Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, Oregon
Cebu city's goal to be the most livable city in Asia by 2015 leads to the question: "What makes a city livable?" or more aptly, "What kind of city do we want to live in?"
Most people know what kind city they don't want to live in. (The quick answer: Metro Manila in its present state. See batjay's commentary on living the auto-driven life in the real O.C. for comparison.) Few really think about what kind of city they want -moreso how to get there.
Here's one of my favorites from the Smart Growth movement - it's a roadmap to getting to smart growth, but I think it also serves as a measure of livability. Not everything is completely applicable to Metro Manila but they serve as good take-off points for discussing the future of our city:
- Mix Land Uses. New, clustered development works best if it includes a mix of stores, jobs and homes. Single-use districts make life less convenient and require more driving.
- Take Advantage of Existing Community Assets. From local parks to neighborhood schools to transit systems, public investments should focus on getting the most out of what we’ve already built.
- Create a Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices. Not everyone wants the same thing. Communities should offer a range of options: houses, condominiums, affordable homes for low income families, and “granny flats” for empty nesters.
- Foster “Walkable,” Close-Knit Neighborhoods. These places offer not just the opportunity to walk—sidewalks are a necessity—but something to walk to, whether it’s the corner store, the transit stop or a school. A compact, walkable neighborhood contributes to peoples’ sense of community because neighbors get to know each other, not just each other’s cars.
- Promote Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place, Including the Rehabilitation and Use of Historic Buildings. In every community, there are things that make each place special, from train stations to local businesses. These should be protected and celebrated.
- Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty, and Critical Environmental Areas. People want to stay connected to nature and are willing to take action to protect farms, waterways, ecosystems and wildlife.
- Strengthen and Encourage Growth in Existing Communities. Before we plow up more forests and farms, we should look for opportunities to grow in already built-up areas.
- Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices. People can’t get out of their cars unless we provide them with another way to get where they’re going.More communities need safe and reliable public transportation, sidewalks and bike paths.
- Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair, and Cost-Effective. Builders wishing to implement smart growth should face no more obstacles than those contributing to sprawl. In fact, communities may choose to provide incentives for smarter development.
- Encourage Citizen and Stakeholder Participation in Development Decisions. Plans developed without strong citizen involvement don’t have staying power.When people feel left out of important decisions, they won’t be there to help out when tough choices have to be made.
In future posts, I'll discuss each item to see how we might apply it to Metro Manila.