Friday, October 21, 2011

Seriously Dan? You're going to go there?

Before I get into it, it should be explained that Dan Coffey, the former Assembly member who was hired by Dan Sullivan to mutilate the democratically formed Title 21 codes, is like the uncle at the table during the holidays who makes the rest of the family cringe whenever he says something. Now I'm not talking politically incorrect tirade or anything on that level (though those too), rather everything can be boiled down to a simplistic solution regardless of whether you're an expert or not as far as he's concerned. The Anchorage School District needs more funding, Dans response: when I was a kid, we went to school in a quonset hut, and we came out fine (paraphrasing for I don't remember his exact words in both quotes). Does mixed-use work? Dan said something along the lines of: the only mixed-use building I see in town has no businesses in the ground floor. He was referring to the newish mixed-use building in Mountain View which actually does have businesses occupying the ground level including a GCI Store opening soon. But never mind that. Dan Coffey says he see's no businesses in the ground floor, therefore it's official: mixed-use doesn't work! All has been settled.

After the Anchorage Press published Ivan Moore's column that was critical about Coffey's developer friendly revisioning of Title 21 a few months ago, the Press kindly gave Dan the opportunity to have a response. Having read it, I thought 'hey, maybe Coffey does know what he's doing'. The credentials and experience related toward planning and zoning that he lists did seem more than adequate. But it turns out I should've known better. As if some of his proposed changes made public earlier this week weren't outrageous, he revives the Uncle Dan character I had long known as he throws the McCarthy Card at us. That's right. Responding to an interview question, Coffey states: "I don't believe central planning works. It didn't work for the USSR and it probably won't work very well for us". That one I can tell you did not need paraphrasing. I remember saying in an earlier post a year or two ago that Anchorage's development patterns were stuck in a 1950s mindset... I guess we now know whose mindset that is. All his credibility related to planning and zoning just went down the drain. It was thanks to Ivan Moore's latest column that this Coffeyism had surfaced. But indeed I really would like to thank Ivan Moore for giving attention to the Title 21 issue over the past few months. It's not a sexy issue that would grab the attention of readers, and I know they have papers to sell.. err.. to give away.

But I can't help but to go with Coffey's thinking here. Taking it to its logical conclusions, the Haussmann Plan that restructured Paris must have been communist. The same goes with the Commissioners Plans of 1811 for Manhattan. Bleeding red, they are. And that must surely explain why the world absolutely shuns the urban horror show that is Paris while embracing a good ole red white and blue freedom loving city like Houston which really has no zoning regulations to speak of (can you tell?). Even the early planners of Anchorage had to have been communist what with their pinko street grid that have letter streets running north and south and numbered streets east and west. Interesting tidbit: was actually the Alaska Railroad that laid out the grid. Guess that explains them being state owned, no?


Anonymous said...

Both Coffey and the Mayor have an annoying habit of believing their own inane clich├ęs, great job picking this instance out.

That said I think the new zoning laws are very problematic, seem to divide the city into these sim city like boxes and are excessively restrictive to increased density and height.

Thanks for the great site.

marcus said...