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Providence City Council approves ordinances dealing with problem properties

The City Council on November 19th gave final approval to two ordinances relating to vacant and nuisance properties in an effort to improve quality of life and neighborhood stability for city residents.

First, the “Foreclosed and Abandoned Property Registration, Security and Maintenance” ordinance creates a database of vacant and abandoned properties, and requires owners to keep them well-maintained and secured. Second, the so-called “nuisance properties” ordinance is two-fold, and sets new penalties for properties cited for loud and unruly gatherings, and creates a new section on “chronic nuisance properties.”

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News & Notes

Two-way traffic

Photo (cc) Oran Viriyincy

National Post: Taking a u-turn on the one-way street

Two years ago, city crews went to St. Paul Street – the one-way spine of downtown St. Catharines, Ont. – took down the “no entry” signs, painted new lines and opened up the street to two-way traffic. According to planners, it would slow cars down, make the downtown more pedestrian friendly and spur retail development.

St. Catharines was only following the example of hundreds of cities in the United States and Canada that have been shutting down their one-way streets since the 1990s. In Ottawa last week, planners announced they are considering the two-way conversion of several streets in the shadow of Parliament Hill. Two-way roads would help to “‘normalize’ the streets, by slowing traffic, creating a greater choice of routes, improving wayfinding, creating a more inviting address for residential and commercial investment and improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists,” according to a plan drafted by consulting firm Urban Strategies Inc. [...]


The New York Times: Paved, but Still Alive

Absent hard numbers Mr. Ben-Joseph settles on a compromise of 500 million parking spaces in the country, occupying some 3,590 square miles, or an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. If the correct number is 2 billion, we’re talking about four times that: Connecticut and Vermont.

As the critic Lewis Mumford wrote half a century ago, “The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is the right to destroy the city.” Yet we continue to produce parking lots, in cities as well as in suburbs, in the same way we consume all those billions of plastic bottles of water and disposable diapers.


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PPS Call for 2010 Most Endangered Properties Nominations


Photo of 342 Williams Street, Fox Point borrowed from Forgotten Providence

The Providence Preservation Society is calling for nominations for their 2010 Most Endangered Properties list.

Every year, the Providence Preservation Society compiles the Most Endangered Properties List with the help of concerned members of the public who submit their nominations. Most resources on the list represent an important aspect of local community life and character. The sites reflect threats such as deterioration, neglect, insufficient funds, insensitive public policy and inappropriate development – problems that frequently threaten properties throughout Providence.

The purpose of this list is to generate interest and support for the preservation of these significant properties; educate the public about the benefits of historic preservation and the unique historic properties in our city; and work toward solutions with property owners, developers and other interested parties to bring about positive change in each property.

Generally, the Society lists buildings individually, but have in the past been known to name groups of buildings. See 2009 when the Downtown Providence National Register District was listed and two structures, the Providence National Bank Façade and Teste Block, were nominated together.

This year, I plan to nominate en masse, all the houses in Providence being foreclosed on. I encourage others to follow my lead if so inclined. Randomly traveling the streets of Providence (or flipping through the pages at Forgotten Providence shows the toll the foreclosure crisis is having on us. This is a preservation problem beyond buildings, the displacement of people (both owners and renters) decimates communities. Living somewhere littered with abandoned buildings is… is… well, it’s depressing.

I’m not an economist nor a real estate expert, but I have to believe there are creative ways to hold onto these buildings, to allow people to continue living in them, and protect them from rotting away. Stimulus money, co-ops, non-profit trusts, squatting… something. I think PPS shining a light on these buildings is a good start for the creative thinking process we need to have to figure out how to end this neglect.

Visit this page to download a nomination form. Nominations are due by February 19th.

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