Allegedly Progressive Gainesville Loves Cul-De-Sacs

By Dom Nozzi

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In 2001, my long list of shameful, spineless, reactionary actions by the Gainesville City Commission grew again due to a cul-de-sac cave-in.

City Commissioners went against its staff recommendation and its adopted long-range transportation plan by approving cul-de-sacs at a proposed planned development (Walnut Creek) in the city.

They did this despite all the lip service this supposedly “progressive,” “green,” “transportation choice-advocating” commission engages in. They did this despite the funny little story I just told them in my staff presentation for their new, long-range transportation plan (I told them about “Little Bobby and his friend Jeff” being unable to play with each other because they are trapped in cul-de-sacs). They did this despite opposition from their Public Works Department director. They did this despite opposition from their fire department (of all people).images

To add insult to injury, even the planned development ordinance for Walnut Creek contained a clause that clearly stated that cul-de-sacs were not permitted — that connected streets are required. This required our city attorney to engage in “creative interpretation” of the language to allow the City Commission to cave in and allow cul-de-sacs.

I learned about this pathetic, embarrassing action by the Gainesville City Commission not because I was at the City Commission meeting, or because I watched the meeting on TV. In fact, it was decisions like this that compelled me to do everything I could to never go to meetings or watch on TV. I didn’t need ulcers or have my blood pressure raised. These inexcusable Commission actions sickened me.

No, I learned about the Commission vote from two fellow Gainesville planners who made it a point to forcefully and loudly fill me in on this atrocious Commission cave-in the first thing the next morning after the meeting, because they knew it would enrage me. They were incredulous.

And get this: I won’t mention names, but the planners who informed me were the two planners on our staff who were MOST pro-car and anti-transportation choice. Even they were outraged, and were throwing their hands up in disgust.

Again, the Commission was sending a clear message to staff: “We are conditioning you to be non-visionary, non-innovative, non-cutting edge, and weak negotiators (at least with site plans) because we will not back you up when push comes to shove at public meetings. Instead, we’ll pay a bunch of money to consultants to have them do the cutting edge regulations and plans. And we’ll then go ahead and ignore those as well.”

Progressive, New Urbanist, green City Commission in Gainesville? Hardly. Again, the Gainesville City Commission were quite clearly the Lip Service, Cave-in Commission Par Excellence.

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