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An Irrelevant Comment on Zoning

Posted by Bob on February 9th, 2006 under Bob


I am lazy as hell.

But in this case I prefer a Politically Correct way of putting this.

Let’s call me ” a convenience-minded individual.”

But the fact is that I get no fun at all out of shopping for a car. My dream car was the old Volkswagen I owned in the 1960s. You put in gas and took it in for maintenance every 3,000 miles. When it snowed and everybody else was putting on chains, it just drove right over the snow and ice.

I now live in a condo and it saves me a mint. But I loved to come back to the USA and stay in an apartment, where you just called the office if anything broke.

One scientist spoke for me perfectly:

My body is just something to carry my mind around in.”

When I returned to Washington, DC I would live in a high-rise apartment with a convenience store less than a block away. All of them were run by Koreans and stayed open almost every hour of every day

The last high-rise I lived in had the convenience store inside the building, just an elevator ride away.

Then Nirvana came close. Right beside the six twenty-six-story high rises, one of which I lived in, was a complete shopping center. There was work underway to set up a DIRECT connection between the shopping center and the high rises.

The shopping center was at the bottom of a hill on which the highrises sat. You couldn’t hear a sound from it.

When I left the USA again, I confidently expeted to come back to a country where you could take your shopping cart and walk to the shopping center with it.

By the time I got back, the whole thing had changed. That trend ended abruptly. Zoning came in hard and fast.

A woman in a luxury highrise doesn’t want to go out in her curlers. So she has to dress decently to drive to get that coffee creamer. But the very idea of a direct connection between a shopping mall and a highrise is considered the height of vulgarity now.

In the highrise condos where I live now, there used to be a carry-out restaurant on the first floor. Now there is a consulting firm.

Ther is also a job counseling service and a voter education office, and similar things.

It is zoned against convenience shops or anything else that might be useful to a resident of these condos.

When I ride through the expensive suburbs, I see that the more expensive they are, the farther it is to absolutely anything a resident might need.

I don’t understand this. Maybe that’s because I just ain’t got class.

Today, the ideal is that if you have no cream for your coffee, you have to dress for the weather, go out and get your car and drive several miles to a shopping center to get anything.

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  1. #1 by Peter on 02/09/2006 - 8:36 pm

    I think the zoning problem here is from “wordism”.

    There is a use for zoning, like keeping motor traffic down on residential streets. Bureaucrats love power but aren’t too bright, so when they see an ordinance separating residences from commerce, they draw little red lines in odd places.

    On the other hand, the pendulum seems to be swinging. In some towns I can name, storage space above the ground floors of commercial buildings in old downtowns are being converted to apartments, and condos are being built nearby too. But come to think of it, there doesn’t seem to be any convenience stores by them. Maybe someone sees all convenience stores as raunchy, and maybe small corner grocery stores like they have in England can’t pay the rent downtown to compete with supermarkets a couple miles away.

    Since more downtowns are making a half-hearted effort to revive, there is probably an investment opportunity in building classy 24-hour convenience stores downtown. The first one to do it will have to have money to lobby the relevant corrupt local governments. (I say “half-hearted” because they are not building anything like the old downtowns of the 1800s or like those in Europe before WWII.)

  2. #2 by Shari on 02/09/2006 - 9:23 pm

    Corrupt local governments is right. Our downtown has been turned into very pricey art and foo foo western stuff and new banks. For things to eat or wear etc. you have to drive further and further out.

  3. #3 by Dave on 02/09/2006 - 10:11 pm

    A lot of aging baby boomers are beginning to care about “planned inconvenience”. Consequently, things will give way as real estate lawyers and their developer clients throw a couple of nickels to local command at city hall.

    As usual Bob is his brilliant self because proximity, availability, and convenience of services will be critical in picking baby boomers pockets in their dotage. Brown skinned people will be there to do the butt labor (literally wiping white people’s butts). This natural state of affairs will not be questioned unless these brown skinned people happen to be represented by a labor union. In that case there will be questions along with the requirement that they pony up an extra portion of their poverty level wages to a fine white-liberal labor lawyer. Again, a natural state of affairs.

  4. #4 by Elizabeth on 02/11/2006 - 4:23 pm

    I’m planning to work this summer in the D.C. area and then to live on-campus (wherever
    I get accepted) once school starts in August. (I’m graduating in May and face a
    move _somewhere_.)It looks like I’ll be taking my car with me for shopping
    and church.

    I never thought this would happen after four years of living on-campus as an
    undergraduate in the ’70s, but I’ve really gotten to hate (commuting) driving.
    One thing that’s really helped is that a WalMart Supercenter opened about 18
    months ago on my commuting route. Otherwise, I really would be up a creek if
    I needed to pick up anything on my way home if I’m on my way home after 9 p.m.

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