Planning

The Community and Economic Development Hierarchy

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Construction underway for a new 130,000 square foot shopping center located in Hollister, CA, May 17, 2019. Sadly, more communities want to see this than are actually able to have it. Source: sanbenito.com

I've spent many, many years of my career working to improve the economic development prospects of communities. Wanting to make a meaningful, positive contribution to the revitalization of cities is what pushed me into this career path. More to the point, I've spent a good deal of that time working in places that were facing stiff economic headwinds working against them.  read more »

Debunking the Fake Farmland Crisis

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“Our farmland is disappearing at an alarming rate,” claims Hanna Clark of the American Farmland Trust. According to the trust, 31 million acres of farmland and ranchlands “disappeared” between 1992 and 2012. Claims like these are used to promote restrictions on urban development such as the urban-growth boundaries found around many California, Oregon, and Washington cities.  read more »

A Blast from the Past in Charlotte and Columbus

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I saw a couple of recent reposts containing very interesting material from several decades ago in Charlotte and Columbus.

The first is a 25 minute TV special from the 1960s looking at a proposal to issue bonds to fund urban renewal in downtown Charlotte. A few things struck me about this.  read more »

Ending The War On Communities: 14 Suggestions To Protect Neighborhoods While Providing Meaningful Housing Solutions

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The debate on solving California’s housing affordability crisis has reached a fever pitch, and the level of noise is drowning out solutions. We are facing a push to indiscriminately force density on neighborhoods and a war on single-family housing, which some in Sacramento paint as inherently “racist” and “immoral.”  read more »

Is It Time To Rethink Density?

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With new forecasts of record population growth across Australia’s major capital cities over the next few decades and affordability remaining a challenge, is it time to reconsider the core principles and policies that guide the management of this growth?  read more »

We Need More Family Friendly Cities

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My latest piece is now online at the Institute for Family Studies. It’s a look at what it would take to make more family friendly cities. Here is an excerpt:  read more »

Millennial Neighborhoods

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My generation – us ‘free love and drugs’ Hippies – were never going to be like our suburban parents who raised us. Until the Detroit Riots of 1967, I was raised in a 1,100 sq. Ft. three-bedroom brick home on Dartmouth street in Oak Park, Michigan, with no garage. That home (middle) as well as the neighbors (my grandparents lived in the home shown on the right) have not changed since they were built almost 70 years ago. My grandfather built both our home and theirs.  read more »

In Defense of Houses

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A critical component in the rise of market-oriented democracy in the modern era has been the dispersion of property ownership among middle-income households—not just in the United States but also in countries like Holland, Canada, and Australia, where it was closely linked with greater civil and economic freedom. In its early days, this dispersion was largely rural, but after the Second World War, it took on a largely suburban emphasis in the U.S., including within the extended metro regions of traditional cities like New York and Los Angeles.  read more »

Is There A Future For Transit-Oriented Development in Orange County, CA?

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California was once a state of great builders, and its legacy of grand construction projects remains plenty visible today. Major infrastructure investments like the California Aqueduct enabled the sprawling metropolises of the Southern California desert to thrive, becoming some of the most prolific economic and cultural centers in the world. The Golden State pioneered highway construction, linking its cities with each other and the rest of the nation. And perhaps the most iconic symbol of California, the Golden Gate Bridge, was a remarkable civil engineering feat of its time.  read more »

China's Urban Crisis

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China stands as the primary exhibit of twenty-first-century urbanism. At a time when elite cities in the West barely manage to grow in population, Chinese cities have emerged out of virtually nothing, as hundreds of millions of people have moved from farm to city.  read more »