Planning

Neighborfest: Building a Stronger, More Connected World from the Block Up

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As we write this piece, the whole world is watching in disbelief as rain and flooding wreak devastation again along the Gulf Coast and Florida. Upwards of 50 inches of rain fell in parts of Southern Texas, thousands have been displaced from their homes in Miami and Houston, and some residents may never fully recover their livelihoods and homes. The Mayor of Houston called upon neighbors to help each other while first responders did their best to respond to the thousands of calls for help.  read more »

How To Deal With An Age of Disasters

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When Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, followed by a strong hurricane in Florida, much of the media response indicated that the severe weather was a sign of catastrophic climate change, payback for mass suburbanization — and even a backlash by Mother Nature against the election of President Donald Trump.  read more »

The South's Big Cities Moment

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August’s tragic events in Charlottesville kickstarted a somber debate about the appropriate way to commemorate the war that gave all Americans their freedom. It also triggered a conversation about whether the south’s legacy of rebellion and independence – with slavery a painful and regretful part of its past – is a legacy worth remembering.  read more »

Spotlight on Infrastructure After Harvey

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The recent tragic events in Houston and across the Gulf Coast once again demonstrated the woeful inadequacy of our infrastructure. Hopefully, some good will come of Hurricane Harvey. Hopefully, it will jump-start the long-awaited Trump initiative on infrastructure, which may be the one issue that could unite this country.  read more »

Postcards From the Zombie Apocalypse

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I’m regularly accused of being a doomer whenever I point out the obvious – that many aspects of how we’ve organized our affairs over the last several decades aren’t meant to last. So they won’t. The end of Jiffy Lube and Lean Cuisine isn’t The End. Civilization will carry on without them, I assure you. But when it’s suggested that our current set of arrangements won’t last forever people immediately imagine Mad Max, as if no other alternative exists. Things are going to change. They always have and they always will.  read more »

Deep Ellum

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I recently wrote about the need to embrace reality when it comes to land use regulation, culture, politics, and economics. My interpretation can seem a bit… dark. It’s not my intention to discourage people looking to make a positive difference in their communities. I’ve just seen how things tend to play out and the process doesn’t exactly favor mom and pop operations that are juggling day jobs, raising kids, and working on limited budgets.  read more »

The ‘Not Good’, Bad & Ugly of Mapping

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Today, useful demographic, real estate, and economic information is instantly accessed from your bedroom laptop. A few decades ago you would have to make a trip to city hall and wait for someone to go through hundreds of files.

Information (data) is only as good as the source, hand entered from someone - subject to human error. Yet in reality, after 3 decades of use, mapping software --- used by virtually every city and county agency --- is actually getting worse not better.  read more »

California’s Global Warming High-Speed Train

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The California High-Speed Rail Authority promises to “achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in construction” and is committed to operate the system on “100% renewable energy” by contracting for “400 to 600 megawatts of renewable power”. These promises may please environmentalists, but they cannot be kept.  read more »

Is California About to Clobber Local Control?

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The gradual decimation of local voice in planning has become accepted policy in Sacramento. The State Senate is now considering two dangerous bills, SB 35 and SB 167, that together severely curtail democratic control of housing.

SB 35: Housing Accountability and Affordability Act (Wiener)  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Prague

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Prague is the capital of Czechia, a nation most readers have probably never heard of. Last year, the Czech Republic adopted a new name that does not reveal its governance structure (republic). The new name has not enjoyed widespread acclaim. The union of Czechoslovakia, which dates from the end of World War I, split peacefully in 1993, resulting in the creation of Czech Republic and Slovakia.  read more »