Coney Island's Invisible Towers


When crowds thronged Coney Island for the annual Nathan's hot dog eating contest on July 4th, they found a boardwalk amusement strip that was, for the umpteenth year in a row, undergoing a summer of change and transition.  read more »

Questioning the Messianic Conception of Smart Growth


A new analysis from the United Kingdom concludes that smart growth (compact city) policies are not inherently preferable to other urban land use policy regimes, despite the claims of proponents."The current planning policy strategies for land use and transport have virtually no impact on the major long-term increases in resource and energy consumption.  read more »

Midcentury Modern


Midcentury modern tours now are taking place in cities all over the country. Renewed interest in this era capitalizes on the millennials’ interest in design from a time that seems almost impossibly optimistic compared to today’s zeitgeist. Most cities around the country boast a healthy building stock from this postwar period, nicknamed “the suburbs,” although these are ritually condemned – and designated for annihilation – by academics, urban land speculators and the urban clerisy.  read more »

CNU20: Shootout at the New Urbanism Congress

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I knew there was the possibility that this month's Congress of New Urbanism — CNU20 — in West Palm Beach would be an exercise in brainwashing. While I was excited to be meeting some of the thinkers at the forefront of my profession, I certainly was aware that the founders of the movement were opinionated and outspoken.  read more »


Toward More Competitive Canadian Metropolitan Areas


The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCN) and the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) have expressed serious concern about generally longer commute trip times making Canadian metropolitan areas less competitive. Each has called for additional funding for transit at the federal level to help reduce commute times and improve metropolitan competitiveness.  read more »

Smart-Growth and Smarter Technology


If you’re an enviro-regulator with a mission, preventing “sprawl” has been ideologically trendy in recent decades. You have successfully predicated your argument on past-history soils-management technological inadequacy, it must be enormously threatening to look back and realize that technology has been gaining on you and is now capable (in engineering terms) and affordable (in end-user cost terms) of enabling just the sorts of rural development the majority of the market-for-housing wants, but you’ve been trying so hard to prevent: Currier-and-Ives-tradition large-lot houses in the countryside.  read more »

London’s Social Cleansing


Unscrupulous landlords are forcing poorer tenants out of their London homes, freeing them up to rent out to visitors to the Olympics this summer, according to the housing charity Shelter. At the same time, the government’s cap on rent subsidies (Housing Benefits) for those out of work or on low incomes threaten to force less well-off tenants out of the capital. Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales says that they will have to move people as far afield as Stoke-on-Trent if they are to meet their obligations to house the homeless.  read more »

Homebuilding Recovery: A Zoning & Planning Overhaul

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Part III of the Recovery Blueprint for homebuilding. Defining good zoning and good planning, and a look at how social engineering plays in.

What exactly is ‘planning’?

It can be government creation of an Interstate Highway, or a city council vote on a new park. For the purposes of this blueprint, planning refers to the design of a new land development or a design for redevelopment. In both cases, the land plan is the developer's business plan. The design will either be positive or negative for the sustainability — long-term health — of the city.  read more »

The Export Business in California (People and Jobs)


California Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg countered my Wall Street Journal commentary California Declares War on Suburbia in a letter to the editor (A Bold Plan for Sustainable California Communities) that could be interpreted as suggesting that all is well in the Golden State.  read more »

Homebuilding Recovery: How CAD Stifles Solutions

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The Recovery Blueprint is a multipart series on homebuilding. Part II addresses how a reliance on CAD software and a lack of collaboration stifle sustainable land development solutions.

The front cover of Engineering News-Record on March 12th, 2012 was about a technology survey conducted a few weeks earlier. Of 18 issues surveyed, the need for better software was mentioned most frequently. Under  read more »