Would be nice.
“Disasters, though, have a way of stripping away those signs of comfort and rather starkly revealing land-use patterns as well as the philosophies that underpin growth. The flooding in New Orleans that followed Hurricane Katrina, for example, wiped out mostly suburban-style ranch houses that had been built slab-on-grade, without the raised foundations and other low-tech flood-protection mechanisms that once distinguished the city’s houses.
“There is a reason that the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans virtually never flood. They were built on naturally high ground, produced over the centuries by deposits of Mississippi River silt. And there is a reason that wildfires in Southern California prey mostly on subdivisions built in the last 50 years or so, when suburban expansion and faith in American know-how were at their height.
“We can draw a final connection here, even if it is only a metaphorical one. The way that American home builders keep pushing out into new territory, developing parcels of land once considered unsafe for residential construction, is an architectural version of the way that banks and lenders have acted over the last decade, practically tossing money at borrowers once dismissed as too much of a credit risk. The goal in both cases is to maintain a pace of growth and expansion that is ultimately unsustainable.
The crisis in the credit markets, by pulling down the broader economy, has shined some needed light on predatory lending and slowed its spread. Though history suggests that we probably shouldn’t hold our breath, perhaps the fires, by the sheer scale of their destruction, will have a similar effect on the way we build.”
It’s time to recognize, not defy, wildfire risks. To break the cycle of build and burn, those who create and approve subdivisions in Southern California must take site and climate into consideration, by Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 28, 2007
Sustainable development? We don’t need no stinking sustainable development.