Recent Posts

  • Ghost Town

    I arrived in our nation’s capital yesterday.  It took significantly longer to get from Dulles Airport to my hotel (2 1/4 hours) than to fly all the way from Boston (1 1/2 hours).  I had to wait for the shtutle bus from the concourse to the main terminal to arrive, then longer for it to leave, then in line for the SuperShuttle, then 15 minutes for the SuperShuttle to leave…  Keep reading…

  • News flash: people drive more if there is parking

    A study from San Francisco State shows something that should be obvious, but isn’t to the New York City Council: if there are fewer parking spaces, people choose to drive less.  Therefore, San Francisco should limit the amount of parking in new developments, rather than requiring a certain amount as it does today. More about free parking, and its costs, in this SF Chronicle editorial.  Keep reading…

  • City Council takes some stupid pills

    It’s the most basic rule of economics - if something costs more, people will do it less, and vice versa.    Keep reading…

  • Memorable Phrases for Parks

    I’m in the bloggers’ area of the Parks1 Mayoral Forum.  Up on stage, Democrats Gifford Miller, Virginia Fields, Freddy Ferrer, and Republican Tom Ognibene, are telling us why they all love parks.  Keep reading…

  • When will they ever learn?

    The Death and Life of Great American Cities was published in 1961.  It’s understandable that back then, urban planners thought single-use zoning was great.  Cozy residential neighborhoods, grand shopping districts, polluting industry far away, beautiful soaring towers with verdant parkland in between - who wouldn’t be seducded by that vision, standing…  Keep reading…

  • The all-purpose suburban mega-home

    Robert Samuelson writes about the dangerous trend toward larger and larger homes.  “By and large,” he says, “the new American home is a residential SUV. It’s big, gadget-loaded and slightly gaudy.”  Encouraged by tax breaks for mortgages, American families are buying larger and larger homes even as the prices soar.  Keep reading…

  • Purple Line

    In the DC area, more jobs are continuing to move to the suburban areas outside the city.  The way the regional authorities handle this growth will have a great deal of influence on whether the growth leads to more walkable, transit-oriented communities or to more sprawl.  Keep reading…

  • A picture is worth a thousand activists

    Aaron Naparstek discusses a few reasons for the momentum shifting away from Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards proposal: New York losing the 2012 Olympic bid, the Extell competing bid, but most interesting of all, a suggestion that showing a picture of the bizarre looking buildings in the New York times galvanized previously unconcerned citizens into opposition:…  Keep reading…

  • Get yer community plans here - maybe

    Theresa Toro points out the Greenpoint/Williamsburg community plan, whose difficulty of finding I lamented earlier.    Keep reading…

  • Added value of community

    This article joins in the chorus of criticism of the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision, which allowed the City of New London to condemn property for redevelopment even though the public value of that was fairly tenuous. But the article also thinks beyond the simple government power versus private property rights argument, by suggesting that the real issue is one of valuing the…  Keep reading…

  • Which came first, the city or the liberal?

    Citizens in urban areas disproportionately support Democrats, and citizens in exurban areas - the sprawl far away from urban centers - generally support Republicans.  Rich or poor, even controlling for race and other factors, the cities are Blue and the exurbs Red.  Is this because living in a diverse, dense community forces individuals to value policies that help all…  Keep reading…

  • Green along the blue

    In New York City’s industrial past, waterfronts were industrial zones.  New York became America’s largest city by being America’s busiest port.  Manhattan’s coastlines were piers and warehouses, for transferring goods between ships; the entire waterfront of Jersey City was railyards where goods would switch between ship and train.  Consequently, the land in the middle of Manhattan…  Keep reading…

  • El Camino Bonito

    I walked across El Camino Real - once.  This road, once the main thoroughfare through Silicon Valley, is now a 50 mile long strip mall of motels, gas stations, mattress stores, car rental places, fast food, and one major university.  Every business or shopping center along its length has a parking lot.  In the utopia of sprawl, El Camino Real would be Main Street.  Keep reading…

  • What free market?

    Houston is the poster child for bad urban planning - or should I say the complete lack of any planning.  Developers build subdivisions across the Texas plains, and the government builds freeways to them, in an endless cycle of sprawl.  This Houston Chronicle article talks about the many negative effects this is having on the region, from decaying inner-ring suburbs to…  Keep reading…

  • Harvard’s Allston plan: wow

    The architects hired by Harvard University to study locating facilities in Allston have created an interim report, and it’s really nice.  If Harvard really implements most of it, rather than getting cheap and cutting the more expensive pieces which improve quality of life, it sounds as though a really nice new campus might result.  I’m pleasantly surprised,…  Keep reading…

  • Two plans for Times Square

    Times Square was once a seedy place that many New Yorkers avoided, except for brief forays to a Broadway show.  Today, many New Yorkers still avoid it, but for the opposite reason - it is really, really crowded.  According to the Times Square Alliance, streets in Times Square burst with up to 16,817 people per hour on the busiest sidewalks, plus 1,279 people who can’t…  Keep reading…

  • The power of positive planning

    At last month’s CopyNight, Beth Noveck suggested that the copyright balance movement needs to move beyond a negative agenda (don’t pass more copyright extensions, don’t regulate technology, don’t create new criminal penalties) and toward a positive agenda.  She elaborated on this idea yesterday in her blog.  Keep reading…

  • The congestion pricing idea spreads

    San Francisco sees the light too.  But this isn’t so much of a surprise since they already have a pretty progressive attitude toward automobiles.  When will New York?  Keep reading…

  • They’re smart up in Boston

    I just ran across this month-old news report that Boston is considering London-style congestion pricing for roads downtown.  The idea is that during peak hours, drivers would pay $1-$5 to drive into the most congested downtown areas, and the money raised would go to public transportation improvements.  Mayor Menino is reportedly even open to considering the idea. …  Keep reading…

  • Go go gadget transportation!

    I just got off the NJ Transit bus #126 coming home from Drinking Liberally.  Coming back after a late night at Rudy’s was never so painless.  I knew a bus left at 12:55 (after midnight they’re every 30 minutes), so I walked out at 12:45, made it to the bus a few minutes before departure, and was already home by 1:15.  Compare this to walking all the way to 7th…  Keep reading…

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