Monday, October 3, 2011

Forbes Names Celebration one of America's "Prettiest Neighborhoods"

Water Street in Celebration.  Photo courtesy of John Von Fossen. 
Here's the LINK to a Forbes article and another LINK to an accompanying photo essay naming Celebration one of America's "prettiest neighborhoods."   It's well-deserved recognition.  Local governments ought to make New Urbanist communities, like Celebration, Central Florida's default pattern for new development.   But in many instances, we make it illegal.  For example, in Orange County, there's no incentive to emulate the Water Street canal, depicted above, because water retention must be at least 100 feet in width, a well-known engineer told me. 

Market Street, Celebration, Florida
 The building setbacks on Market Street would violate the Orange County Zoning Code.  The FDOT's Florida Green Book and Orange County's excessive off-street parking requirements discourage on-street parking.  The condominiums above retail would violate the prohibition of the mixing of uses.

Market Street.
Instead of requiring environments like that depicted above, our local codes make sprawl the default development pattern.  Sprawl is not a free-market outcome, but the result of onerous on-site parking requirements, setback requirements, open-space requirements, floor area ratios that discourage multi-story buildings, use separation, dumbed-down thoroughfare classifications, the discouragement of gridded street networks in the Florida Green Book, ever-widening thoroughfares that turn walking and biking into deadly pursuits, and a lack of regulation over the form of development. 

Celebration reminds us how to do it right.