COMMENTARY, MOSTLY ABOUT PFLUGERVILLE

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More and more frequently, developers are maintaining that is is virtually impossible to establish a retail development without having a really, really dense cluster of rentals (apartments) nearby. One recent notable exception is Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart and nearby stores and restaurants in Pflugerville were built without a cluster of apartments nearby and apparently are thriving.

The rationale put forward for including a dense apartment complex in one commercial development was that its success would depend upon attracting the "upwardly mobile."

There might be some questions from some groups in the community about just what the City of Pflugerville is attempting to achieve if it is encouraging the proposal of rental developments specifically designed to attract the upwardly mobile and/or the creative class. Consider this excerpt from a review by Terry Ewell of The Rise of the Creative Class:
The Rise of the Creative Class presents several challenges to the Christian Church. Most notorious is Florida’s claim that communities that welcome homosexuality are the most likely to flourish in the new creative class economy.  In addition he contrasts two Americas: 1) church based, mostly rural, civic minded and 2) cosmopolitan, diverse, upwardly mobile (p. 281). He characterizes church based societies as close minded, less receptive to innovation, and consequently less able to participate in the development of wealth, innovation, and forces of change in America.
This excerpt suggests the perception that some could take away from a reading of The of Rise of the Creative Class is that one can be put at a severe economic disadvantage by following a traditional lifestyle that ordinarily would be considered to be exemplary. What may also be called to mind is the kind of condescending attitude toward the red state way of life discussed in "Literary Elite Dazzled by Their Own Creation" by David Burchell.
The emphasis upon apartments is a reminder of the smart-growth critical attitude toward single-family homes and the suburban lifestyle. Ownership of a house in a suburban setting is often said to be the American dream. Contrast this dream with that described in the Sprawl vs. Smart Growth section of Planetizen: Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning (2007): "If able to deliver on its promises, smart growth could be instrumental in the creation of a new American dream -- one that perhaps features an urban flat in a neighborhood where everything is within walking distance."

It is questionable whether promoting smart growth in terms of American Dream language will be convincing. A high percentage of people will still prefer a typical single-family home with a back yard. Also, when one thinks about it, it is not convincing to suggest that an urban flat can be located where everything is within walking distance.

Earlier in "Suburbia Forever -- Get Used to It," an article dated January/February 2005, Joel Kotkin quoted Herbert Hoover: "To possess one's home is the hope and ambition of almost everyone in this country.... The immortal ballads 'Home, Sweet, Home', 'My Old Kentucky Home', and 'Little Gray Home in the West' were not written about tenements or apartments."

Perhaps this is relevant: "Apartment Glut Will Lead to Rent Cuts, Some Predict" by Shonda Novak (Austin American-Statesman, page B7, July 11, 2008).

More about apartment glut: "Developer Drops Plans for Apartments, Shops Around Broken Spoke" by Kate Miller Morton (Austin American-Statesman, August 27, 2008).
See "Pflugerville Homeowners Welcome New Retail, but Not Apartments: Neighbors near Planned Stone Hill Town Center Say They Weren't Notified of Zoning Changes" by Patrick George (Austin American-Statesman, June 29, 2008, page B1).

Summaries of comments made by some residents of Highland Park North at the hearing about the proposed Stone Hill apartments can be found in the minutes (look for Public Hearings, Section 4B) of the June 10, 2008, meeting of the Pflugerville City Council.

An article by Amy Stansbury entitled "Land Development: Topic for Ongoing Debate" appeared in the August 2008 online issue of Community Impact. This article is relevant to current issues regarding apartments in Pflugerville. There was a lengthy response in the "Comments" section that followed the online Community Impact article. This lengthy response was not available in the print edition of Community Impact distributed in the mail.
During this past year, a number of contentious adjacency issues have arisen about the proximity of proposed apartment developments to single-family residential neighborhoods. In the August 26, 2008, regular City Council meeting, one City Council member in response reported that in an example studied, the proximity of an apartment complex to a residential subdivision had no adverse effect on the value of the single-family homes nearby. One could easily argue, however, that no general conclusion was valid. In the example chosen for study, the apartment complex is separated from the nearest homes by a wooded area, a creek, an amenity area, and a major street. This is not really the kind of adjacency some were concerned about. This more closely resembles the ideal pattern of development to be expected from Euclidean use-based zoning.
For Reference. Link to Pflugerville Apartment Ratings:

Apartment Ratings: The largest + most popular community of renters

When this link is clicked, one comment per apartment complex is shown on the page displayed. To see more comments for each apartment complex, click on "__% Recommended" on the right side opposite the apartment name.
Also see "About the Multi-Family Residential Design Guidelines Advisory Committee."
Free Real Estate Clipart (upper right) obtained from RealtyClipArt.com

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