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How to Stay Dry? Change Regulations

March 08, 1992

Livable neighborhoods and government regulations?

The writer of the letter "Architects Should Plan for Rain" (Feb. 23) is right on target about the sorry condition of the typical walk from parked cars (or bus stops) to building entrances. But the cause is more tricky than suggested.

Sometimes the cause may be the architect, who considers a building to be personal sculpture rather than a place for people. Or it may be the organization that develops the site, separating the parking garage from the building so that two structures could be designed, funded, built, owned and/or managed by different entities.

However, the major cause for this situation may be our regulatory system.

By law, fire lanes are required on all four sides of buildings in many new American communities, even though smoke detectors and fire sprinklers are also often required. Parking areas and other buildings are therefore pushed far away. Pedestrian comfort is sacrificed. Neighborhood quality is diminished.

We do not need to accept this situation. In older communities and in other countries, adequate fire protection can be provided, as well as pedestrian comfort. Voters need to tell elected officials that they care about the quality of their neighborhoods so that these regulations are rewritten to both save lives and to create a livable environment.

DAVID J. BAAB, Irvine. David J. Baab is chairman of the Architecture Foundation of Orange County, a nonprofit organization that promotes quality in the physical environment.

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