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Car-free in Montana

9:01 AM PDT on April 9, 2009

Some thoughts today from one of the newest members of the Streetsblog Network -- from Missoula, Montana, Imagine No Cars.
The blog's author is a University of Montana student who
is chronicling his year of living without a motor vehicle. He calls the
blog "a journal of my journey to live a car-free lifestyle. An
experiment to bike, walk, and bus it through the next year of my life.
What will not using a car mean?" (
Check out his photostream on Flickr, too. Some nice stuff there.)

193715977_4fe07b6ffc.jpgPhoto of Missoula, Montana, by Justin Brockie via Flickr.

Car-free
living isn't all he's writing about, though. In a recent post, he
takes a look at Missoula's master-plan-in-the-making,  and in
particular the contentious issue of "Additional Dwelling Units," or
"ADUs" -- second residential units, like mother-in-law apartments or
rental apartments, added to existing residential properties:

Those opposed to ADUs claim they are worriedabout the “character” of a neighborhood and the density that they maybring with them. I may be wrong, but what I hear is that people don’twant those with lower incomes mixing into their nice, high incomeneighborhoods….

The reality is that this is an issue of howwe, as a community, want to accommodate future growth. Missoula alreadyhas a large problem when it comes to supplying affordable housing, sodo we want to continue to build large apartment complexes full of lowand middle income residents on the edge of town, like those built inthe last few years around North Reserve? This creates an additionalproblem of forcing people who have less means to afford commuting tohave longer commutes.

We have a choice to make. Do we wantdevelopment to occur on the edge of town, or do we want to concentrateon infill? If we continue to grow outwards, large developers, retiringfarmers, and the construction industry win out big, but Missoula willlose valuable farm land, open space, and wildlife habitat that helps tomake Missoula a great place to live, while taking more money fromtaxpayers for infrastructure, increasing congestion, and pollution. Ifwe choose infill, we get to keep the overall character of Missoula,keep the open spaces we love so much for recreation, and create a morewalkable community while giving homeowners the ability to invest intheir own property to provide abetter income and home for Missoula residents not lucky enough toafford a home.

This blog is a great reminder of how
Streetsblog Network members around the country are thoughtfully
engaging the development process in all kinds of environments -- urban,
suburban, rural, semi-rural. We now are following 262 blogs
from 43 different states, and there's nothing homogeneous about them.
They're each seeking smart solutions to transportation and planning
problems on a local level. It's a pleasure to watch.

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