Midwest Voices

City Hall owes me a girlfriend

Updated: 2013-10-19T23:53:04Z

By ROBERT WESTFALL

Special to The Star

I was talking to a friend the other day about the difficulty in dating here in Kansas City, something that I have experienced myself.

He thinks women are unjustifiably picky. And while I wouldn’t be foolish enough to agree with him, I do think there is something about Kansas City that makes the mate-finding game tough.

I blame City Hall.

If you give credit to mayors and city councils for the rebirth of downtown then it is only fair to also admonish them for decades of earlier neglect. A lack of vision played a big role in pandemic-like suburban sprawl, the cocooning of citizens into little pockets and a negative perception about urban life that still persists.

This geographic and psychological separation has a real effect on dating, limiting the number of potential mates and skewing our perception of others and even ourselves. OK, enough psychology class, this is my suggestion.

I call for The Single Person Relocation Statute, a bistate initiative requiring all singles over age 21 within 30 miles to relocate downtown. We must continue to live there until we meet someone, at which time we can plod our way back to the suburbs if we want.

How does this help dating? Dating should be serendipitous, so says almost every romantic comedy. Boy meets girl. Boy does something stupid. Boy wins girl back.

But for those chance meetings to happen we need population density (to steal a phrase from economists). And with that density also comes a chance to be exposed to people much different from ourselves.

This highly unconstitutional effort offers some great benefits. The city will have a housing boom, mass transit will actually be relevant and not just a tourist gimmick, and the economy will grow.

Restaurants and cafes, hot dog stands for quick impromptu dates, and florist shops for offering signs of appreciation and for begging for forgiveness will pop up. For the suburbs, they get rid of all those bar-stool-occupying singles and can finally tear down apartment complexes and replace them with soccer fields.

For those who have decided single life is just fine, I suggest the Not Looking for Love Exemption: After 10 years of being a shoulder to cry on and unwilling participant in double dates you may escape. (Though by then, the suburbs will have completed conversion to family-only lifestyle centers, with mandated Chuck E. Cheese visits and soccer league coaching enlistments, so you’ll probably not want to go.)

With all these people moving downtown there will likely be spillover into midtown and the east side of the city, so this is a great opportunity to enact some other laws including: The No Child Deserves a Lousy School Ordinance, The Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Food Oasis Ordinance, and The Have No Fear Ordinance, which will fund “How to Talk to Someone Who Doesn’t Look Like You” classes for suburbanites making their first trek into the big city.

Is this a little ludicrous and over the top? Sure it is, but so is unveiling a boring and uninspired city logo, chasing the almighty tourism dollars and thinking that what the city needs is better marketing.

Besides if my idea works, this will be a great thing to add to my online dating profile, don’t you think?

Robert Westfall of Kansas City is the founder and chief strategist of Instinct, an innovation firm. To reach him, send email to oped@kcstar.com or write to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.

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