In parallel we could look at brand-new frontier towns like Littleton. When Littleton was founded on March 13, 1890, it was a newborn. It needed to grow. In the early 20th century, Littleton was comparable to a child and then an adolescent. It still needed to grow.
But somewhere in recent history, Littleton became full-grown. It’s land-locked. Littleton is the equivalent of an adult.
We all know—especially this time of year after lots of holiday food indulgence—that adults can still grow. But for adults, growth is not a cause for celebration. It’s called “putting on weight.” To put it bluntly, it’s called “getting fat.”
With a suburb, high density development is the equivalent of getting fat, and as with human beings, no matter how you try to hide it, “it ain’t pretty.” You can call it whatever you want, but a big ole gut is still a big ole gut.
Just as there seems to be an obesity epidemic in the US with people, there is a high density development epidemic in cities. As obesity is becoming normal with people, unfortunately, it’s becoming normal in cities as well. We don’t have to go far up South Broadway to see that Englewood and Denver are allowing high density apartments to stretch out all the way to the sidewalks. Littleton is following suit with multiple sidewalk-to-sidewalk developments. Already under construction is the Grove on the east end of downtown Littleton. The proposed replacement for Valley Feed (see story in this issue) would do the same to the west end of downtown Littleton.
Sure, all the other cities are doing high density development. They are indulging in obesity. But is that what we want for Littleton?
We want to see Littleton city government manage development like smart people manage their health. High density development without careful planning is like rampant habitual binge eating. It has huge long-term community health consequences. Snarled traffic, parking shortages, and inadequate infrastructure are a city’s equivalent to diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It makes more sense to prevent them than to try to treat the—or not–after we get them.
There are ways for both cities and adults to develop without blind over-indulgence. Cities and adults both can learn new things, make new friends, trying to improve themselves, and generally taking their lives in all different directions.
For our beloved city of Littleton, the way to prevent the diseases of high density development is to think before we indulge, and to plan how we want to feel about our city before we gobble up every morsel (of land) in sight.