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A2 Environmental Commission - draft goals hearing

3. December 2006 • Murph
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The City of Ann Arbor’s Environmental Commission has developed a draft of Environmental Action Plan Guiding Principles and Goals (pdf). The Commission will be holding a public hearing on this document at their meeting on December 7, 2006, before passing along their recommendations to City Council. The meeting will be at 7pm in Council Chambers at City Hall. Comments may also be e-mailed to Matt Naud, Environmental Coordiator. Commission (Vice-?)Chair Steve Bean has been known to read and respond to comments on this site, though this is not intended as a substitute for formal participation.

Draft Environmental Action Plan Guiding Principles and Goals:

Proposed Environmental Action Plan Guiding Principles

  • We can meet existing needs without compromising environmental quality, public health, or future generations’ natural resources.
  • Environmental quality, economic vitality, and social equity are mutually dependent.
  • Conservation, protection, and restoration of the natural environment are highly valued.
  • Our city is part of a larger regional and global community.
  • Our actions impact the environmental, economic, and social equity issues at those levels, and we intend that those impacts be positive.
  • Broad public awareness, both locally and regionally, is vital to ensuring environmental quality.
  • Collaboration is necessary in order to achieve our goal of a sustainable Ann Arbor.
  • The City of Ann Arbor strives to be at the forefront of sustainable living through its daily operations, capital improvements, and purchase of products.

Proposed Environmental Action Plan Goals

  1. Achieve zero-net greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our overall climate impact
  2. Eliminate emission of and exposure to air toxics, criteria pollutants, and Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxins (PBT)
  3. Maximize sustainable transportation options
  4. Achieve 100% renewable energy consumption
  5. Achieve zero waste
  6. Achieve a drinkable, swimmable and fishable Huron River
  7. Protect public health, ecosystems, and property from floodwater hazards
  8. Conserve, protect and restore ecologically healthy aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
  9. Conserve, protect and restore a healthy and diverse urban canopy, open space, and agriculture resources
  10. Ensure that changes to the built environment improve the natural environment and create quality, community-oriented public spaces

  1. Thanks for posting this. Please email comments to me if you cannot come to the commission meeting. These goals will form the basis for an environmental action plan – e.g., quantifiable goals (get from this to that by then) organized around “big hairy goals”, many of which we have (e.g., 30% renewable energy use by municipal operations by 2010; 60% comercial recycling diversion) but there are many that are not clearly stated.

       —Matt Naud    Dec. 5 '06 - 05:16AM    #
  2. These are excellent principles and goals. If we should need a tax increase to fully fund them, I’d support such an increase.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 5 '06 - 06:49PM    #
  3. Mr. Cahill, what is needed, particularly to meet goal #3 but also a number of other of these goals, is to increase the density of our inner city areas by eliminating large unusable parking lots and turn them into dense, pedestrian friendly living and working environments. Is that the kind of tax increase you’re pledging to support?

       —abc    Dec. 5 '06 - 07:30PM    #
  4. No mention of urban density?

    No mention of making sure that all these lofty goals don’t lead to an acceleration of the gentrification of Ann Arbor?

    Take note that Cahill’s very first reaction to this list is “yes please” and “you may begin taxing immediately”.

    I said this long ago on Arbor Update, but I strongly believe that many in Ann Arbor wish for the City to become like a resort town. This “list” together with a lack of true urban density and an increase in an already absurd tax rate for new residents will get us there toot sweet.

    And I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that Ann Arbor seeks to be at the “forefront” of sustainable living. It has chosen the middle ground with some bells and whistles….which is fine, but let’s not pretend to be something that we are not, eh?

       —todd    Dec. 5 '06 - 07:37PM    #
  5. Todd, increased urban density is a means (abc’s “what is needed”), not an end, and therefore not a goal in the sense in which we developed the list. The guidelines and goals are future focused, not some attempt to describe current circumstances, practices, etc.

    Also, it’s a draft. Feel free to modify your questions into suggestions. Even better, come and be on tv and share your thoughts Thursday night. HD has already given useful feedback that may be incorporated.

    Regarding gentrification, do the second and fifth guiding principles address your concerns? If not, please explain so we can consider possible additions or modifications.

       —Steve Bean    Dec. 5 '06 - 08:07PM    #
  6. If these goals are used as a “stealth” means of increasing urban density, then I would oppose them. No surprise there. 8-)

    It’s refreshing to see that urban density is not on the list – at least so far.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 5 '06 - 09:36PM    #
  7. “Todd, increased urban density is a means (abc’s “what is needed”), not an end, and therefore not a goal in the sense in which we developed the list.”

    Steve, first off, that list is filled with “ends” (e.g., “Achieve zero waste”, “Achieve 100% renewable energy consumption”, etc.).

    Secondly, how can you call this a list of goals for a sustainable Ann Arbor, and not list a density goal for the city (i.e., X new residents by Y year)?

    In my mind, that’s inexcusable, particularly if you take your “Proposed Environmental Action Plan Guiding Principles” with any degree of seriousness.

    The only reason that I can think of that this group would not list fixed population goals for both downtown and the rest of the city is that it is politically difficult agree on the numbers. That doesn’t mean that this Commission should get a pass from doing it.

    Thirdly, density is both the ends as well as the means to achieve many of those goals the Commission has listed.

    And Mr. Cahill: thanks for the honest response. That goes a long way with me. But to correct what you’re saying, if it’s a listed goal, there’s nothing “stealth” about it. Further, who’s to say what that density means? It could be a number that you like, Dave.

    Right now, the word “density” has about as much value as Bush’s non-answer “they hate us for our freedom” quote.

    Someone in Ann Arbor needs to define what we mean by ‘density’. I can’t think of a better group for the job than the Environmental Commission.

       —todd    Dec. 5 '06 - 11:35PM    #
  8. Todd, you seem to be misreading what I wrote. The goals are “ends”, as I stated. Matt spelled out a bit what you’re referring to in post #1. The next step in this process is the development of objectives for each goal and appropriate strategies for achieving them, preferably through comprehensive means. The effort of drafting those components is already underway. So the examination of “density” will have its day.

    The only reason that I can think of that this group would not list fixed population goals for both downtown and the rest of the city is that it is politically difficult agree on the numbers. That doesn’t mean that this Commission should get a pass from doing it.

    I’m right here. You could ask me. ;-) I don’t remember population being raised during the commission or our working committee discussions on the goals. Certainly it’s an important consideration. I don’t know that I would set a goal around it, but I think it is a useful topic of discussion.

       —Steve Bean    Dec. 6 '06 - 12:17AM    #
  9. Steve, I can give you that urban density is a means and not a goal, but this Commission needs to start from the position that a greater urban density is an absolute necessity to improving the environment. It is by far the most significant tool you have to bring about your goals; any pussyfooting with ideas that maybe we can just moves things around to placate those who are against ANY increase in density will result in failure. And todd is right to ask, just what specific density should we consider to be the right number, maybe its a number ‘no change’ people like Mr. Cahill can live with? What we can be certain of is that the city is not yet dense enough; council said that, Calthorpe and Co. said that, the local architects and planners said that. There is no engaged and professionally informed group out there who has looked at Ann Arbor and declared that we have too many people downtown and that we should scare people to the ‘burbs to have a better downtown. So we have no choice but to start there; we cannot support certain things such as ‘sustainable transportation systems’ without an increase in our density.

    And maybe its just me but some of your goals feel unrealistic, ‘Achieve zero waste’. Zero? Is that possible? Does this depend on my definition of Zero, or my definition of Waste? I would comment that if you want people to take this seriously (and I am sure that you do) then you need to set goals that are achievable. I know I am picking on the easiest one on the list but when you start that hyperbolically you color the way I read the others goals. I am afraid when I read that one I let out a big sigh. I want us pointing in the right direction, making one good decision and then another; if the goal is the moon and the stars the journey might just be to daunting to take the first step.

       —abc    Dec. 6 '06 - 12:26AM    #
  10. Steve you got in there while I was writing but I see what you mean about post #1 except my question would be, “Is ‘zero’ waste even possible? Ever?” If not, it should not be on the list, pick another number. Rather than shooting too far maybe you should consider more achievable goals for shorter time frames and when you meet them you can then make more.

       —abc    Dec. 6 '06 - 12:35AM    #
  11. “So the examination of “density” will have its day.”

    Cool. I sure hope so. This is key to pretty much all of your other goals (you’ve read my rants on the subject, I’m sure), and the key to keeping Ann Arbor’s cost of living from spiraling out of control.

    I sincerely hope that your group comes up with tangible population (and location specific) goals, as I believe that residents, and in particular, the Cahill crowd, wouldn’t accept numbers from any other group. These are, after all, only goals.

    End of superfluous gripe. Thanks, Steve.

       —todd    Dec. 6 '06 - 12:49AM    #
  12. Density is both an end and a means.

    This can’t be limited to downtown.

       —Dale    Dec. 6 '06 - 12:51AM    #
  13. abc, Tracy Davis’s quote of me in the News article left out a bit of context. I had said that goals don’t need to be achievable, they need to be a clear target. WRT zero waste, I do believe that it’s possible. Likely? Probably not. (Also, do a Web search on “zero waste” and you’ll see that it’s a term that’s becoming widely used.) More importantly, I think that it’s necessary to move toward that particular goal fairly rapidly, primarily due to the impacts of plastic on the ocean and various toxic materials that we generate.

    In addition to the followup efforts I’ve already mentioned and to expand on Matt’s comment, it will be important for us to set priorities and some measure of urgency to various goals and their related objectives. The goals are wide ranging—some are a matter of global responsibility, others a matter of local desirability. We need to weigh them against each other and develop a thoughtful strategic plan for what we can accomplish locally.

    The other comment that Tracy left out (though she alluded to it in her introductory sentences) was that I said I’d like for city government to use these goals in educating residents (and businesses, though I forgot to mention them) and helping them to move in the same direction.

    this Commission needs to start from the position that a greater urban density is an absolute necessity to improving the environment

    I disagree. Foregone conclusions are not in our best interest and starting “positions” limit consideration of viable alternatives. I don’t necessarily disagree about urban density, but taking a shortcut to that conclusion potentially bypasses valuable experience. And, as you point out, there’s little danger of the increased density ‘turnoff’ being missed.

    Dale, please expand on density as an end. I have an idea but I’d rather get your input.

       —Steve Bean    Dec. 6 '06 - 01:05AM    #
  14. You cannot have this “Conservation, protection, and restoration of the natural environment are highly valued” without increasing density. I’ve watched a dozen new houses built by owners subdividing properties on the edge of the city and cramming in more McMansions. These produce more waste, and require cars. If you want to reduce this, you zone dense at the city center, and then bigger at the edge.

    People are going to live somewhere. Why not push down deveopment at the fringes and push up in the city? BTW, the whatever it is green barrier, the ring of land we buy outside the city, has got to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Push up more McMansions farther out and increase traffic coming into the city. Except now people drive cars past a ring of taxpayer funded vacant land outside the city. Brilliant.

       —xyz    Dec. 6 '06 - 03:35AM    #
  15. More density inside AA City means more people and more pollution- and waste-generators.

    Those with a personal or professional stake in new construction may disagree, but if you are only concerned with AA City, then more people doesn’t help the City’s environment.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 6 '06 - 04:06AM    #
  16. Wait, more density means more people? Maayyybe I haven’t given this crazy scheme enough thought.

       —Dale    Dec. 6 '06 - 04:40AM    #
  17. Aww, jeez. Do we really have to go through this whole discussion again?

    David says,

    but if you are only concerned with AA City, then more people doesn’t help the City’s environment.

    Steve, it sounds like you’re going to need to make some adjustments to satisfy David.

    First, remove, “Our city is part of a larger regional and global community.” Next, strike this part, “Our actions impact the environmental, economic, and social equity issues at those levels, and we intend that those impacts be positive.” You can probably take out the parts about broad public awareness and collaboration, as well, as we don’t need to engage or work with people outside the city.

    And, honestly, this whole conversation assumes that Ann Arbor exists within some larger geographic context. Which, as David has pointed out, is clearly false. Why do we keep up this pretense of things like “greenhouse gases” or “agricultural resources”? Those affect things that are outside the City, and so clearly are not relevant. In fact, probably the whole idea of an Environmental Commission is redundant. Ann Arbor already has a Parks Advisory Commission, after all, and isn’t that all the environment that matters?

       —Murph.    Dec. 6 '06 - 07:29AM    #
  18. So, yes, I (shockingly enough) disagree with David. I don’t think that Ann Arbor’s best contribution to the environment, a thing which is regional and global in scope, would be to actively refuse consideration of that context. A discussion of the environment must cross such artificial boundaries as the city limits in order to be meaningful. (And there is, of course, plenty of precedent – not least of all the Greenbelt. (I’ll note that I like xyz’s phrase “the whatever it is green barrier”.))

    I will for now disagree with Dale’s contention that density is an end. While I agree that compact, human-scaled, walkable urban neighborhoods are an important part of most of the goals presented, I think this is a “means” rather than an “end”. Other means may be possible – for example, if we were to forcibly relocate all non-farming township residents to Madagascar and sterilize them, we might make progress on some of these goals. Personally, I consider that a bad approach. David may feel free to disagree with me, but I will continue to think that compact, urban neighborhoods that provide residents with access to destinations via walking, biking, and transit, and that do not involve the destruction of farmland or forest, are a key tool in any environmental plan.

    In the meanwhile, I will point out that the Old Fourth Ward is the highest residential density area in Ann Arbor. I await David’s call to raze that neighborhood and construct something less dense, and therefore more desirable. Perhaps some nice McMansions, David?

       —Murph.    Dec. 6 '06 - 07:44AM    #
  19. Actually, to really cut down density we would have to raze the Hill dorms. 8-)

       —David Cahill    Dec. 6 '06 - 07:53AM    #
  20. Density is as much an end as zero waste. They are both means-y to quality of life or sustainability (of quality of life), but have ends-y qualities, as well.

    I like density. My grocer likes density. We both thrive in dense locales; we get things out of density that alternate means wouldn’t and couldn’t provide if density were a means.

    Another ends-y quality of (high) density* is the condition’s distinction from its counterparts, (low-density) sprawl and (near-empty) rurality. There must be urban, suburban, and rural distinctions in density or we will be wasting resources on infrastructure — roads, pipes, copper wire, fiber optics, etc. Density in many, many ways is more efficient for anything you want to do — thus it is also an end in that it is a state of efficiency.

    But I guess it’s just semantics. *Actual numbers to be defined by interminable internet commenting.

       —Dale    Dec. 6 '06 - 08:24AM    #
  21. While any conceivable argument can be created by those favoring new big buildings downtown, let’s stick to the environmental consequences for AA City.

    More big buildings mean more people, more noise pollution, and more pollution of every kind.

    If the goals of the new plan are indeed to cut pollution in AA City, then new construction makes those goals harder, if not impossible, to achieve.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 6 '06 - 06:30PM    #
  22. Hey, David — calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

       —Dale    Dec. 6 '06 - 06:53PM    #
  23. “let’s stick to the environmental consequences for AA City”

    So much for “think globally, act locally”....

       —Bruce Fields    Dec. 6 '06 - 08:08PM    #
  24. “let’s stick to the environmental consequences for AA City”

    So much for “think globally, act locally”....

    Oh, please. Dave doesn’t worry about the consequences for AA city. He only worries about the consequences for Dave Cahill.

    The ratio of jobs to residents is going to continue to rise in Ann Arbor, and locals like Dave will furrow their brows and act confused as to why traffic has gotten out of control.

    But don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll pass more selfish-twit laws and regulations like the Residential Parking Permit program to counter these problems. Just so long as they have a place to park: problem solved. Neat!

       —todd    Dec. 6 '06 - 08:40PM    #
  25. That’s right – selfish-twit laws and regulations are our specialty.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 6 '06 - 10:17PM    #
  26. Holy Cow!

    Dave’s getting a sense of humor!

    I’m hoping that this sense of humor isn’t a just a rental, and that you intend to buy…...

    Well played, Mr. Cahill.

       —todd    Dec. 7 '06 - 12:57AM    #
  27. Every major environmental group in the United States, including the National Sierra Club, that takes a stand on this type of issue, has come out in favor of density. The U.S. EPA has issued several papers over the years in favor of density.

    Locally the Huron River Watershed Council, often thought of as the best watershed protection organization in the state, has put out a strongly worded opinion piece in favor of density.

       —Dustin    Dec. 7 '06 - 02:03AM    #
  28. While the achievability of many items on the list are up for debate, at least they are definable. Even if it is tough for me to imagine how we could achieve zero waste, it is reasonably clear how our success might be measured. That’s way more than one can say for item #3, “Maximize sustainable transportation options.”

    Sidestepping the question of what “sustainable” transportation is, we are still left with the question of how to tell whether such options are maximized. Do we maximize sustainable transportation options by providing the most types of options, the most extensive service for existing options, or the most efficient use of resources to provide “acceptable” service levels? Each of these methods lead to vastly different ends that might all be considered a “maximization”.

    Both quantity and quality of sustainable transportation options is poorly served by a recommendation to maximize. If the city provides bike lanes on all roads, 500 new bus routes with 3 minute service frequency, extensive monorail service, and bicycle rickshaws*, have we maximized the options yet? And if we have, can the transportation system still be considered “sustainable”? If we gave every Ann Arborite a zero emmisions private car, would the transport system be any more sustainable? How do we consider the transportation system’s impact on land use in the maximizing of options?

    Simply put, more is not necessarily better. Sustainable transportation goals need more direction than “maximizing” provides. Specific changes to AATA ridership, increases in bicycle traffic counts, or changes in modal splits of commuters would be more useful and measurable goals. To consider the land-use implications, you could set a goal of reducing the parking:residence and parking:commuter ratio.

    * my main argument withstanding, bike rickshaws are probably the best indication that sustainable transportation options have been maximized.

       —Scott TenBrink    Dec. 7 '06 - 09:15AM    #
  29. Scott, I understand your point about “maximizing”. I’m/we’re open to alternative wording/framing. (You might check the wording that I used previously, below.)

    For those interested, by way of providing some background and context for my recent comments, here’s an email I sent to Env. Comm. members back in June (we started this process in Feb or before):


    I appreciate the time we spent tonight on this subject. I think it’s an important task. I hope you’ll take the time to read the thoughts below that I put together last night and have updated somewhat this evening. I’m looking forward to our next SOE committee meeting to continue this discussion.

    I’d like to share what I believe to be the goals behind the goals, so to speak. These are what I think we have in mind and what we would say if someone asked, in reference to the goals we’ve so far drafted, “Why?” Another way of thinking about it: if happiness is the ultimate human goal, can we agree that achieving these goals for our local environment would make us happy? Of course, we will still face the challenge of developing corresponding goals (as a community, not necessarily as a commission) for Economy and Equity on our path to sustainability.

    What are your goals for our local environment? Here are mine (open to alternate wording suggestions):

    1. Stable Global (and Local) Climate

    2. Non-Toxic Air

    3. Barrier-Free, Safe Human Mobility

    4. Energy Security

    5. Zero Waste

    6. Secure, Safe Supply of Clean Drinking Water

    7. Secure, Safe Shelter

    8. Healthy Natural Ecosystems

    9. A Sustainable Supply of Healthy Food

    10. A Health-Promoting (Urban) Environment

    Of course, the Social Equity leg of sustainability suggests that these goals belong and apply to all members of our community, including future ones, as well as people outside our community. In general, the list of guiding principles apply.

    And, in general, no single goal stands alone. They all must be considered together to guide us to where we want to be. For example, Energy Security can’t be achieved through current nuclear technology because its use would prevent us from achieving other goals.

    These are pretty high level—maybe too high for us to be working with in practical terms. But I think we need to acknowledge them and have them clearly delineated so that we won’t stray from our true goals. Sometimes the language we use distances us from them.

    I’m concerned that our current wording (and variations) can lead to ambiguity about true goals and therefore to disagreement between people—between residents and city staff, for example—on constructive actions. Words like “minimize”, “maximize”, “reduce”, and even “eliminate” are open to interpretation. The question of “What is enough?” arises too easily. Why have goals if we’re content to fall short?

    I’ll spell out a bit of what I see falling under each goal in a separate message (probably over the weekend), to give you a better idea of what they address.

    But what about the list that resulted from our group efforts? I think that they’re covered in the list above, it’s just a matter of examining them a bit (skip this part if you like, the important part is above):

    1. Achieve zero-net greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our overall climate impact

    - The second half is basically redundant. – That leaves “zero-net greenhouse gas emissions”. What does that mean and why do we want that? See 1 in the list above. This item then becomes an objective (the primary one, in this case) under the larger goal.

    2. Reduce emission of and exposure to air toxics, criteria pollutants, and PBTs

    - Split each one out as a separate objective under 2 in the list above. – Reducing exposure is worthy, but is it more of a distraction from a sustainable goal? An acceptance of never achieving the actual elimination of toxics (those under our control, of course) from our air? (See Precautionary Principle.) It’s an objective, not a goal.

    3. Maximize Transportation Options & Eliminate SOV trips

    - Eliminating trips is about reducing GHG emissions and air pollution. See 1 & 2. – Maximizing options gets most of the way there, but doesn’t address the nature of the options. I think 3 in the list above does. – As for incentives, I don’t think we have to see the options as compulsory, just preferred. Modes of transportation that prevent us from achieving other goals will be addressed in other ways, perhaps with incentives to move away from them.

    4. Achieve 100% Renewable Energy Consumption

    - The word choice here may come down to framing. Talking about renewables still sounds futuristic to many people, I think. (By that I don’t mean like science fiction, just still not commonplace.) Talking about security (even aside from our current circumstances, but more so because of them) has a different impact. Of course, this goal must be considered together with goals 1 and 2 (minimally), so that we don’t take the wrong path.

    5. Achieve Zero Waste

    - I like this even though it mainly invokes thoughts of solid waste and recycling. However, I would include all resources—time and labor, as well as materials—in this one when we get down to the level of objectives and beyond.

    6. Keep the Huron River drinkable, swimmable, and fishable

    - I think this one is a little more emotionally framed than the others. That’s not a bad thing, but I think we can acknowledge that and see how the three components fall under other goals (6, 8, 9, and 10 from the list above.) I won’t be surprised, however, if we keep this one.

    7. Minimize Floodwater Hazards to Public Health, Ecosystems, and Property

    - This one touches on several goals and simultaneously overlooks other aspects of each one. Public health, ecosystems, and property are each threatened by far more than potential floods. So I see flooding as a hazard/threat that needs to be addressed under each goal for those three areas. I see property threats from flooding as economic in part, so somewhat outside our focus, but also a form of waste, which we can address under 5. That aspect is even more directly addressed in 7 in the list above.

    8. Conserve, protect and restore ecologically healthy aquatic ecosystems

    - Separating aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in our goals makes the task of constructing comprehensive approaches more difficult.

    9. Conserve, protect and restore ecologically healthy terrestrial ecosystems, agricultural resources, and open space

    - See comment for 8. – Like 7, this one touches on several goals and simultaneously overlooks other aspects of each one. (See 8-10 above.)

    10. Conserve, protect and restore a healthy and diverse urban canopy and increase vegetation

    - This really falls under other goals: 1, 2, 6, 8, 9 above. But as with 6, I wouldn’t be surprised if we kept it.

    11. Ensure that all planning, zoning and development supports community-oriented design that beneficially serves the urbanized and natural environment while encouraging economic activity

    - This one also leaves out other aspects of planning, etc. Those activities should be addressed under all goals. – I think we’re asking for trouble in touching on economy in just one of our goals. Better to leave it out as understood to be on an equal footing with ecology and equity in our guiding principles. – Secondarily, the concept of serving the urban and natural environment is odd without including people.

    12. Ensure that infrastructure is used efficiently and development is supportable by infrastructure. Include long-term sustainability issues in infrastructure decision-making process.

    - I think that both parts of this can be addressed under 5 (Zero Waste), as well as other goals.


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 7 '06 - 06:28PM    #
  30. I like Steve’s and Scott’s comments!

    Dustin, be careful about pro-density endorsements of groups which seem pro-environment. As I recall, the National Sierra Club got in trouble with a lot of its members because it got in bed with developers. Locally, the Huron Valley Chapter of the Sierra Club has not been pro-density. For example, it opposes the proposed bond issue for Broadway Village.

    As for the Republican-controlled EPA, I heard on the news this morning that the EPA wants to remove the regulation of lead from the Clean Air Act and allow more lead in the environment. The ostensible reason was that lead in the environment has been reduced by 90%. The news anchor said it sounded like the EPA wanted to stop regulating lead because regulation had been working!

    Also locally, despite its name, the Washtenaw Land Trust is controlled by developers.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 7 '06 - 08:51PM    #
  31. Of course, Doug Cowherd promotes density when talking to planners but opposes it when projects come forward, even though in his own words he has identified 200 sites downtown that he thinks are candidates for more dense development. But that wouldn’t be the work of a stealth NIMBY, would it?

       —Dale    Dec. 7 '06 - 09:50PM    #
  32. I consider it to be wisdom.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 7 '06 - 10:07PM    #
  33. Several national environmental groups are pro-density. I did not mention the Land Trust but who says they are controlled by developers besides you? Locally the Huron River Watershed Council is supporting density as well as the 208 Group.

    Was the EPA Republican controlled when Clinton was president when the papers I was referring to were written?

    I really don’t understand how anyone can be against sprawl and not be for density unless they are completely anti-growth, have no children and live a life of frugality. Nor can I see how an environmentalist can be against density. People living in closer proximity have more control over their wastes, (centralized transport and disposal) they can better utilize transit, walk or bike instead of drive, save large amounts of energy with shared walls, reduce impervious surface, etc. Fifty households living in a multi family on one acre of land have a much smaller impact on the environment than 50 living on 50 acres.

       —Dustin    Dec. 8 '06 - 11:58AM    #
  34. When the DDA had a public hearing on downtown density both the Huron River Watershed Council and the Michigan Environmental Council sent representatives to give testimony supporting the concept. I consider both of these organizations to have much more credibility that the local Sierra Club spokesman (Cowherd). I also know that many of the members of the Sierra Club agree with the concept in spite of what Cowherd might say. I agree wholeheartedly with Dustin.

       —Leah Gunn    Dec. 8 '06 - 04:46PM    #
  35. Former City Planning Commissioner Bill Hanson is my source about the Washtenaw Land Trust. He was executive director while he was on Planning Commission. He told me the Land Trust board kept telling him to vote for bad development projects in his capacity as Planning Commissioner. So he quit the Commission. Later the Land Trust fired him.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 8 '06 - 09:08PM    #
  36. David, your assertion that the WLT “is controlled by developers” isn’t sufficiently supported by your second-hand anecdote.

    Others may want to check out the WLT board membership.

       —Steve Bean    Dec. 8 '06 - 10:55PM    #
  37. Back on topic, the commission heard input on the draft guiding principles and goals from one resident last night. We had received several emails in general support of them, with a few wording suggestions and one suggested change (which we didn’t get around to considering last night.) The item was postponed to our January 25 meeting.

    The State of Our Environment Report committee will meet in the interim to discuss the feedback, possible replacement of goal #10 (which many of us don’t favor), and adding explanatory text to the resolution and/or the document to give a better sense of the purpose, context, and thinking behind the formulation of the goals.

    So please take this opportunity to share more thoughts on the draft, especially if you haven’t already.

    PS: we also approved the recommendations of the commercial recycling committee, which will now go to city council. If adopted, the program is expected to result in the diversion more than 50% of the commercial sector solid waste stream, through both recycling and composting (compared to the current 20% or so) in the next couple of years.

       —Steve Bean    Dec. 8 '06 - 11:43PM    #
  38. Steve, your conclusion as to sufficiency is unsupported.

    However, it’s great that the Commission is moving ahead!

       —David Cahill    Dec. 9 '06 - 05:36AM    #
  39. Steve, your conclusion as to sufficiency is unsupported.

    David, I stated no such conclusion. Is your middle initial “W”, by chance?

       —Steve Bean    Dec. 9 '06 - 08:28PM    #
  40. Steve, check out your comment in #36 again.

    My source was several talks with Bill Hanson.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 10 '06 - 01:17AM    #
  41. David, you can’t quote a conclusion on my part because it doesn’t exist. Repeating yourself doesn’t create one. I hope your head doesn’t explode if and when this reality finally sinks in.

       —Steve Bean    Dec. 10 '06 - 06:31PM    #
  42. Heck, all I did was refer you back to your own statement. 8-)

       —David Cahill    Dec. 11 '06 - 01:23AM    #
  43. David: I am not sure why the Wash. Land Trust is even in this string, only you mentioned them out of the blue. Don’t expect the rest of us to buy your blatant, unprovoked attack, they do good work in preserving farmland and have been doing it for many years.

    What has been shown is that major environmental groups, both national and local support density and this makes a great deal of sense.
       —Dustin    Dec. 13 '06 - 09:58AM    #
  44. It depends on who is in bed with whom.

       —David Cahill    Dec. 13 '06 - 09:50PM    #