Design & Development
July 12, 2019

Tel Aviv – 2a: The White City and the West End

A few more comparisons with the West End.

Here’s a West End minipark:

And one in the White City:

Here’s what it’s like trying to find a parking spot at night in the White City:

It’s way worse than the West End: the closest space from the image above was at least a kilometre away.  In the West End, it’s not as bad if you have a permit sticker – but didn’t see any residents-only parking in TLV.

Rico, in the post below, says that he prefers the West End: ” … to me the difference is not building form but tree cover along the sidewalks.”  And the West End certainly has some of the best street trees in the city:

But even in subtropical Tel Aviv, especially in the northern part of the White City, the streets are heavily treed:

While the White City is not as heavily landscaped and parked as the ‘Garden City’ planner Patrick Geddes intended, it still stacks up well against even as green a city as Vancouver.

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Imagine if the West End had never been zoned for highrises.  Imagine, instead, if through the 1940s and ’50s, we rebuilt the square mile west of Burrard with apartment buildings like this:

So from the 1940s on, it would continue to look like this:

And eventually, with replacement of the original houses by three- to five-storey apartment blocks on small lots, look like this:

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From the Vancouver Sun:

‘We’re in the middle of a sea change’

Today, architects like (James) Cheng and (Foad) Rafii think about a building’s resiliency against future changes. … they consider a future with digital workspaces, ride-sharing and a generation of tenants who will forgo cars entirely.

Many office tenants don’t even ask about parking anymore, which means new buildings probably don’t need several levels of underground parking, Cheng said.

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At our live Price Talks recording on June 26th, Gord introduced the idea of a “grand bargain” having been struck on the North Shore (episode available here).

Price Tags contributor and North Vancouver writer Barry Rueger explains the theory, and gives it some shape and colour:

During the Q&A that followed the Price Tags taping at the North Vancouver District Public Library moderator Gordon Price asked Holly Back, a member of the City of North Vancouver council, how she felt about the “bargain” that had been struck between the City and the District.

The bargain is straightforward: the City will build lots of new housing, more than a thousand new rental units, and low income and supportive housing, while the District will do nothing, in order to preserve a suburban community of single family detached homes.

As the City grows, the District will remain unwelcoming—to both outsiders and population growth.

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What did Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect of New York’s Central Park, imagine his design, the Greensward, might look like in the future?

Here is the design that won the competition in 1858:

Here is the view from the blue arrow on the map …

… looking like it might have been done by a 18th-century landscape painter, in the mid-20th century, taken on a phone camera by Len Sobo last week.

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Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail in an article entitled “It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see such stupidity about Vancouver’s affordable rental housing market”  weighs in on the City of Vancouver’s Council majority nixing a planned 21 rental unit project at 4575 Granville Street, which would have abutted an eight bed hospice. This rental project was under the auspices of the City’s Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning (AHC) policy. As it is a rezoning, it requires the associated public hearing to garner residents’ comments, as well as Council’s approval.

Council voted 7-4 to reject the rental housing proposal, and the voting did not go along party lines. There was a litany of reasons for this choice, including items like developer profit margin and parking capacity that could have been been negotiated with the Directors of Engineering and Planning.

 Mason observes “those who didn’t want to see a rental project go up in this neighbourhood used the hospice as a pretext, saying construction would have been too disruptive for those using the facility.”

Mason also states “Rental townhomes are precisely what the city needs. There are an increasing number of small, rental apartments, but not anywhere near enough units for people with families. That’s exactly the need this project would have filled, yet council killed it in a moment of fantastic short-sightedness. (One councillor thought the underground parking lot being proposed was too big. Seriously).”

Price Tags publisher and former City Councillor Gordon Price was blunt on the turning down of this rental project by local residents who used the hospice as a fulcrum for defeat. Gordon in his Price Tags post blasts that this City Council indicated: 

No matter what we as councillors say, no matter what policies we pass, no matter what support you get from staff, no matter how great the need we acknowledge, none of that really matters.  If enough of the residents complain, we will protect the status quo.”

I have a unique perspective on hospice care. In the 1980’s I was involved in the confidential acquisition of property for an AIDS hospice on Granville Street.

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From @nm_nvan:

Here’s an update of each councilor’s record of voting for the 311 market rental units in the 8 projects that have come to council this term. Renter advocate @JeanSwanson  managed to maintain her perfect record of voting against market rental units.

When one crosses the bar from activist to councillor, usually one grasps the difference between politics (the art of the possible) and ideology (where the perfect drives out the good).  In that respect, Swanson’s record is not unexpected. The curious one is Pete Fry’s.

 

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One of the key things to keep in mind when travelling:

You never get a second chance for a first impression.

A cliche of course – but also the reason why it’s so exciting to visit a city for the first time.  So many impressions to absorb, to replay and construct into an original mental map.  When the pieces come together in your head – crudely to begin with, more detailed every day – then the city is yours.

The major roads, the landmarks, the transit line you need, the safest bike and scooter routes.  The closest grocery store, a gym, a docking station.  How to get downtown, to the best beach, to the restaurant with the reservation on Thursday, to the shop on that hip street you read about.  Every trip adds more names and reasons to remember them.

By the end of two weeks, here was my mental map of the TLV I saw:

We’ll unpack it in the coming week.

 

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When it comes to the inevitable disruption that will be caused by the proliferation of electric bikes, scooters and every possible hybrid, we are so not ready.  It’s the one big thing I learned from last month’s trip to Tel Aviv, and saw this:

Scooters (and electric bikes) are everywhere in Tel Aviv – by the thousands.  Like an invasive species, it took only two years for them to fill a mobility niche, and there’s likely no possible way to exterminate them now.

Though there is the occasional sighting in Vancouver, so far the private scooter-share companies – notably Lime and Bird – have been prevented from taking root.  Like Uber, the Province has kept them at bay by making their use functionally illegal.  Here’s the situation as described in the new Active Transportation Design Guide:

Legality of E-Scooters and Other Small, One Person Electric Vehicles

At the time of writing, e-scooters (and similar small, one-person electric vehicles such as hoverboards, motorized skateboards, and self balancing electric unicycles) are not permitted on public roadways or sidewalks in B.C.

The B.C. MVA defines these vehicle types as motor vehicles, but they do not meet provincial equipment safety standards for on-street use. E-scooters and similar vehicle types may only be operated where the B.C. MVA does not apply, such as on private property that does not have public vehicle access, and on trails or pathways (if allowed by municipal bylaw).

Many of the laws that ban e-scooters were developed under different mobility contexts. As demand for these technologies and others grow, the policies may need to be updated.

Um, ‘may’?   Scooters, in particular, are gaining global popularity.  They’re cheap, compact, flexible, zero-emission, noiseless, practical, fun and hip.

There is no way to stop people from buying them.  And if the law says there’s no legal way to use them, then the law will be seen as irrelevant unless rigorously and punitively enforced. And why would we do that when this is exactly the kind of transportation we want to encourage in a ‘climate emergency.’

There will be more to come on the particular circumstances in Tel Aviv.  But we need to prepare ourselves now for the impact of this new mobility.  May I suggest we send the necessary authorities to Tel Aviv for a couple of weeks with instructions that, during that time, they cannot use a car.

 

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