The Norman Transcript


May 12, 2013

High density: Is this all you’ve got?



Mr. Lungren points to exactly one public benefit of HR/HD — it would be friendlier to the environment than urban sprawl. For a variety of reasons, however, this is not a good argument for the sort of HR/HD developers have been advocating for Norman. In the first place, building up helps only so long as it replaces building out. Given the customers envisioned — students and young professionals — HR/HD is unlikely to even slow single-family-home-driven sprawl. More crucially, Norman developers are unwilling to cap suburban development in return for permission to go higher and denser in urban areas — they want both. Finally, if we are worried about the effects of sprawl, we should confront them directly by charging suburban developers and owners with the full costs of their decisions (e.g., impact fees). (Given our water worries, everyone now admits that Norman doesn’t cover its costs when it comes to new development). 

We need zoning to protect common community values; with that in place, appropriate prices for city services (and the market mechanism) can prevent environmental degradation.

Lacking a persuasive argument, Mr. Lungren resorts to the claim that HR/HD is inevitable. There is a lot to say about this position. It looks like a crude version of Marx’s economic determinism; it seems to be an attempt to undercut public participation (‘give up now because your fate is already sealed’); etc. The most important thing, however, is to see that that this view is false. Whether to have HR/HD is a choice our community makes. The majority of citizens have already made their decision clear — some higher densities are OK, but Norman should not ‘go all in’.

The only question now is whether Norman’s elected officials will let people like Mr. Lungren distract them from that consensus.

Stephen Ellis


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Be careful out in the heat

    This week’s triple-digit temperatures are contributing to heat-related illnesses. The state health department’s Injury Prevention Service reminds Oklahomans of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke....

    July 25, 2014

  • Get smart on crime

    It’s no secret that prison guards have become the frontline mental health case workers in Oklahoma prisons. Accessing mental health services outside of prison is tough but even harder behind the walls....

    July 25, 2014

  • James Garner will be missed

    Editor, The Transcript: Norman native son James Garner was a fine actor on stage, screen and television. I enjoyed the “Maverick” TV series and, in particular, the 1959 episode “The Strange Journey of Jenny Hill” in which the very popular ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Quite the resilient bunch

    The people of Moore are a resilient bunch. They’ve bounced back from tornadoes before, but the current renaissance may be the quickest yet. FEMA officials said it would take two years to see some sense of normalcy. That’s hardly the case....

    July 24, 2014

  • A fresh start for VA

    All of us have high hopes for the confirmation and success of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald. If confirmed — and most believe he’s a shoe-in — McDonald will take over a paralyzed system of health care that is not ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014

  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014