Doing Houston Wrong


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


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 »

A Layman's Guide To Houston After Harvey: Don't Throw The Opportunity Baby Out With The Stormwater


In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and the disastrous flooding, Houston has come under extreme scrutiny. Some in the global, national as well as local media assaulted the area's flood control system and its development model, criticisms that were echoed by some in the local area.

Much of the current debate starts from a firm misunderstanding of the region’s realities. This could lead to policies that ultimately undermine the keys that have propelled the region’s success. Below is a primer to inform future discussions of Houston’s future trajectory.

 read more »

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


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


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


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


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


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


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 »