Planning

Methodist Urbanism: Ocean Grove

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Here’s the ubiquitous American landscape with a dash of central New Jersey local color. It’s not the rain and dark skies that make it look so bleak. No amount of sunshine can brighten this much asphalt, synthetic stucco, and vinyl siding. There’s no point in complaining about any of it. It exists and will continue to do so for the duration. Shrug.  read more »

Job Dispersion Eases Growth In Australian Cities

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American cities have long been known for their dispersion of employment, moving from mono-centricity, to polycentricity (and edge cities) to, ultimately, dispersion. This transition was documented by Bumsoo Lee of the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and Peter Gordon of the University of Southern California (USC) using 2000 Census data (Figure 1).  read more »

Autonomous Cars Are Our Real Future

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Long a hotbed of new technologies, California insists on seeing its transit future in the rear mirror. Rather than use innovative approaches to getting people around and to work, our state insists on spending billions on early 20th century technology such as streetcars and light rail that have diminishing relevance to our actual lives.  read more »

The Sacred Cul-de-Sac: Lakewood

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In 1901 John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil (now ExxonMobil) began purchasing hundreds of acres of land around the town of Lakewood, New Jersey an hour and a half south of New York. He then built a thirty bedroom, twenty bathroom country estate. Lakewood was a prosperous year round vacation destination complete with swimming, tennis, golf, and ice skating, as well as numerous hotels, fine restaurants, a theater, and many large elegant homes.  read more »

Welcome to Park Forest

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Recently a follower sent me an interesting e-mail. He said he recently re-read The Organization Man by William Whyte, originally published in 1956. The suburban Chicago village of Park Forest, IL, about 30 miles directly south of the Loop, figured prominently in the book, as an example of the kind of Levittown-style suburban development that was taking America by storm at the time. In checking in about Park Forest today, he found that yesterday’s model of white middle class and middle management homogeneity is now a black-majority community.  read more »

Streetcar Roundup

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Milwaukee and Oklahoma City are both planning to open new streetcar lines later this year, so it is worth taking a look at how the dumbest form of transit is working in other cities. The table below shows all of the streetcar lines reported in the July, 2018 National Transit Database spreadsheet. Ridership numbers are shown for January and July and annual growth compares the last full year (August 2017-July 2018) with the year before that.  read more »

Auckland: “A Vancouver of the South Pacific; Beautiful, but Utterly Unaffordable”

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New Zealand’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford reasserted the coalition government’s intention to abolish Auckland’s urban growth boundary at a recent environmental summit. Environmental Defense Society (EDS) CEO Gary Taylor expressed concern about eliminating “rural-urban boundaries” (urban growth boundaries, or UGBs) altogether, an Labour Party election promise.  read more »

The Battle for Houston

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Over the last half-century, Houston has developed an alternative model of urbanism. As the New Urbanist punditry mounts an assault on both suburban growth and single-family homes, Houston has embraced a light regulatory approach that reflects market forces more than ideology. But last year’s Hurricane Harvey floods severely tested the Houston model.  read more »

How We Lit The Fuse On The Population Bomb

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We’ve been here before – concerns about our capacity to house a large population are not new. But lately, hostility to rapid rates of population growth is gaining traction. There have been calls for a population inquiry and former PM Hon Tony Abbott has called for immigration (and hence population growth) to be slashed. He joins a chorus of other voices, from business to community groups. Voters are pushing back against growth and political leaders are feeling the pressure.  read more »

European Commission Exaggerates Urbanization

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Urban planners long have been concerned about “urban sprawl,” despite never having settled on a term that excludes any urbanization, even the densest in the world. But the European Commission (EC) has taken exaggerating about urban sprawl to a new level.  read more »