What ticks you off?

Some recent developments in "urban design" that tick me off ... how about you?
August 11, 2010

Cell phone antennas marring the landscape. Cell phones are contributing to a new blight of ugly antennas pasted on to every available chimney, roof, and steeple in sight. The money that the cellular companies are throwing at property owners, especially nonprofits like churches, is a tempting windfall. Yes, I know — I have a cell phone, and I, too, want perfect reception everywhere I roam. But if municipalities don't start regulating this problem soon, we're going to see nothing but cellular antennas above the rooflines of our cities and towns. Let's learn from our experience with billboards.

The omnipresent "balconies" in condo construction. This is the hot new selling point in high-rise residential. Every unit has to have one of these extensions coming out through sliding doors from the interior. The wrought iron look may appear marginally acceptable in renderings, but once the new owners move in, these balconies become ad hoc storage spaces for bicycles, miscellaneous furniture, barbecue equipment, and the lot. The result is a visual cacophony of junk piled story upon story. Maybe condo associations should look into creating and enforcing some neatness rules.

Public buildings with no "family" bathrooms. You've seen them — private facilities where a dad can take his two-year-old daughter to do potty without all those awkward questions about urinals. Whoever came up with the idea should be sainted, or at least knighted. State and local authorities should require them for all new public buildings, at the very least.

Speed "humps." They used to be called speed bumps, but whatever their name, they're a pain in the chassis. There's a rising chorus of complaints about how high they are crowned and whether they can be seen by drivers at night. Do they slow down traffic in residential neighborhoods? Maybe. But I haven't seen much evidence that they do.

         
 

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