Port Marigny, Yea or Nay?

13 thoughts on “Port Marigny, Yea or Nay?”

  1. I haven’t looked at the plans at all, but under certain circumstances I would give it a “Yay.” Those circumstances would have to include some sort of rising sea level plan, whether that’s floatable buildings, buildings constructed on tall stilts, fantastic drainage, etc. The driveways could be converted into harbors once the sea level had risen for good. On the high end, it could be the next Venice. On the low end, Atlantis. This is assuming there’s enough local support to build the project in the first place.

    1. The real question here isn’t about flooding. A third of Holland is below sea level. There are technical solutions to those challenges. The Dutch manage their condition in a cohesive, responsible, pragmatic manner with an eye to the long term future of the entire society. Louisiana? Not so much. A little 78 acre island of walkable mixed use urbanism in this location – as much as I might like it – is pointless. The surrounding community isn’t interested in interacting with it. They will fight tooth and nail to stop it from being built, and if it is built it will be as diluted and sealed off from the adjacent subdivisions as possible. What’s the point? It really might make more sense to put in some McMansions with a little golf and a few strip malls.

      1. Maybe. At this point in time I don’t think the US has the political will to set up a Dutch style flood control system. Miami is already being flooded regularly and it’ll take decades at the very least to build it all out. Holland also doesn’t have to worry about super hurricanes smashing up on their shore.

        As for the backlash of the surrounding community, it’s a common roadblock among any new urbanist new town development. They still get built and thrive. Seaside, Kentlands, Celebration, Hercules, etc. I wish the general concensus would be more favorable for this type of development too, but sometimes to get people out of their comfort zone you have to push them.

      2. The difference between Louisiana and the Netherlands, of course, is that the latter is built with an efficiency of land use (i.e. density) that makes that kind of public infrastructure viable. As with all public infrastructure, building at the kind of density we see here means that LA won’t be able to afford to keep the floodwaters back, at least anywhere outside of perhaps downtown New Orleans. Miami has just spent billions keeping out the floodwaters, and they’ll have to spend billions more. Many parts of Florida won’t have the tax base to support similar works.


        1. Building mini fortifications in wealthier neighborhoods is a short term solution that will be implemented in select places over the next generation or two. But if the larger infrastructure that connects the fortifications fail – along with various segments of society – things won’t work beyond a certain point.

          Miami is a special case because the underlaying rock is pure limestone which is porous. No amount of sea walls will help hold back the ocean in Florida since it will simply ooze up from the ground everywhere. Only pumps – really really really big pumps chugging away 24/7 using huge amounts of power – will work. That might be justifiable downtown, but Hialeah? Not so much.

          There’s also the “soft” infrastructure involved in increasingly vulnerable flood zones. Long before sea walls will be needed the insurance industry will jack up rates and draw red lines on the map declaring them “no policy” zones. No insurance = no mortgages, no refinancing, and therefore radically lower property values.

          Government may step in to guaranty such policies for a while, but after the seventh big storm the local, state and federal backers will choke. End result? Economic decline and eventual abandonment.

          This process, by the way, will play out over an entire century. If you’re sixty years old, relax. If you’re twenty.. Rent. Enjoy. But buy property on higher ground.

          1. Florida’s a swing state for the foreseeable future. The feds will gladly spend California, New York, and even Texas tax dollars on pet project in FL. That’s the single best thing we’ve got going for us down there.

            I live in the “higher ground” part of north florida.

  2. I thought you made up your 8 point list, but a Google search turned up lots of articles about local residents pulling their hair out over “density” concerns. Suburban buffoons are funny.

    1. I won’t dismiss suburbanites as buffoons. People are comfortable with the way things are. Change is scary. And the suburbs were built entirely around the concept of open space, privacy, middle class respectability, and the freedom that comes with the automobile. Doing anything that upsets that dynamic is deeply disturbing to the self-selecting suburban population. The Jiffy Lubes, taco joints, and car washes are interpreted as individually benign even though collectively they produce a pretty nasty environment. But the commercial arterials aren’t where people “live.” These sad business corridors are just where people work, buy groceries, get gas…. “Living” is defined exclusively as people’s homes – and those need to be zealously guarded from encroachment by big developers who will ruin their tranquility. But by all means, build another strip mall on the side of the highway.

      1. “The suburbs were built entirely around the concept of open space, privacy, middle class respectability, and the freedom that comes with the automobile.”

        Yet they don’t look it. The pictures I’ve seen of American suburbia don’t tend to show large, private back gardens, but big front setbacks where everyone can see what you’re doing.

        I have wondered if there’s room for moving the suburbs towards a more urban form. Rather than alienating people by pushing for increased density (to start with), getting people used to minimal front and side setbacks, side parking, and narrow(er) streets, possibly with a back alley. The payoff of this, of course, would be a great huge back garden, which might incentivise it…

        1. If you look at older vs newer suburban subdivisions you’ll notice a pattern. In the 1950’s the homes were small – on average just under 1,000 square feet right after WWII. By the 2000’s the average newly built home was 2,800 square feet. In markets where land is expensive (California, Massachusetts, New York, D.C…) the cost of both land and infrastructure has gotten higher and higher so the lots on these big homes have been getting smaller – especially relative to the size of the larger homes. Consequently there’s less space between individual houses, shallower front and rear yards, and almost no side yards. Out on the periphery farther from the center of metropolitan life in cheaper markets you do see larger lots on larger new homes.

          1. Nobody builds “starter homes” anymore. Used to be you could add a bedroom with your own two hands before your next child was born to fill it.

        1. @Cererean,
          Interesting analysis and totally jibes with what I’ve seen of my own small town, which is from the 1750s or something. The ‘traditional downtown (from the 1800s)’ is still there, but the street was always wide enough to accommodate multiple lanes of car traffic – that’s why there were never any complaints about moving in that direction across much of the US.

          And it makes me question the ‘Strong Towns’ (another site Johnny’s articles appear on) methodology, which works on the assumption that these small towns in the US were sustainable, but now they are not, and leads me to question if they were ever sustainable (where sustainable = able to grow and improve with modern law & conveniences ala the European model, not totally bereft of modern services ala some libertarian/agrarian model). Not that Strong Towns doesn’t have a good message otherwise, but flawed in the same ways as your critiques of “New Urbanism” are, and gives a reasonable historical base as to why zoning regulations across the US arose the way they did.

          Food for thought in the same way Johnny’s articles are about what reaching the burndown point will look like.

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