This week I was invited to watch some of this year’s Congress For The New Urbanism’s (CNU.org) talks from Savannah GA. During Wednesday’s talk the speaker posed an interesting thought on the way cities are defining open space that suggested green-lining has replaced red-lining.
For readers not familiar with the term red-lining, it was the practice of realtors and lenders in urban areas of excluding minorities from obtaining mortgages in all white neighborhoods. They literally drew red lines on housing tract maps and minorities were not allowed to buy into those markets, well they were denied mortgages if they tried to buy into a red-lined area.
I’ll need to re-watch the first talk to really distill what it was he was saying but at first blush, this idea resonated with me given the city’s current debate between F and I.
Here’s how I see where this debate now sits. There are those who believe conservation means saving every bit of land, regardless of whether or not these lots form a meaningful band of green, are part of a wildlife corridor, are critical linkages to previously set aside landscapes.
Then there’s me. I believe, as do most noteworthy conservation efforts, in saving landscapes. Areas worthy of John Muir’s definition of Majestic Cathedrals. In areas where there is already a built environment, I believe we have an obligation to maximize the utility, within reason, of that environment as a way to relieve some of the pressures of a growing population.
This past Tuesday during the Planning Commission special hearing one of the Dean children spoke of Denova’s first plans for the Pine Meadow Golf Course site. Those plans are still on the city’s website. The lots were condensed and meandering paths were built into the plans. That project was worthy of the land it was maximizing. The new project will still be good, if uninspired, forced to fit into the suburban tract model mode due to the threats of green-lining.
In Martinez who will green-lining impact? Will it be the same minority groups as in the past? Or will it also be the white working class that make up our current population base? What about our own future generations? An argument that continues to be rehashed is “can Martinez absorb 300 plus new people”? as a way to counter the arguments of the need for more housing.
My answer to that is, Congratulations Class of ____ (because it won’t stop here if I passes) welcome to your new green-lining reality. Now don’t let the door hit you in the rear on your way out because the 1000 Friends of Martinez have just flipped the No Vacancy sign on and there’s no more room at the John Muir Inn (with apologies for the actual business).
– Linda Meza