Thursday, July 18, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Not In My Town

Friday, July 5th. 7:45 AM. Eighth and Cass. 
An older black chevrolet pickup with the word "Knucklebuster" written in red atop the windshield drives south as I go north. I sneer and look in the rearview mirror to see a Monster logo sticker in the truck's rear window and ask myself a sarcastic "really?" 

Get to work. Check the news. Horrified by the tragedy only a few blocks away in the night. Do I know the victim? Oh god… 
Not in my town.

Saturday, July 6th.
More news comes in. Similar incidents. What was a terrible tragedy is now an ominous homicide. I'm angry. If I see Knucklebuster I'll smash it up with a baseball bat.  No reason really other than someone needs to pay and someone needs to do something. I'm scared too. How does this happen? 
Not in my town.

I did not know Kelly. But I could have. She could have been my friend; my wife; my daughter 20 years from now.

Days go on. I eye every dark colored pickup truck suspiciously - any signs of front end damage? A short bike ride is a victory lap. I shouldn't be this anxious. 
Not in my town.

Thursday, July 11th. 2 PM. F&M Park.

1500 celebration participants in a town of 14,000. A procession so long it is measured in minutes instead of miles - 9 minutes of cyclists. Many donors do do something. I ask myself a hopeful "really?" I cry. Because this town will not be angry; will not be suspicious.
Not in my town. 

(pic from UpNorthLive's Facebook page)

I was angry. I was scared. I was blaming.

But I won't. Not anymore. My town said Remember to Love. So I will. Our family will ride to the Pavilions for a concert on the lawn. We'll ride to get ice cream. We will all ride. And Remember. And Love.

This is my town.

I share this, because perhaps, like me, you have been angry and not known what to do. But we do know, don't we? 

Remember to Love. Each other. Our Town.

Thank you for your spirit Kelly
Thank you for your actions Pauly. 
Thank you Traverse City for saying "Not In My Town".

(pic via twitter @glhjr)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Into The Realm Of Absurdity (on social media)

It is the middle of the National Cherry Festival and in an odd coincidence Traverse City and northern Michigan are being mentioned at a ridiculous level just over the past few days.

Some examples:

Freep: Michigan becoming foodie, wine-lovers destination and Traverse City: Come on up, the dining's fine

MarthaStewart: Secret Michigan: Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula

ChiTrib: Go away with Carter Oosterhouse
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Traverse City, Ojai, Calif., Jerome, Ariz., Palm Island, Grenadines and Capri, Italy.
Livability: Top 10 Best Small Towns, 2013: #8 Traverse City, MI

And from Ken Scott Photography, many folks are sharing this on Facebook:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My April, 2007 Letter To The Traverse City Commission In Support of Accessory Dwelling Units

[though I would not write exactly the same letter today, I still hope for legal ADU's. Here is the previously unpublished e-mail in support of allowing ADU's I sent to the City Commissioners who had e-mail access in 2007. ]

I support allowing people to do with their property what they see fit as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. Therefore I support allowing Accessory Dwelling Units in Traverse City.
It seems opposition to ADU's falls into a few different camps: privacy, parking, people, and protectionism. I'd like to address these concerns.

many opponents of ADU's worry that a two-story garage in their neighbor's backyard will result in gawkers looking directly into their backyard. This is a legitimate concern. Although houses in Traverse City neighborhoods are very close together and I can easily see into all of my neighbors windows. I had no expectation of privacy when I moved into town. But many people consider their backyard as an oasis and a retreat therefore when building ADU's design considerations must be made to limit how windows face backyards. This is a matter for the language in the ADU code.

Adding more people to the city may increase the need for vehicle parking. But on the flip side more people living in town will reduce traffic congestion because people will be able to walk and bike to their downtown location rather than driving into town from an outlying suburb. The parking issue is a matter for the language in the code. Keep the ban on overnight on-street parking and require anyone with an ADU to provide a parking spot for each bedroom rented.

Although no one comes out and says it city residents don't like renters. Especially college age renters. And with good reason. Renters can be unruly, rude, offensive, and annoying - especially at 2 AM and they are playing Johnny Cash's 'Ring Of Fire' at 11 on their home stereo. From my experience of living in town it is the houses used as rentals that are the biggest headache. But I've also lived next to rentals where the house owner lived on one floor and rented the other. Without exception, instances where the owner has been on-site have been problem free whereas houses used as a rental have their share of problems. This is a matter for the language in the code by requiring anyone with an ADU to live on-site.

Plus, by having ADU's with only one or two renters it keeps young people from living together in a big house which is what seems to be so problematic.

I've read in the Record-Eagle comments from an apartment owner who is against allowing ADU's because of the extra competition they would give the apartment. I was not aware that the role of government was to protect someone's business plan. Should TC prevent new B&B's until all the hotel rooms are occupied? Prevent new restaurants from opening until all the other eateries have their tables filled? Or is the right to private property more important? But just as hotels pay a tax I wouldn't mind adding a service fee or tax to ADU's when they are rented.

The argument regarding enforcement is a red herring. Who enforces current laws regarding in-home businesses such as childcare, or trash burning, etc. It is easy - if something happens at an ADU and law enforcement arrives and the investigation shows the owner does not live on site then there will be a fine.

The Good of ADU:

I want a town where young families walk their children to child to Central Grade School. I want a town where I may have a neighbor letting a player from the Beach Bums living above their garage. Or an owner of a local business who hires an intern who can live in town too because they found someone to rent them an ADU at an affordable price. ADU's and local schools go together.

Everyone knows living in town is expensive. If I or my wife lost our job we would have to move out of town. Taking a potential Central Grade School student with us. However, if we could have an ADU then because of that extra income it becomes a possibility that we can get by as a one-earner family.

The Bigger Issue

Ever since English Common Law it has been understood the people can decide what to do with their property. Although you may not like it that includes renting all or a portion of their property to others.
'Privacy' is not in the U.S. Constitution, but property is protected by four amendments (Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth). This is because it was well understood in the 18th Century that the right to property gives birth to a right to privacy. Those who would dictate to others what they can do with their own private property stand on a slippery slope of erosion of their own 'right to privacy'.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bohemian Like You

For real this time - Hotel Indigo is breaking ground.

Years ago, when the idea of a boutique hotel was proposed my initial reaction was one of "don't do it! - let's not lose the warehouse district". Like what Chirstopher Hutchins felt about the West Village in Vanity Fair,
Every successful society needs its Bohemia, a haven for the artists, exiles, and misfits who regenerate the culture. With the heart of New York’s West Village threatened by developers, London, Paris, and San Francisco have a message for Manhattan: Don’t do it!
(See: Last Call, Bohemia)

Cities need an incubator. A sanctuary. Marine sanctuaries are a place of refuge to replenish fish populations. A city needs an area where ideas and businesses can be replenished. A place to grow. A space where failure is an option and success is a chance. Often this means low-rent areas. Often this means empty warehouses. Historicaly these were the bohemian areas. The sections of the city that may have looked downtrodden but flourished with the people who worked with their hands. What we now euphemistically call the creative class. And as those creatives aged they became productive entrepreneurs. And this is why every city needs a place for its misfits. Those who want to go in an unlikely direction.

Traverse City had a literal little bohemia 100 years ago. This spawned the institutions of Sleder's and Lil Bo's as well as the entire Slabtown neighborhood. Though "bohemian" is not much used today - a better term might be "little Detroit".

For all the sadness and desperation surrounding that once great American city there are creatives in the core who are using the low rent area to grow their ideas. They can take these chances due to the existing low cost infrastructure. And manufacturing is coming back there. Bicycles, watches, leather goods, and so much more. Yeah, it might lead to gentrification someday but is that better than the alternative?

Traverse City had a warehouse district. Hotel Indigo will change the warehouse district in a big way. Like a suburban street named after a forest that was cut down for cul-de-sacs. But that is not the end of a lamentable story. And this is why I changed my mind.

I think Traverse City has a next little-Detroit area. An area of the City for risk takers to make their experiments.

Woodmere Avenue and the area east of Boardman Lake. Maybe beyond.

The Woodemere Ave corridor has had its redesign. The Boardman Lake trail is in place on the east side of the lake. And there is warehouse space available such as "The Glacier Dome" (The Ticker has a story of 70's bands playing there.)

And now Traverse City is about to get its Hotel Indigo. I hope the Hotel Indigo is successful and the people it will draw to downtown and the bayfront support all of our local businesses. Plus, Ballantine restaurant sounds interesting ("an American Gastropub and Belgian Bier Bar"). My initial fears of losing some sort of "authenticity" were misplaced.  Traverse City still has room for bohemians, a little Detroit, and if some new development gentrifies that area then perhaps a new area will become the incubator.

I just hope we, as a town, never lose areas to serve as our sanctuaries and incubators.

The Dandy Warhols inspired the title for this post:

Additional reading:

Record-Eagle: Chain hotel in works for Grandview Parkway
TCBusinessNews: Major chain hotel proposed in Traverse City's Warehouse District
TV 7&4: Four-story hotel coming to Traverse City?
TV 7&4: Local businesses speak out about proposed hotel
Fox33: Upscale hotel planned for Traverse City's warehouse district
Record-Eagle: Letters to the Record-Eagle editor in opposition
Record-Eagle: Proposed Hyatt hotel divides opinions
Record-Eagle: Downtown hotel plans hit roadblock
Record-Eagle: New hotel planned for Warehouse District
MyNorth: Hotel Indigo – Warehouse District
ICH: About Hotel Indigo
IPR: Warehouse District Ready To Boom
UpNorthLive: Hotel plans move forward at GT Commons
Downtown TC: Garland St input
Ticker: New Shops, New Brewery for Warehouse District
IPR: Woodmere Renaissance

Detroit links:
Freep: Ad agency Campbell Ewald headed downtown, with 600 jobs
FasctCoCreate Remaking Detroit: Can Creative Companies Save an American City on the Brink? and Meet The Makers: Rebuilding Detroit by Hand 


Friday, January 25, 2013

Missing Links For 1-25-13

Long list of things folks in northern Michigan may find interesting; these have been accumulating for a long time.

-Atlantic Cities: When a Music Scene Leads to a Boom
[happened in Omaha, maybe to the Good Works Collective too?]

-Atlantic Cities: How and Why American Cities Are Coming Back

-Crain's Detroit: So why does a business leave northern Michigan for Florida? Sometimes, it's talent, not taxes
"I just couldn't hire people in northern Michigan," Harr said. "Honestly, I've hired everybody I can. There's just no more talent. I would interview and interview and interview, and I just couldn't come up with the talent that I needed."
-Atlantic Cities: Chicago's Ambitious Plan for Zero Traffic Fatalities

-Cruising Grand Traverse Bay

-Partners returning landmark Petoskey building to brewing roots [Petoskey Brewing]

-French Broad River Paddle Trail opens [Asheville, NC]
"...volunteers ...have created eight public campsites along the paddle trail, which connects a 140-mile stretch of the ancient river [French Broad River]"

 -Northern Express: A Boom in Bike Paths

 -Salon: Rust Belt chic: Declining Midwest cities make a comeback

-Lebanon Valley Rail Trail good exercise and economics [study indicated the 20 mile trail contributed $1.3 million to the economy per year]

-TraverseMag: Hemingway in Northern Michigan

-Planetizen: New Understanding of Traffic Congestion

-Arizona Dept Of Transportation Research Dept: Land Use and Traffic Congestion - Final Report 618 - March 2012
Researchers performed a detailed analysis of the relationships between higher-density land use and traffic conditions in four Phoenix transportation corridors. The corridors included three older, high-density, mixed-used urban areas and a more contemporary suburban area with lower density but high traffic volumes. The analysis showed that the urban corridors had considerably less congestion despite densities that were many times higher than the suburban corridor. The reasons were traced to better mix of uses, particularly retail share, which led to shorter trips, more transit and nonmotorized travel, and fewer vehicle miles of travel (VMT). Also recognized was the importance of a secondary street grid in the three urban areas, which allows for better channeling of traffic and enables walking.
-SciAm: Why do we hurry to wait? [as in waiting in line at the gate or hurrying to a red light]

-Atlantic Cities: Study of the Day: Planners Miscalculate Benefits of New Roads [regarding the disconnect between transport researchers and transport modelling]

-PerSquareMile: Urban Trees Reveal Income Inequality [via EcoGeek]
...for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent
-Bloomberg: U.S. Auto Sales May Slow Through 2016, AlixPartners Says
Auto sales may also decelerate in part because younger people are less likely to have driving licenses and drive fewer miles than previous generations
-Placeshakers: Get Your Hotels into a Walkable Town Center

-Crain's Detroit: A year after a 'Most Beautiful' moment, popularity of Sleeping Bear region hasn't hibernated

-Midwest Energy News: Traverse City takes a lead on energy efficiency

-Forbes: Cities Expect Bicycle Boom

-PhysOrg: Research suggests denser development is good for single-family home values
The researchers found that not only did the value of single-family residential properties increase with density of surrounding development, but that the quality of neighborhoods, as defined by access to other land uses, including parks, increased with density as well.
-Marketplace: City planners warm to 'accessory apartments'
...turn unused space in existing homes into affordable housing. Accessory apartments require a separate kitchen, bath and entrance. And they help not only renters looking for a cheaper deal. They bring in extra cash for homeowners with fixed or low incomes.
-The Path Less Pedaled: Economics of Bike Touring

-PacificStandard: Bicycle Studies Pick Up Speed in Academia

-TED: Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes 
"we didn't ask for permission, we just did it"

-Placemakers: In Defense of ‘Vibrancy’ (And beer)

-Fremantle Doctor: Five car parking myths: Why we need to get smarter about parking 

-WSJ: A Surfer Waits for an Idea to Catch The Right Wave—In Idaho [river bungee surfing]

-Grand Rapids Residents Want A Whitewater Park Full Coverage at MLive

-Idaho Stateman: Two new Boise parks all about water [whitewater park is open - video]

-FastCoExist: Bikes Aren’t Just Good For You, They’re Good For The Economy, Too

-PhysOrg: 'Smart growth' strategies curb car use, greenhouse gas emissions
researchers at San Francisco State University found that a 10 percent increase in a city's smart growth features—including housing density, jobs per capita and public transit infrastructure—would lead to a 20 percent decrease in the number of vehicle miles traveled per household, per year.
-Bicycling: Iceman Cometh: An Old-School Adventure Race

-Quartz: America’s new subprime boom: This time it’s cars

-City of Chicago: Chicago Sustainable Backyards Program

-Chef Michael Ruhlman: Pigstock, Traverse City, Michigan
"one of the most inspiring days of my life"

-flickr: PigstockTC 2012

-Felix: The problems with measuring traffic congestion

-I Like Your Bike

-Jeff Smith @MyNorth: A Journey Down Traverse City's MicroBrew Canoe Trail

-Crain's Detroit: The 'boomerang' effect: Young people who left Traverse City find their future … back home

-SLC Tribune: Salt Lake City Council bans demolishing buildings to create parking lots
Surface lots cover about 20 percent of downtown – some 55 acres.
-Atlantic Cities: 4 Reasons Retailers Don't Need Free Parking to Thrive

-NYT: A Michigan City Bets on Food for Its Growth [Grand Rapids]

-Atlantic: Who Knew the Most Creative Seed Fund Was in Grand Rapids?

-Oregon Public House
OUR VISION Portland, Oregon is the craft brewing capital of America and supports an extensive, thriving pub culture. Portland also hosts more non-profit organizations per capita then any other city in America. our vision is to leverage these two unique attributes of our city by creating a family-friendly pub environment where our neighbors from the surrounding area can come to enjoy community around good food and craft beer while supporting great causes. To integrate this vision of pub with benevolent outreach, we have established relationships with a number of non-profit organizations to which our pub will donate 100% of net profits. The customer will purchase their food and/or beverage, and then have a change to choose were they wish their individual proceeds will go to from a short list of local charities. We've simply positioned ourselves to be the "fundraising department" for these charitable organizations, by providing the community with great food and great beer in a warm, inviting environment.
-TH: Study Finds Cyclists and Pedestrians Spend More In Stores Than Drivers

-Per Square Mile: Town, section, range, and the transportation psychology of a nation

-Ticker: Local Micro Distilleries On The Rise

-The Michigan Beer Film Teaser

The Michigan Beer Film Teaser - Rhino Media Productions from Rhino Media Productions on Vimeo.

-Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project

-USCG Air Station Traverse City Welcome Aboard Pamphlet (pdf)

-USCG: Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: Chief Warrant Officer John Leaming, Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

-Streetsblog: Road Diets Are Changing American Cities for the Better
Poughkeepsie’s treatment for Raymond Avenue involved the removal of one traffic lane in each direction and the addition of three roundabouts. The city also added a center median with pedestrian refuges, to facilitate safer crossing. That project led to a 50 percent decrease in traffic collisions and the opening of several new businesses in the area.
-Touring and Tasting: Beautiful, Bountiful, Traverse City

-Crain's Detroit: Ex-psychiatric hospital could become a nerve center for Traverse City's local-food movement

-Oryana: list of PLU's

-BattleCreekEnq: Dunes in northwest lower Michigan 2,000 years younger than once believed, MSU researchers say

-EasternSurf: Over the River and Through the Woods: South Florida’s Blake Burns Finds Empty Summertime Fun In Northern Michigan
No matter how many times I visit Northern Michigan, I’m still taken aback by the beauty of the area in the summertime.