Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Essentials (or Occam's Razor)

The last two days have been extraordinarily busy both on this blog and in the community. The Braddock Road Metro Small Area Plan has now been pushed off the Planning Commission and City Council calendars for February. More on that later, including updates on the Great Grocery Store caper.

But it's time to apply Occam's razor to the Braddock Road Metro Small Area Plan and get to the essentials.

We're not talking about a shaving implement, but a principle of logic developed by 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham which advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity in scientific theories.

Nobody claims the Braddock Road Plan is scientific, but there's been such a steady march of public meetings and work sessions, combined with an avalanche of detail, that in trying to divine what the community wants our leaders have lost site of the forest for the trees.

Let the Growler take a swipe:

Residents have clearly identified the broad outlines of what they want: well-designed development; more open, usable green space; walkable streets, more amenities (including better retail); and protection of the historic neighborhood. There are quibbles about the details but these are the essentials.

What we're being told, however, is that this can only be achieved with rezoning and massive, dense development, particularly in the north end of the study area. Yet it is only common sense that greater density will bring more traffic and exacerbate parking problems.

So here's the challenge: Prove to us that a lower density Cameron Station or Chatham Square-like approach won't meet those same community objectives.