There’s a great piece on Salon.com about how some of the biggest cities in the U.S., (gasp! even some of the “world-class” ones!) are moving away from the risky venture of stadium building and similar large scale projects in favor for more effective, micro-projects that energize locals. It’s a really good read and those who have their futures vested in Sacramento ought to take five minutes to read it. Here’s a taste:
For a long time, tactical urbanism was associated with guerrilla gardeners and fly-by-night pop-up parks, whereas large-scale “city planning” was seen as the job of bureaucrats with blueprints. But more and more often, City Hall is taking a more active (as opposed to purely reactive) role in these types of smaller, cheaper, localized efforts, and sometimes even leading them. “Tactical urbanism has always been a combination of both bottom-up and top-down,” says Mike Lydon, a principal at the Street Plans Collaborative, an urban planning firm, “but now you’re seeing more of these ideas proliferate at the municipal level.”
In a way, thinking small is the next logical step in America’s urban renaissance. When cities really started changing 10 or 15 years ago, the economy was booming and the Internet was a newfangled gizmo. Today, cities have less money but more ways to communicate, two conditions perfectly suited to more focused, low-cost planning. Now you can home in on a specific neighborhood (or even just a few blocks), find out what the residents there want or need, cheaply implement it on a trial basis, and make it permanent if it works.
In one way, Sacramento has already dipped its toe into the water on this idea. The wildly popular food trucks are just one example, and last month when they partnered with the GOOD Market on Del Paso, the response was overwhelmingly positive. A temporary mobile bike station which took the place of one parking spot recently took a three-location tour to great acclaim as well.
While using “laser-focus” on the failed Downtown arena, the Sacramento City Council lost focus of the tiny details of governance; making sure the parks are clean, the potholes are fixed, and the locals aren’t becoming apathetic. If we spent a faction of the time and resources on micro-projects like the ones mentioned in the Salon article, I’ll wager Sacramentans faith in our future would increase exponentially.
And if I’m wrong, we wouldn’t have spent much. Read the piece for yourself!