Author Topic: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks  (Read 3684 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:00:00 AM »
An Argument for Maximum Setbacks



Should we change our setback laws to encourage the long term development of a walkable community?

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http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/889

lindab

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2008, 08:07:31 AM »
Walkability means not crossing several acres of barren asphalt to get to the store. Our parking codes need revision too.

Jason

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2008, 09:30:34 AM »
You didn't have to go far for new development utilizing maximum setbacks.  Orlando is actually becomming very walkable and more pedestrian oriented with each new development that addresses the person versus the car.

apvbguy

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2008, 10:28:04 AM »
Walkability means not crossing several acres of barren asphalt to get to the store. Our parking codes need revision too.
regardless of where the parking lot is located, a walk through it is necessary, it is impossible for every spot to be curbside or close to the doors of a business.
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Gatorziggy

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2008, 10:31:34 AM »
I think they are letting some projects by downtown be more friendly. The new Regions bank in San Marco is a good example of what we need more of in the area.

avonjax

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2008, 11:42:57 AM »
You are correct lindab...
and that is why I have been so down on RCMP. Its impossible to walk around in.
YOU MUST USE A CAR FOR YOUR SAFETY.
And of all crazy places, there is a little strip center on New Berlin and Yellow Bluff Rd that is built with all the parking in the rear. It looks great, but I swear people have said they don't know how to get into the shops. They all have sidewalk entrances and of course the main access is from parking lot in the rear.
The people of Jax are so accustomed to strip centers with massive parking lots in the front that any other layout is like putting rats in a maze....
It's kinda sad...
For many walkability and pleasing design is secondary or not important at all.

lindab

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2008, 12:03:01 PM »
Since we live in Riverside we have become daily visitors to the shops, mail center and grocery store in Five Points. All front on the sidewalks with limited parking behind and a few slots in front. Some people come by car and walk into the stores via a back door. Most come from the front sidewalk and walk in the front door.  But, you know our sidewalks connect to something - they go out into the residential community, they pass the churches and the schools and the stores. Maybe that is the problem with a stand-alone strip center - no connection to the neighborhood.




Abhishek

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2008, 01:53:41 PM »
@lindab
You have hit the nail in the head. It is incomplete to build a store with sidewalk access and parking in the rear if all the people are going to drive to it. They wont drive not because they want to but because they have to. Nothing around is walkable. These structures can not stand alone.

This topic is similar to the discussion about Atlantic Crossing. The concept is great but useless because there isin't anywhere else to go. You could walk to Tinseltown and the Town Center Mall but you have to jump across parking lots to get to the store.

Minimizing the setbacks are definitely the right answer (aesthetic and walkability reasons) but they need to be clubbed with increasing the density of the neighborhood. It will be an oxymoron to let strip malls sprawl up and minimize their set backs. For example, the Camille's 'Sidewalk' cafe on Touchton and Southside is barely a sidewalk cafe. If anything, it is a strip-mall cafe! There are no sidewalks to walk up to it on either Touchton or Southside. The only people who can walk to it are the ones living in Montreux and are connected to the parking lot. Anything in that strip mall could not survive with a minimum set back because there are few who will walk up to it even with the new construction on Gate Parkway between Southside and Belfort.
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thelakelander

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2008, 03:01:14 PM »
@lindab
You have hit the nail in the head. It is incomplete to build a store with sidewalk access and parking in the rear if all the people are going to drive to it. They wont drive not because they want to but because they have to. Nothing around is walkable. These structures can not stand alone.

Yes, its a nice try, but incomplete on a larger scale if its not mandatory.  But its not imcomplete if the code makes everyone do it.   

Quote
This topic is similar to the discussion about Atlantic Crossing. The concept is great but useless because there isin't anywhere else to go. You could walk to Tinseltown and the Town Center Mall but you have to jump across parking lots to get to the store.

We have to start somewhere.  So the question then becomes how do we get to a point where we stop allowing developments that force pedestrians to jump across parking lots?   

Quote
Minimizing the setbacks are definitely the right answer (aesthetic and walkability reasons) but they need to be clubbed with increasing the density of the neighborhood. It will be an oxymoron to let strip malls sprawl up and minimize their set backs. For example, the Camille's 'Sidewalk' cafe on Touchton and Southside is barely a sidewalk cafe. If anything, it is a strip-mall cafe! There are no sidewalks to walk up to it on either Touchton or Southside. The only people who can walk to it are the ones living in Montreux and are connected to the parking lot. Anything in that strip mall could not survive with a minimum set back because there are few who will walk up to it even with the new construction on Gate Parkway between Southside and Belfort.

Good point.  But is it a lost cause just because the area has become strip mall central?  Or can we edit the codes to make sure future development is constructed in a better manner?  On the other hand, the urban core's (the preconsolidated city) development patterns are completely different.  Older buildings line the street and sidewalks, but new developments place parking lots between them and the street destroying the urban pattern already in place.  In this case, a maximum setback restriction eliminates this option and all new development in these areas become pedestrian friendly infill development.   
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

lindab

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2008, 03:51:24 PM »
I have seen designs done for remodeling strip centers. In the first step the oldest store is demolished and rebuilt forward near the secondary road. Sidewalks added that extend to the neighborhood behind so that people could walk up to the stores.
 
Most parking removed in the very front and landscape up to the store. Create a sense of territory for the store.  Landscape the boundary of the parking area along the access road.  Put in lighting. Add cycle racks out front. I take no credit for these ideas - all from my guru Dan Burden, http://www.walkable.org/

Sometimes a smart developer can make a start in order to appeal to a new breed of customers and store owners, some of whom are pretty savvy about this stuff. City codes could make it more of a reality and encourage developers to get creative.

GatorDone

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2008, 11:35:12 PM »
I find most commercial areas fairly comparable to other cities for walking. What I was shocked about when I moved to Jax is the lack of curb and gutter and side walks in many many residential areas. In my neighborhood, it is very dangerous to walk as there are no sidewalks, the streets are narrow and there is fairly heavy traffic. In addition, with the absence of curb and gutter, the sides of the road are usually muddy or have standing water so you essentially have to walk in the middle the road. I even find that many of the newer developments have the same problem. Sidewalks should be mandatory in future developments if they are not already.

thelakelander

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2008, 11:36:48 PM »
What area of town are you located in?
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Abhishek

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2008, 08:38:43 AM »
@thelakelander
Yes, we should redo the codes to make future developments better in terms of walkability. But something needs to be done to the strip malls as well. Preferably, I would like to see a residential/office building on top of them so they dont stand alone in an inefficient manner. The true transformation will dictate us to change codes for the future by not encouraging sprawl and find a way to rectify the past. It is important to be able to rectify the past.
Montreux and the Publix shopping strip mall beside it could have been built together making Camille's a true sidewalk cafe and I would no longer laugh at the folly when I read it's name.

I am of the opinion that it comparatively is easier to think about changing future construction codes but harder to think about rectifying the strip malls and making them more efficient and walkable.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it" - Upton Sinclair

thelakelander

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2008, 08:58:42 AM »
It is easier to change future land use and zoning codes and its something that should be done as a part of a much larger plan.  I also don't think its difficult to rectify strip malls, but it will take just as much time rectifying on a large scale, as it did to create the sprawling mess we have today.

As strip malls decay (and they will decay, we have a ton of blighted ones now), they become prime redevelopment sites.  This offers us the opportunity to make sure the redevelopment/revitalization projects on these sites are more efficient and walkable.  Of course, this would have more impact in older sections of town first, given that we have many new privately owned strip malls that will be around for while.

As for Southside Blvd., with that wide right-of-way, it would not hurt to install a wide cycling/jogging path along it.  There are huge sections of that street that still lack sidewalks.  That's crazy.
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brainstormer

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Re: An Argument for Maximum Setbacks
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2008, 09:19:52 AM »
GatorDone, I couldn't agree more.  The first subdivision I lived in had sparse sidewalks.  It was hard to walk or run because all of a sudden you were put out on a busy street without sidewalks so I was forced to run on the edge of the road.  I'd have people yell and honk at me as they flew by going 10-15 over the speed limit.  It sucked!  There are many neighborhood schools where parents have to drive their kids a half mile to school because there are no sidewalks and it is unsafe to walk.  How sad is that!  This city is probably the most car dependent city I've ever been to.  And all because of poor planning and low standards.  Developers should not be allowed to build without having sidewalks on both sides of the street. 

As far as setback laws; when I think about more development around future rail stations, we certainly want these areas to become as friendly to pedestrians as possible.  Good point about the dilapidated strip malls that will need to be redeveloped in the near future.  Any more development in downtown and lavilla should also be pedestrian oriented.  I'm so sick of surface lots.  Lets require underground parking or buildings like BofA and the Peninsula with their built in lots.  The new Riverplace parking garage with retail is also a good example.

Maybe this city needs some big box laws as well.  Check out Monona, Wisconsin.  Their laws are very strict regarding big box developments and surface parking.  Wal Mart wanted to develop there in the worst way, hence one of the nations first 2 story green Wal Marts.  You would never know the building was a Wal mart, by just driving by.  It's time Jacksonville grew some balls and set some standards!!!

Check out this editorial from the midwest http://www.midwestadvocates.org/media/releases/2-2-07%20Bringing%20Wal-Mart%20to%20a%20New%20Level.pdf