Barcelona’s Superblocks: Change the Grid, Change your Neighborhood

Over two years ago, Barcelona set the transportation world aflutter when it announced it would be attempting to reinvent parts of its city by developing a Superblock system by transforming targeted street grids to prioritize people over cars. On selected small street networks large parts of intersections and roadways would be taken back for parks and community gathering. Vehicles would not be banned, but it would redesign the grids so that fast thru-traffic was discouraged thru a series of driving direction changes, street narrowing and speed limits. Thus, almost all vehicles present would be either local residents or people with … Read more

Mapping The Effects Of California’s Prop 13

JULY 23, 2018  BY CONNOR NIELSEN 40 years ago this summer, voters in California approved Proposition 13, a law that initiated sweeping changes to the California property tax system and permanently re-shaped the dynamics of property ownership in the state. Prop 13 is known in California and beyond as the rule that protects low-income, elderly property owners from being priced out of their own neighborhoods. It also means that recent home buyers provide an outsized proportion of local taxes, often paying taxes magnitudes higher than their neighbor for almost the exact same house. These effects are well known. But given the complexity and … Read more

Making Cities More Dense Always Sparks Resistance. Here’s How To Overcome It.

“NIMBYs are not necessarily the problem. They are behaving normally for humans. The problem is politicians and other decision-makers who know better, who don’t do the right thing because of NIMBY fear. If you’ve had a long process, heard from thousands of people, investigated and understood the technical issues, know your aspirations as a city, and you let 10 or 15 individuals at the last minute show up at council and turn it down? I don’t blame those 15 individuals, I blame the leaders.”   Urbanist Brent Toderian on how to deal with NIMBY [Not In My Backyard]. By David Roberts@drvoxdavid@vox.com  Updated May … Read more

What Does It Mean To Build A Vibrant Community?

JULY 12, 2018  BY STRONG TOWNS “Our country was built on place, built on neighbors, built on people helping each other… I think people are yearning for that again and that’s what a downtown does.”— Quint Studer Quint Studer is the founder of the Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization in Pensacola, FL focused on improving the community’s quality of life and moving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties forward. He is a businessman, visionary, entrepreneur and Strong Towns member. His new book is Building A Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America. In this engaging conversation, Chuck Marohn and Quint Studer discuss: … Read more

Economic Stability Is An Urban Design Response To Social Justice

by Howard Blackson – February 20, 2017 Times they are a’changing. We all hear that the New Urbanism has a gentrification/displacement perception problem in big city discussions. One of New Urbanism’s revolution was in shifting the 60s/70s planning by numbers approaches to city issues towards a design-oriented solutions. And, our anti-modernist stance in the ‘90s led us to advocating for aspirational design approaches to city making problems. We figured out how to fit the new into the older ‘community character’ at all scales and everyone wants mixed-use, walkable, pedestrian-oriented solutions today. However, this approach brings up two contemporary problems. First, … Read more

The Evolution of Urban Planning

Urban planning has been around for as long as cities have existed, but the 20th century saw a number of bold ideas that radically changed the make-up of our urban centers. From garden cities to psychogeography, today’s infographic by Konstantin von der Schulenburg is an informative overview of the modern movements and ideas that shaped urban planning. THE EVOLUTION OF URBAN PLANNING Urban planning has changed a lot over the centuries. Early city layouts revolved around key elements such as prominent buildings (e.g. cathedrals, monuments) and fortification (e.g. city walls, castles). As cities grew larger, they also became more unpleasant. Here are some … Read more

The Walls We Won’t Tear Down

By RICHARD D. KAHLENBERGAUG. 3, 2017  CreditGolden Cosmos ONE hundred years ago, in a major advance for human dignity, the Supreme Court struck down a racial zoning law in Louisville, Ky., that prohibited nonwhites from moving into homes in majority-white areas. Laws like these, which existed in numerous cities at the time, are part of a larger, shameful history of government-sponsored racial segregation. In Buchanan v. Warley, the court ruled that such ordinances violate the 14th Amendment and related statutes that “entitle a colored man to acquire property without state legislation discriminating against him solely because of his color.” But … Read more

My Transit Density Bill (SB 827): Answering Common Questions and Debunking Misinformation

by Scott Wiener Jan 16, 2018 Our recent announcement of my bill (Senate Bill 827) allowing for more housing near public transportation has drawn a lot of attention, questions, and feedback. Sadly, some have also spread misinformation about the bill. This piece attempts to answer common questions and debunk misinformation. California is in a deep housing crisis — threatening our state’s environment, economy, diversity, and quality of life — and needs an enormous amount of additional housing at all income levels. Mid-rise housing (i.e., not single-family homes and not high rises) near public transportation is an equitable, sustainable, and promising source for new housing. SB 827 … Read more

25 Solutions From A Builder’s Perspective To Fix The California Housing Crisis

It is more difficult today than it has ever been to bring new housing units to this state, but it shouldn’t be. Editorial by @HOUSINGFORLA on January 10, 2018, 12:00PM photos by HUNTER KERHART The California housing crisis is damaging our very existence. Homelessness is higher than any point during my lifetime. High housing costs are a drag on our local employers. Many working poor have a job, but live out of their vehicles. Many commute as many as four hours a day just to make a living. People are leaving our state to find the middle class American dream elsewhere. Most importantly, … Read more

The Granny Flats Are Coming

A new book argues that the U.S. is about to see more accessory dwelling units and guides homeowners on how to design and build them. When Kol Peterson moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2010, affordable housing was a priority, as it was for many newcomers in this city’s booming real-estate market. He looked at two frequently discussed options for high-cost cities—tiny houses on wheels and communal living—but decided on another option: accessory dwelling units, or ADUs—also known as granny flats, basement and garage apartments, and the like.ADUs weren’t yet common in Portland—that year, the city issued only 86 permits for them—but … Read more