I was watching a re-run of the initial PlanOKC meeting in which Russell Claus was recounting some startling statistics. Since 1970, the dynamic of the community of OKC has changed in a lot of negative ways as a result, in my opinion, of people not accounting for the results of their actions and not planning for the future.
Population growth since 1970: 40%
Utilities consumption: 60%
Growth in new lane miles: 275%
I think that the most telling, believe it or not, isn't the 275% growth in new lanes miles, but rather the 60% growth in energy consumption. Think of how much more efficient our appliances and electronics are these days and how our homes are built for energy conservation.
Also, 70% of OKC streams and lakes are polluted.
I think radically bad numbers call for radical change. A lot of cities that find themselves in OKC's position decide to change for the better, and we need to do that. We need to become denser, less polluting, and build things to a higher standard. Examples abound.. Tyson's Corner, VA. Phoenix, AZ. etc
We need to focus on transit more than anything, such as Phoenix--this dispels the notion that transit serves density. No--density develops around transit. We also need to follow Tyson's example and redevelop all of our parking lots and setbacks and build our density up.
Watching the PlanOKC initial meeting, I saw a lot of hope. The council chambers were actually filled to the brim, a promising sign that OKC cares about city planning and sustainability. A lot of the questions were really interesting, too--people asked about "complete streets" (a concept I might mention soon), mixed-income neighborhoods, and other current planning concepts.