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

WHY WALKABLE STREETS ARE MORE ECONOMICALLY PRODUCTIVE

Oxnard Boulevard looks like a wasteland because of us. Oxnard’s poor old run down Oxnard Boulevard looks like a wasteland because we do not stand up for our main street. Demonstrate your care for Oxnard Boulevard, by coming to city council meetings week after week, to demand that Oxnard Boulevard become a successful walking and shopping street and district. Economic development does not happen by itself – economic development needs you, the good people of Oxnard, to step up. Seriously. The City Council has lots on its plate, lots of distractions. It’s time to put Oxnard Boulevard, and the economic success of … Read more

Why tiny ADUs may be a big answer to the urban housing crisis

How accessory dwelling units, set to expand on the West Coast, present a small but mighty solution to affordability By Patrick Sisson  Jan 16, 2018, 12:34pm EST An ADU designed by Lanefab Design/Build, a Vancouver, Canada-based firm that specializes in designing these smaller homes. Courtesy Lanefab For cities starved of new housing, staring down an affordability crisis, and desperate for density, the opportunity to inexpensively add housing units seems to good to be true. But that’s the promise made by proponents of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs: small structures, typically totaling under 1,000 square feet, built on the property of existing homeowners. “There’s lots of … Read more

Why We Code

Oxnard needs Form Based Zoning Codes for the Successor Agency (Redevelopment) properties. Form based codes will give developers proper guidance – they will know precisely what is wanted by Oxnard Planning before they submit a project. Without Form Based codes developers will not have proper direction and may build anything that meets current 50-year-old development standards and design guidelines.  Code workshop at CNU 23 sponsored by DPZ and Placemakers Andres Duany offers more than 20 reasons why urban design coding is necessary—and he hopes that someday it will no longer be needed.Within the last half-century, some 30 million buildings have degraded cities and … Read more

Renovating a Multipurpose Main Street

Greenville Avenue’s new streetscape (Source: City of Dallas)    Streetscape improvements have helped bring back an 18-hour-a-day character to the corridor. Crime has dropped and property values have risen.    Note: This case study was written for the Institute for Transportation Engineers new bookImplementing Context Sensitive Design on Multimodal Thoroughfares, funded by the Federal Highway Administration. Greenville Avenue is the main street of a 1920s “streetcar suburb,” Lower Greenville, four miles from downtown Dallas, Texas. The context had become automobile-oriented over the years as space was given over to motor vehicles and the design allowed for speeds uncomfortable to pedestrians. Businesses … Read more

Potential of Downtown Oxnard

Recently stated by others: “…Downtown Oxnard will never be the thriving hub of county commerce again, because 101 is now the main artery and other parts of the county, mostly near major thoroughfares, are now more developed.” Oxnard Renaissance: The 101 will not be king forever. Private cars, except for the very wealthy, will be a thing of the past – perhaps in our lifetimes. Train (tube) corridors are the future. Oh, wait – there aren’t any in the West…Oh well. Time will play this out – we could make more dumb near term politically motivated choices, like choosing high-speed rail over … Read more

65 Reasons Why Urbanism Works

Office space bordering Bryant Park in New York garner 63% higher rents than those one block away, thanks the economic value of urban parks. CreativeCommons image by Hazel Borys. RESEARCH 65 reasons why urbanism works Studies that quantify how urban places affect human, economic, and environmental wellness are essential to building the political will for change. HAZEL BORYS    NOV. 21, 2017 “Reconciliation is making peace with reality, our ideals, and the gap in between,” via Her Honour, Janice C. Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. Much of our work at PlaceMakers is about redirecting the trajectory of where we are headed with … Read more

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