Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by kboish » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:41 pm

shinatoo wrote:So I don't want to be a dick to Chuck. My issue was he wrote a pretty flimsy blog that KC was the brunt of. We were all having a talk about it and making our inside jokes and he got pissy.

It's like he walked into a bar where a bunch of friends were gathered, crackin wise to each other. He heard something and got offended. Instead of leaving the bar, or, defending his position with some facts, he started bitchin about it. That will get you shouted down in any bar.

Chuck, you are very welcome here. Please explain your point (which I think we all get). You're not wrong, you just came at our city strong. And as disgusted as were are with what has happened to our fair town over the last 4 decades, it's still our town, and we will protect it.
I agree with this. If you (chuck i guess) only read a page surrounding a couple of side comments regarding your blog post and think that is the extent of discussion on this blog, then you are sorely mistaken. Instead of jumping and baiting people you should have asked for (or better yet looked) for the many substantive posts littered throughout this forum. I suggest looking into mgsports history to see our depth and thoughtfulness in urban design.

Like, shinatoo said, this conversation has been going on for many YEARS. if this is how you introduce yourself to a crowd i can see why i have never heard of you.

and yes, KC streets have zero traffic, little life/connectivity, and are wide in many places IMO.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by aknowledgeableperson » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:56 pm

kboish wrote:and yes, KC streets ... and are wide in many places IMO.
Which streets? Where? Don't most if not all cities have some streets that are at least 6 lanes wide?

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by KCPowercat » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:59 pm

I think his attitude is a offputting but can't argue with his points....I don't think anybody disagrees that we have a lot of lanes downtown and not much of a traffic problem...which should be a positive sell to bring even more jobs back downtown.

That being said, the reasoning for the lack of traffic that nobody is downtown....I'm guessing that's what people took some offense to. I've been in a ton of downtown's across the country and could have taken that same picture in the middle of a street with no cars.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by kboish » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:40 pm

aknowledgeableperson wrote:
kboish wrote:and yes, KC streets ... and are wide in many places IMO.
Which streets? Where? Don't most if not all cities have some streets that are at least 6 lanes wide?
You added your own comparisons/values into my statement so i'll let you deal with figuring it out.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by aknowledgeableperson » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:03 pm

So, in other words, you can't identify any. Just name the streets/locations you have an objection. That's all. Kansas City streets are just like streets in other places. I walked downtown streets in KC for years going to the bank on paydays (before direct deposit), pay utility bills (before auto withdrawals), going to lunch, going to meetings, catching the bus, going to/from auto repair shops, etc. Navigation was nothing to complain about. Unless you want to talk about rain, snow, or below zero temps.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by AlbertHammond » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:20 am

aknowledgeableperson wrote:So, in other words, you can't identify any. Just name the streets/locations you have an objection. That's all. Kansas City streets are just like streets in other places.
Guys,
Let's not compare ourselves to other shitty cities. I think his point is that our downtown streets suck. They are not investment builders. They are traffic movers. Most U.S. cities did the same terrible things to their downtowns. Some cities are fixing them. K.C. is not. We might be making some of them more “pretty”, but traffic is still the main driver for most street design in this town. He is advocating a different design “driver” than cars. A design that enhances the value of the adjacent property, not one meant to move cars quickly in front of those properties.

Stop being defensive. Stop comparing us to other crap-towns. That does no good. Instead, look at the critique and see how downtown streets might be better with a non-traffic-centric design philosophy.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by beautyfromashes » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:31 am

Is the lack of activity downtown because of wide, empty streets or are there wide, empty streets because there is a lack of activity downtown?

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by chaglang » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:02 pm

beautyfromashes wrote:Is the lack of activity downtown because of wide, empty streets or are there wide, empty streets because there is a lack of activity downtown?
The streets were wide when downtown was booming, and they were wide when downtown hit bottom. So I'm going to say that the streets are empty because of a lack of activity.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by slimwhitman » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:08 pm

Imagine if every time they say "Memphis" in this video, it was replaced with "Kansas City", then I would say we are getting somewhere. Is Mayor Sky James talking about complete streets?

http://www.midsouthcompletestreets.org/

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by smh » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:04 pm

An email from Charles Marohn replying to the comment I left on his blog:
I read your comment on the Strong Towns blog. I know people there interpreted my comments as condescending and rude. That's fine. I'll admit I didn't soft pedal my approach in an attempt to make friends. Even before I arrived, that was a very small minded conversation and, while I may have misinterpreted the person who said parking was the problem (did not realize that was a joke -- it fit with everything else being said), there was no misinterpreting the narrow-minded comments of the others.

I think things could have gone better if people had taken me up on my two challenges. Instead, everyone flipped out. It has left a bad taste in my mouth, for sure, and while I may have come across as condescending, I was not anywhere near in tone the level of many in that group.

My initial critique was (a) obvious and (b) mild. The reaction I have received from many corners of KC (not just that site) speaks to a deep level of insecurity that I have a hard time understanding. If the leaders and activists of a community are that hyper-sensitive to a mild critique and a challenge to defend their flippant statements, how are you ever going to look critically at yourself? That downtown is not a great place -- not by a long stretch. If KC is going to turn it around within a generation, you are going to need some really deep introspection, far beyond anything I have provided.

How is that going to happen?

-Chuck
I have finally met an urbanist I cannot stand.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by KCPowercat » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:21 pm

That guy isn't worth anybody's time with that attitude. Says a lot about somebody who attacks like that based on comments not even meant the way he tried to spin them.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by chaglang » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:58 pm

Frankly, it feels like we got trolled. By an urbanist. That's a first for me.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by beautyfromashes » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:14 am

This is a guy trying to badmouth the city and pump up his own superlative laced, nothing vision to win some consulting work. Best to be avoided and ignored.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by smh » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:52 am

Chuck Marohn recently added a new post to his blog Strong Towns that I think makes a lot of excellent points and relatively succinctly states what most of us on this forum are trying to build in Kansas City. Told through the lens of trafficautomobile congestion: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2012 ... stion.html

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by KCMax » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:07 am

Chuck returns to KC

http://www.strongtowns.org/sid-tv/2013/ ... ience.html

He also explains why he's "picking" on KC.

http://www.strongtowns.net/profiles/blo ... e=activity
The criticism from KC, however, wasn't from the blissfully unaware but from the should-know-better crowd. Those advocating for a rail line (seriously?), touting the great Power and Light District and generally lauding how great and walkable downtown KC is ripped into me on numerous local websites. My analysis was dismissed as being from an ignorant out of towner and my prescription for KC's woes was laughed at as "crazy". The more generous among them suggested that I "may have a point" but that I should understand that "they are trying" and I should try to build more bridges than just lob critiques. It was all very weird, as if I were the best man at their wedding and had brought up the family's pedophile uncle during my toast. Some things should not be spoken, Chuck.

So my return to KC prompted me to circle back to this dialog for two reasons.

First, I want them to get their heads out of their posteriors, stop pretending that their city is great, stop fantasizing about trains and big projects and start doing the little things. ...

Second, there are many, MANY, MANY American cities that suffer from similar delusions. If they look at Kansas City through the spotlight I am shining, they should see themselves glowing back.
Oh.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by smh » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:20 am

Eh, I just can't engage with Chuck. Smart guy, but his characterizations of our criticisms of him are just completely mistaken. We all know KC has plenty of issues, and we also know there are lots of people working very hard to correct them. Unfortunately in his writing he first lobs insults rather than actual critiques, and thus his critiques are overshadowed because the reader is already insulted. I guess the succinct way of putting it is that he talks down at us instead of across the table with us. Which is disappointing.

Kevin Klinkenberg OTOH, is a great example of someone who is constructive in his criticism.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by chaglang » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:47 am

Two ways that video would have been much more robust:
1. Walk DT with a local planner or urbanist. There were plenty of offers just among the people here. Nothing is going to explain away what he's seeing, but having a conversation about it would have been enlightening. And I bet that whoever he walked with would agree with 95% of what he had to say.
2. If it's so clear that we don't get it, throw out some practical solutions. Tell us what a block of 12th Street should look like. Klinkenberg's video of Westport Rd. is a great example of this. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I came away from that video not sure what he wants KC to do. Fewer lanes? More/less on-street parking?

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by flyingember » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:38 pm

I got that he's saying we have great road capacity. That's true.

Obviously those empty streets aren't a draw for businesses or residents or else they wouldn't be so empty.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by chaglang » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:00 pm

flyingember wrote:I got that he's saying we have great road capacity. That's true.

Obviously those empty streets aren't a draw for businesses or residents or else they wouldn't be so empty.
Ok, so he's saying that we have excess capacity? I'd agree with that. What's the solution? I was waiting for him to talk about his desired end state and it never came. Since in his estimation we all have our heads up our asses, he should have known to explain everything in detail.

Nearly all of the buildings he showed in that video have businesses. The exceptions were the SW corner of 12th and B'more, and the SW corner of 13th and Main.

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Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by mean » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:57 pm

Don't feed the troll.

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