This comment got appended recently to the long string from last month on view corridors. I doubt many people will have continued looking at that post and it’s an interesting comment, so I’m re-posting it here as a separate entry. (And for those wondering if there will be an end to the view-corridor debate, the city’s website has a fancy timeline graphic that appears to indicate, if I am interpreting the boxes and arrows correctly, that there will be a final decision in the last quarter of 2009):
As an admirer of your fair city I have the perspective of an outsider, which perhaps gives my position a different sort of objectivity. I have visited and studied your city in detail basically because it is a great city and I would like to live in a city as beautiful as yours. I really hope you realize how good you have it and how unusual this is.
I have nothing personal to gain, but it would break my heart to see your city get worse instead of better due to something so petty as shortsightedness.
Please be aware that if you people begin down the road of undoing the View Corridors, that you run the very real risk of setting in motion a trend towards compromising on other aspects of the things that have also made Vancouver truly special. Once such a trend begins, it is very hard to reverse.
My impression is that the View Corridor ordinance, which incidentally has inspired other cities to attempt similar measures for the public good, arose because every new development project resulted in a battle, and judging by some of your comments it seems clear that in some of these battles the developers won and the public indeed lost. Perhaps I am mistaken, but to revise the view corridors in response to developer pressure now is an invitation for a return to a very contentious situation in which developers and the public are continually pitted against one another.
Is this actually what you want? I am sure the developers would not mind, since they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. But what do you want?
I am honestly surprised that you people cannot find a more creative solution. I am shocked actually. I know your city well and have studied your view corridors in detail. At this juncture you developers have nothing legitimate to complain about because the view corridor ordinance has been in place now for a considerable length of time. Begin to tinker with it and this will no longer be true. Suddenly every developer will have grounds for violating a view corridor for any new project because it will be seen as unfair that some rules were relaxed while others were not.
Instead I think you people should recognize that sooner or later buildable lots in downtown will become scarce. This could happen now, in which case developers can be encouraged to improve your city by improving other parts of it, or you can first let them ruin the downtown and then move on. For example, San Francisco suffered a weakening of its identity when short cited city officials changed rules that permitted the downtown to become overdeveloped. Yes there are still nice parts to the city but the downtown there is now cold and hostile and not nearly as nice as it once was. Once a bad idea is implemented in such a form you are stuck with it.
Take your time, please, and try to figure out what the real problem is, and by all means find a more creative solution than dismantling the things that took you this far just so some developers can pocket some extra cash.