CNU President John Norquist Visits Long Beach, Studio 111
July 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
LONG BEACH (July 27, 2010) – Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) President John Norquist, on a visit to Southern California, spent the afternoon of July 27 touring Long Beach then gathering with Southern California CNU members at Studio One Eleven. The evening was highlighted by an engaging Town Hall-style discussion focusing on urbanism in Long Beach and its affect at the national level.
“It was an honor to have the opportunity to discuss our city and some of its most pressing issues with John,” commented Michael Bohn, Principal at Studio One Eleven, a Long Beach-based architecture, landscape, and urban design firm. “John was very impressed with Long Beach, especially the way in which the city is taking advantage of progressive mobility strategies such as “Sharrows” (bike-auto shared road lane) on 2nd Street, “road diet” on First and Linden, Bike Boulevard on Vista, and the Bikestation.
“He also appreciated the city’s emphasis on preservation and the adaptive reuse of older buildings spread across the city.”
Norquist, who was the Mayor of Milwaukee from 1988 to 2004, advocates New Urbanism as an alternative to sprawl and draws on his experience as a big-city mayor and prominent participant in national discussions on urban design, transportation, and schoo reform. On Tuesday he emphasized that urbanism needs to be made more viable.
“Every Main Street in America violates Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s rigid lending standards,” Norquist shared. “There are plenty of mixed-use streets where Fannie and Freddie have played no role in development.
“These neighborhoods often have impressive purchasing power, transit-service and the potential to be sites of new opportunity and green redevelopment. A flawed government-subsidized lending approach works to keep them locked in a pattern of disinvestment in major cities.”
The CNU recently began discussions with major automobile insurance companies asking them to partner as advocates for safe street design. An effort that would ultimately will reduce fatalities and property damage, thus reducing liabilities to carriers.
Tuesday night’s guests included representatives from the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency and the City of Long Beach, among a dozen other professionals involved in architecture, engineering, planning and law. The gathering, coordinated by Art Cueto of Transtech, was an effort to initiate the organization of a Southern California CNU chapter. Cueto, an urban planning consultant and long-time CNU member, hopes to raise the awareness of local issues and successful implementation of innovative Urbanist initiatives on a national level.
CNU 19, the Congress’ annual conference will take place in Madison, Wisc. from June 1 to 4, 2011, where Cueto hopes to highlight Southern California urbanism with a focus on Long Beach.
For more information on John Norquist and Congress for the New Urbanism, go to www.cnu.org.