay or you somehow feel that palms are your image, uh, then that's one excuse. If you have a street called Palm Avenue, which I think you do, right? um, I mean, there's places where it makes sense to have palms and I like them as accents at corners and I think here's an example, right?, the palms are at the corner and then the canopying trees are elsewhere. But I, but I, and know there's been leadership in the City on this, and people, people understand it, but your codes need to make it clear and you need a way to find the streetscape and engineer it properly so you can have these canopying trees everywhere. It's what I call a constant canopy campaign or a continuous canopy campaign. You want your whole city covered in, covered in leaves. And you can do it. These aren't particularly old trees -- it's just picking the right species. ::: pause:::: So, no more palms! :::laughter:::
Now, a basic rule of thumb in these sorts of presentations is that whenever takes a cheap shot with a laugh line, you want to get behind the joke to find out at whose expense the joke was based.
One basic theme of this part of his talk was that the goal should be continuous canopy. Here's what he could have said that would have consistent with his goal of continuous canopy:
People want shade, they want inviting places to linger. A lonely palm, any lonely tree, is never going to get you there. Urban trees need to rub shoulders. You need a way to design the streetscape and engineer it properly so you can have continuous canopy. It's what I call a constant canopy campaign or a continuous canopy campaign. You want your whole city covered in, covered in leaves. That might be oaks or black olives - they're great, but sometimes they are simply not the right tree for the place. Sometimes trees with smaller canopies make more sense, and, obviously, you have to plant them closer together -- maybe on 10' centers instead of 30' centers. That means crepe myrtles, or palms, or other small canopy trees are sometimes a sensible option. Just don't let people plant trees that are not going to create continuous sidewalk canopy. These urban tree canopies need to snuggle up with each other -- no lonely trees in the city! So, no more lonely palms - that's not only sad, but wrong!
Instead, he chose to categorically relegate palms to a category of unacceptable urban shade-producing trees, despite the demonstrable reality that they sometimes outperform so-called 'canopy trees'. So, he got a laugh, but vilified a proven shade-producing species in the process.
|Proven continuous palm canopy categorically dismissed by prominent New Urbanist|