Some good discussion here -- thanks for participating, forum members.
I'm sorry I mis-guessed about your lifestyle, Duca. No insult was meant.
ct wrote:In this case we're also speaking of more than just a shoreline, which in this case wouldn't be visible in the same way as the south shore since there's no equivalent of John Nolen Drive. There is a lakeshore path called for in the long-range city plan, which if it were ever to be built would require seizing that part of all lakeshore properties from James Madison to the Union (including my cooperative house.)
The lakeshore path idea relies on Wisconsin's very old (to the beginning of statehood, I believe) riparian rights laws, which grant public access to the shoreline of any navigable waters to a distance of something like four or six feet (someone else can clear that part up if necessary). It dates back to a time when we-the-people believed natural resources belonged to all the people not just to landowners, so people could, say, fish or travel on our waters and be able to use the shoreline while doing so. I think it's some neat and collectively-oriented legislation. The public gets "rights" (like an easement, sort of) even though some person or entity (the coop, say) actually owns the land. If the city's lakeshore path plan calls for an actual taking, I wasn't aware of it. I thought it was more of an exercise of riparian rights. If I'm wrong please correct me.
I can see why the coop feels like it's in a bind with encroachment from four sides, but the encroachment of the lakeshore path proposal is actually coming from a more
cooperative or collective view of ownership versus public good than we are used to seeing today, not -- I think -- a position of condemnation or taking by a government entity. I am not foolish enough to try and sort this out for anybody, but it seems like in principle, coopers would favor more shared use of public resources.
I also think the view from a boat in the water is as important as the view from a highway, incidentally. I know the south approach to the Capitol is sort of a showpiece, but the view from the north -- while less accessible -- is to my mind the real prize.
But that's an aside, sort of. I can easily empathize with the way the coop feels encroached upon and coopers think the whole principle of a historic district is being made a joke. This is what happens to neighborhood plans in the face of big money -- it's predictable -- and every time the neighborhood plan loses, the entire principle of public input and neighborhood organization is weakened. We have to draw the line over and over and over, and the only way to do it is public participation. I am encouraged to know coopers stay long enough to develop a commitment and ties to their neighborhood. You guys might be exactly what saves that fragile neighborhood plan.
duca wrote:What of Cooltapes' counterparts living on Johnson, or Gorham? No love for the neighborhoods, only for the lakeshore, which in fact is better able to absorb height (due to the sloping shore) than blocks further inland?
I'm looking at the condition of a lot of the housing surrounding our newer tall student housing on Johnson/University, in particular. We've talked about how so-called "benign neglect" ends up in demolition. That's just what we've seen on those blocks. Most of the demolition is already done.
In fairness, I think nearly all buildings have a finite useful lifespan. Sometimes it's centuries and sometimes it's a few decades. I would say much of the older housing in that area is 100-110 years old, dating from the early 20th century. It was never top-notch construction and in terms of fire and electrical safety, by now it's pretty alarming. Old wooden three-story houses crowded close together are about as bad as it gets when a fire starts.
The coop, on the other hand, is masonry, was built to higher specifications, and is not as close to its neighbors. These features make it somewhat safer (though being way down a hill doesn't help much in the wintertime). I think it has a more years of useful (and safe) life left than those old two- and three-flats. This is subjective, admittedly, but is much of the basis of why I'm willing to let those buildings go if we can keep the lakeshore neighborhood more or less intact. We want different housing options for different people, and these kinds of choices are one way to get them.
Fortunately I am not the god who has to decide what goes and what stays. Neighborhood organizations, residents, and property owners have more standing to speak up and if their call is that I am wrong here, that's just fine with me.
I disagree the sloping shore is a reason to build taller near the lake. This is subjective, too, but part of what we love about the Isthmus is its profile seen from the water. If we build everything up to the legal height limit (state law) of the shoulders of the Capitol (within the statutory one mile radius) we totally lose that contour. This is the endpoint of what I think is Duca's concept though I'm guessing I am wrong just because I've misread her so far. (So elucidate, OK?)
I'd like to see buildings stepped down the steep shoreline for both esthetic and economic reasons. Stepping adds value to the lots not adjacent to the shore, because they retain lake views that, if the shoreline were built up to the max allowed height, would be blocked.
Prioritizing the value of the lakeshore lots to the detriment of the inland lots works against the principle that the lake (and, in a way, views of the lake) belong to all the people, or at least as many people as possible. If you can't afford the most expensive apartments, you can still see the lake from cheaper ones a few blocks inland. That's a nice thing about stepped -- limited height, proportional height -- development.
The loveliest lake-edge neighborhoods around all our lakes are the ones where a road circles the lake with open land (publicly usable) on its lake side and residences on the inland side (think the south shore across from Brittingham Park). The most disappointing neighborhoods are like the parts of Monona where almost nobody can see the lake unless they own lakeshore property.
It's way too late (and too sloped) to do that on the Mendota shore of the isthmus, but the principle of democratizing access to natural resources is still valuable to me and part of that access is lake view.
That's my immediate reply to both ct and duca. Carry on.