I asked the Charlottesville Council candidates…

If your land-use and zoning preferences are followed into the future, in twenty years Charlottesville will look like ___________ (fill in the blank).

a. Charlottesville (1.3x density increase)
b. Alexandria VA (2x density increase)
c. Philadelphia PA (3x density increase)
d. Brooklyn NY (8x density increase)

None of the candidates answered the question in the format desired.
In fairness, this was the last part of a three part question and responses were cramped by a time limit.
Hoping the candidates will share their thoughts now.

Author: WmX

I stumbled off the track to success in 1968, started chasing shadows that summer. Since then, In addition to farm-laborer and newspaper photographer my occupational incarnations include dishwasher, janitor, retail photo clerk, plumber, HVAC repairman, auto mechanic, CAT scan technologist, computer worker and politico (whatever it takes to buy a camera.) I am on the road to understanding black and white photography.

8 thoughts on “non-responsive”

  1. If you have an email for Scott Bandy or Andrew Williams please send it to me! I’d like for them to have the opportunity to respond.
    The photo is a montage of five images, close inspection reveals some “Photoshop artifact”

  2. Hi Bill,
    I would say a. (1.3X) at most – I doubt we’ll see that though. That would be almost 60,000 people which is far more than even the aggressive AECOM demand analysis predicted for 20 years from now. IF we have that rate of growth, we need to be very careful about how and where that happens. We must have policies and plans that protect the natural resources that may be threatened, particularly our water and tree canopy – not to mention the character of our neighborhoods.


  3. Hi Bill!
    Sorry you did not feel that a straightforward answer was given.
    The closest of your choices offered in my mind is option a) 1.3x

    I would hope that Charlottesville will not grow by that much in 20 years. I would hope that we grow no more than 3000-5000 people in 20 years, but even that is pushing it if we can’t already keep up with our current population’s needs economically.

    We can try to avoid this kind of growth by looking real hard at what kinds of business we want to have in Charlottesville. That is, if we seek out high-skill businesses, then we will be bringing newcomers to town who will have a lot of money to spend, and our cost of living will increase. By taking steps now to be very careful about the remaining space we have left in Charlottesville I believe we can make things much better for our current residents. This means reserving our limited space for jobs for low-skill workers, building only affordable housing, and re-purposing certain structures, but not re-zoning our neighborhoods.

    Brandon Collins

  4. Bill,
    I would like to keep the small town character of Charlottesville. Our economic vitality is not threatened by maintaining our quality of life. I think the growth rate of the past 5 years is an anomoly fueled by the building bubble that has collapsed and that Cville will revert to the normal less than 3% growth rate as reflected by housing starts, business growth, etc. The Great Recession will change growth projections, economic projections, UVA projections, everything. The enormous deficits piled up by our national, state and local governments will shrink noticeably.

  5. Bill, I know we both love the arcane world of policy– so here’s my “wonky” and sincere answer:
    Everyone agrees that Charlottesville should have more extensive and more frequent bus service – but that doesn’t “just happen” because we want it to. Some planners say it takes 10 dwelling units per gross acre to make bus service at frequent intervals economically feasible. 17 to 25 dwelling units per gross acre are not uncommon in streetcar cities. (Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post-Carbon World, Patrick M. Condon, Island Press, 2010.) According to data adapted from New Jersey Transit, 7 -14 dwelling units/acre and 40+ employees/acre are required to support local bus service. (Transit Facilities, Kenneth Griffin, John Wiley & Sons, 2004.)

    Now let’s take a serious look at Charlottesville. It has on average about 3 dwelling units/gross acre and about 4 jobs/gross acre. According to Tim O’Brien at TJPDC, roughly 11-12,000 people commute daily into the city (including city teachers and UVA faculty and staff who can’t find workforce housing.) Another 11-12,000 highly educated workers commute out of the city daily to earn higher wages elsewhere. These trends contribute to our city being ranked in the top 25 small U.S. cities with the worst air quality due to CO2 emissions. In some neighborhoods, unemployment approaches 18%. According to the Orange Dot Project Report, almost 30% of Charlottesville’s households do not earn enough to afford basic needs and 20% of our children live below the poverty level (higher than the national average). We cannot sustain these levels of green house gas emissions or poverty indefinitely.

    If Charlottesville is serious about moving away from a “carbon-based” economy and ending poverty, then it needs a well-thought out bike/pedestrian and public transportation network, and more job opportunities locally and regionally. As alluded to above, there needs to be enough density, of both housing and employment, to bring about the ridership needed to support a strong public transit system. Right now, we don’t have the overall gross densities required to support even an efficient bus service. But increased density doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) everywhere. If we locate increased density strategically along our mixed use corridors and insist on design standards that enhance our city’s character, then we’ll be able to support a transportation network that will let students, commuters – and everyone else –safely and reliably walk, bike, or ride the bus anywhere.

    Designing to manage density must be carefully done, as I wrote in a letter the Daily Progress published last year:
    We will need to have inclusive public participation in master planning efforts, and to use implementation tools that discourage inappropriate development while facilitating context-sensitive infill and adaptive reuse projects in appropriate locations. Over the next 25 to 50 years, if we use the right growth management tools and strategies, Charlottesville’s commercial and industrial areas and mixed use corridors could be fleshed out to share the positive qualities of the historic Downtown Mall and Court Square (and the community vision proposed by the Torti Gallas Study in 2000). If we do it right, Charlottesville will safeguard its distinctive neighborhoods and own unique character (both in terms of natural assets and built heritage) as it moves forward into the future, while expanding its amenities, housing and economic opportunities to match that of places like “Old Town” Alexandria. Whether Charlottesville’s overall gross density per acre will ever need to approach that of Old Town Alexandria’s remains to be seen.

Comments are closed.