The Copious Capacity of Street Grids

The Commons in Downtown Ithaca. Wikimedia Commons Historic street grids can handle greater traffic of all kinds—so why aren’t we building more of them? ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    JUN. 28, 2018 As far as I have been able to determine, no one has ever scientifically compared the capacity of historic street grids with modern road systems. If they did, this comparison is well hidden—which is amazing because the US has invested trillions of dollars on automobile-oriented street networks on the principle that these networks have greater ability to handle motor vehicles. On the contrary, I propose that historic street grids have greater capacity … Read more

Why Street Grids Have More Capacity

The greater choice offered by well-connected street networks leads to more capacity and efficiency, according to pioneering smart growth engineer Walter Kulash. ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    JUL. 31, 2018 I recently posted “The copious capacity of street grids” making the case that traditional street networks are not just better for walking, biking, and livability, but also offer far greater vehicle capacity. In the comment section, somebody posted a link to a long-forgotten talk by Walter Kulash. Walter Kulash was the original traffic engineer who promoted walkable urbanism. In a presentation to the “Annual Pedestrian Conference” in 1990, Kulash explains the virtues of “Traditional Neighborhood Development,” then a nascent … Read more

It’s Time to Take the Keys Away from Granddad

June 7, 2018 By Howard Blackson III Today, San Diego is failing to accommodate our growth demands. Due to NIMBY (people who oppose any new building with a “Not In My Backyard” attitude) pressure and fear, only downtown towers and greenfield sprawl sites are far enough away from them to secure any development permits. And these aren’t our best places to allow for enough attainable or affordable housing. Big, heavy downtown towers are very expensive. But so are sprawling subdivision roads, fire stations, community centers, parks, and new housing construction costs. Those subdivisions are far away from jobs, necessitate a car for … Read more

World Class Urban Design & Economic Development Education

CityBuilding Express #CBX2018 Why spend 4 days on a tour bus with 50 mayors, developers, city council members, staff planners, supervisors, city managers, urban designers, town architects, economic development experts? For the annual CityBuilding Express (#CBX2018) event of course! There is never a dull moment with this inquisitive outspoken crowd! Nathan Norris photo Riding with 50 others on a tour bus loaded with urbanist nerds may not be your cup of tea, but for people working to make their towns and cities better through progressive economic development and creative urban placemaking – it’s a heady, exciting and dynamic time. Imagine “kicking the … 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 Swiss Army Knife “Side Hustle” House

Side Hustle House. Source: Union Studio The Swiss Army Knife “Side Hustle” House The Side Hustle House has been designed to supplement primary income and evolve as household needs change. ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    APR. 24, 2018 Note: Missing middle housing will be a topic at many sessions in CNU 26.Savannah, May 15-19. High housing costs and lack of new market rate workforce housing development has led to a serious dearth of housing options for young professionals and families on Cape Cod in southeastern Massachusetts.  With a vibrant summer tourist economy and plenty of high-cost waterfront real estate, the available housing options are largely … Read more

Comeback planned for commercial corridor

It’s time for the City of Oxnard to begin to think about how to fix Oxnard Boulevard and Saviers Road. While Oxnard’s main streets have been a state highway for years, now our main streets are waiting to become walkable places that generate economic development for Oxnard. The following article is an example of how one city re-vitalized its main street. “Of the corridor’s 100 acres, 11 percent of the land is vacant. Even where buildings are constructed, a large number are vacant. A market study by Bleakly Advisory Group revealed 165,000 square feet of commercial buildings on the corridor, … Read more

Kick The Tires On Your Local Zoning Code

MARCH 21, 2018, BY SARAH KOBOS  One of the great mysteries of my adult life has been trying to understand why nobody builds lovely places anymore. How hard can it be? Our ancestors built amazing cities with little more than horses, hand tools, and human muscle. Who doesn’t love old places? (Photo by Sarah Kobos) But with all our modern knowledge and technology, we’ve built a lot of depressing stuff.  Gargantuan shopping centers. Massive “garden” apartments.  Multi-car garages that people live behind and call homes. It wasn’t until recently that I started to understand how these developments were regulated into existence. Everything … 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

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