Monday, April 25, 2011

How History Killed the Suburb - The Atlantic

From the Atlantic:

For today's entry I am happy to return to Washington Post commentator Roger Lewis, whose April 23 column analyzed market forces now favoring walkable neighborhoods over the automobile-dependent, sprawling subdivisions that characterized most U.S. land development in the late 20th century. In particular, Lewis—sounding very much like the esteemed professor of architecture that he is—says that now-declining "suburban planning and zoning templates were predicated on four key assumptions":
- America had an unlimited supply of land;
- Automobiles and road building, thanks to inexpensive and presumably inexhaustible supplies of petroleum, would forever satisfy metropolitan transportation needs;
- Grouping homogeneous land uses, not intermixing them, would best protect property values, especially for residences; and
- The only way to realize the American dream was to own and inhabit a mortgaged house.

Today, all four of those assumptions have collapsed or are in the process of collapsing. We now know that much of our land, especially in and around metro areas, should not be developed, because of risk (flooding, wildfire, landslides); limited resources (water); or ecological value. There is considerable variation in these factors from one place to another, but the supply of land in regions experiencing growth can no longer be seen as "unlimited." Gasoline prices are back up to four bucks a gallon and, as global supply declines and demand for oil grows in developing countries, are surely going to continue to grow over the long term.

Read full story here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Forty Strongest U.S. Metro Economies: 2009

The Brookings Institution ranked the 100 largest metros by averaging the ranks for four key indicators:

- employment change
- unemployment change
- gross metropolitan product and
- home price change

Employment was measured by the change from the peak quarter for each metro to the second quarter of 2009. The peak was the quarter in which the metro had the most jobs during the past five years. Unemployment was ranked by measuring the percentage-point change from the first quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2009. Gross metropolitan product was measured from the peak quarter to the second quarter of 2009. And the ranking of home prices compared the second quarter of 2009 to the previous quarter. The employment data were provided by Moody's, the unemployment data were collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the home price index came from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Using data and analysis from the Brookings Institution's new MetroMonitor study, ranked the nation's top 40 economies based on job growth, employment, economic growth, and home prices. And Texas seems to be the clear winner with San Antonio at the top of the list and five metros in the top 10.

Here's the top 10:

1. San Antonio, TX
2. Austin- Round Rock, TX
3. Oklahoma City, OK
4. Little Rock - North Little Rock - Conway, AR
5. Dallas - Fort Worth - Arlington, TX
6. Baton Rouge, LA
7. Tulsa, OK
8. Omaha - COuncil Bluffs, NE-IA
9. Houston- Sugarland - Bayton, TX
10. El Paso, TX

Except Ogden MSA, UT, none of the Western metros made it on the top 40. To see which metros made the list, read on.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ed Glaeser on John Stewart - talking about...

what else but cities?

Watch interview here. The interview was broadcast/recorded in February I believe.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ed Glaeser on the Future of American Cities, with an Emphasis on Housing Policy

In a roundtable interview with MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton, Harvard University's Edward Glaeser discusses the future of American cities, including housing in Dec 2008. (length: 22:21 min)

Housing discussion in the clip starts at 4:58.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Curitiba's Success in Congestion Management

Here's a short video clip from the DVDe watched in class on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. Curitiba, Brazil is a city of more than 2 million people. Over the years, it has been a trail blazer in designing and implementing sustainable urban development strategies. This video clip highlights Curitiba's achievements in congestion management using integrated Bus service.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Glaeser's new book "Triumph of the City"

Professor Glaeser is one of the world's foremost economists. A wide-ranging thinker, he is particularly noted for his leading work on economic geography, urbanism, and the life and growth of cities. With politicians of all parties searching for new ways to think about growth and job creation, his thinking about how to reform planning and regulation is particularly relevant today.

His new book 'The Triumph of the City' synthesises a lifetime of thinking about the root causes of growth, and how and why cities work. With over half the world's population now living in urban areas, the question of how to make our cities work well has never been more relevant.

Here's a link to a presentation he made on his new book for Policy Exchange UK. (length 1:26 min)

Monday, April 4, 2011

New zoning fad creates old-style business districts

By Dan Bobkoff
Marketplace, American Public Media, Monday, April 4, 2011

City planners increasingly wonder if traditional zoning laws lead to sprawl. So more cities are turning to "form-based" code, which focuses on a building's look, rather than its specific commercial/residential use.

BOB MOON: This land is your land, this land is my land. But the government can decide how it gets used. More and more communities are looking to the future, and getting a little nostalgic about the way things use to be. They have visions of nice shops and busy sidewalks, maybe apartments on the upper floors, and homes a short walk away. There's just one problem: zoning laws.

Dan Bobkoff, of the public media project Changing Gears, tells us why.

DAN BOBKOFF: Before big-box stores and strip malls and a car in every driveway, it was normal to live in dense neighborhoods.

ANTHONY FLINT: A place where they can walk to a corner store, maybe live above a store. And those kinds of things, that's illegal in America today in so many of our communities.

Illegal because of zoning. Anthony Flint is with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. He says cities have spent much of the last century separating the shops and factories and homes. And that made sense in the beginning.

FLINT: You didn't want to have a slaughter house next to a residential apartment.

But the effect was an almost complete segregation of uses.

...Read full interview here.