We all know of a few laws that have outlived their usefulness that haven’t been taken off the books yet; where I grew up there was technically a law that while traveling the Cuesta Grade “trail” in a car, you had to blow your horn five times before cresting the hill to scare the cows away; it is now the major 101 Freeway and there are few cows anywhere near the top of the Cuesta Grade.
It turns out that in many places these outdated laws may be inhibiting our ability to instigate more sustainable practices.
Some of the smartest, most innovative solutions for building thriving and sustainable communities in the Northwest are, at present, simply illegal.
Take the problem of the urban stormwater runoff that threatens the health of Puget Sound and other waterbodies throughout the Northwest. Low Impact Development (LID) solutions—including such strategies as rain gardens, street-side swales, porous pavement, and green roofs—can treat stormwater more effectively, and for less money, than the costly “hard” infrastructure of downspouts, pipes, and sewers. Yet many development codes mandate the more-expensive, less-effective plumbing solution. If only codes would allow LID as an alternative, the region could see a proliferation of lower-impact techniques that could spare government coffers in lean times, and give developers and homeowners a financial break—even while providing cleaner water and patches of urban habitat.
The question, then, is how to remove or buffer these laws in order to encourage sustainable practices and make sure residents and construction companies alike are compliant with the law while also being forward thinking and adopting better practices. Thoughts? Have you seen a town actually remove an outdated law or ordinance? Share it hear in the comments below.
- OUR VIEW | In green’ trade-off, ecology is the bottom line (kitsapsun.com)
- Studying our water: WSU unveils new stormwater research center (wsunews.wsu.edu)
- Sustainability: The Idea as an Organism (Update) (m1946.wordpress.com)