Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Condos & carcinogens

Here are two interesting approaches to very specific problems.

In Los Angeles, the Department of Water recently dropped 40,000 black plastic balls into the Ivanhoe Reservoir in an attempt to protect the drinking water.

The Los Angeles Times reported that naturally occurring bromide, with the addition of sun, forms bromate, which can cause cancer. After elevated levels of bromate were found in some of the area's unshaded reservoirs, the water department looked for a solution.

"A tarp would have been too expensive and a metal cover would take too long to install, especially in a year of drought. So one of the DWP's biologists, Brian White, suggested 'bird balls,' commonly used by airports to prevent birds from congregating in wet areas alongside runways."

Photo from the LA Times.

In Vancouver, the city is thinking about banning condos in an expanded downtown business district.

From the Vancouver Sun:

"That change is being welcomed by the business community, which has been raising the alarm for a couple of years about the way office development has been losing the battle to more profitable condo development.

'It's all good to walk and bike to work, but if you don't have offices for people to go to, that makes things rather difficult,' said Bernie Magnan, the chief economist for the Vancouver Board of Trade. 'You won't have the business and the jobs that you're asking people to move down here for.'"

Vancouver began promoting downtown living 20 years ago; since that time, the downtown population has doubled to 90,000 and condos have been converted from a number of former office buildings, leaving available office space at a record low.

Under the proposal, commercial developers would be encouraged to build as high as possible without blocking the city's designated view corridors.

"'When you look at the capacity for job space in the city, there's a problem, particularly in the downtown,' said planner Kevin McNaney, who is in charge of the city's massive metro-core jobs study that has been examining what kinds of occupations and locations the city will need in the future. 'And it really has nowhere to go but up.'"

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