Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Landscape Buffers, Then Signs

Earlier, I riffed on the folly of cities requiring landscape buffers between the sidewalk and business parking lots. Screening eyesores from passersby does nothing to solve the root problem: ugly parking lots. Why not create regulations that lead businesses to make those parking lots more inviting to passersby rather than just try to hide them? Challenge those designers who are designing bridges to rethink the parking lot instead.

Walk with me, after the jump.

Imagine being a pedestrian walking down the sidewalk past a typical business in Richardson. I say "imagine being a pedestrian" because I know none of us actually walk anywhere (except maybe on trails designed to keep us well away from any, you know, businesses). What do you see? Because of the landscape buffer requirements, you might see a grass berm, a hedge, maybe some crape myrtles, all between you and the business. None of that landscape buffer is designed to draw you into the business. It's all intended to shield the business from view.

The better the job businesses do putting up that landscape buffer, the more urgent their need to put up signs out on the other side of all that landscape buffer so passersby can see there's a business there. Kind of conflicts with the goal of the landscape buffer, no?

We build our streets to quickly move people through neighborhoods; we pass landscape buffer requirements so those drivers in a hurry to get somewhere else have pretty scenery to look at as they pass by; then those businesses screened from view want to put signs out by the street to try to flag down those same drivers who can't see past the scenery. After all that, we can't understand why, with all the nice streets and big parking lots, the people don't stop and shop here. It's all kind of crazy.

No comments: