Reinventing Development Regulations

Every community across the land can and should revise their zoning and subdivision regulations — a move that will build sustainability and resilience, increase affordability, and improve quality of life, say the authors of a new book published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. In Reinventing Development Regulations (Paperback / $35.00 / 213 pages / ISBN 978-1-55844-372-3) two well-known experts — urban designer Jonathan Barnett and real-estate lawyer Brian W. Blaesser — argue for major adjustments to land use regulations that are within existing legal frameworks and respectful of property rights, making the politics of the necessary changes much more manageable. … Read more

25 Great Ideas of the New Urbanism

Rendering of I-980 in Oakland as a multi-way boulevard. Credit / Dover, Kohl & Partners The New Urbanism is a design movement toward complete, compact, connected communities—but it is also a generator of ideas that transform the landscape. Communities are shaped by the movement and flow of ideas, and the New Urbanism has been a particularly rich source of the currents that have directed planning and development in recent decades. This year the 25th annual Congress for the New Urbanism was held in Seattle. The 1,400 attendees, their friends and associates and like-minded people, are like sailors on the sea … Read more

Ten rules for cities about automated vehicles

Traditional urbanism evolved over millennia to meet human needs. The adoption of AVs should not be allowed to replace time-tested places with something that would probably make our lives worse. JEFF SPECK    OCT. 16, 2017 Note: This article is based on a talk the author gave to the US Conference of Mayors and CNU. 1) Be afraid One of my favorite books of all times is Technopoly, The Surrender of Culture to Technology, by Neil Postman. In it Postman describes what he calls the technological imperative. What it means to me is this: New technologies that increase convenience are unstoppable, whatever their impact on our … Read more

Traditional Neighborhood vs Suburban Subdivision

In a recent Facebook post by Civic By Design Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND) is compared to a suburban subdivision. The benefits of the TND far outweigh the “benefits” of the more conventional suburban design. The graphics speak for themselves. Civic by Design notes that the TND is by DPZ click for link to Vermillion project in Hunterville, North Carolina.    

How Zoning Restrictions Make Segregation Worse

A new study identifies the precise ways that stricter land use regulations lead to greater divides. kropic1 / Shutterstock.com   We’ve long known two things about land use regulations. One is that elements of them—in the form of large lot requirements and other aspects of “exclusionary zoning”—have led to the racial and economic segregation. The other is that restrictive land use and building codes in cities limit housing construction (and therefore housing supply), leading to increased costs, worse affordability problems, and deepened inequality in urban centers. What we haven’t fully understood—until now—is how restrictive land use regulations in cities and … Read more

American Speed Limits Are Based on 1950s Science

Around 40,000 people still die on American roads every year, but technology and data could change that. Image: Garrett/Flickr Speed limits might make you feel safe, or incredibly frustrated, or both. But either way there’s a bigger issue at hand: they’re based on outdated data and science from the mid-20th century. In the US, our speed limits are derived from old studies, like this one from 1964 by traffic systems researcher David Solomon that looked only at rural roads in the 1950s. In line with conventional thinking, Solomon’s study fuels the premise that speed limits should be based on the speed at … Read more

Did Jane Jacobs Predict the Rise of Trump?

Ever prescient, her final book outlined a coming dark age—and how to get through it. Jane Jacobs was one of the most prescient writers of the 20th century. In the 1960s, when suburbanization and heavy-handed urban renewal programs threatened urban neighborhoods, she published her classic Death and Life of Great American Cities. During the 1970s and 1980s, when policy-makers and economists focused on industrial competitiveness and national economic strategy, she drew attention to the role of cities and clustering in powering innovation and economic growth in her books The Economy of Cities and Cities and the Wealth of Nations.But she may well have saved … Read more

Tenement Housing for H Street?

A lousy project has been proposed for North H Street between 1st and 2nd street. 8 barracks like boxes each containing 5 bedrooms with 5 attached bathrooms. How many people do you think will be living in each box? I submit that number will vary between 10 and 20 or more per property – and 8 of the ugly things are being proposed by an out of town developer-owner. How many cars do you think will come along with 5 families? Please come to the planning commission meeting on Thursday, Oct 5th – 7 pm – in City Council Chambers. I … Read more

YES, YOU CAN BUILD YOUR WAY TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Lessons from unexpected places. Author: Alan Durning September 21, 2017 “You can’t build your way out of a housing affordability problem.” That’s conventional wisdom. I hear it all the time: Prosperous, growing, tech-rich cities from Seattle to the Bay Area and from Austin to Boston are all gripped by soaring rents and home prices. But what if you can build your way to affordable housing? What if, in fact, building is the only path to affordable housing? What if cities around the world have been building their way to affordability for decades? You can. It is. And they have. Houston by Craig Washburn (Used with permission.) … Read more

IMPACT FEES: AN URBAN PLANNING ZOMBIE IN NEED OF SLAYING

Eight reasons why impact fees thwart the creation of equitable, sustainable cities. Author: Dan Bertolet September 28, 2017 When people make a mess we expect them to clean it up. If a private business harms others, we demand it pay the damages. These norms stoke the allure of impact fees—charges levied on homebuilders to compensate for the presumed burden on public services caused by the homes they construct. But in the case of cities, there’s one big problem with that impulse: adding new homes to urban neighborhoods is a good thing overall, a net positive for people and the planet, not a transgression to penalize. … Read more