I wonder if the onset of the current pandemic provokes any reconsideration of society’s need to reduce our personal spaces, both in private and public places.
With the advent of COVID-19, what are the chances of the continuing trend toward high residential density and mass public transportation?
Will the current pandemic spawn any possibility of slowing the rate of increasing density in our residential areas? What will become of the effort to reduce use of privately owned vehicles and public parking spaces?
Unappealing density is now a two edged sword, taking on the contagion aspect. Is the need for density real, or just a mismanaged excuse for public and private profit?
Will expanding population and lack of real estate preclude density reduction?
Do we simply continue to die until medical and business technologies catch up with every new contagion?
Government calls for more housing. Cities glean revenue in density, yet quality of living and personal safety as we once knew it continues to spiral downward. Density is now an issue for our need for ‘social distancing,’ and is affecting our daily quality of life.
Density was an issue before social distancing began. People want vacation rentals and affordable housing, adding to the so called “housing shortage,” resulting in more construction and more residential density. True, vacation rentals are just a speck in the bigger picture, still, a consideration.
Massive numbers of residential units are now crammed into single residential lots that once contained single story residences. People are forced into close proximity when they leave the safety of their homes.
Kids are forced to play in driveways, streets and public parks, where they are often unsupervised. Overall, how safe is that?
Newer generations are desensitized to ideas like having their kids play in their own private yards versus public playgrounds.
A local city mayor recently said residents don’t need yards; he wants kids to experience playing ‘in the streets.’ What?
We see the trend toward the demise of public parking spaces, traded for bike lanes for the able bodied. I like riding my bike, but still have some mobility issues. What about the aging and the elderly?
And, speaking of the elderly, those of us who can afford a new single story home can’t buy one because of shrinking lots and heightening homes, with steep stairs we cannot traverse. We cannot buy new single residence housing to accommodate our needs, without expensive custom building. Some argue there is affordable housing for low income elderly. What about accessible new housing for those who can afford it?
These scenarios are only the tip of the iceberg of the disadvantages of increasing density, all conducive to our loss of private liberties and the quality of our personal and professional work lives; not to mention our health and likely prospects of dying from a pandemic.
We need our personal spaces. Yet, need or greed of government, developers and industries, along with desensitizing the younger generation, continue to lessen quality of life while others profit. And, now, people are dying. Perhaps, it is, simply, need for the exploding population, rather than greed.
Still, how ironic is it, that now the government is calling for social distancing, and airlines are eliminating use of the middle seats on flights. Government, industry and developers crammed us together, now they are tearing us apart. Residents are now cited for being too close together and not practicing social distancing.
Density is conducive to killing us. What does the future hold for us now?
I lived in Washington D.C. and worked in Bill Clinton’s administration in the 90s. I lived in a high rise and couldn’t use the car I was given to shop or commute because there were such limited parking spaces. Other available spaces cost exorbitant fees.
We were crammed into dense housing and in elevators, and on the metro in our daily commutes in close proximity with obviously ill neighbors. Night time commutes with delirious street personalities sometimes felt threatening.
From my D.C. condo, I dreamed of my freedom back home in California. I longed for my own yard. I truly missed my little old stucco single story house, with my car in the driveway outside my front door.
What a luxury to have free accessible parking at any store or restaurant I wanted to patronize, and the secure use of my private vehicle any where I wanted to go.
I gave up my excellent opportunity in Washington D.C. to return to California. I never regretted not moving to D.C. for a prestigious promotion and lucrative paycheck. I did not allow a desire for increased personal profit to overcome my true sense of my personal vision of a quality home life.
In those days, many people took our private spaces, personal liberties and quality of life here for granted. Hopefully, this pandemic and the renewed need for personal space and private transportation will make us pause and consider the direction government, developers and industries has aimed us toward.
How will the need for social distancing be reconciled in the future? Will we continue with high density residential configuration? Will we ultimately be forced to forfeit our cars? Our personal liberties? And, perhaps the essence of our very life’s blood?
Are we witnessing a permanent shift in the logistics of both our personal and professional lives? Will medical and business technology progress quickly enough to save our lives as we are packed in everywhere like the proverbial sardines in a can?
As a society, where do we go from here? Especially, now that the lack of effective social distancing can result in citation and high fines, not to mention loss of our very lives!
Will population growth and shrinking available real estate preclude consideration of reducing density? Or, is it just a mismanaged excuse to cram people into small spaces for profit. Or, just both.
Perhaps, all of the above, along with simple consideration of what we call, the good ole days. Perhaps, this is just the way it is, and the way it’s gonna be. I’m afraid so.