Planning

From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future

black-enterprise-google-mad-at-government-surveillance.jpg

The tech oligarchs who already dominate our culture and commerce, manipulate our moods, and shape the behaviors of our children while accumulating capital at a rate unprecedented in at least a century want to fashion our urban future in a way that dramatically extends the reach of  read more »

Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is A Rare, And Potentially Bipartisan, Feel Good Moment

1024px-Seattle_-_freeway_onramp_construction_01.jpg

President Trump’s proposed trillion dollar plus infrastructure program represents a rare, and potentially united feel good moment. Yet before we jump into a massive re-do of our transportation, water and electrical systems, it’s critical to make sure we get some decent bang for the federal buck.  read more »

Revisiting the "Big Theory" on American Urban Development

farmers-2.jpg

I like to think I've come a long way since the start of this blog nearly six years ago. There are some early things I've written that have become the focal point of my work today, things I tried to tackle but were better left alone, and things I initiated and warrant a deeper look. This post certainly fits in that third category.  read more »

Hamtramck: Scale and Institutional Frameworks

screen-shot-2017-12-08-at-9-12-55-pm.jpg

I recently published an article that explored some of the ways regulations make it difficult for small businesses to get off the ground and function. Among the examples I used from around the country was Bank Suey in Hamtramck, Michigan. My story was subsequently reposted on various other sites which the owner, Alissa Shelton, read and objected to. She felt I hadn’t accurately described her experience as a business owner and that I didn’t present her town in the right light.  read more »

Cronyism on an Industrial Scale to Blame for Inflated New York Subway Costs

7-train-new-york-subway-mta-300x203.jpg

Just before year end, the New York Times dropped a bombshell report on what they term “the most expensive mile of subway on earth.”

An extensive investigation by the Times finally starts to get at the heart of why construction costs on the New York subway are vastly higher than anywhere else in the world.  read more »

Portland’s Congestion Plans Are Working

Downtown_Portland,_OR_by_Paul_Nelson.jpg

Portland’s transportation policies are working. At least, they’re working if you think their goal is to increase congestion in order to encourage people to find alternatives to driving. At least, the increased-congestion part is working, but not many are finding alternatives to driving.  read more »

Dense Downtown vs. Suburban Dispersed: A Pilot Study on Urban Sustainability

1200px-Chicago_north_from_John_Hancock_2004-11_img_2618.jpg

The fashion among urban planners for “compact city” planning and intensification, emphasized as a substitute for “harmful” sprawl onto greenfields, has been supported by a substantial volume of advocacy and academic work. But as the authors of a new study, “Dense Downtown vs. Suburban Dispersed: A Pilot Study on Urban Sustainability” say in their abstract, most such work has been “…based on very large data sets of generalized data regarding whole-city energy consumption, or large-scale transport patterns, which often misses important nuances…”  read more »

Doing Houston Wrong

9010413491_738e0d1855_z.jpg

Last August, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, causing massive flooding in the Houston area and likely becoming one of the most expensive disasters (current estimate: $81.5 billion) in U.S. history. In the aftermath, Houstonians rallied to rebuild and look after one another, but they did so with the echoes of a persistent chorus of criticism ringing in their ears: Houston, critics said, was partially to blame for what had happened.  read more »

How We Are Kluging the World's Growth Process

Screen_Shot_2015-11-19_at_11.54.48_AM (1).png

The quirks of software and operating systems that we seem to experience on a daily basis are the result of Kluges – almost all software is written with fixes that work for a particular problem, often without knowing exactly why that fix works. As both a land planner and developer of high level precision design and engineering software, I do not allow kluged fixes – for either business.  read more »

Bringing Soviet Planning to New York City

Bill_de_Blasio_11-2-2013.jpg

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to bring the same policies that worked so well in the Soviet Union, and more recently in Venezuela, to New York City. “If I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed,” he says. “And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents.”  read more »