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

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

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

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

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

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