People who are surprised to hear criticism of development projects seem blind to the real concern about livability. The issue is not about whether more people are accommodated in the city (increased density), nor access to goods and services, nor any good thing to which supporters of unbridled development seek to turn the discussion. The issue is about scale and what limits on development are necessary to support the good things of a community — including the unique character of some rather fragile inner-city neighborhoods.
The city government should be protecting neighborhoods from a “bigger is better” mentality that stems from the drive for higher profit, not about what is good for the neighborhood. What sense does it make to destroy or damage the very thing that makes a neighborhood attractive? Even highly developed areas, like Uptown, cannot accept unrestricted development and retain the features that make the neighborhood unique and attractive.
Developers pay lip service and have community meetings, but they are only willing to make small changes that do not affect the bottom line much. If a development cannot make a profit within the bounds of what is healthy for a neighborhood, then it should not be approved.
This is where people, via organizing and protesting, can have a role.
People clearly differ in opinion about what is healthy for a neighborhood, but the concerns of the people who live there certainly are a valid part of that discussion. We need to have that discussion and not make it about development versus no development. I challenge defenders of development projects to identify what is too big for a specific location prior to simply defending a proposed development on vague ideological grounds like increased density.
Robert L. Jorczak