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Old 05-11-2015, 07:25 AM   #21
CantabAmager
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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Yeah, it's illegal to build nice neighborhoods anymore in the style of the old West End. I don't even think we know how, even if zoning didn't make it illegal.

Gonna have to figure out some other way to make things nice. Or re-legalize/resurrect the old ways somehow. Time machine?
It's not like we ever knew how in the first place, the West End and North End weren't planned as such (as I'm 100% you know).

Having said that it is interesting to see the old BHA reports about the West End. Everything from FAR to ground coverage to the dimensions of parallel parking stalls and side-yards is tortured into mathematical formulae. Depressing, sure, but interesting nonetheless. Makes sense for Boston 2030 to start looking backwards first - see what didn't work, why it didn't, and then use those ideas to go forward.
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:51 AM   #22
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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There shall be a minimum of one square foot of parking space for each two square feet of the floor area of the building.
Wow! That's a lot.

Notice that they still think of parking in terms of individual square feet, back then. It's the old 'floor space' attitude: finding ways to increase floor space for cars in any way or shape possible, no concern about the consequences.
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Old 05-11-2015, 11:12 AM   #23
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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It's not like we ever knew how in the first place, the West End and North End weren't planned as such (as I'm 100% you know).

Having said that it is interesting to see the old BHA reports about the West End. Everything from FAR to ground coverage to the dimensions of parallel parking stalls and side-yards is tortured into mathematical formulae. Depressing, sure, but interesting nonetheless. Makes sense for Boston 2030 to start looking backwards first - see what didn't work, why it didn't, and then use those ideas to go forward.
This makes me sick looking at the grid they destroyed:




Of course, this is not what was built:


Dare I say the West End might have been marginally better had they built the 60' wide road? It would have at least provided an opportunity to develop along a street rather than in a park and opportunities to narrow the road.
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Old 05-11-2015, 11:59 AM   #24
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

The West End is an urban disaster. Full stop.
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Old 05-11-2015, 12:43 PM   #25
CantabAmager
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

I was tinkering around with some old maps a while back, eventually ended up re-plotting the street network for the areas whacked upside the head by the urban renewal club. I know it'd be useful eventually. Anyways here's the West End (red are streets, yellow is UR areas, blue are surviving structures, black(ish) are old squares, I forget what orange was for, purple was the Central Artery teardowns):



And a bonus of the South Cove/NY Streets/Castle Sq

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Old 05-11-2015, 12:53 PM   #26
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

Before this gets too out of hand (and apologies for steering off course) - The "Redesign the West End" thread: http://www.archboston.org/community/...est+End&page=2

All West End discussion should continue there. See page 1 of that thread for more proposals...
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:32 PM   #27
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

Fair enough,

To steer the conversation then back to imagine 2030's goals then; I think what we've been hitting upon is that the West End has some qualities that would have made it a functional/successful neighborhood in today's Boston - so what in particular about the old layout are we saying is a model that Boston could implement going forward. Small blocks? Commercial/residential in the same building? Density? Architecture?

I've read through a worryingly large number of the old posts here on aB, these discussions have all come up at one time. Off the top of my head, Matthew's hit on the scourge of single-story retail...
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:44 PM   #28
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

Small blocks, mixed-use, density, prioritization of pedestrians, active ground floors.
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Old 05-11-2015, 11:32 PM   #29
Matthew
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

Small streets too. Under 20 feet wide.

Which are now 'illegal' in Boston, because the national fire code just upped it, again, to 20 feet minimum. Sigh. So fire chiefs can buy ever-larger trucks to show up their buddies in their pissing contests.

Not sure where they get off thinking they can abandon our existing small streets...
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:13 PM   #30
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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Which are now 'illegal' in Boston, because the national fire code just upped it, again, to 20 feet minimum.
Are their good references debating this? Should we be making efforts at improving hydrants instead?
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Old 05-12-2015, 02:45 PM   #31
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

I'll poke around when I have some time. I know Jeff Speck has been trying to tackle this issue. Strong Towns as well.



It's delicate because of course nobody wants to impede fire response. However, small streets are really important, and have existed historically for centuries in cities here and all around the world. It's patently ridiculous to claim that we cannot protect small streets from fires.

As far as I know, nobody's gonna get a chance to rip apart Beacon Hill or the North End, so we still need fire engines that can serve those neighborhoods even if we do ban small streets elsewhere. But there's lets of advantages to small streets. So let's have small streets and good fire response, like they do in many places.
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Old 05-12-2015, 07:51 PM   #32
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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Small streets too. Under 20 feet wide.

Which are now 'illegal' in Boston, because the national fire code just upped it, again, to 20 feet minimum. Sigh. So fire chiefs can buy ever-larger trucks to show up their buddies in their pissing contests.

Not sure where they get off thinking they can abandon our existing small streets...
As someone with a Fire Science degree, a background in Emergency Management, and a interest in development, urban transit systems and nearly everything else under the umbrella of ArchBoston, I feel the need to chime in here.

First of all a little background on the guys behind the National Fire Code aka NFPA 1 - the NFPA, or the National Fire Protection Association, is a group of everyone involved when it comes to fires - from fire protection supplies manufacturers to insurers (who are a VERY big player in the fire service) to fire departments, and that's just the short list. Each NFPA standard (or in plain language - industry accepted best practice as recognized in the courts) is revised on a 3 year cycle, where committees of industry professionals review each standard in depth (and these aren't small committees, we're talking 50+ people, plus alternates and NFPA support staff). Each standard is voted on by members of the NFPA (and anyone willing to put up the money can join) and is put out for adoption and publication from the NFPA's headquarters in Quincy.

As of this fire service quick in-service training from the USFA - this has existed since at least the 2009 version, if not in prior editions.

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Often it seems there is an immutable conflict among property owners, land use planners, and emergency response officials over the width of roads in some neighborhoods. Property owners and developers may want to minimize the impact and cost of drivable surfaces while fire officials are concerned about safe, reasonable access to emergency scenes.

The two model fire codes, the International Fire Code® and NFPA 1®, Uniform Fire Code®, address the access road requirement similarly. Both require that a minimum 20-foot-(6.1 m) wide road reach within 150 feet (45 m) of all portions of the exterior wall of the first story of a building, measured in an approved route around the exterior..........Modern fire apparatus, especially large aerial equipment, consume a major part of the driving surface. When ladder trucks or aerial towers have their stabilizing jacks extended, they use even more of the road.

The purpose of the minimum 20-foot-width requirement is to enable aerial apparatus to set up, and allow other vehicles to pass safely around stabilizers and personnel who may be working around the vehicle. If large diameter supply hoses or smaller handlines must be deployed, fire apparatus needs to get around them as well.
.

Another note - just because the National Fire Code has it written doesn't mean anything in and of itself. Government entities (Massachusetts does it statewide via Department of Fire Services - others vary) adopt it, modify it for their use, and/or reject the current version and use an older one. I am not aware if Massachusetts adopted this part of NFPA 1, but I can ask around and get back on that.

As to Fire Chief's getting their wackerism on (the definition of wacker is NSFW) - that's mostly a volunteer side of things - mostly prevalent in NY, NJ, PA, DE, and MD, among others. Places where they have more money than brains.

Boston and the state of Massachusetts on the whole avoids this. There are obviously exceptions (most notably, Somerville's chief loves his emergency lights)

Boston Fire doesn't buy big trucks just because they can - they specify their apparatus based on needs and requirements and lessons learned.

Case in point, BFD LOVES a style of aerial made by a particular fire apparatus manufacturer. Why? Because of their jacks - they can throw their sticks in places that most can't because of them.



Compare that small jack spread to this. It's literally night and day.

Here's an example of why they love it. Boston has a strong background in ladder company work - if they can throw an aerial or a ground ladder, they will.

Truth be told - the size of fire apparatus often has more to do with the size of the fire house than the response area - old firehouses (often the case in New England) require custom sized trucks to squeeze out of doors that had horse drawn fire engines responding out of them 100 years ago.

As for fire chief's getting off thinking about abandoning small streets - not sure where you're getting that. Care to prove your assumption on that? Because in my experience what the NFPA has adopted is not necessarily what the fire service wants (remember - there's insurance and other industries who have a hand in writing it, not just the fire service).

[/END RANT]
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:12 PM   #33
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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Originally Posted by CantabAmager View Post
I was tinkering around with some old maps a while back, eventually ended up re-plotting the street network for the areas whacked upside the head by the urban renewal club. I know it'd be useful eventually. Anyways here's the West End (red are streets, yellow is UR areas, blue are surviving structures, black(ish) are old squares, I forget what orange was for, purple was the Central Artery teardowns):



And a bonus of the South Cove/NY Streets/Castle Sq

Mods - can we move this and prior discussion coming into it into the relevant West End thread? I think this graphic Cantab put together is really quite great and warrants further discussion...
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Old 05-13-2015, 12:27 AM   #34
Matthew
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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Originally Posted by WormtownNative View Post
As someone with a Fire Science degree, a background in Emergency Management, and a interest in development, urban transit systems and nearly everything else under the umbrella of ArchBoston, I feel the need to chime in here.
Good to have you.

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First of all a little background on the guys behind the National Fire Code aka NFPA 1 - the NFPA, or the National Fire Protection Association, is a group of everyone involved when it comes to fires - from fire protection supplies manufacturers to insurers (who are a VERY big player in the fire service) to fire departments, and that's just the short list. Each NFPA standard (or in plain language - industry accepted best practice as recognized in the courts) is revised on a 3 year cycle, where committees of industry professionals review each standard in depth (and these aren't small committees, we're talking 50+ people, plus alternates and NFPA support staff). Each standard is voted on by members of the NFPA (and anyone willing to put up the money can join) and is put out for adoption and publication from the NFPA's headquarters in Quincy.
So there's no pushback against wider street minimums.


Quote:
Another note - just because the National Fire Code has it written doesn't mean anything in and of itself. Government entities (Massachusetts does it statewide via Department of Fire Services - others vary) adopt it, modify it for their use, and/or reject the current version and use an older one. I am not aware if Massachusetts adopted this part of NFPA 1, but I can ask around and get back on that.
This came up recently because I learned about a case where someone was getting red flagged by ISD because he wants to build a new home on a piece of property that his family has owned for decades -- that happens to front on a street smaller than 20 feet wide. He said that he was told that the 20-foot minimum was effective as of Jan 1st.

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As for fire chief's getting off thinking about abandoning small streets - not sure where you're getting that. Care to prove your assumption on that?
What else could it mean? ISD won't allow new homes to be built on such streets, and if the equipment keeps getting larger, it won't fit down those streets.
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Old 05-13-2015, 11:32 AM   #35
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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Case in point, BFD LOVES a style of aerial made by a particular fire apparatus manufacturer. Why? Because of their jacks - they can throw their sticks in places that most can't because of them.
As a resident of Jeffries Point (and Beacon Hill before that), I find the notion that a building should be expected to front on a public way in the first place hilariously narrow-minded



(Props to BFD!)
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Old 05-13-2015, 08:23 PM   #36
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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So there's no pushback against wider street minimums.
FCAM (Fire Chief's Association of MA) and the Massachusetts Fire Service as a whole is having a hard enough time trying to push residential fire sprinklers (which I am in support of) - why would they choose to use their limited lobbying ability on something that quite frankly doesn't affect them as much. You build a house with sprinklers in it - it doesn't matter if it's on Beacon St. or on some tiny pedestrian pathway because 99% of the time, they'll be breaking out squeegees and wet vacs instead of hoses and ladders if sprinklers are installed.

Demonstrations like these prove their worth - even if developers and builders try to discredit the potential of these systems.

It's politics - you have to pick what issues you want to fight and what issues you refuse to die over - street width falls into the latter category.


Quote:
This came up recently because I learned about a case where someone was getting red flagged by ISD because he wants to build a new home on a piece of property that his family has owned for decades -- that happens to front on a street smaller than 20 feet wide. He said that he was told that the 20-foot minimum was effective as of Jan 1st.
Unless he owns the street - which I seriously doubt he does - I would just go to ZBA with it and request a variance because it's not his fault the street is narrow. Additionally, it should be grandfathered.

If the 20 ft. minimum was effective as of January 1st, then Mass DFS' newest fire code (a mix of NFPA 1 and their own stuff according to a friend that actually helped with it last year) has included it. Why, I don't know - DFS is actually fairly reasonable with what they do - (as just one example they partially finance new apparatus for the fire academy and special operations by trading old ones in) so I'm surprised they included that and not residential sprinklers, but that goes back to Beacon Hill.

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What else could it mean? ISD won't allow new homes to be built on such streets, and if the equipment keeps getting larger, it won't fit down those streets.
I will be quite honest in that I don't know crap about ISD (or even what it stands for), but to be quite honest, if they aren't grandfathering in old streets, that's beyond stupid. But in regards to fire apparatus (apparatus is the trucks - equipment is what's stored on compartments on the apparatus).... Fire apparatus come in all shapes and sizes. Case in point down in NYC, there's actually a few volunteer fire departments left (to be specific, there's 8 still in NYC if memory serves). Several of them run smaller rigs due to their response area.

Out in the Rockaways, Rockaway Point FD has this to access the tight areas that full-size apparatus don't fit. They have the special tires because they do quite a bit of beach responses and it's easier to go over the beach than the roads sometimes. Over in Edgewater Park in Queens they run this because of the streets. There are other more local examples of smaller apparatus for tight response areas, but they are few and far between because most departments just make it work with what they have and taking advantage of whatever engineering options the fire apparatus manufacturers come up with.

Don't blame the chiefs and fire departments for this - go to the State or local Fire Marshal's Office and/or become a member in the NFPA and voice your complaints there. Overall the rank and file doesn't care about mandatory width of streets - as evidenced in CSTH's linked photo to the Boston Globe photo article - they will do what they have to to make it work.
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Old 05-13-2015, 08:25 PM   #37
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

On that note, I would like to politely suggest that we get back on topic to Imagine Boston 2030 and not what the NFPA writes.
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Old 05-14-2015, 08:35 AM   #38
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

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Demonstrations like these prove their worth - even if developers and builders try to discredit the potential of these systems.
Well that just killed a half hour of my day, sending me down a youtube wormhole of fire suppression.
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Old 05-18-2015, 01:00 PM   #39
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

Balls defined..... 22 years on the payroll, $170k last year. Please fire me so I can make $70k+ a year for doing dick.

Still cannot understand pensions for office workers. I get how things evolved over time. Time was, pensions made sense, specifically for those whose career could be cut short due to dangerous environments, freak accidents, etc. Not sure the last time a paper cut made an office jockey unable to work in an office job....

Not going t start a huge political firestorm here if I can help it..... but it boils the blood a bit. Or, in the words of Peter Griffin, it really grinds my gears.
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Old 05-18-2015, 01:39 PM   #40
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Re: Imagine Boston 2030

They should Milton him ... give him a cube in the boiler room and bust him down to a grade 1 paper shuffler at $40k a year.
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