Planning

The Heavy Price of Growth Management in Seattle

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The University of Washington Study: Economist Theo Eicher of the University of Washington has published research indicating that regulation has added $200,000 to house prices in Seattle between 1989 and 2006. Eicher told the Seattle Times that “Seattle is one of the most regulated cities and a city whose housing prices are profoundly influenced by regulations.”  read more »

Land Planning: Put Tech and Team on The Same Page

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Technological advances allow Civil Engineering and Land Surveying professionals to perform, in minutes, tasks that would have taken days or weeks before computer usage became widespread. I have been fortunate to have been part of the technology industry from its humble beginnings. In the 1960s, working for a Land Planning firm, I began inventing devices to reduce the time it took to draft plans. These contraptions would hang on the wall, jokingly labeled Rickometer1, Rickometer2, etc. My systems allowed me to get the plans out faster, but the designs were no better because of these devices.

Fast forward four decades and nothing has changed.  read more »

The Compelling Case For The Cable Car

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Say the words “cable car” and most people think of trolleys being towed up and down San Francisco’s hilly terrain. Most view them as a charmingly antiquated heritage system for the tourists, not as modern mass transit. But cable cars are making a comeback.

Today, cable cars are one of a family of technologies collectively called Cable Propelled Transit (CPT). New generations of CPT not only include cable cars, but aerial trams, gondolas and funiculars as well.  read more »

Atlanta: Ground Zero for the American Dream

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The Atlanta area has much to be proud of, though it might not be obvious from the attitudes exhibited by many of its most prominent citizens. For years, local planners and business leaders have regularly trekked to planning’s Holy City (Portland) in hopes of replicating its principles in Atlanta. They would be better saving their air fares.  read more »

The Gero-Economy Revs Up

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Green jobs? Great. Gray jobs? Maybe an even better bet for the new jobs bill. If there is a single graphic that everyone concerned with the nation’s future should have tattooed on their eyeballs, my vote goes to the one on your left. Here is its central message:

Forty years from now, one out of four Americans will be 65 or older.

Twenty million will be over 85.

One million will be over 100.  read more »

Our Exurban Future and the Ecological Footprint

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‘How shall we live?’ is a question that naturally concerns architects, planners, community representatives and all of us. It is a question that turns on the density of human settlements, the use of resources and the growing division of labour.  read more »

The Fed: Reappoint Captain Smith?

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The debate surrounding the re-appointment of Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (the Fed) is not without historical parallel.

Just recall the RMS Titanic: It was April 14, 1912, when White Star’s “unsinkable” RMS Titanic, the largest and newest passenger liner in the world, was steaming from Southampton and Ireland to New York. The ship was traveling through a part of the North Atlantic where icebergs had been reported.  read more »

Housing Unaffordability as Public Policy: The New Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

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The just released 6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey shows some improvement in housing affordability, especially in the United States and Ireland but a continuing loss of housing affordability, especially in Australia.  read more »

Suburbs & Cul-de-Sacs: Is The Romance Over?

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The Virginia Department of Transportation does not like cul-de-sacs. You know, those little circles that suburban home dwellers worship so much and pay a premium to be located on? Under its regulations, all new subdivisions must have only through streets. Essentially, no more cul-de-sacs. Getting rid of these desirable dead-ends, according to the DOT, will improve safety and accessibility for emergency vehicles.  read more »

The War Against Suburbia

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A year into the Obama administration, America’s dominant geography, suburbia, is now in open revolt against an urban-centric regime that many perceive threatens their way of life, values, and economic future. Scott Brown’s huge upset victory by 5 percent in Massachusetts, which supported Obama by 26 percentage points in 2008, largely was propelled by a wave of support from middle-income suburbs all around Boston. The contrast with 2008 could not be plainer.  read more »