Gaithersbungle, part 5: What you callin’ a city?

This is the second of David Alpert’s Gaithersbungle series on Greater Greater Washington that I’ve covered, although the rest are worth looking at, and also the second look at Science City.  Alpert again says that this development on the west side of Gaithersburg, MD, is no city.  He lists a variety of reasons for this conclusion.  First of all, instead of creating land use patterns based on transportation and transit, they are creating them so that all of the biggest land owners can sell their land to developers, regardless of pattern.  Floor-area ratio is another point.  Cities have a high floor-area ratio (FAR), i.e. they have a higher density.  Most places cannot truly be considered urban unless they have a FAR of over 1.5, which unfortunately is the limit at Science City.  Also, even if they were to reach the 1.5 mark, they would have an island of barely-walkable space surrounded by car-dependent suburbs, which diminishes the vitality of that space and makes it just a slightly better version of sprawl.  A Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program has been suggested to concentrate development in one part of Science City, making it denser, but the planning department isn’t interested.  Gaitheresburg is already a center for office parks and other sprawl development, and unless they change their point of view, they will be left behind as my generation returns to the cities.

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