Thursday, August 11, 2011

Anti-Sprawl Transit Chief?

Former Charlotte transit chief Keith Parker has pushed San Antonio towards Streetcar and BRT faster than anywhere else I've seen in the last few years.  He had just moved in to that position back in 2009.  According to the Express News, he hopes to have lines under construction by January of 2012.

The best part isn't the streetcar push though, it's that they are taking funding to spend on urban projects that would have been spent in unincorporated parts of the county.  
“Removing $55 million from the county,” he [opponent] said, “diminishes our ability to provide infrastructure services in unincorporated areas of the county.”

For those of you not familiar with Texas land use issues, unincorporated areas generally have no zoning restrictions and very little subdivision restrictions.  Regions like Houston have areas outside the city limits that form Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) to provide water and sewer infrastructure but ultimately they end up sucking a lot of transportation funding away from cities given their peripheral nature. To be fair, I grew up in a place that was once a MUD and then annexed by Houston.  It was well planned for a burb but most of them are not master planned communities that end up with 65,000 people.

In planning school one year we had class t-shirts that said "In the ETJ, no one can hear you scream".  The extra territorial jurisdiction is a part of the county which the city can't zone but can annex, meaning you're going to get the worst sprawl you've ever seen from those parts of the region.  So with this quote I was quite happy to hear that the county wasn't going to get sprawl generating funds and that it quite possibly could be used for a streetcar.

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