Lets Talk About Density
by Vivian Henderson
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a whole lot of density going on around here. Urban planners have taken over the country and they are convinced that the only way to effectively deal with humans is to pack them, tightly, in urban centers. Houses are 5 feet apart; back yards are 5 feet wide. These planners must protect the rural areas from “human disturbance”. So, in the cities you go!
No place for a swing set. No room for backyard Bar-B-Qs. Call it “Smart Growth” or “Sustainable Development” but what it means is the government knows what is best for us. And they will tell us where to live, how to live, what to eat, and how to get from one place to another. And it will not be in a POV; “privately owned vehicle” in other words your car. We will be herded into mass transit. Apartment dwellers will be packed in even tighter. As we speak, high rises are being planned that will change the character of our cities and towns.
And we’re the lucky ones at least for the near future. Our grandchildren and their children will suffer the painful limitations and loss of freedom that is imposed on us when we are forced to live in “high” density development.
Take Tokyo, for example. In the recent past National Geographic TV channel featured a 2 hour program “Tokyo Living Small in the Big City”. I’d like to share with you some startling facts I learned from that program.
There are 35,000,000 (million) people in Tokyo. In greater Tokyo there are 50,000 people per square mile. In Kitsap County there are 586 people per sq. mile. The average sized single family home in Tokyo is 678 sq.ft. More recent “Penguin” houses are 900 sq ft. Do they have a yard?? You must be dreaming!
About half of the people in Tokyo live in apartments. Some of the older apartments are 100 sq.ft. These apartments have no bathrooms. There are community toilets shared by other tenants. Bathing is done in public bathhouses.
There are newer apartments called “Mansions” (I did not make that up) that are 200 sq. ft. The entire apartment is in a 10’x 20’ space. There are larger apartments of 269 sq. ft. These apartments have a very small refrigerator, a 2-burner range, small microwave, teeny shower and a very small sink on top of the toilet in the very teeny bathroom.
High ceilings and glass walls allow light and air to create a sense of space. Reflective surfaces on windowsills and counters give occupants a “view” of the sky. Imagine getting a chance to look at the sky from a reflection on the counter.
What kind of problems do people have when they are jammed together like this? Here are just a few. They have no room for pets. But there are vendors that will rent you a cat or dog to play with in a petting area and for an additional $7 you can have your picture taken with the animal. (If there is no room for pets, how can they have children?)
There is no room for company. Friends and family meet in public places like restaurants and bars.
There is too much exposure and not enough room for intimacy in these dwellings. So you rent a room by the hour at one of the many “Love” hotels. You pick the room you want from several computer images and you pay an “unseen” clerk. These “Love” hotels are used mostly by married couples.
People must live this way in Tokyo. They just don’t have the land mass. In America we don’t have a land mass problem; we have a “too many urban planners” problem who honestly believe they know what is best for us. We have a problem with “elected officials” who give too much power to these planners and agencies that champion smart growth and other controls on our lives.
In America will we ever experience such crippling density and restraints on our way of life as the people in Tokyo? I doubt it. But based on the gradual tightening controls on our land, resources and lives that I have witnessed the past 20 years, I am very alarmed. If something isn’t done to stop government’s powerful control of every phase of our lives, the freedoms you and I have enjoyed will only be a distant memory to our children and their progeny.
2010 is an important election year. Think about these issues when you are selecting candidates for public office and Vote! Who you vote into office does matter greatly!
Vivian Henderson Executive Director