UDC.. Garages.. and Carbrain

It's been a while but I thought I'd share my recent letter to Mayor and Council on the topic of requiring garages for homes in Roswell.  This is truly a case of personal preference invading our city zoning code but it is also a symptom of a much larger affliction that is a pandemic in our society... Carbrain


Dear Mayor and Council,

I have a concern.  It is my understanding that we are looking to require that homes have garages in the revised UDC.  I find it hard to understand why we would have some aversion to allowing some homes to be built without garages. There is no proven research that I can find (and I have looked and looked) that links the lack of garages and thus the presence of on-street parking to any type of social issues (crime, health issues, poverty, etc). 

The biggest misconception that I hear is that on-street parking invites criminal activity. This is always anecdotal but it seems so convincing.  The crime link on the face of it may seem to correlate but causation and correlation are often unrelated. For every high crime place that has on-street parking, I can find a low-crime place that has on-street parking.  I can also find a correlation to coffee drinking and poor performance in the office as almost all of my poor performers drink coffee.  So, it must be the coffee right?  Well, wrong.  Crime is a complex socio-economic condition and is pretty much unrelated to the presence of garages just as poor work performance is unrelated to coffee consumption.  

Ultimately, I can only surmise that we are succumbing to the affliction I have dubbed Carbrain. 

If we are truly looking to build a walkable community which is by all accounts highly desired by a high percentage of homebuyers, we must get this car-first mentality out of our heads.  Just because something has been done one way for a long time (building suburban homes with garages) does not make it the right way or the only way.  In fact, some of the most desirable areas in Atlanta today have many homes that do not have garages.  Quite frankly, garages, particularly front-loaders, can significantly reduce the curb appeal and architectural quality of a home.  Seriously, our most popular and most photographed streets are Canton, Mimosa, Bulloch and Sloan.  How many of the historic houses that front them have visible front loading garages?  One, and that's a later modification that probably would have been denied by the HPC.

Carbrain is a cancer on our built environment and on our public realm and it we must beat it.  Over 30,000 people die in automobile crashes annually in the US and another 2.3 million are injured or disabled.  Much of this would be preventable if we designed more walkable and bikable places where people don't need to get into cars to make every trip and where cars are tamed to drive slower and more responsibly. Adding a requirement for garages is just one symptom of Carbrain and only furthers our commitment to a built environment that perpetuates 30,000 annual auto-related fatalities, 2.3 million injuries and costs America over $230 billion a year.

Please stop the madness and remove any consideration of garage requirements from any UDC revisions.  Let's be leaders in beating Carbrain!

Thank you,

Mike Hadden