City zoning practices give residents little reason to walk

Charlotte Fairlie raises some good points about the challenge of making Iowa City a walkable community, but she barely touches on the biggest problem: for the vast majority of Iowa City, there simply isn’t any reason to walk except for exercise or pleasure. Long ago, the city government, urged no doubt by housing developers, made the decision to zone just about every square foot not taken up by streets for housing of one kind or another — mostly single-family homes. If you live in Manville Heights, northeast of Muscatine Avenue or west of Sunset Street, if you want anything, you simply have to drive, or at least have access to a car. Most cities the age and size of Iowa City would have small commercial areas — a block or two of corner shops or restaurants — that make for genuinely walkable neighborhoods scattered among the houses, near schools and next to parks. But here, city zoning practices make no allowances for businesses in residential areas.

Maybe even worse, Iowa City seems to have largely ceded commercial activity to Coralville, so shopping isn’t just a matter of driving 10-15 blocks to shop; for many of us, it’s a four- or five-mile drive — or more. And that requires arterial streets.

There is a lot to love about Iowa City, and most residents have their hearts in the right place and want to live greener lives. But we’re constrained by our urban environment, which was shaped by decisions made 60 and more years ago and, sadly, there is no going back. Creating a new urban environment where people can conduct more of their lives on foot will be a long-term project.

— Peter Hubbard, Iowa City

► More from Fairlie: Just how walkable is Iowa City?

COVID-19 and the economy are not separate issues

Improvement of the economy depends on controlling COVID-19. Mr. Trump failed to acknowledge the virus to stop its spread; he continues to undermine medical specialists’ advice; and is now, for political reasons, attempting to rush through an inadequately tested vaccine. Even with adequate time and money to eat out, shop and travel, we stay at home to avoid contracting COVID-19; we are, therefore, not able to safely aid the economy. The economy and getting COVID-19 are not separate issues; they go hand in hand. Joe Biden and Theresa Greenfield would face these issues in a straightforward and humanitarian manner, neither denying the existence or severity of the problems nor refusing to follow the advice of the experts.

— Nancy B. Willis, Iowa City

► More: Early voting has begun. Here’s what you need to know about absentee ballots and voting early in Iowa

Request your absentee ballot as soon as possible

We do not have much time to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Every day, even in Iowa, we continue to face obstacles that stand between us and our constitutional right to vote (re: “Iowa judge invalidates tens of thousands of Johnson County ballot request forms”). Thousands of citizens here in Johnson County had their paper ballot request forms rejected, but new blank request forms are on their way.

Do not let what is yours be taken from you. Our electoral system, as well as those in charge of it, are actively dismantling voting access and their own citizens’ ability to express their will. Submit your ballot request no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, to ensure that your vote is counted.

We all have the power to make a difference, to be heard, and we must act quickly. With the constant confusion and uncertainty surrounding our election this year, it is important that you request your absentee ballot as soon as possible.

— Reece Downey, Iowa City

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