Planning

Auckland: “A Vancouver of the South Pacific; Beautiful, but Utterly Unaffordable”

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New Zealand’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford reasserted the coalition government’s intention to abolish Auckland’s urban growth boundary at a recent environmental summit. Environmental Defense Society (EDS) CEO Gary Taylor expressed concern about eliminating “rural-urban boundaries” (urban growth boundaries, or UGBs) altogether, an Labour Party election promise.  read more »

The Battle for Houston

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Over the last half-century, Houston has developed an alternative model of urbanism. As the New Urbanist punditry mounts an assault on both suburban growth and single-family homes, Houston has embraced a light regulatory approach that reflects market forces more than ideology. But last year’s Hurricane Harvey floods severely tested the Houston model.  read more »

How We Lit The Fuse On The Population Bomb

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We’ve been here before – concerns about our capacity to house a large population are not new. But lately, hostility to rapid rates of population growth is gaining traction. There have been calls for a population inquiry and former PM Hon Tony Abbott has called for immigration (and hence population growth) to be slashed. He joins a chorus of other voices, from business to community groups. Voters are pushing back against growth and political leaders are feeling the pressure.  read more »

European Commission Exaggerates Urbanization

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Urban planners long have been concerned about “urban sprawl,” despite never having settled on a term that excludes any urbanization, even the densest in the world. But the European Commission (EC) has taken exaggerating about urban sprawl to a new level.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Lisbon

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Lisbon, Portugal’s capital is located on the wide estuary of the Tagus River, with a bridge modeled after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge connecting the core city to the suburbs to the south. Lisbon also resembles San Francisco in being picturesque, with the urbanization mixed with the complex geography of the coastal waters, dominated by hills.  read more »

The Buffalo Billion Reconsidered

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You may recall my City Journal feature on Buffalo from 2015. This was written about the time New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion program – a pledge to spend $1 billion in state funds to bring back the city economically – was in the earlier stages of development.  read more »

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

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Urban planners predicted that Millennials would prefer renting apartments in dense cities over owning homes in low-density suburbs. So they told regional governments to restrict low-density development and promote high-density housing instead. Now, Millennials are 18 percent less likely to own homes than their parents did when their parents were young: in 1990, 45 percent of 25-34-year-olds owned their own homes; by 2015, it was just 37 percent.  read more »

EU Auditor High-Speed Rail Criticisms: Lessons for North America and Australia

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The European Court of Auditors issued a report in late June critical of Europe’s development of high-speed rail. The European Court of Auditors is described on its website as: “the EU's independent external auditor, the European Court of Auditors looks after the interests of EU taxpayers.  read more »

The Once and Future Lagos

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City Journal just ran a very interesting piece on Lagos by Armin Rosen. Lagos is by some estimates Africa’s largest city and is well known as a creative capital. I don’t know anything personally about the city, but found Rosen’s description balanced and fascinating. Here are some excerpts:  read more »

Backyard Rental House Zoning Threatens Trees, Breezes, Birds and Neighborhoods

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The Dallas city manager and housing director are proposing a devastating blanket zoning change: allowing ADUs (additional dwelling units), better known as backyard rental houses, in single-family zoned neighborhoods. This change would allow a 44-foot wide by 30-foot tall rental house to be built on the back of a standard 50‑foot wide by 150-foot deep lot. Backyard rental houses would deforest the older neighborhoods, undermine neighborhood stability, accelerate gentrification, reduce diversity of housing, and diminish attainably priced opportunities for homebuyers.  read more »