Planning

California: Codes, Corruption And Consensus

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We Californians like collaboration. Before we do things here, we consult all of the “stakeholders.” We have hearings, studies, reviews, conferences, charrettes, neighborhood meetings, town halls, and who knows what else. Development in some California cities has become such a maze that some people make a fine living guiding developers through the process, helping them through the minefields and identifying the rings that need kissing.

Here’s an example. This is a (partial?) list of the groups who will have a say on any proposed project in my city, Ventura:  read more »

Durban, Reducing Emissions and the Dimensions of Sustainability

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The Durban climate change conference has come to an end, with the nations of the world approving the "Durban Platform," (Note 1) an agreement to agree later on binding greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets by 2020.  read more »

Tilting at (Transit) Windmills in Nashville

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As in other major metropolitan areas in the United States, Nashville public officials are concerned about traffic congestion and the time it takes to get around. There is good reason for this, given the research that demonstrates the strong association between improved economic productivity and shorter travel times to work.  read more »

Is Suburbia Doomed? Not So Fast.

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This past weekend the New York Times devoted two big op-eds to the decline of the suburb. In one, new urban theorist Chris Leinberger said that Americans were increasingly abandoning “fringe suburbs” for dense, transit-oriented urban areas.  read more »

Will You Still House Me When I'm 64?

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In the song by the Beatles, the worry was about being fed and needed at 64. Things have changed. If the Beatles wrote those lyrics today, the worry instead might be about housing.  read more »

Social Market Housing for the USA: Dream or Nightmare?

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Imagine a future America where the home ownership rate climbs from the current 65%1 to 87%2.  Libertarians as well as many social democrats would be cheering.  Imagine that this rate was achieved by the state itself acting as the builder of 88%3 of the housing.  Imagine also that the state imposes rules on home purchases to favor first time  read more »

Is Industrial Strife a Sign of Housing Stress?

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Industrial disputes – including a spate of on and off again strikes at national carrier Qantas – are becoming once again a frequent feature of the Australian media. Unions are pushing for wage rises in the face of the falling buying power of the fixed wage (as costs of living rise). Those wage push pressures are being resisted by businesses trying to stay afloat in a very ordinary domestic economy and amidst rising global competition.    read more »

Does a Big Country Need to do Big Things? Yes. Do We Need a Big Government to do them? No.

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TV network MSNBC's left-leaning commentator Rachel Maddow has opened herself up to ridicule by the conservative blogsophere over her advert featuring the Hoover Dam. The thrust of the spot is that “we don’t do big things anymore” but that we should. But critics say the dam couldn’t be built today due to environmental opposition to exactly these kinds of projects. Indeed many in the Administration and their green allies are more likely to crusade for the destruction of current dams than for the building of new ones.

Both sides have their points.  read more »

Brand Loyalty Dominates Trip to Work

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Many public sector mavens watch like the Dow Jones average the shares of workers using various modes of transportation on work trips to see how their favorite mode is doing.  One shouldn’t be surprised when a certain hyperbole creeps into the interpretation of the trends.   But in reality not a whole lot is changing, despite many assertions of ballooning growth from some sectors.   read more »

More Americans Move to Detached Houses

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In defiance of the conventional wisdom in the national media and among most planning professionals, Americans continue not only to prefer, but to move into single family detached houses. Data from the 2010 American Community Survey indicates that such housing attracted 79.2% of the new households in the 51 major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 population) over the past decade.  read more »