Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Water Markets & Nice Streets

1) The case for privatizing water is discussed at the The Property and Environment Research Center, with the case being made that more private ownership would be good, an excellent idea.

An excerpt.

“Making the ownership link is relatively easy, because water is already claimed by someone, either a municipality, individual farmers or a government agency.

“In practice, however, claims compete with one another, especially when water is scarce. miners and farmers on the Western frontier in the 19th century devised the prior-appropriation system to resolve conflict by moving water to higher-valued uses, and trades between farmers have gone on for a century.

“The recent drought in the Southeast has raised a red flag about scarcity. The best mechanism for allocating water is to clarify the ownership among municipal, agricultural, industrial and environmental users and allow trades. If Atlanta must buy water from lower-valued agricultural users, farmers will have an incentive to save water and sell it, and municipal consumers will face a higher price and thus an incentive to conserve.”

2) An article about creating streets as places from the Project for Public Spaces makes the argument that streets should be planned more as places than transportation corridors.

However, it is possible to have streets that are good for people and as places, while still being good for cars and traffic; of which several examples exist in our community.

An excerpt.

“Streets account for as much as a third of the land in a city, and historically, they served as public spaces for social and economic exchanges. Under the planning policies of the past 70 years, however, people have for all intents and purposes given up their rights to this public property. While streets were once a place where we stopped for conversation and children played, they are now more the domain of cars than people. Even where sidewalks are present along highways and high-speed streets, they feel inhospitable and out of place.

“Ironically, the single minded pursuit of creating efficiency for the automobile travel has also failed to successfully address transportation issues, as sprawling land use patterns and traffic congestion continue to grow exponentially despite new roadway mileage that generally outpaces population growth.

“Which goes to show that, as PPS has long said, "If you plan for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places." We have the ability to make different choices—starting with the decision to design our streets as comfortable places for people.”