Planning

Sustaining the Suburbs

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The proposition is simple, if not overwhelming.  If we want sustainable cities – however you define “sustainable” – we had better put some effort into the quality of suburban life.  We need to get over denigrating suburbs and sprawl.  That simply ducks the issue of where and how most people spend most of their time.  We need to moderate a preoccupation with promoting CBD and big centre lifestyles.  Those are places that people want visit, but not necessarily where they want to live.  read more »

California Wages War On Single-Family Homes

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In recent years, homeowners have been made to feel a bit like villains rather than the victims of hard times, Wall Street shenanigans and inept regulators. Instead of being praised for braving the elements, suburban homeowners have been made to feel responsible for everything from the Great Recession to obesity to global warming.  read more »

Permeable Pavement: Looking Below The Surface

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How can we prevent situations where environmental 'solutions’ end up in failure? The tale of problems encountered with the misuse of pervious pavers (also known as porous or permeable pavers), used as an eco- friendly option, provides some answers.  read more »

Why America’s Young And Restless Will Abandon Cities For Suburbs

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For well over a decade urban boosters have heralded the shift among young Americans from suburban living and toward dense cities. As one Wall Street Journal report suggests, young people will abandon their parents’ McMansions for urban settings, bringing about the high-density city revival so fervently prayed for by urban developers, architects and planners.  read more »

A Guide to China’s Rising Urban Areas

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From a Rural to Urban Dispersion in the Middle Kingdom

China’s rise to economic prominence over the past 30 years has rested in large part to its rapid    urbanization. Prior to ‘reform and opening up’ that started in earnest during the 1970s, cities in China were viewed as pariahs by the party leadership. Millions of young urban dwellers were forced into the countryside to labor on farming communes during the Cultural Revolution. In stark contrast, today millions of rural migrants make their way to the city.  read more »

The Costs of Smart Growth Revisited: A 40 Year Perspective

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"Soaring" land and house prices "certainly represent the biggest single failure" of smart growth, which has contributed to an increase in prices that is unprecedented in history. This  finding could well have been from our new The Housing Crash and Smart Growth, but this observation was made by one of the world's leading urbanologists, Sir Peter Hall, in a classic work 40 years ago.  read more »

Can Florida Escape the Horse Latitudes?

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When it comes to the winds of change, Florida remains in the horse latitudes.  This zone of the Atlantic around 30 degrees latitude was so named by ship captains because their ships, becalmed in the water, seemed to move faster when they lightened their load by throwing off a few horses.  Florida’s governor Rick Scott, who campaigned on a promise to create 700,000 jobs in this state, appears to have adopted the same tactic by throwing overboard the Department of Community Affairs, the state agency that regulated real estate development.  Other bureaucracies may be next in line  read more »

Outlawing New Houses in California

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UCLA's most recent Anderson Forecast indicates that there has been a significant shift in demand in California toward condominiums and apartments. The Anderson Forecast concludes that this will cause problems, such as slower growth in construction employment because building multi-unit dwellings creates less employment than building the detached houses that predominate throughout California and most of the nation.  read more »

Detroit: A Century On The Smart-Growth Grid

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The following excerpts are from a report that was intended to solve many of the planning issues facing one of America's largest cities: Detroit. Its conclusions are in many ways counter to the ‘Smart Growth’ principles being promoted by influential decision makers. It was compiled by the city's highest level planners and engineers:  read more »

Will the Last Family Leaving Seattle Please Turn out the Lights?

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New Census data for the Seattle area's population changes, 2000-2010, permit a preliminary look at age and at types of households in the region. Let's look at patterns of geographic variation in selected age groups and household types for places in greater Seattle. It provides more evidence for how rapidly Seattle in particular is changing in fundamental ways.  read more »