Citizen Dave (the erstwhile Madison Mayor Dave (Cieslewicz)) has an amusing intro to a column about a proposed project that would repurpose some elderly buildings on State Street near the Wisconsin Capitol. If you want to understand what opposition to new buildings looks like in Madison, Wisconsin, read the whole column.
It's funny the way Madison progressives revere tradition when it comes to buildings. I like the old things too, and I certainly wouldn't want to waste money on a rampage against fire escapes on the theory that they're a terrible eyesore. But it's quite another thing to reject urban development to preserve them.
It comes down to whether you can appreciate an urban aesthetic or not. It comes down to our tolerance for the grittiness of real urban spaces versus the idea of suburban tidiness — and the sterility that comes with it.There's a continuum from the worst grit, which everyone wants to eliminate, to the most extreme sterility, which only makes sense to attempt in completely new development. The political battles take place somewhere along the continuum.
How should these battles be conducted? Do you like the "I'm urban, you're suburban/I'm gritty, you're sterile" gambit?