Suburbs

Suburbia and the Black Experience

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A couple weeks ago I was privileged to be the guest speaker at a wonderful event. The Cultural Inclusion and Diversity Committee of the Village of Hanover Park, a northwest suburb of Chicago, asked me to speak on the suburban black experience. It was part of a series the committee is conducting on the various demographic groups that make up their community. I had a wonderful time and I was honored to be invited.  read more »

It's Organic! End of Conjecture and the Science Ahead

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A long succession of urban theorists, including Jane Jacobs, have intuited, implied, or proclaimed the “organic” nature of cities. This organic concept of cities describes them as self-organizing, complex systems that might appear messy, but that disorderliness belies a deep structure governed by fundamentally rule-bound processes.  read more »

New WPC Study: Expanding Seattle's Transit-Heavy Approach Will Not Improve Region's Quality of Life

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Washington Policy Center asked national transportation expert and urban policy analyst, Wendell Cox, to evaluate transportation planning in the Puget Sound region. Where do people choose to live, where do they choose to work, and how do they choose to travel? Does our regional transportation plan and subsequent spending by public officials reflect reality, or wishful thinking? These were just a few of the questions I had for him.  read more »

Stomping On the Suburbs

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Our way of life is a miracle for this kind of world, and … the danger lies in thinking that of it as ‘natural’ and likely to endure without a passionate determination on our part to preserve and defend it.” — W.V. Aughterson, The Australian Way of Life, 1951

For generations, Australia has enjoyed among the highest living standards in the world. The “Australian dream”, embodied largely by owning a single-family home with a small backyard, included well over 70 per cent of households.  read more »

Democracy is For the Dogs

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With a new round of state and local elections just around the corner, I am regularly asked about what brings Americans out to the polls and helps them politically engage them with their communities.  read more »

Forced Upzoning is Bad Policy, But Here's How We Can Mitigate its Impacts

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A number of bills in the legislature would attempt to “solve” the state’s housing challenges by overriding local municipal zoning ordinances and statutorily allowing developers to build up to Sacramento-mandated levels of density.  The most notable of these bills is SB50, which has no provisions to make any of the housing built affordable, but espouses a “trickle-down” theory which suggests that market-rate (i.e. luxury) housing will “filter” down to create more affordable housing.  read more »

Three Studies That Show Density Doesn't Determine Car Travel

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Recent research sheds new light on the critical issue of the link between car travel and urban density. Conventional planning wisdom has it that increasing development density bestows benefits, most importantly that of reducing driving. This effect seems almost self-evident: more compaction, shorter distances, lower VMTs. Peter Newman and Jeffrey Kenworthy’s (1989) Cities and Automobile Dependence reinforced this intuitive assumption with their extensive and in-depth study (1986) which effectively sealed the case for thirty years.  read more »

Organic Urbanism is the Cure for New Urbanism

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This early 1900s house, after the neighborhood had been rezoned for apartments, declined in value to $7,000 in the 1970s. Being rezoned single-family brought decades of revitalization that raised the value of neighborhood homes like this one to $700,000.

New Urbanism is like a virus. For 50 years it keeps coming back in mutated forms. It needs a cure.  read more »

Of Niche Markets and Broad Markets: Commuting in the US

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The six transit legacy cities - mostly urban cores that grew largely before the advent of the automobile - increased their concentration of transit work trips to 57.9% of the national transit commuting, according to the 2018 American Community Survey. At the same time, working at home strengthened its position as the nation’s third leading mode of work access, with transit falling to fourth. The transit commuting market share dropped from 5.0% in 2017 to 4.9% in 2018.  read more »

Younger Americans Don't Hate Suburbia

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As a college professor who teaches courses about politics and geography at an extremely progressive liberal arts college, my students regularly want to talk about the narratives surrounding deep urban-rural divides which routinely make the news or the seemingly endless stories abound about urban renewal and its proclivity  read more »