Gentle density: Making neighborhoods transit-ready

A recently built accessory dwelling in a new urban subdivision in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Source: Mission Heights development. ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    AUG. 30, 2018 Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a rapidly growing city—the largest in Northwest Arkansas, a region with major corporate headquarters including Walmart, and a major research university in the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville is a low-density city with a large supply of single-family houses from the middle of the 20thCentury. Fayetteville has a lot in common, geographically and demographically, with many suburbs nationwide and many other Sunbelt cities. How can Fayetteville become more pedestrian-friendly and mixed-use, and appeal to a growing number … Read more

Save the Suburbs with Pattern Zones

Cities can make middle-scaled buildings the most economical development program. by Matthew Petty Pattern-book permitting is as easy as 1-2-3. Credit: Matthew Petty, Infill Group, and Matthew Hoffman, Miller Boskus Lack The last decade has been punctuated with celebratory stories of once-again active downtowns and town centers. Many places seem to have cracked a once-secret code for commercial redevelopment and new mid-rise housing. Yet for every revitalized town center, there are miles and miles of auto-dominated streetscapes and low-density housing overshadowing progress on Main Street. Retrofitting suburbs nationwide is critical to address the extraordinary challenges of our time, like climate … Read more

Housing and Oxnard

Oxnard has a severe housing shortage. Earlier this year SB 827 attempted to help communities build more housing. If the direction of SB 827 is correct the “fixes” relate mostly to zoning that incentives sprawl and makes it almost impossible to build in city cores. I will not go into the failure of SB 827 here but making zoning changes that incentivize the building, making the building of housing easy instead of almost impossible, housing in downtown (Oxnard) was the main thrust of the legislation. Housing will happen eventually. Oxnard is working on Development Standards and Design Guidelines that, if … Read more

‘Troubling’ Findings on Who Speaks Up About Housing Development

The skyline of Worcester, Massachusetts after sunset in 2017. SHUTTERSTOCK By Bill Lucia   AUGUST 22, 2018 New research highlights concerns that local officials are hearing a narrow subset of views at public meetings. For local government officials who consider public comments when making decisions about housing policies, an academic paper released earlier this year offers a cautionary note. Researchers at Boston University found that people who turn out to speak at planning and zoning board meetings tend to overwhelmingly oppose new housing development. Compared to other residents, these meeting goers are also more likely to be older, male, and homeowners. “It’s problematic … Read more

The Issue for Boomers Won’t be ‘Aging in Place’

The real question will be, ‘How do I get out of this place?’ LLOYD ALTER   August 13, 2018, 12:58 p.m.    You can only do this for so long. (Photo: Mick Tinbergen via Wikipedia) The oldest baby boomers have just turned 70, and most can drive to their birthday parties. They’re being followed by 70 million other boomers, all happily motoring along. Their parents? Not so good these days. Janet Morrissey of The New York Times looks at the issue of transportation for senior citizens and sees a problem: lack of transportation. It’s no longer enough to call a taxi or regular … Read more

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

From Vision to Policy, Making New Urbanism Work

“Brilliant podcast on placemaking, public policy, planning departments and the public. I cannot recommend this podcast highly enough.” Editor.   JULY 26, 2018   BY STRONG TOWNS This is our sixth dispatch from the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), which took place in Savannah, Georgia in May. Chuck Marohn attended CNU and hosted a series of in-depth podcast conversations about some of the most pressing topics for cities today, with leaders, thinkers, and activists in a whole range of fields. Now we’re bringing those podcasts to your ears throughout the summer. In this episode, Susan Henderson (principal and director of design at Placemakers), Hazel Borys … Read more