>Bruce Liedstrand was City Manager or Mountain View during the development
>of downtown, the civic center, Shoreline Park, and Shoreline Amphitheater.
>He is now Executive Director of Communities By Design, a nonprofit training
>resource to help improve the livability of cities.
>Bruce will be talking to us about our problems of traffic congestion and high
>housing costs, and some of the things we can do to address them to make
>Silicon Valley more livable and less dependent on the private automobile.
Bruce began his talk by showing a slide of a traditional downtown, and explained that such places make it possible to live an auto free life. He pointed out that we are lucky that there are many examples of such places along the peninsula, for example downtown Mountain View and downtown Palo Alto.
Then he traced the technologies that got us from there to where we are now. One was the invention of zoning laws, which made it possible to separate housing from workplaces and shopping. Another was the Interstate Highway system, which was originally intended to make city to city transportation easy, but which has since turned out to make building near the interchanges choice pickings for developers. The third factor was the post WWII prosperity, which made all those houses and cars affordable.
He then showed pictures of "the American Dream," a house with a yard (four to six units per acre max), and contrasted that with "the New American Dream," a nice unit in a three story complex that allows 47 units per acre. He pointed out that the peninsula currently has no open land to put more housing on. Employers say that job growth in the area will force us to put more people somewhere. Infill is much more sustainable than further build out to the farm areas in the South like Gilroy.
He explained that to get from where we are to where he wants us to be is not going to be easy or quick. Just the changes in the way we look at transit will take a lot of doing. He suggested that since Silicon Valley is the best place in the country to try new things, we have the best shot at pioneering the way around here.