Planning

Extending the Reach of Smart Cities

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What distinguishes a ‘smart city’ from one that merely possesses smart technology? At the basic level, ‘smart’ implies a threshold level of technology uptake. Cities with fast internet, straddling buses, and driverless police cars could be considered smart. However, if technology is the only prerequisite, smart is neither revolutionary nor interesting. It is time to move towards a more enlightened understanding of what makes a city smart.  read more »

Subjects:

Suburban Sustainablity

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There’s a philosophical debate about what is “sustainable.” The two dominant camps tend to advocate on behalf of either the hyper efficient dense city or bucolic rural self sufficiency. Personally, I’m not a fan of either.  read more »

Who Plans?: Jane Jacobs’ Hayekian Critique of Urban Planning

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"Cities are fantastically dynamic places, and this is strikingly true of their successful parts, which offer a fertile ground for the plans of thousands of people."

– Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities  read more »

Designing Suburbs: Beyond New Urbanism

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

It is not primarily the fault of land developers that the American suburbs are thought to be dysfunctional and mundane. The blame belongs largely to the influence of boiler-plate zoning regulations combined with design consultants who seek the most minimum criteria allowed by city regulations.  read more »

Spreading the Wealth: Decentralization, Infrastructure, and Shared Prosperity

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

The public’s preference and the views of the social and intellectual elite has never been greater.  read more »

Levittowns of the Future

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

“...a social revolution was being made, not by storming barricades, but by leaping over them.”

Seven decades ago, the great post- war American suburbanization began. The seminal development was Levittown, built on potato fields in Nassau County, outside New York City. This archetypical development, with its small houses and modest lots, helped launch a suburbanizing trend that has accounted for virtually all of the population growth in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Today’s new houses are at least three times the size of the early Levittown houses, but they reflect the continued preference for suburban communities over the last half century.  read more »

Intercity Buses: 2015 Was A Smooth Ride

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As a former airline pricing analyst who once viewed the intercity bus as an inconsequential player in major markets, I am perhaps an unlikely champion of this mode’s potential. But since Megabus made its US debut just blocks from my Chicago office in 2006, I have become intrigued with this increasingly popular mode of intercity transportation.  read more »

The Digitally Connected City

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We are witnessing an explosion in digital technology that is reshaping cities… and resulting in a fundamental shift in the way people move and interact within the built environment.

New innovations have always had a profound impact on the evolution of cities, supporting commerce as well as addressing lifestyles. Making sense of the prevailing trajectory requires a new paradigm for city residents, visitors and those who govern.  read more »

Subjects:

Best and Worst: 2015 International Housing Affordability

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Housing affordability and its impact on   middle income households around the world is emerging as a major concern throughout the developed world. The largest element in household budgets is housing, and house prices have skyrocketed relative to incomes in many metropolitan areas, especially those that have adopted strict land use regulation (particularly urban containment, as described below).  read more »

Land Regulation Making Us Poorer: Emerging Left-Right Consensus

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There is an emerging consensus about the destructiveness of excessive land use regulation, both with respect to its impact on housing affordability but also its overall impacts on economies. This is most evident in a recent New Zealand commentary.

New Zealand

Both the center-Left and center-Right have come together in agreement on the depth of New Zealand's housing affordability and its principal cause, overly restrictive urban planning regulations.  read more »