The downside of densification


As an Arizona resident for more than 30 years, I read “Transportation Transformation” with great interest (HCN, 11/24/15). I applaud the light rail, more bikes and walking. However, I believe there are unacknowledged consequences to the new, denser development. In reality, this push for infill in the center of communities is another building boom to accommodate higher populations. This is not about stopping sprawl — the outlying suburbs are already built. This new development will just put more roofs over more heads and use more resources. Where will the additional water come from?

Another consequence involves what we might lose when we densify the center of our communities. Will new development change or replace existing, often historic, neighborhoods? Will it affect the quality of life of established residents, many of whom own their homes and have contributed to their communities for decades? Will actual traditional (walkable) neighborhoods be adjacent to out-of-character development that imitates aspects of the authentic historic? Will new tall buildings block the views and sun of established residents? Cast shadows or streetlights onto their homes? Invade their privacy?

Perhaps it is time we look at the environment costs of increasing the population of our communities. What is the carrying capacity of the arid Southwest, anyway?

Duffie Westheimer
Flagstaff, Arizona