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Open Forum: Bring back the ‘missing middle’ housing - SFChronicle.com
"Tucked into neighborhoods throughout Oakland, Berkeley and many other Bay Area cities are small, beautiful duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes. These multifamily residences tend to be more affordable than single-family homes and were a major housing type in U.S. urban areas before World War II. But since the 1960s and ’70s, this type of essential housing has become illegal in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area and nation because it exceeds the density allowed. That’s why it’s now called “missing middle” housing. It’s time we brought it back.

Late this month, the Berkeley City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal to study the return of the missing middle — specifically, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes — in most areas of the city, except for the fire-prone hills. Councilmembers Lori Droste, Ben Bartlett, Rashi Kesarwani and Rigel Robinson patterned their plan on a groundbreaking law that passed last fall in Minneapolis. In a historic vote, the Minneapolis City Council decided to become the first in the nation to once again allow for new duplexes and triplexes in single-family-home neighborhoods.

In a letter of support for the Berkeley plan, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said it could serve as a model for her city and others. Indeed, it could be a model for all of California.

It would also help right a historic wrong. During the first part of the 20th century, some white, wealthy neighborhoods in Berkeley attached racial covenants to housing deeds — covenants that banned people of color from living there. Then, after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial covenants in 1916 in Buchanan vs. Warley, Berkeley, regrettably, became a national leader of so-called “exclusionary zoning” laws. These laws worked much like racial covenants: They banned apartment buildings in many neighborhoods under the racist reasoning that people of color wouldn’t be able to live in those neighborhoods because they couldn’t afford to buy single-family homes.

In the following decades, “redlining” (a discriminatory practice of refusing to loan or insure in certain neighborhoods) and disinvestment deepened the racial divide in housing, as Richard Rothstein noted in his acclaimed 2017 book, “The Color of Law.” Cities and counties made matters worse in the ’60s and ’70s when they expanded exclusionary zoning, prohibiting missing middle housing in most neighborhoods.

Berkeley deserves credit for green-lighting new multi-unit housing downtown and on some major transit corridors during the past decade. But large swaths of the city are still limited by exclusive R-1 zoning, which only allows for single-family homes. In fact, homeowners in much of the city not only can’t add another home to a large lot but are blocked from subdividing their existing large house into two, three or four units.

Berkeley, of course, is not alone in its embrace of exclusionary zoning. Issi Romem, chief economist for Trulia, estimates that single-family-home neighborhoods represent nearly half of the land mass of the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The consequences of banning the missing middle have also been devastating for low-, moderate- and middle-income families. The median sales price of a home in Berkeley soared 65 percent in five years, from 2013 to 2018, reaching $1.2 million this past December, according to Zillow. And Berkeley rent prices skyrocketed 54 percent during the same period. In the Bay Area, a family currently needs to earn $200,000 a year to afford a median-priced home.

In short, we have a housing emergency. California now ranks 49th in the nation in terms of the number of housing units per capita. It’s no wonder that our homelessness crisis continues to expand.

It’s also an environmental crisis. During the past several decades, suburban sprawl, coupled with little to no new housing in our cities, has fueled gas-guzzling super-commutes. According to a 2018 report by researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the single most important way for cities to reduce their carbon footprint by 2030 — which scientists say is the deadline for avoiding catastrophic climate change — is to build urban infill housing.

We need an “all-of-the-above” approach to address our housing crisis, including Berkeley’s missing middle plan. I’m also heartened that the Berkeley City Council members’ proposal includes important elements to avoid unintended consequences.

For example, it would exempt dangerous fire zones in the Berkeley hills. California’s devastating wildfires during the past few years have proven we must curb new home-building in what’s known as the wildland-urban interface.

The Berkeley missing middle plan also calls for anti-displacement measures to ensure that tenants and low-income residents aren’t kicked out of their homes to make way for new housing.

As Karen Chapple, faculty director of the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley, rightly noted in a letter in support of the missing middle plan, “Zoning reform has the potential not just to address the housing crisis but also to become a form of restorative or even transformative justice. There is no more important issue for planners to tackle today.”

I look forward to the Berkeley City Council approving the missing middle study at its meeting on March 26. And I encourage all Bay Area cities to follow suit."
housing  california  2019  density  apartments  history  race  racism  sanfrancisco  berkeley  oakland  infilling 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | The New ‘Dream Home’ Should Be a Condo - The New York Times
"This is the New American Home for 2018. It’s a sprawling monstrosity of more than 10,690 feet (the lot encompasses 65,340 square feet).

The New American Home should really be this condo. There are six units. One unit here can have just 1,800 square feet."



"The first New American Home that N.A.H.B. built, in Houston in 1984, was 1,500 square feet and cost $80,000. By 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble, the N.A.H.B. home – a lakeside McMansion in Florida with a tri-level kitchen island and a waterfall off the master suite – was over 10,000 square feet and listed for $5.3 million in what is today one of the nation’s foreclosure capitals, Orlando.

That 1984 project was the smallest; square footage hasn’t dipped below 2,200 since 1985. The 2018 version, also in Florida, is “Tuscan”-inspired and is close to 11,000 square feet, with eight bathrooms and both an elevator and a car elevator in the garage. The 2019 version, to be unveiled soon, is 8,000 square feet and has an “inner sanctum lounge” and a view of the Vegas strip.

The N.A.H.B. house may be meant to highlight trends, but they’re not necessarily the trends homeowners want (and certainly not what most people need). Instead, they’re what builders, kitchen and bath manufacturers and real estate agents would like to sell them: Think cathedral ceilings, granite countertops, gift-wrapping rooms and, more recently, “smart” appliances like a refrigerator that can text you when you’re low on milk and eggs.

Many builders will tell you that though these houses are large, they are more efficient – even that they have a small carbon footprint. But this is like bragging about the good gas mileage of an S.U.V. While a 10,000-square-foot house built today uses less energy than a 10,000-square-foot house built a decade ago, a home of this size requires a phenomenal amount of energy to run. (And most likely has an S.U.V. or two in the garage.)

Does anyone need 10,000 square feet to live in?

Families are getting smaller, not larger. The average American household shrank by 30 percent from 1948 and 2012, to 2.55 people from 3.67. Yet houses have ballooned as family sizes have contracted.

The average new home today is 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973. The square footage of living space per person has increased to 971, from 507 – a 92 percent increase.

What if the next New American Home was a condo? And what if there was a new American dream, not of auto-dependent suburbia, but walkable urbanism?

In the Cloverdale749 building designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects in Los Angeles, six families are housed – luxuriously – in a 10,500-square-foot building that has little else in common with the N.A.H.B. home.

No space is wasted here – it may not have multiple walk-in closets or “air-conditioned storerooms,” but it has high ceilings and roof decks.

Larger homes use more resources, typically require longer commutes, come with more expensive utility bills, and often contribute to more sedentary lifestyles (which in turn results in increased rates of conditions like obesity and heart disease).

The way the Cloverdale building is designed effectively reduces the need for (and costs of) heating and cooling, and increases natural light and circulation.

Thanks to its central location (and Los Angeles’s serious commitment to expanding public transit), it reduces the need for driving, too. Building this way has the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities. The N.A.H.B. home, in contrast, is entirely self-contained, with no regard for neighbors or neighborhood. It might as well have a moat.

This approach to housing is not only socially isolating, it’s no longer sustainable.

Our way of building homes and neighborhoods lost the plot a long time ago.

Homes like those the N.A.H.B. is promoting ignore the changing nature of families and the imminent crisis in housing for the elderly – not to mention climate change, which we have no hope of combatting without a true reimagining of the American dream. Enter the Green New Deal: If it recognized the link between building more infill housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it would be even greener. Taking a strong stand against the primacy of the single family home (and the zoning that encourages it), especially the 10,000-square-foot ones, would represent a bold move toward combating climate change."
allisonarieff  housing  us  sustainability  2019  transportation  density  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  excess  efficiency  energy  society 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Human Terrain
"Kinshasa is now bigger than Paris.
 Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen are
 forming an epic, 40 million-person super city.

Over the past 30 years, the scale of population change is hard to grasp. How do you even visualize 10 million people?"
maps  mapping  population  2018  1990  1975  visualization  density  data 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Michael T Spooky 🎃 on Twitter: "1. exurban sprawl due to high housing costs and lack of infill and transit push VMT up. people are commuting to SF from stockton and from Lancaster to LA. 2. that's a picture of the BQE in Brooklyn, not California… htt
"[RE: @Automotive_News Why aren't California emissions dropping? http://dlvr.it/QhXxzs ]

1. exurban sprawl due to high housing costs and lack of infill and transit push VMT up. people are commuting to SF from stockton and from Lancaster to LA.

2. that's a picture of the BQE in Brooklyn, not California

because coastal Californians conceptualize environmentalism as a consumer identity and individual virtue, they are blind to how blocking more people from living near the coast is the root cause of their long-term environmental calamity.

They will happily blame a construction worker priced out of San Francisco who has to drive 2 hours from Stockton every morning for ruining the air quality in the Central Valley, when the worker has no way to opt-out of those circumstances and suffers the worst consequences

Meanwhile, the wealthy who would just simply rather not permit more people to live near them enjoy the cool and clean air from the Pacific and wonder why on Earth these irresponsible middle class people in Fresno don't just buy $80k Teslas"

[See also:

"Bay Area far from progressive on housing"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/San-Francisco-Bay-Area-is-not-progressive-on-13319525.php ]
housing  emissionss  california  sanfrancisco  bayarea  2018  environment  environmentalism  density  airquality  transportation  publictransit  stockton  centralvalley  class  society  sprawl  virtue  externalization 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Microscopic Colonialism - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
"For much of their history European cities have been unhealthy places. Until the end of the nineteenth century, they were traversed by waves of infection that would thrive in the close assemblage of people and livestock. Urban mortality rates were so great that sustained migration from the countryside was the only way cities could maintain their population levels stable.1

This may seem a distant past now that “health” is understood in opposition either to aging or to diseases, such as cancer, that are non-communicable. Yet, not only do infectious diseases remain a major cause of death outside Western countries, but scientists agree that the number of epidemic events around the world has actually been increasing. Zika and Ebola are only two prominent examples of “emerging infectious diseases” (EID), a definition that was put forward in the 1990s by American virologist Stephen S. Morse.2 It is also widely accepted within biomedical science that there is a strong nexus between EIDs and the material footprint of capitalist processes of extraction and accumulation: mining, logging, and intensive agriculture have the effect of fragmenting wild habitats, increasing the risk of human exposure to pathogens in the wildlife.3

In spite of such evidence, infectious diseases are conspicuously absent from the architectural discourse on urbanization. This arguably stems from a narrow understanding of the “urban,” which is still limited to the scale of the Western city. As Rem Koolhaas and others have argued, our focus on urban cores has made us blind to the human-driven changes that are taking place outside of them—whether in the countryside or in tropical rainforests.

Among the epidemics that are new to the twentieth century, HIV is by far the deadliest. Discovered in 1983, its cumulative death toll currently exceeds thirty million people and shows little sign of abating.4 The history of its appearance—when and how it first became a human virus—exposes the root of the contemporary entanglement between pathogens, humans, and the environment.

Modernity and Health

Contrary to non-communicable diseases, epidemics are a direct function of urbanization: viruses, bacteria, and parasites can propagate only where enough people live close to one another. If a person catches a virus but dies before having a chance to transmit it to someone else, no epidemic will take place. The size, density, and distribution of human settlements are thus crucial in determining how an epidemic spreads. This is why epidemics can only develop in settled societies—nomadic or seminomadic communities are generally too small and far apart for pathogens to spread effectively. Recent evidence indicates that it was only after the onset of agriculture and of animal husbandry—around 10,000 years ago—that epidemics became a regular presence in human history.5"
andreabagnato  2017  colonialism  civilization  cities  disease  remkoolhaas  ebola  hiv  zika  health  urban  urbanism  density  entanglement  pathogens  modernity  nomads  nomadism  epidemics  settlements  history  urbanization  viruses  bacteria  society 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The city that solved homelessness
"European cities, in general, do much better than North America in providing housing. The Austrian capital, though, has had unusual success with housing issues that dog metro areas in the Pacific Northwest.

Vienna offers a vision of a city that doesn’t shove long-time residents to neighboring communities, accommodates a range of incomes, and actually has enough affordable housing that the homeless problem is solved.

The Austrian capital’s model has attracted attention in Asia, other parts of the U.S. and Vancouver, British Columbia, where political leaders have declared a homelessness crisis. Recently, a Museum of Vancouver exhibit, “The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century City,” has provoked considerable attention.

In terms of people living on the streets, there’s just “no comparison, no comparison” at all between European cities in general and the U.S. or even Canada, says William Menking, the New York-based co-editor of a book, “The Vienna Model,” on which the exhibit is based. He’s in Berlin currently, where on a recent day in a working-class neighborhood he didn’t see a single homeless person.

Here are just a few of the many issues that Vienna has figured out: Mixing ethnic, age and income groups. Protecting open space. Aging in place. Transit-centered development. Building new train lines to the hinterlands before suburban housing developments are built.

These successes cut across the range of social, transportation and sustainability issues that Seattle knows it should tackle.

Some of Vienna’s housing uses the high-rise, easy-to-construct styles that generally flopped — often so spectacularly that whole buildings were demolished — in America’s public housing. Austria, like America, has a history of discrimination (Hitler spent considerable time there) and ethnic tensions; it approached its big housing projects with an eye toward creating a functioning society."

Even before World War II, Vienna was working at bringing people together in attractive housing projects, not warehousing the needy and the working class. Architects sought to create a “garden city” for workers with an early low-rise complex, George-Washington-Hof. In the 1960s, a large, 11-story complex of prefabricated elements plopped in place by cranes was redeemed by individual units that were laid out to allow ample natural light, and by buildings placed in such a way that they create a park-like setting. By the mid-’70s, a complex with 20-plus story buildings — called Wohnpark (Residential Park) Alt-Erlaa — was being built for 7,000 people with spacious gardens, rooftop pools, saunas, preschools and more — a concept the exhibit organizers call “luxury for all.”

More recent innovations tend to use somewhat lower-rise buildings juxtaposed with a variety of walkways, recreational facilities, residence balconies and green space — all accomplished while creating enough density to support transit.

One recent housing project used generally low-rise construction and flexible floor plans to ensure that residents could have options as they aged to shrink their space or share their units with others — and the rooftop gardens are wheelchair accessible.

Those rooftop gardens, common in Vienna’s housing for people of all incomes, are starting to pop up in a few new developments here — for those who can afford the steep-even-for-Seattle rents.

Vienna certainly has advantages: The federal government covers more than half of the roughly $700 million a year spent there on “social housing,” the subsidized units that house about 60 percent of the city’s population. These dwellings have some sort of subsidy for construction or operation, a concept that’s very different from the public housing practices in this country that give a small percentage of people a break but come nowhere near making rents broadly affordable.

The city also owns a lot of land where it can develop the housing complexes (at least one Viennese architect advises never selling public land). And it uses its advantages smartly: Menking says that the practice of awarding housing projects to nonprofits encourages collaborations with architects, and quality counts in making awards. The result: housing that incorporates — and creates — the best of urban life."
vienna  housing  government  policy  property  development  2017  seattle  joecopeland  values  society  density  urban  urbanism 
june 2017 by robertogreco
America’s Love of Sprawl Starts Right at the Border - CityLab
"Every day, students living in Juarez cross the border to go to school in El Paso. Travelers flying into the Tijuana airport can walk over to San Diego on a pedestrian bridge. Folks living in Mexico work on the American side of the border every day to earn a living in dollars. Around 350 million such people cross the border every year, many through ports of entry designed to welcome rather than ward off. Among other reasons, that’s because the U.S.-Mexico border is a boundary separating several sister cities that are, essentially, one urban and economic unit.

But while these border cities have grown together in recent decades, that growth has manifested differently for a variety of economic and cultural reasons. The difference in their urban footprints is evident in a new map, created by cartography enthusiast Sasha Trubetskoy.

Using land use data, Trubetskoy, who’s studying statistics at the University of Chicago, has arranged 14 border cities (each pair with at least 15,000 residents) side-by-side:

[image]

What’s immediately apparent is that, by and large, the Mexican cities seem more densely urbanized. In an accompanying table, Trubetskoy also notes that these cities are generally more populous, and calls this clustering of folks on the dense, Mexican side of the border the “urban pileup effect.” On the American side, the cities tend to sprawl.

Among the 14 urban areas he maps, San Diego is an exception with more people (around 3.2 million) than its Mexican counterpart (1.9 million). That said, its residents occupy a larger area*:

[image]"
us  mexico  tijuana  sandiego  texas  california  cities  density  urban  urbanism 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Why Tokyo is the land of rising home construction but not prices - FT.com
"The city had more housing starts in 2014 than the whole of England. Can Japan’s capital offer lessons to other world cities?

It was the rapidity of what happened to the house next door that took us by surprise. We knew it was empty. Grass was steadily taking over its mossy Japanese garden; the upstairs curtains never moved. But one day a notice went up, a hydraulic excavator tore the house down, and by the end of next year it will be a block of 16 apartments instead.

Abruptly, we are living next door to a Tokyo building site. It is not fun. They work six days a week. Were this London, Paris or San Francisco, there would be howls of resident rage — petitions, dire warnings about loss of neighbourhood character, and possibly a lawsuit or two. Local elections have been lost for less.

Yet in our neighbourhood, there was not a murmur, and a conversation with Takahiko Noguchi, head of the planning section in Minato ward, explains why. “There is no legal restraint on demolishing a building,” he says. “People have the right to use their land so basically neighbouring people have no right to stop development.”

Here is a startling fact: in 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m), or the 137,010 houses started in the entire country of England (population 54.3m).

Tokyo’s steady construction is linked to a still more startling fact. In contrast to the enormous house price booms that have distorted western cities — setting young against old, redistributing wealth to the already wealthy, and denying others the chance to move to where the good jobs are — the cost of property in Japan’s capital has hardly budged.

This is not the result of a falling population. Japan has experienced the same “return to the city” wave as other nations. In Minato ward — a desirable 20 sq km slice of central Tokyo — the population is up 66 per cent over the past 20 years, from 145,000 to 241,000, an increase of about 100,000 residents.

[Chart: Change in house prices and population]

In the 121 sq km of San Francisco, the population grew by about the same number over 20 years, from 746,000 to 865,000 — a rise of 16 per cent. Yet whereas the price of a home in San Francisco and London has increased 231 per cent and 441 per cent respectively, Minato ward has absorbed its population boom with price rises of just 45 per cent, much of which came after the Bank of Japan launched its big monetary stimulus in 2013.

In Tokyo there are no boring conversations about house prices because they have not changed much. Whether to buy or rent is not a life-changing decision. Rather, Japan delivers to its people a steadily improving standard, location and volume of house.

In many countries, urban housing is becoming one of the great social and economic issues of the age. (Would Britain have voted for Brexit if more of the population could move to London?) It is worth investigating, therefore, how Tokyo achieved this feat, the price it has paid for a steady stream of homes, and whether there are any lessons to learn.

Like most institutions in Japan, urban planning was originally based on western models. “It’s similar to the United States system,” says Junichiro Okata, professor of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo.

Cities are zoned into commercial, industrial and residential land of various types. In commercial areas you can build what you want: part of Tokyo’s trick is a blossoming of apartment towers in former industrial zones around the bay. But in low-rise residential districts, there are strict limits, and it is hard to get land rezoned.

Subject to the zoning rules, the rights of landowners are strong. In fact, Japan’s constitution declares that “the right to own or to hold property is inviolable”. A private developer cannot make you sell land; a local government cannot stop you using it. If you want to build a mock-Gothic castle faced in pink seashells, that is your business.

In the cities of coastal California, zoning rules have led to paralysis and a lack of new housing supply, as existing homeowners block new development. It was a similar story in 1980s Tokyo.

“During the 1980s Japan had a spectacular speculative house price bubble that was even worse than in London and New York during the same period, and various Japanese economists were decrying the planning and zoning systems as having been a major contributor by reducing supply,” says André Sorensen, a geography professor at the University of Toronto, who has written extensively on planning in Japan.

But, indirectly, it was the bubble that laid foundations for future housing across the centre of Tokyo, says Hiro Ichikawa, who advises developer Mori Building. When it burst, developers were left with expensively assembled office sites for which there was no longer any demand.

As bad loans to developers brought Japan’s financial system to the brink of collapse in the 1990s, the government relaxed development rules, culminating in the Urban Renaissance Law of 2002, which made it easier to rezone land. Office sites were repurposed for new housing. “To help the economy recover from the bubble, the country eased regulation on urban development,” says Ichikawa. “If it hadn’t been for the bubble, Tokyo would be in the same situation as London or San Francisco.”

Hallways and public areas were excluded from the calculated size of apartment buildings, letting them grow much higher within existing zoning, while a proposal now under debate would allow owners to rebuild bigger if they knock down blocks built to old earthquake standards.

All of this law flows from the national government, and freedom to demolish and rebuild means landowners can quickly take advantage. “The city planning law and the building law are set nationally — even small details are written in national law,” says Okata. “Local government has almost no power over development.”

“Without rebuilding we can’t protect lives [from earthquakes],” says Noguchi in Minato ward, reflecting the prevailing view in Japan that all buildings are temporary and disposable, another crucial difference between Tokyo and its western counterparts. “There are still plenty of places with old buildings where it’s possible to increase the volume.”

Constant rebuilding helps to explain why housing starts in the city are so high: the net increase in homes is lower. Like our next-door neighbours, however, a rebuild often allows an increase in density.

All of this comes at a price, not financial, but one paid in other ways. Put simply, the modern Japanese cityscape — Tokyo included — can be spectacularly ugly. There is no visual co-ordination of buildings, little open space, and “high-quality” mainly means “won’t fall down in an earthquake”.

Some of Tokyo’s older apartment buildings give industrial Siberia a dystopian run for its money. The mock-Gothic castle is no flight of fancy: visit the Emperor love hotel, which (de) faces the canal in Meguro ward. Most depressing of all are the serried, endless ranks of cheap, prefab, wooden houses in the Tokyo suburbs.

“The Japanese system is extremely laissez-faire. It really is the minimum. And it’s extremely centralised and standardised. That means it is highly flexible in responding to social and economic change,” says Okata.

“On the other hand, it’s not much good at producing outcomes suited to a particular town in a particular place. It can’t produce attractive cities like the UK or Europe.” Okata wants to hand much more power to local government.

And yet. At the level of individual buildings, if you block from your vision whatever stands next door, Tokyo fizzes with invention and beauty. It is no coincidence that the country where architects can build has produced a procession of Pritzker prize winners.

Japanese urbanism, with its “scramble” pedestrian crossings, its narrow streets, its dense population and its superb public transport is looked to as a model, certainly in Asia, and increasingly across the rest of the world as well.

Most of all, Tokyo is fair. The ugliness is shared by rich and poor alike. So is the low-cost housing. In London, or in San Francisco, all share in the beauty, but some enjoy it from the gutter; others from high above the city, in the rationed seats, closer to the stars."
japan  tokyo  sanfrancisco  london  us  uk  housing  population  property  construction  development  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  california  zoning  homeownership  policy  england  economics  propertyrights  density 
august 2016 by robertogreco
San Francisco has become one huge metaphor for economic inequality in America — Quartz
"With the average house in San Francisco costing over $1.25 million and median condo prices over $1.11 million, the minimum qualifying income to purchase a house has increased to $254,000, as estimated by the the California Association of Realtors. Considering that the median household income in the city currently stands around $80,000, it is not an exaggeration to say that the dream of home ownership is now beyond the grasp of the vast majority of today’s renters.

For generations, the stability and prosperity of the American middle class has been anchored by home ownership. Studies have consistently shown that the value of land has outpaced overall income growth, thus providing a huge advantage to property owners as a vehicle of wealth building. When home prices soar above the reach of most households, the gap between the haves and the have nots dramatically increases.

If causal factors leading to housing unaffordability are not resolved over multiple generations, the social stratification will start to resemble countries like Russia, where a small elite control a vast share of the country’s total wealth.

The result? A society where the threat of class warfare would loom large. According to a 2010 study conducted by the University of Warwick, a society’s level of happiness is tied less to measures of quantitative wealth and more to ties of qualitative wealth. This means that how a person judges their wellbeing in comparison to their neighbors has more of an impact on their happiness than their objective standard of living. At the same time, when a system no longer provides opportunities for the majority to partake in wealth building, it not only robs those who are excluded of opportunities, but also of their dignity.



Our impending housing crisis forces the uncomfortable question of what type of society we would like to be. Will it be one where elites command the vast bulk of wealth and regional culture is defined by a cutthroat business world? We were recently treated to a taste of the latter, when local tech employee Justin Keller wrote an open letter to the city complaining about having to see homeless people on his way to work.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But solutions need to be implemented now, before angry mobs grow from nuisance to serious concern. It may take less than you might think. There are only so many housing reform community meetings one can sit through.

Ultimately, the solutions to our housing crisis are fairly clear. We need to increase the density of housing units. We need to use existing technology to shorten travel times and break the geographical bottleneck.

There is a way to solve complex social and economic problems without abandoning social responsibility. This is the Bay Area’s opportunity to prove that it can innovate more than just technology."
housing  inequality  sanfrancisco  bayarea  us  cities  wealth  wealthinequality  transportation  trains  2016  affordability  density  society  technology  geography  frederickkuo  economics  policy  development 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne | KCET
"Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne partners with Artbound for an episode that looks into the future of Los Angeles. "Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne" examines the city's architecture, urban planning, transportation and changing demographics, giving us a glimpse of Los Angeles as a model of urban reinvention for the nation and the world."

[See also:

"Is Los Angeles a Horizontal City?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/tall-buildings-los-angeles-vertical-construction

"Is Los Angeles a City of Houses?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/los-angeles-architecture-history-multi-family-housing

"Is Los Angeles a City of Immigrants?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/demographics-of-los-angeles-immigrantion

"Is Los Angeles a Private City?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/privacy-segregation-in-los-angeles

"What is the Third Los Angeles?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/christopher-hawthorne-critic-third-la-los-angeles ]
christopherhawthorne  carolinamiranda  losangeles  urbanplanning  2016  architecture  urban  urbanism  transportation  demographics  barbarabestor  michaelmaltzan  michaelwoo  history  future  density  cities  development  gentrification 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Finding a cure for the ‘Huffman virus’
"It's barely 9 a.m. and the humidity is already stifling what would otherwise be a mild August day. In front of a Tudor-style cottage in City Heights, charming with its pitched roof and multi-paned windows, there's a single tree casting shade across the sidewalk.

It's an oasis amid all the concrete. On either side of the Tudor—the only single-family home that remains on this particular stretch of 36th Street—are faded apartment buildings fronted by multiple parking spaces. Next to those are more drab apartment buildings and more parking spaces. It's a scene that repeats up and down the street.

Dubbed "Huffman six-packs," after developer Ray Huffman, these buildings, squeezed into narrow lots meant for single-family homes, are the result of hasty, shortsighted urban planning.

"Utilitarian" is how Hanan Bowman, housing director at the City Heights Community Development Corporation, puts it. Huffman-style properties were built fast to meet a perceived economic threat, he says. With new Mission Valley shopping centers luring consumers away from neighborhood businesses, midcentury Mid-City—North Park, City Heights, Normal Heights, Hillcrest, University Heights and Kensington— needed more density to help those businesses compete. In the late 1960s, Huffman started buying up single-family homes in the Mid-City area and replacing them with eight- to 10-unit apartment buildings (though few are six units, the "six-pack" tag stuck). Other developers, like Conrad Prebys' Progress Construction, followed, using Huffman properties as a model. It wasn't until the 1980s that city planners tried to curtail this sort of development. "San Diego's unhappy history of higher-density housing," is how a 2004 article in smart-growth magazine The Urbanist put it, with the consequence being a lingering hostility to any effort to increase density.

"They weren't really all that well-constructed," Bowman says of Huffman-style apartments, with "the parking in the front taking up a significant percentage of the lot space, the monolithic face of the buildings and such—while utilitarian and purposeful in the '60s and '70s, today is not appropriate for the look of the neighborhoods."

"Subdivided into meaninglessness," says Stephen Russell.

Russell's standing in the lone tree's shade, looking at the two buildings next to it. The architect and board president of the City Heights CDC is both fascinated and frustrated by Huffmans, so much so that in 2010, while at the NewSchool of Architecture, he wrote a thesis on how to revitalize older neighborhoods—Mid-City being his focus—that have been plagued by this sort of piecemeal development. What he set out to do, he says at the end of the 142-page study, was "to find a ‘cure' for the ‘Huffman virus.'"

Ideally within a year, a City Heights Huffman will become Russell's laboratory. Last month, the City Heights CDC was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to help with the purchase and rehab of a Huffman property, which Russell will use as a case study. The question to be answered: "Can the Huffman structure be sufficiently rehabilitated, both its footprint and its street appeal," Bowman says. "Or, from a cost-benefit perspective, is it more efficient to tear it down and rebuild?"

The project's still in the early stages, and the CDC will have to cobble together money to acquire the building. The goal is to make the project replicable while also being mindful of the challenge of preserving the neighborhood's affordability. City Heights includes some of the poorest census tracts in the county, and older housing stock, like Huffman properties, are de-facto affordable housing.

"How do we come up with a solution that the market isn't going to seize on and do what the Huffmans did and just destroy all the affordable housing?" Russell says. "Because in many cases, you can't even replace what is there under the zoning.… With public monies, foundation monies, there may be a formula that works for the affordable-housing market."

The goal isn't to add density, but to better accommodate it. The density's already there: According to census data, more than half of City Heights households are considered overcrowded under standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Huffman-era properties are typically one-bedroom units, many no larger than 500 square feet.

"These places aren't so very dense— what they are is they're crowded," Russell says. "We've crowded everybody in this little footprint in small units."

To address the need for multi-bedroom units, the project will look at whether Huffman-era buildings were constructed in a way that would allow them to be reconfigured into a mix of unit sizes, going up to a three-bedroom space. Another option is looking at whether the parking spaces that front the properties could accommodate a couple town-home-style units.

Huffman-era apartments are defined by long stretches of driveway that allow for four or five parking spaces in the front of the building. Another four or five spaces in the back give each unit dedicated parking. But, at the same time, those front lots reduce the amount of on-street parking while also undermining public use of the sidewalk.

"You've pretty much abandoned [the sidewalk] to a car that uses it 15 seconds a day," Russell says. "Parking doesn't have to drive all of this."

So-called "reverse-diagonal" street parking—angled parking that you back into—is one option to replace those dedicated spaces. It's bike and pedestrian friendly and has been used successfully in cities like Seattle, Portland and Austin, Russell notes in his thesis. Community lots are another option. "We [need to] get past the idea that I have to have my space in front of my place," he says.

Many of the buildings have an illegal extra space, Russell points out, where the owner pulled out landscaping and poured in concrete. Some owners simply replaced the landscaping with concrete to cut back on maintenance costs. All that impermeable surface means that when it rains, polluted run-off is going into the city's storm drains. Getting rid of the front-of-building parking spots would allow for landscaping that would capture that run-off.

(There's a five-block area in City Heights that Russell refers to as the "magic blocks" because there's not a single multi-family unit. Those blocks lack the alleyways for extra parking, making the lots unattractive to developers.)

The CDC, right now, is just focusing on the acquisition and rehab of one property. But as Russell walks through the neighborhood, he can't help but see the bigger picture. He has a map with him, showing the redevelopment potential of each parcel in a four-block area of City Heights. All those Huffmans surrounding the Tudor cottage are "frozen" parcels—dark blue on the map. The rule of thumb, he says, is that for a property to be attractive to investment, a developer would need to be able to double or triple its current density. That worked great for Huffman and others who purchased single-family homes and replaced them with multi-unit dwellings. But those sites, in response to Mid-City's Huffmanization, have since been down-zoned, meaning that unless a developer can combine parcels into a larger project, this isn't an area that's going to attract market-rate development.

Condo conversions—where apartments are upgraded and turned into condominiums, offering a way around the down-zoning conundrum—prettied up Huffman properties in neighborhoods like North Park, Hillcrest and University Heights. But, largely unregulated, the conversions—which took rental units off the market, many of them affordable to lower-income folks—became another example of how not to revitalize an area. Russell says that regulations put in place by the City Council a few years ago have made City Heights unattractive to developers looking to make quick money from a condo conversion.

"Dark blue," Russell says, pointing to one of the Huffman parcels on 36th Street. "If you tore it down, you could put up half of what's on the site."

"What we did is we acted against perceived crowding by saying, ‘Stop, no more development," he adds. "So, now we're stuck with exactly what we have. It isn't going to change, and is this what we want? No, we want to stop this from happening after it happened, as is so often the case.""
kellydavis  stephenrussell  cityheights  sandiego  apartments  huffmansix-packs  urbandevelopment  urban  parking  sidewalks  density  architecture  1960s  conradprebys  progressconstruction  history  rayhuffman  mid-city  northpark  hillcrest  normalheights  universityheights  kensington  housing 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Neverending Hunt for Affordable Housing Funds
"Q: One of the big criticisms that comes up in any discussion of affordable housing is that it costs too much to build. How do you handle that argument?

A: We build things like four-bedroom apartments. Three bedrooms, you’ll find in upscale new developments that that are high- to mid-market, truly market rate. Here, the market would never produce them. So, we’re building things that the market doesn’t do and doesn’t do for a reason.

Housing traditionally does not serve all classes. When you go back in history, what you typically have is tenements. You have naturally affordable housing that is obsolete or substandard and therefore not commanding a market price. It’s cheap because it’s not the most desirable. And so that’s how, in most of human history, the poorest people have lived in undignified conditions. Our goal as an organization is to try to provide dignified, safe housing for all members of society.

Q: What about for-profit developers who say, “Just make it easier for us to build market-rate housing, just increase the supply and then there’s … ”

A: The trickle down? There’s some truth in that. If you want to talk mega economics and go back to [urbanist and activist] Jane Jacobs , she will talk about diversity as being desirable and one of the diversities is diversity of [housing] tenure — the types, sizes, whether people rent or own. Diversity of age is valuable because … in an ideal world, you’re constantly providing almost enough housing so that there is always stuff falling into lowercase-a “affordability” — hopefully it’s not too obsolete and not too degraded.

But we have these incredible housing cycles of boom and bust, so we have big gaps in when housing is aging. There hasn’t been enough housing produced here. I think you’d have to go back to maybe the ‘60s to find a time when enough housing was being produced. … So that’s that boom-and-bust cycle and suddenly nothing older’s coming on the market and suddenly, boom, everything is aged out to 30 years. If we could smooth out the cycles, that would certainly help.

But the core issue: Is just gross supply part of the formula? And the answer is yes, of course. But can we build our way out of it? There’s some builders who are sitting on subdivisions because they know they can make more money releasing it in tranches over time. They have 10, 20, 30-year business plans. Are there people saying, “Release us to build and we shall build,” who actually have land they could build on? There are some of those, yes. Is it too difficult to build? It can be.

Q: But then you have communities that absolutely don’t want you to add another unit of housing.

A: The question of density is key. From an environmental standpoint, we know that the “City of Villages” is essentially a climate action plan, if you will, of transit-oriented development, really focusing on transit and putting the density in the right place where people can live rich, fulfilled lives within a narrow walking radius.

We’re going to have to work to see that enough multifamily land is zoned. Look at where we are right now. This zoning doesn’t exist everywhere in the city. We couldn’t do this and just replicate it down the street. The issue of density is, one, we have to get more multifamily zoning. In every community plan update we do, we have to look at where it makes sense. And then we have to show how it improves quality of life and I think we’re starting to get more examples.

When [Metro Villas] was being built, there was a lot of community opposition, “We don’t want more affordable housing.” Well, now we hear, “We want to see more things like this.” It’s the high point of the neighborhood. We have marvelous, beautiful examples of affordable housing being the finest housing in the community.

Similarly with density, people are screaming to get into North Park, they’re screaming to get into Little Italy. We simply have to do a better job of demonstrating the quality of life benefits and actually funding improvements to the public realm that make it so that it is more desirable … so that it has a vibrancy as opposed to a crowdedness. Is it crowded or is it vibrant? It really depends on all of these other environmental cues and how did they get there? Are you sitting next to cars and parking or are you in a plaza? All these different kinds of elements come together."

[See also: http://cityheightsinitiative.org/historic-projects/metro-center/ and
http://www.sandiego.gov/redevelopment-agency/pdf/affhousing/fsmetrovillas.pdf ]
sandiego  housing  2015  stephenrussell  affordablehousing  funding  redevelopment  cityheights  density  metrovilla  landuse  class 
december 2015 by robertogreco
‘This is the dirty, magical realism future of Los Angeles’ | Buildings | Architectural Review
"Maltzan’s bold, stacked forms engage with a formerly industrial neighbourhood in downtown LA

Fundamental transformations are taking place within the two main urban centres of California, the state that exemplified a previous model of laissez-faire sub-urbanity. The force of change is a new generation of urban dwellers that bring a different set of values around identity, community and responsibility. The effect of these changes seems to differ between the two cities, as a forum commenter recently pointedly summarised: ‘San Francisco is a utopia gone wrong, while Los Angeles is a dystopia gone right.’ While SF’s development has become dubiously intertwined with the tech boom and its relating social disparities, LA is possibly evolving towards a more enmeshed alternative. These developments deserve attention, as even more than the car-oriented suburb of the ’60s, this current idea of the city might well become the model for other developing regions around the globe.

Los Angeles for decades was understood as an entropic field of enclaves. A mat-city where sunshades and windshields allowed for a coexistence of minimal interaction, as depicted so cleverly in Robert Altman’s Shortcuts (1993). The city’s downtown frequents as hell-on-earth in numerous sci-fi movies. For years, the dark and haunted vision of this part of town, as depicted in Blade Runner (1982), was an idée fixe. Come 2014, Spike Jonze’s magical realism brings us a radically new notion of what LA’s future might look like. In Her, the movie in which protagonist Theodore Twombly falls in love with an OS with an exceptionally seductive voice, the future of downtown LA is clean, dense and comfortable. According to Her cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, Jonze wanted an LA set in the not-so-distant future – a ‘world that was tactile and pleasant: the very opposite of a dystopian future’.

Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan has been contemplating the not-so-distant future of LA for a while, leading in 2011 to his book No More Play. ‘The city is at a moment where much of the way that it has been developed in the past, which has created both the physical and psychological identity for the city – a city that just continued to push the boundaries outward and sprawl into the periphery – that data equation is probably untenable at this point. There is an extraordinary pressure back in and onto the city that is creating a kind of overwriting of the city in a very intense way.’ This brings up a number of questions that other cities, older more traditional cities, probably have dealt with in the past, things like transport, and certainly scale and density as important urban questions. What Maltzan has been most interested in, ‘is trying to imagine how you deal with those questions, but deal with them in a way that is inspired by and specific to Los Angeles. I don’t think it really helps at all to try to import models from other established or more traditional cities into a culture that has its own identity, its own character, its own spirit’.

This spirit is increasingly emerging in Maltzan’s own work. His lines and forms are daring and bold. His predominantly white massings, shaped through hard chamfers and sharp facets, gain their expression in the dark shadows of the Sunshine State. More particular is his embrace of the raw and given – the reality of the everyday in all its looseness and unpredictability. This engagement with the real, which was also crucial for fellow Angeleno and former employer, Frank Gehry, is helping Maltzan now add two significant projects to LA evolving downtown less than a mile apart."



"As the project’s linear form moves south, it begins to shift, delaminating to create views and ground-level connections across its width for a clear connection to the LA River and future transit nodes. Says Maltzan, ‘It’s seen as a three-dimensional armature that eventually weaves itself into the city.’ Interspersed in this connective network are the contemporary perks these buildings require such as pools, barbecue decks and gyms as points of orientation.

Both The Star Apartments and One Santa Fe are frugal encampments of wood and stucco on top of a new ground with its concrete structures and ordinary plumbing exposed. They are built to current economic realities and construction techniques. In their parti, the projects evoke Masato Otaka’s Sakaide Artificial Ground development (1968-86). This Japanese Metabolist established an artificial datum over a seismically unstable slum area in Sakaide, using a fixed concrete slab and beam platform, which housed itinerant salt workers in a series of prefabricated housing structures on the slab. Underneath was occupied by offices, shops, parking and a network of pedestrian alleys. The second ground certainly is not a new concept in architecture, but other than in its utopian or Structuralist precursors, Maltzan’s new ground is not infused with radical rhetorics. Somewhere within the amalgam of new realities, housing subsidies, affordability ratios, zoning requirements, ROI models, parking quota, etc, Maltzan is able to create two projects that are both unique and memorable.

In addition to that, in their pragmatism and embrace of the currents of our time, they form a ‘casual’ manifesto of how the city could transform. Unlike in other cities, space in LA is actually not yet precious, so doubling the ground is not to create more; it is the introduction of a layer within the city that can take on new community or urban roles. The new public layers appear as a testing ground, or antechamber, allowing the changing and diverse LA populace to gradually get reconnected, to both the outside and to the other. ‘I think architecture through building form has a responsibility to try to point to what urban forms are going to look like and what the city’s going to look like. These buildings are trying to do that,’ says Maltzan. If this is where the city is heading, a ‘dirty’, magical realism awaits us in the not-too-distant future."
losangeles  sanfrancisco  california  2015  architects  housing  cities  michaelmaltzan  design  urbanism  onesantafe  dystopia  spikejonze  her  future  sprawl  density 
december 2015 by robertogreco
There is no such thing as a city that has run out of room - The Washington Post
"What we really mean when we say we can't make space for more neighbors."



"This new attitude over the last 30 years has layered atop an American instinct that has always been here.

"It was part of the original promise that if you come from Europe to the U.S., you get your own space, with your own home, and it’s a private home, and it’s got elbow room from your neighbors," says Hirt, the Virginia Tech urban planning expert who has written a new book on the history of American zoning.

There's a deep-seated cultural perception of space in America, that we should all have a lot of it, that a town with a family per acre can be full. And it's not just because we have a big country; they have a lot of land in Russia, too, Hirt points out. Their cities are still much denser.

Of course, what's based on culture and politics – not physics — can change. So maybe we can learn to live differently.

“Everybody that lives in San Francisco thinks that San Francisco is the once-and-always great place," says McCarthy, head of the Lincoln Institute. "I was in San Francisco in 1971 and it wasn’t that great. It was actually in very bad shape."

The city was losing population then, and it took many years to recover. Now we think million-dollar micro-apartments are the norm.

"But 40 years from now, San Francisco might look like Detroit. And it might look like Detroit because people have decided to stop evolving and adapting," McCarthy says. "And instead we move around on the planet instead of making the places that we care about work.”"
cities  population  density  nimby  nimbyism  2015  populationdensity  urban  urbanism  comparison  inequality  housing  zoning  nimbys 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Urbanism Took a Beating in 2014 | Voice of San Diego
"This time last year, I took a look at all the things happening in San Diego that suggested the city was accepting its role as a major metropolis and embracing urbanist thinking.

“Urbanism seems to have taken hold of San Diego in 2013,” I wrote.

That seems to have been absurd.

In the year since, some of the crumbs that led me to that conclusion have been dismantled or dismissed. New efforts aimed at making the city a more urban place, with denser development and increased use of public transportation didn’t fare well.

The biggest piece of evidence to suggest San Diego was getting serious about planning and development — the hiring of nationally renowned smart-growth champion Bill Fulton as the city’s planning director — was also the biggest counter-argument in 2014. He was welcomed with open arms in 2013.

He’s already gone. He was pushed out, left unsatisfied or took a can’t-pass-up job, depending on who you ask. He’s now running a university planning institute in Houston.

In Fulton’s last months, Mayor Kevin Faulconer created a position above Fulton that would limit his decision-making ability, and the economic development department that had answered to him was taken away, too.

One thing he was left in control of — the Civic Innovation Lab — was born in 2013, and shut down this year.

The brainchild of former Mayor Bob Filner and two UCSD professors, it was meant to be an ambitious mod squad working between city departments to solve urban problems.

Faulconer stripped its funding after it had only been operating a few months. His office said the four full-time employees weren’t fired – but they were.

San Diego’s pivot away from urbanism isn’t all about personnel, either.

Fulton’s planning department this spring unveiled plans in Bay Park near two planned trolley stations in the area.

The new development plan would have increased the number of homes and the height of buildings that could be built in the area. Residents did not like that idea. At all.

Former Councilman Ed Harris organized a three-hour town hall meeting for residents to protest the whole thing. The few plan supporters who got on stage were shouted down, and the city frantically tried to back away from the plan. Fulton said the city would no longer pursue an increase in building height limits, though that change isn’t official yet. A Council race under way at the time became a competition to declare who hated the plan the most.

A few months later, Fulton took the gig in Texas.

And while the city’s ever-hopeful urbanists won a second court victory in their lawsuit against the region’s transportation plan — which they say is too reliant on cars, highways and sprawl — the regional planning agency SANDAG’s board last month voted to go for one more appeal to see if they could avoid making changes to the plan.

But the news wasn’t all bad for urbanist in 2014.

Significantly, Faulconer threw his support behind the Climate Action Plan, a city outline to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions dramatically by 2035.

The plan would do that, in part, by committing the city to direct new development so that 61 percent of people living within a half mile of a major transit station — as many as 470,000 people — will walk, bike or take transit to work.

It would do that by building lots of homes in dense clusters around transit stations.

And on the micro-scale, the city did see another parklet this year, plus the imminent opening of a temporary commercial space made out of shipping containers downtown from a vacant lot, meant to revitalize the area until it can be developed.

And the city’s oft-delayed bike-share program is tentatively scheduled to open in January.

Nonetheless, 2014 showed anyone looking to make San Diego more like San Francisco, Portland or Denver that they have their work cut out for them."
urbanism  urban  sandiego  2014  regression  andrewkeatts  2013  planning  urbanplanning  transportation  bikes  biking  kevinfaulconer  billfulton  bobfilner  civicinnovationlab  edharris  sandag  policy  politics  density  cities 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Marco Gonzalez Calls ‘Bullshit’ on Dense Development Objectors | Voice of San Diego
"What I want to talk about today is what I’ve seen in the communities that have fought these projects. Because, you know, there is the perception that we have become more enlightened, in terms of our citizenry, in terms of our views of social justice. But I’ll tell you what has been astounding to me. It is that, the “community character” argument is the most powerful sword being thrown up by communities who really don’t want brown people, who really don’t want poor people, who really don’t want to see a development come into their neighborhood because they’ve got theirs, and they don’t care if someone else can’t get the same thing. They don’t want old people to have a place to retire, they don’t want young people to have a place to live near the coast, and they simply say, ‘Wait, I can argue this nebulous concept of community character, and in certain circumstances our elected officials… become weathervanes and not compasses.

And that’s frustrating, and I’ll tell you what, as an environmentalist who came into this profession to stop the loss of the backcountry that I grew up in in North County San Diego, it was relatively easy to go out and fight sprawl development. Not easy in the cases with the county and the judges that we had to fight, it was never easy, but from a personal integrity standpoint, it was easy to be a naysayer, it was easy to go out there and say, ‘Hey, acres and acres of red tile roofs, long distances from transit, long vehicle miles to get to urban city centers, and the bleeding of our urban tax dollars out to the suburbs, all of that is bad.’

But at some point, we had to develop a set of presumptions that applied to our already developed areas. From within the environmental community I thought it was important for us to say, ‘If we’re going to fight sprawl, we have to incentivize infill’ (dense projects within already-developed areas). So we had to ask ourselves some tough questions, and what I’m doing now at this point in my career is asking those people who used to be my clients, those activists, those community-character-spouting residents, to really address these presumptions.

The first presumption is growth. Will growth occur? I think it will. Whether you believe SANDAG’s projections, whether you think it’ll come from across the border, from babies being born, from Michigan and Wyoming and the places where people love to come from, growth will occur, especially along our coastline, and the question is, what obligation do you have in a city like Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Carlsbad, even La Jolla, to accommodate some portion of that growth? And what I oppose is the notion that my former clients and my former base say ‘We have none, because we’ve got ours and we don’t have to provide anything for anyone else.’



My presumption is infill is better than sprawl. It seems like a no-brainer, but when you talk to environmentalists who live on the coast about how we’re going to infill that community, they say, ‘Screw it, we’d rather have sprawl because frankly we’ll hang out on the beach, and we don’t go to the backcountry anymore anyways.’ They won’t actually say that, but that’s what they say when I’m not around.



And then, as I mentioned earlier, the presumption is, if you’re an elected official, part of your job is to turn to that loud minority that will stand before you every month or every week and call you a crook and call you bought off, and turn to them and say, ‘hey, there is a bigger community, there are social issues and there are economic issues that I must balance against your loud voice, and pick a direction.’ Take a direction that is going to give you responsibility, whether it’s a legal responsibility… or whether it’s a moral responsibility to provide a place for the people who came up in your community, to come back to after school, or when their kids leave for school and they want to leave their mansion on the hill and find a nice townhome or condo, and have a vibrant downtown to work and play in."
marcogonzalez  sandiego  socialjustice  2014  nimbyism  development  density  urbanism  urban  urbandevelopment  racism  classism  neighborhoods  selfishness  integrity  environment  infill  infilling  housing  economics  responsibility 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Matt Hern: Vancouver: Spaces of Exclusion and Contestation - YouTube
"Matt Hern's presentation in Session 1, "Spaces of Exclusion and Contestation," in the symposium, "Planning the Vancouver Metropolitan Region: A Critical Perspective," presented by the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), April 15-16, 2014."
matthern  urban  urbanism  2014  portland  oregon  vancouver  britishcolumbia  gentrification  exclusion  contestation  cities  communitygardens  bikelanes  displacement  communities  communityorganizing  purplethistle  groundswell  housing  capitalism  latecapitalism  predatorycapitalism  inequality  politics  policy  colonialism  dispossession  colonization  commons  occupation  density  urbanplanning  planning  solidarity  development  arrogance  difference  hospitality  generosity  friendship  activism 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The Height of Trolley Tensions | Voice of San Diego
"Extending the trolley from Old Town to La Jolla has always promised to change the neighborhoods it passed through on the way.

But residents of Linda Vista, Bay Park and Clairemont – predominantly single-family, middle-class neighborhoods where the expansion will run – don’t seem too interested in the type of change the city has in mind.

The discontent comes from the city’s attempts to allow for new types of development in the areas surrounding two new trolley stops. The city wants the area to develop with trolley users in mind.

It wants to encourage developers to build businesses and lots of homes near the trolley, so people who live there can make it their primary transportation option.

Allowing dense development clusters around the stops, the thinking goes, gets the most out of the $1.7 billion investment in extending the trolley.

But here’s the rub: Allowing that much density means changing the community’s self-imposed limit on building height."
sandiego  development  growth  2014  transportation  density  clairemont  lajolla  lindavista  baypark  trolley  masstransit  publictransit  planning 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Crit> MoMA Expansion - The Architect's Newspaper
"Museums were once places where New Yorkers could go to find an oasis of tranquility and contemplation from the unrelenting city. I can hardly believe that as a college student I would sometimes journey to MoMA’s garden or the Frick’s garden court simply to be alone and do homework. The Folk Art museum was designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien to provide space for repose. Though some critics have complained about its inscrutable metal facade, the solidity was intentional and—when you consider its purpose—functional. Within the thick armature of its concrete walls, you could feel removed from the world. The domestically scaled spaces might not be perfect for displaying art, but neither are MoMA’s supposedly all-purpose white boxes. You could see the hand of the architects on every surface—the beaten bronze panels, the bush hammered concrete—a personal stamp we rarely experience anymore. Eccentricity is part of its appeal, the antithesis of Taniguchi’s malleable, subservient MoMA galleries. The Folk Art was the first museum, and first serious work architecture, to be completed in New York after 9/11, when the city was reeling from the enormity of the tragedy and reconsidering the predilection for bigness that produced the twin towers. As then, New York is again suffering from a crisis of bigness. It needs to make room for the small.

MoMA perceives the Folk Art museum as a threat to the institution, but it shouldn’t. The Met has found a way to decentralize with the acquisition of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Marcel Breuer building, where it plans to install its growing contemporary art collection. The satellite will be an excellent pressure valve. MoMA, which is more fleet in its operations, more attuned to new ways of thinking about space, could easily establish similar satellites around the city, boutique spaces for shows that get swallowed up in the big house. In an interview, Diller told me that when MoMA hired her firm, they “asked us to make them uncomfortable.” Instead they were suckered in by the institution’s faulty logic. Rather than pursuing ways to chop up the Folk Art building to make it fit into an expanded MoMA, they should have explored ways to invent a new, de-centralized kind of museum. No obsolete albatross, the small, intimate Folk Art may well represent the first inklings of what a modern New York museum can be."
decentralization  themet  moma  2014  ingasaffron  museums  tranquility  purpose  elizabethdiller  diller+scofidio  nyc  density  scale  small 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The right to live in the suburbs | Great Streets San Diego
"Low density developments are essentially government subsidizes. Land Use in low density areas is so financially unproductive that it is impossible to build and maintain the infrastructure needed for them to exist. Not only do the streets, sewers, water, utilities, etc cost more to initially install, suburbs do not generate the tax revenue required to maintain them. The suburbs are draining city government coffers at an alarming rate. Is it any wonder San Diego has $3 billion dollar infrastructure deficit?"

[via: http://manso.jed.co/post/75082699785/the-right-to-live-in-the-suburbs ]

"I’d add that low density development also subsidizes the auto industry. It costs about $9,000 a year to own a car. If you live in a place that requires you to own a car, you’re effectively required to pay $9,000 a year tax in the form of car payments, insurance, and gas.

Don’t forget: people should have the right to not pay for a car. Communities that require cars eliminate this right."
subsurbs  suburbia  infrastructure  2013  cars  density  subsidies  government  california  landuse  development  taxrevenue 
january 2014 by robertogreco
When Tokyo Was a Slum – The Informal City Dialogues
"Alongside the futuristic visage of skyscraper Tokyo, a human-scale city lies along rambling roads, where mom-and-pop stores sell soap and sandals, and private homes double as independent shops engaged in local trades like printmaking and woodworking.

This is incremental Tokyo, the foundation upon which the world’s most modern city is built.

Like much of the city, these small hamlets were smoldering ash pits 70 years ago, reduced to rubble by the bombs of Allied forces during World War II. When the war ended, Tokyo’s municipal government, bankrupt and in crisis mode, was in no condition to launch a citywide reconstruction effort. So, without ever stating it explicitly, it nevertheless made one thing clear: The citizens would rebuild the city. Government would provide the infrastructure, but beyond that, the residents would be free to build what they needed on the footprint of the city that once was, neighborhood by neighborhood."



"These mixed-use habitats and low-rise, high-density neighborhoods emerged by default, not design. But though the city didn’t plan them, it considered them legitimate and supported them. Sewage systems, water, electricity and roads were later infused into all parts of Tokyo, leaving no neighborhood behind, regardless of how slummy or messy it looked. Even the traditionally discriminated-against Burakumin areas were eventually provided access to state-of-the-art public services and amenities.

The notion that infrastructure must be adapted to the built environment, rather than the other way around, is a simple yet revolutionary idea. The Tokyo model, combining housing development by local actors and infrastructure from various agencies, explains why that city has some of the best infrastructure in the world today, not to mention a housing stock of great variety and bustling mixed-use neighborhoods.

The House Is a Tool

The relationship between the city’s urban form and its vibrant economy is best illustrated by the idea of homes as tools of production. Many of the houses built in the postwar period in Tokyo were based on the template of the traditional Japanese house, in which a single structure can serve as a shop, workshop, dormitory or family house — and possibly all of those things at once. Official statistics illustrate the scale of the home-based economy. As late as the 1970s, factories employing fewer than 20 employees accounted for 20 percent of the workers and 12.6 percent of the national output in Japan. In Tokyo alone, 99.5 percent of factories had fewer than 300 workers and employed 74 percent of all factory workers, according to economist Takeshi Hayashi. What these numbers tell us is that the Japanese miracle was built not only by large-scale factories, but also relied on a vast web of small producers that often worked from their neighborhoods and their homes."



"For the people who live in Dharavi, this is not only the best possible outcome, it’s their only option. Most residents of Dharavi cannot possibly afford to move to other parts of Mumbai. Their futures will rise or fall with the fate of their neighborhood, which is why the Tokyo model, which values and cultivates neighborhoods like theirs, is probably their best hope for economic and social advancement.

That prosperity, however, depends on the local authorities heeding the lessons of Tokyo. Neighborhoods like Dharavi are already served by various NGOs and foundations. The residents are doing their part. The only missing piece is the support of city authorities, whose attitude toward such settlements sets back the city of Mumbai as a whole.

What’s more, the Tokyo model is simply an elegant one that follows the path of least resistance, allowing order and mess to naturally combine as they would without top-down intervention. It’s hard to imagine a better example of “development” in its most holistic dimension: Houses, neighborhoods, economies and communities all rising in concert with one another. The environment is deeply connected to processes of collective growth, because people, objects and lived spaces are all knit together by the impulse to constantly improve and transform. Through this process, with very little capital, we see how user-generated neighborhoods invest in the idea of growth and mobility, where self-interest and successful urbanism are one and the same."

[Tagging this with Teddy Cruz because it reminds me of his study of Tijuana and his recommendation that we learn from patterns of growth and development there.]
postwar  mixeduse  lowrise  density  mimbai  takeshihayashi  cities  organic  organicism  home-basedeconomy  production  manufacturing  factories  openstudioproject  cafes  homeoffice  homefactory  homeworkshop  homes  infrastructure  redevelopment  development  dharavi  slums  mobility  economics  middleclass  collectivism  technology  neighborhoods  asia  informality  informal  cottageindustries  2013  urban  urbanism  growth  change  government  tokyo  japan  history 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Detroit's Gleaming Start-Up Tower - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
For me, the narrative of Detroit has outstripped at least what I could see of Detroit. Good things are clearly happening, but the lack of connective tissue is a bigger problem than you might imagine. Between downtown and an area like Corktown, which has an excellent coffee shop, the oft-applauded Slow's BBQ, Arbor and Folly, and a couple other bars, there's just nothing. When we left Slow's on a Thursday night at 9pm to drive the couple miles to our hotel, we got about halfway when I looked in my rearview mirror and realized that there wasn't a single other car behind us, nor approaching. There were no bikes or pedestrians, either…

But I do not know that I have that sense of euphoria. The story requires a fairy tale ending. And the reality is so daunting. I can practically hear Linkner reading this and saying, "He's soft. He's not made for Detroit." And that's probably true."
rebirth  density  nathanlabenz  jaygierak  stik  joshlinkner  detroitventurepartners  dvp  dangilbert  darkeuphoria  brucesterling  cities  detroit  alexismadrigal  2012 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Why You Should Be Skeptical of Statistics on City vs. Suburban Population Growth - Arts & Lifestyle - The Atlantic Cities
"One of the reasons it's frustrating that you just hear about city versus suburbs is there's so much heterogeneity of suburbs, that it's really not fair to treat all suburbs as the same. Some suburbs are dense. Some are old streetcar suburbs. Some have been trying, through transit investment and investment in main streets downtown, to create walkable denser communities. This has been happening throughout the country.

What we need to do is stop looking at these crude city-versus-suburb divides and we need to start looking at where is the growth actually happening. Is it happening in places where we'd expect — are people voting with their feet, so to speak, to go to these denser places? Is it actually the case that people want more urban existence? I think we'd probably find evidence that's the case. That does not mean the overwhelming majority of Americans want that. One of the issues is how big of a market is there for the urbanist ideal. We just don't know."
trends  us  urbanism  urban  demographics  davidking  ericjaffe  via:javierarbona  2012  density  suburbs  cities 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Maps of Intensity — Bobby George
"Maps should not be understood only in extension, in relation to a space constituted by trajectories. There are also maps of intensity, or density, that are concerned with what fills space, what subtends the trajectory… It is always an affective constellation… Pollack and Sivadon have made a profound analysis of the cartographic activity of the unconscious, perhaps their sole ambiguity lies in seeing it as a continuation of the image of the body. On the contrary, it is the map of intensity that distributes the affects, and it is their links and valences that constitute the image of the body in each case—an image that can always be modified or transformed depending on the affective constellations that determine it. A list or constellation of affects, an intensive map, is a becoming." - Gilles Deleuze
density  bobbygeorge  trajectory  place  space  cartography  constellationalthinking  constellations  intensity  maps  deleuze  gillesdeleuze 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Reading L.A.: The once and future Plaza, nature in the city - latimes.com
"Promoting more events like ArroyoFest seems crucial in helping Angelenos define mobility in a new way. And, as Gottlieb points out, the kind of thinking that will be required to reimagine the freeway for 21st century Los Angeles is the same kind of thinking that helped create the city and its infrastructure in the first place. He reminds us in the book that the great Carey McWilliams -- one of the first authors we met in Reading L.A. -- described Los Angeles as "a land of magical improvisation."

Redefining or even repurposing the freeways of Los Angeles -- on a permanent rather than merely temporary basis -- may require the biggest and most creative improvisation of all."
improvisation  density  socal  change  transmobility  personalmobility  mobility  future  urbanism  urban  2012  history  books  cities  losangeles 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Struggle to Define L.A.'s Transitional Moment - Design - The Atlantic Cities
"“If we can agree that the city has been linked with suburban development and private mobility, and those two things are both either being called into question or breaking down to some degree, what happens next? How do we establish some kind of identity for a post-suburban future?” Hawthorne says. “And that doesn’t mean the freeways are going away or cars are going away or single family houses for that matter, it just means that those things won’t define the character of the city in the way that they have.”

Just what that character will be is as much shaped by the transition underway as by our understanding of the city. For Hawthorne, this year-long literary trip has bolstered his perception of the city as a product of its past. But, he says, even the most overarching  studies of the city can’t and don’t describe what is emerging in the L.A. of today."
urbanism  change  density  transportation  cities  urban  books  christopherhawthorne  2012  transition  socal  transmobility  personalmobility  future  history  nateberg  losangeles 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Debunking the Cul-de-Sac - Design - The Atlantic Cities
"Safest cities in America are the ones incorporated before 1930, when streets were laid out in grids. Fashion and regulation shifted then to favouring winding streets and cul-de-sacs. Which turn out to be inefficient and dangerous"
safety  urbandesign  urban  urbanism  cities  suburbs  suburbia  density  cars  transportation  cul-de-sac  california  research  normangarrick  wesleymarshall  patterns  comparison  grids  traditionalgrid  fha  design  urbanplanning  2011 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Preserving the Environment with Cities, Not In Spite of Them - Design - The Atlantic Cities
"We cannot allow the future to mimic the recent past. We need our inner cities and traditional communities to absorb as much of our anticipated growth as possible, to keep the impacts per increment of growth as low as possible. And, to do that, we need cities to be brought back to life, with great neighborhoods and complete streets, with walkability and well-functioning public transit, with clean parks and rivers, with air that is safe to breathe and water that is safe to drink.

This, I believe, leads to some imperatives: where cities have been dis-invested, we must rebuild them; where populations have been neglected, we must provide them with opportunity; where suburbs have been allowed to sprawl nonsensically, we must retrofit them and make them better. These are not just economic and social matters: these are environmental issues, every bit as deserving of the environmental community’s attention as the preservation of nature."
cities  urban  urbanism  environment  sustainability  economics  kaidbenfield  us  innercities  people  humans  edglaeser  davidowen  density  energy  civilization  classideas  urbanization  builtenvironment  infrastructure  society  libraries  parks  publictransit  transportation  mobile  schools  education  growth  population  2011 
september 2011 by robertogreco
‪Teddy Cruz Presentation‬‏ - YouTube
"We can be the producers of new conceptions of citzenship in the reorganizing of resources and collaborations across jurisdictions and communities…We could be the designers of political process, of alternative economic frameworks."

[via: http://www.diygradschool.com/2010/06/professor-teddy-cruz-ucsd.html ]
teddycruz  cities  citizenship  sandiego  tijuana  watershed  conflict  borders  community  communities  militaryzones  military  environment  infromal  formal  collaboration  2009  housing  crisis  density  sprawl  natural  political  art  architecture  design  urban  urbanization  urbanism  recycling  openendedness  open  vernacular  systems  construction  economics  culture  pacificocean  exchanges  flow  landuse  neweconomies  micropolitics  microeconomies  local  scale  interventions  intervention  communitiesofpractice  crossborder 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Are We There Yet? Passage of the transportation reauthorization bill would finally shift us toward more environmentally sustainable communities.
"Environmentalists' interest in the transportation bill is clear. Transportation accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's oil use and about 25 percent of its carbon-dioxide emissions…Americans will be hooked on oil until they have workable alternatives to the automobile. Investing in urban light rail & regional high-speed rail networks; boosting funds for bus systems; constructing bike lanes; & focusing on repairing existing roads instead of building news ones are a first step in changing, at a fundamental level, how we move around. If we want Americans to ditch their cars, that will require giving them choices, and that means creating a mass-transit system that makes the car -- and not the bus -- look like a pain…<br />
<br />
Reducing the reliance on our cars, of course, also serves U.S. national-security interests."
us  transportation  policy  infrastructure  masstransit  buses  lightrail  rail  highspeed  trains  density  publictransit  2011  environment  cities  cars  carfree  sustainability  politics  peakoil  oil  energy 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Mule Design Studio’s Blog: Density and Difference
Putting screenshots of Google+ and Twitter next to each other you’ll notice two things.…One…more density on the Twitter side…

Secondly, take a look at how each service shows you the difference between things. In twitter’s ordered world there’s a basic unit of measurement: a tweet. Highly restrictive by nature. The differences are easy to spot. Some have links, some are retweets, faves, etc. But because the basic unit itself is so uniform, the stream is incredibly easy to scan, even read. The differences between each unit are things you catch out of the corner of your eye.

Google+, on the other hand, wants you to know that these objects are different types. It’s all about leading with the differences, rather than creating a scannable, understandable whole. It’s function over form. Cognitively, I have to figure out what type of object it is before I can read it."
design  social  twitter  google  facebook  google+  2011  density  scanning  interface  interfacedesign  reading  difference 
july 2011 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond
"In many ways, then, the book is astonishingly extroverted. It's a book by an architecture office about the city it works in, not a book documenting that firm's work; and, as such, it serves as an impressive attempt to understand and analyze the city through themed conversations with other people, in a continuous stream of partially overlapping dialogues, instead of through ex tempore essayistic reflections by the architects or dry academic essays."

Comment from Robert Farrell: "Perhaps the answer to the traditional architectural monograph lies in the above discussed book. How boring it is to see glossy image after glossy image of an architects portfolio put on bookshelf. It seems at a time when most architects are not building much, that investigation should take the lead."
losangeles  bldgblog  michaelmaltzan  architecture  urban  urbanism  cities  books  2011  monographs  portfolios  identity  infrastructure  landscape  resources  experience  density  polity  economics  community  institutions  nomoreplay  photography  meaning  hatjecantz  place  olebouman  iwanbaan  context  charlesjencks  qingyunma  edwardsoja  charleswaldheim  jamesflanigan  sarahwhiting  mirkozardini  catherineopie  geoffmanaugh  jessicavarner 
may 2011 by robertogreco
No More Play: Los Angeles on the verge of a new era: Places: Design Observer
"Los Angeles has been compared to a laboratory — an urban ground for experiments both prescribed and accidental. Laboratory is a perfect word. Enveloping, chaotic and mutable, LA is a nocturnal workshop where the constant experiments leave no time to tidy up and reset the data in order to start fresh in the morning. In LA, you are both the experiment and the scientist. One is forced to be the object of fascination and fray, while simultaneously judging and monitoring the urban experiment…

what is the new identity for a city whose entire life has been marked by its ability and desire to endlessly expand? Perhaps the lack of perceptible hierarchies — or, likely, the reality that traditional thresholds and boundaries in this city are hidden and constantly transgressed — makes LA a difficult case study in the urban milieu…

As an evolving being, its dynamics make description difficult. Perhaps it is not a city — perhaps it can only be described as Los Angeles."
psychogeography  losangeles  hierarchy  hierarchies  cv  michaelmaltzan  architecture  urban  urbanism  history  cities  sprawl  2011  1992  limits  change  experimentation  maturation  density  levittown  future  present  design  jessicavarner  nomoreplay  iwanbaan 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Geographically densest Wikipedia coverage
"Wikipedia articles can be tagged with latitude/longitude coordinates. I was recently curious to know: which areas have the most coverage? It's important not to read too much into the answer, because the density of coordinates is due to a mixture of: how active different Wikipedia language projects are, how active at geo-tagging they are, which regions have had lots of short articles mechanically imported (e.g. on small towns, or metro stations), and finally, the actual landmark density (e.g. dense urban cores versus sprawling suburbs). But nonetheless it might be interesting to know.

So, here are the most densely Wikipedia-article-populated parts of the world, at several scales."
history  cities  maps  mapping  visualization  density  wikipedia  openstreetmap  osm  2011  michalmigurski 
may 2011 by robertogreco
FT.com / House & Home - Liveable v lovable
"“These surveys always come up with a list where no one would want to live. One wants to live in places which are large and complex, where you don’t know everyone and you don’t always know what’s going to happen next. Cities are places of opportunity but also of conflict, but where you can find safety in a crowd."

"What makes a city great: *Blend of beauty and ugliness – beauty to lift the soul, ugliness to ensure there are parts of the fabric of the city that can accommodate change…*Diversity…*Tolerance…*Density…*Social mix – the close proximity of social and economic classes keeps a city lively…*Civility…"
cities  rankings  vancouver  nyc  losangeles  london  joelkotkin  rickyburdett  joelgarreau  tylerbrule  edwinheathcote  2011  livability  diversity  density  tolerance  society  vitality  social  economics  civility  beauty  ugliness  janejacobs  crosspollination  opportunity  dynamism  conflict  classideas 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Week 16: Busman’s holiday | Urbanscale [Oh, the implications for our education system as well: swarm-like behavior, informal solutions, tech integration, light touch of government…]
"…despite South Africa’s clear desire to benefit from so-called “South-to-South” knowledge transfer, Curitiba- or Bogota-style BRT strategies have proven untenable…more supple solutions have appeared, notably rise of informal transportation sector…

…swarm-like behavior…relatively effortless way in which taxi operators have incorporated tech…endlessly fascinating…But SA government’s pragmatic response to rise of informal transit…particularly clever & inspiring…[explained]…This kind of light touch on part of gov extends at least some basic protections to riders, w/out imposing laggy top-down planning on system as whole.

Pieterse really got me thinking about potential of informal transit for my own city…seems to be one of those areas where architecture of safety regulation, labor laws, & other protective measures we embraced in society—for good & sufficient reason!—also inhibits emergence of more flexible & potentially more effective & sustainable modes of getting around."
adamgreenfield  urbanscale  transit  mobility  informal  lcproject  toapplytoeducation  policy  flexibility  sustainability  southafrica  density  laborlaws  society  startingover  leapfrogging  regulation  diggingoutfromunderweightoflegallayers  safety  2011  technology  informalsystems  grassroots  thecityishereforyoutouse  pragmatism  johannesburg  edgarpieterse 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Tyee – A Year Later, Why Go Downtown?
"Hern and Berelowitz continue their back and forth on post-Olympics Vancouver. Today: bike lanes, towers, and more."
urbanplanning  density  vancouver  britishcolumbia  matthern  lanceberelowitz  urban  urbanism  cities  bikes  biking  towers  transportation  bc 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Volunteered Geographic Information » ‘Compactness’ in Zoning: the circle as the ideal.
"I saw a thought provoking presentation recently, given by Wenwen Li of the University of California Santa Barbara, the talk was a wide ranging insight into Cyber Infrastructure, its uses for geospatial information, and some of the computational techniques that underpinned the project. One element of the project involved zone design for the greater Los Angeles region, and involved the implementation of an algorithm that was intended to aggregate small areal units into larger zones whilst meeting a number of conditions, principle among these conditions was ‘compactness’. The output looked very much like a single hierarchy of Christaller hexagons, and this got me thinking about the nature of space and compactness."
compactness  density  cities  losangeles  geography  hexagons  circles  zoning  clustering  python  builtenvironment  demographics  infrastructure  space  centralplacetheory  wenwenli  ucsb  cyberinfrastructure  geospatial  information 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Per Square Mile
"Per Square Mile is a blog about density. It’s about what happens when people live like packed sardines. It’s also about what happens when people live so far apart they can go days without seeing another soul. It’s about living amongst trees and prairies, and living in places miles away from them. It’s about the trees and the prairies, too. And lakes and streams and animals and insects. In short, this is a blog about density of all types."
maps  geography  urbanism  planning  density  mapping  infographics  statistics  demographics  classideas  sustainability 
february 2011 by robertogreco
A Physicist Turns the City Into an Equation - NYTimes.com ["According to data, when a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity increases by approximately 15% per capita.]
One quote:

“A human being at rest runs on 90 watts,” he says. “That’s how much power you need just to lie down. And if you’re a hunter-gatherer and you live in the Amazon, you’ll need about 250 watts. That’s how much energy it takes to run about and find food. So how much energy does our lifestyle [in America] require? Well, when you add up all our calories and then you add up the energy needed to run the computer and the air-conditioner, you get an incredibly large number, somewhere around 11,000 watts. Now you can ask yourself: What kind of animal requires 11,000 watts to live? And what you find is that we have created a lifestyle where we need more watts than a blue whale. We require more energy than the biggest animal that has ever existed. That is why our lifestyle is unsustainable. We can’t have seven billion blue whales on this planet. It’s not even clear that we can afford to have 300 million blue whales.” 
urban  urbanism  geoffreywest  cities  corporations  growth  physics  modeling  models  energy  density  efficience  freedom  remkoolhaas  planning  policy  economics  self-control  short-termmemory  memory  architecture  design  urbantheory  urbanscience  theory  science  data  census  walking  transportation  patternrecognition  patterns  math  mathematics  infrastructure  jonahlehrer  organic  organisms  consumption  metabolism  sustainability  interaction  janejacobs  collaboration  crosspollination  robertmoses  efficiency 
december 2010 by robertogreco
490 - Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population | Strange Maps | Big Think
"What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?<br />
<br />
The result would be this disconcerting, disorienting map. In the world described by it, the differences in population density between countries would be less extreme than they are today. The world's most densely populated country currently is Monaco, with 43,830 inhabitants/mi² (16,923 per km²) (1). On the other end of the scale is Mongolia, which is less densely populated by a factor of almost exactly 10,000, with a mere 4.4 inhabitants/mi² (1.7 per km²)."
geography  visualization  population  maps  mapping  world  density  populationdensity  via:kottke 
november 2010 by robertogreco
A City in the Cloud: Living PlanIT Redefines Cities as Software | Fast Company
"Living PlanIT (pronounced “planet”) is the brainchild of Steve Lewis and Malcolm Hutchinson, a pair of IT veterans who met when Lewis was still a top executive on the .NET team at Microsoft. Their ambition is twofold: to build a prototype smart, green city in Portugal that can be rolled out worldwide, and to drag the construction industry into the 21st century.

The latter may be the more audacious of the two. While plenty of companies have jumped on the smarter city bandwagon (as I’ve written about ad nauseum), no one has sought to make the construction business look more like the technology one."
architecture  urban  urbanism  cities  planning  technology  livingplanit  stevelewis  malcolmhutchinson  construction  portugal  green  density  sustainability  smartcities  via:cityofsound 
august 2010 by robertogreco
How Mobile Devices Could Lead to More City Living - Science and Tech - The Atlantic
"mobile devices tapping on wireless networks can exert a powerful social influence, as we've all noticed. They could help tip the scales towards denser city living, or at least shorter commutes, for the wired workforce."
alexismadrigal  transmobility  cars  commuting  masstransit  density  cities  urban  urbanism  mobile  phones  mobiledevices  transportation  media  technology 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Economic View - Why Free Parking Comes at a Price - NYTimes.com
"In his book, Professor Shoup estimated that the value of the free-parking subsidy to cars was at least $127 billion in 2002, and possibly much more.<br />
<br />
PERHAPS most important, if we’re going to wean ourselves away from excess use of fossil fuels, we need to remove current subsidies to energy-unfriendly ways of life. Imposing a cap-and-trade system or a direct carbon tax doesn’t seem politically acceptable right now. But we can start on alternative paths that may take us far.<br />
<br />
Imposing higher fees for parking may make further changes more palatable by helping to promote higher residential density and support for mass transit.<br />
<br />
As Professor Shoup puts it: “Who pays for free parking? Everyone but the motorist.”"
parking  cities  urban  transport  economics  environment  transportation  density  costs  subsidies  cars  driving  us  tylercowen 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Horror vacui - Wikipedia [Follow-up to: http://www.waywordradio.org/spendthrift-snollygosters/]
"In visual art, horror vacui (literally: fear of empty spaces, perhaps represented by white spaces, also known as cenophobia) is the filling of the entire surface of an artwork with detail."
horrorvacui  emptiness  fear  horror  surrealism  outsiderart  painting  density  definition  art  aristotle  philosophy  psychology  insanity 
august 2010 by robertogreco
suckerPUNCH » barrio de los paracaidistas
"anthony STAHL + david LEE: This tower is a frame-work for a new vertical city. Containing roadways, open plazas and parks; the nature and function of the ‘tower’ is to provide unlimited potential for new urban and vertical environment. By respecting the communal aspects of the city while allowing growth, this new urban frame-work challenges the frozen and static quality of current tower typology. The architecture within the tower develops over time, creating a dynamic composition of vertical neighborhoods that grow around and into one another. Sub-public and private spaces evolve organically, creating complex urban spaces similar to those of historic Mexico. The meaning of the tower is a living being that breathes in the city and is truly defined by Mexican culture and people."

[via: http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=10232 ]
architecture  design  barriodeparacaidistas  mexico  mexicodf  df  losangeles  lego  vertical  density  mexicocity 
august 2010 by robertogreco
New Visions of Home: Change Observer: Design Observer
"The world is tumbling over the precipice of a major demographic shift. By 2030, it is estimated that 25 percent of the developed world’s population will be over 65 — an unprecedented proportion in human history. A century ago, that number was a mere 3 percent. In the U.S., the population over 65 is expected to double to 71.5 million in the next 15 years. Investment firm T. Rowe Price now advises retirement savings until age 92. ... Below is a sample of inventive approaches to living as we age. Few of these projects suggest “senior living”; in fact, many combine thoughtful programming with sophisticated aesthetics, and all have a human-centered approach."
aging  architecture  housing  europe  trends  us  design  retrofitting  cohousing  multigeneration  vertical  density  denmark  small  smallhomes  lifelonglearning  seniors  affordability  world  population  urban  urbanism  switzerland  portland  oregon  leed  designobserver  australia  uk 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Locals and Tourists - a set on Flickr
"Some people interpreted the Geotaggers' World Atlas maps to be maps of tourism. This set is an attempt to figure out if that is really true. Some cities (for example Las Vegas and Venice) do seem to be photographed almost entirely by tourists. Others seem to have many pictures taken in piaces that tourists don't visit.

Blue points on the map are pictures taken by locals (people who have taken pictures in this city dated over a range of a month or more).

Red points are pictures taken by tourists (people who seem to be a local of a different city and who took pictures in this city for less than a month).

Yellow points are pictures where it can't be determined whether or not the photographer was a tourist (because they haven't taken pictures anywhere for over a month). They are probably tourists but might just not post many pictures at all.

The maps are ordered by the number of pictures taken by locals."
mapping  maps  geotagging  geography  flickr  infographics  information  visualization  tourists  tourism  photography  cities  infographic  culture  data  density  design  graphics  travel  experience 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Human Transit: vancouver: an olympic urbanist preview
"What's special about Vancouver? It's a new dense city, in North America...closest NA has come to building substantial high-density city - not just employment but residential - pretty much from scratch, entirely since WWII. I noted in an earlier post that low-car NA cities are usually old cities, because they rely on development pattern that just didn't happen after advent of the car. In 1945 Vancouver was nothing much: a hard-working port for natural resource exports, with just a few buildings even ten stories high. But look at it now.

Such sudden eruptions of residential density are common enough in Asia, but North American cities rarely allow them on such a scale. There are many explanations for how Vancouver did it, but at its core Vancouver had a fortunate confluence of the 3 essentials:

* Natural constraints that limited sprawl even in pro-sprawl late 20th century.
* Economic energy, especially in the boom years of 1990s & early 2000s.
* Planning & civic leadership."
vancouver  britishcolumbia  cascadia  canada  via:cityofsound  development  density  cities  northamerica  urban  urbanism  planning  transit  transportation  geography  bc 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Todo cabe en una cajita… | Ciudad Posible
"Esta imagen...muestra las áreas construidas de Atlanta y Barcelona (1990). Ambas urbes están representadas a la misma escala, y tienen aproximadamente la misma población. Sin embargo el contraste en su manera de utilizar el suelo es increíble: resulta que podrían caber 26 Barcelonas en el área que hoy ocupa Atlanta.

Esta otra imagen muestra la superficie ocupada por la ciudad de Phoenix, Arizona (2002). Como pueden ver, dentro de ella podrían caber Roma, San Francisco, Paris, toda la isla de Manhattan… y aún así sobraría espacio.

El estilo de vida posible en cada una de estas ciudades es radicalmente distinto. En Phoenix manejas, en Paris caminas. En Atlanta puedes vivir en barrios socialmente homogéneos, mientras que en Barcelona es imposible dejar de percibir la diversidad existente. La población de los dos tipos de ciudades aquí mostradas tienen relativamente el mismo nivel de ingresos, pero vivir en una ciudad desparramada no se parece nada a vivir en una ciudad compacta."
paris  barcelona  atlanta  phoenix  sprawl  cities  urban  suburban  density  diversity  urbanism  nyc  manhattan  rome  sanfrancisco  sunbelt 
february 2010 by robertogreco
How slums can save the planet « Prospect Magazine
"Sixty million people in the developing world are leaving the countryside every year. The squatter cities that have emerged can teach us much about future urban living"
mikedavis  economics  poverty  demographics  sprawl  urbanism  infrastructure  population  climatechange  green  environment  urban  cities  energy  slums  density  stewartbrand 
february 2010 by robertogreco
David Byrne’s Perfect City - WSJ.com
"There’s an old joke that you know you're in heaven if the cooks are Italian and the engineering is German. If it's the other way around you're in hell. In an attempt to conjure up a perfect city, I imagine a place that is a mash-up of the best qualities of a host of cities. The permutations are endless. Maybe I'd take the nightlife of New York in a setting like Sydney's with bars like those in Barcelona and cuisine from Singapore served in outdoor restaurants like those in Mexico City. Or I could layer the sense of humor in Spain over the civic accommodation and elegance of Kyoto. Of course, it's not really possible to cherry pick like this—mainly because a city's qualities cannot thrive out of context. A place's cuisine and architecture and language are all somehow interwoven. But one can dream."

[via: http://www.nearfuturelaboratory.com/2009/09/12/david-byrne-urbanism/ ]
davidbyrne  bikes  biking  books  urbanism  planning  urbanplanning  urban  cities  design  janejacobs  failure  creation  energy  glvo  size  density  chaos  danger  serendipity  security  attitude  scale  human  parking  boulevards  mixed-use  publicspace  architecture  culture  sociology  travel 
september 2009 by robertogreco
MIT engineers find way to slow concrete creep to a crawl - MIT News Office
"In their PNAS paper, the researchers show experimentally that the rate of creep is logarithmic, which means slowing creep increases durability exponentially. They demonstrate mathematically that creep can be slowed by a rate of 2.6. That would have a truly remarkable effect on durability: a containment vessel for nuclear waste built to last 100 years with today's concrete could last up to 16,000 years if made with an ultra-high-density (UHD) concrete." [via: http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/parking-lot-to-last-16000-years.html]
materials  concrete  longevity  engineering  structures  density 
june 2009 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Postopolis! LA, day two / Los Angeles
"By the time we’re back in Downtown, the traffic is building up and Broadway is a chaotic, honking mess of slow-moving steel. By this time, though, the city has won me over. Its constant contradictions - the very contradiction of it being here in the first place - have little negative effect now, only continually beguiling. Despite everything, this city continues to grow. As the Carey McWilliams poem from 1946 says:
losangeles  cities  us  urbanism  cars  density  reynerbanham  danhill  cityofsound  bencerveny 
april 2009 by robertogreco
The City Is A Prototyping Engine - there is a lot to say, of this we are sure
"The best cities - usually also the largest - are prototyping engines that use the abundance of their density to ceaselessly test new ideas for material accumulations (buildings, vehicles, things), abstract systems (laws, regulations, even languages), and ways of life. This, I argue, is the source of the effervescence that any good city exhibits. The city is exciting because it's always new in a million little ways. In a similar way the non-city, the rural, is exciting because its vaccuum presents persistant challenges. If the mode of the city is becoming, the mode of the rural is a constant overcoming."
cities  urban  urbanism  change  innovation  via:adamgreenfield  bryanboyer  complexity  prototyping  architecture  design  learning  rural  density  consumption 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Charles declares Mumbai shanty town model for the world | Art and design | The Guardian
"The Mumbai shanty town featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire offers a better model than does western architecture for ways to house a booming urban population in the developing world, Prince Charles said yesterday. Dharavi, a Mumbai slum where 600,000 residents are crammed into 520 acres, contains the attributes for environmentally and socially sustainable settlements for the world's increasingly urban population, he said. The district's use of local materials, its walkable neighbourhoods, and mix of employment and housing add up to "an underlying intuitive grammar of design that is totally absent from the faceless slab blocks that are still being built around the world to 'warehouse' the poor".

[see also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/06/prince-charles-architecture ]
dharavi  mumbai  india  architecture  design  poverty  slums  sustainability  urban  urbanism  density  economics  politics 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Steven Johnson on the Web as a city | Video on TED.com
"Outside.in's Steven Johnson says the Web is like a city: built by many people, completely controlled by no one, intricately interconnected and yet functioning as many independent parts. While disaster strikes in one place, elsewhere, life goes on."
ted  stevenjohnson  nyc  cities  janejacobs  technology  web  networking  density  internet  emergence 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Homesteads - Housing Stack - NYTimes.com
"With Pile Up, an apartment-building design concept patented both in Europe and in the United States, the 78-year-old Swiss architect Hans Zwimpfer has come up with what he thinks is a solution to the problem of suburban sprawl and the long commutes and pollution that come with it. Take single-family houses, whose benefits — space, privacy, light, a yard — suburbanites are loath to give up. Then simply stack the houses, one on top of another. Voilà: The comforts of suburban living, with the convenience and ecological benefits of urban density."
homes  housing  architecture  design  density  suburban  urban 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Redesigning cities | Tackling the hydra | Economist.com
'Its politicians are determined to turn Los Angeles into a normal city...original metropolitan miscreant is now trying to reform itself so fundamentally that Joel Kotkin, an urbanist at Chapman University, compares it to rewriting a DNA code."
housing  traffic  politics  transport  urbanism  sprawl  losangeles  density  urban  cities  transportation  planning  metro  subway  trains 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Is Home Ownership a Good Thing? : TreeHugger
nice compilation of articles by James Surowiecki, Richard Florida, and Matt Yglesias highlighting the disadvantages of home ownership...some interesting bits in the comment thread too
homes  housing  neo-nomads  nomads  flexibility  trends  work  economics  cities  environment  sustainability  density  materialism  business  growth  transportation  finance 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Governing: Assessments/February 2008: The Walkability Revival
"Will more people who can afford suburban privacy be attracted to the noise and bustle of the urban street?"
walking  urbanism  transportation  sustainability  suburban  density  trends  change  cities  suburbs  urban 
march 2008 by robertogreco
The cosmopolitan ecologist: LA is not denser than New York: true density measures
"persistent myth floating around Internet that LA is denser than NYC...variation worked its way into Washington Post...I’ve known forwhile that while these factoids are technically true...finally got around to getting the appropriate data"
density  losangeles  nyc  myth  cities  urban 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Learning From Tijuana: Hudson, N.Y., Considers Different Housing Model: Teddy Cruz - Architecture - New York Times
"great achievement here has less to do with aesthetic experimentation than with creating a bold antidote to the depressing model of ersatz small-town America embraced by so many suburban developers in recent years."
teddycruz  tijuana  sandiego  housing  hudsonny  hudson  design  architecture  class  community  identity  gentrification  urban  landscape  gardens  redevelopment  playgrounds  affordability  density  green  environment  public  private  urbanism  planning 
february 2008 by robertogreco
AHI: United States » The ultimate future city: the world inside
"So unless we are all to be obsessed voyeurs of each other, we might as well shed our historical prudery and accept that anything about us can become visible to all of us. We today may not like such a world, but it is coming upon us whether we like it or
privacy  scifi  sciencefiction  population  future  density  civilization  voyeurism  space  cities  books  via:cityofsound 
january 2008 by robertogreco
AndrewBlum.net: Local Cities, Global Problems: Jane Jacobs in an Age of Global Change
"Jacobs wrote that “word does not move around where public characters and sidewalk life are lacking.” Now it does. There are the people paused at the top of the subway stairs, occupying two spaces at once, one physical, one virtual."
us  cities  urban  urbanism  stevenjohnson  outside.in  blogging  firstlife  virtual  janejacobs  future  environment  sustainability  density  society  development  planning  architecture  neighborhoods  policy  socialnetworking  community  culture  people  sociology  technology  via:cityofsound 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Sprawl Brawl
"Critics square off over a statistic that suggests Los Angeles is denser than New York."
urbanism  losangeles  nyc  density  cities  urban  population  statistics 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Why you'll soon be avant-gardening | Reviews | Visual Arts | Arts | Telegraph
"Why you'll soon be avant-gardening Last Updated: 12:01am BST 16/06/2007 By 2030, two thirds of the world's population will live in cities. A new show at Tate Modern shows what their lives will be like."
cities  urban  urbanism  society  mexico  mexicodf  df  losangeles  brasil  sāopaulo  japan  tokyo  density  diversity  population  exhibits  london  india  china  sustainability  policy  politics  economics  architecture  art  events  photography  future  brazil  mexicocity 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Tate Modern | Current Exhibitions | Global Cities
"Global Cities looks at changes in the social and built forms of ten large, dynamic, international cities: Cairo, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo."
cities  urban  urbanism  society  mexico  mexicodf  df  losangeles  brasil  sāopaulo  japan  tokyo  density  diversity  population  exhibits  london  india  china  sustainability  policy  politics  economics  architecture  art  events  photography  future  brazil  mexicocity 
june 2007 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Feeling the pinch of compact cities
"High density "compact cities" are the favoured model for sustainable living in the 21st Century. But there are drawbacks because losing urban green spaces will reduce people's quality of life and drive out wildlife that have also made their homes in citi
architecture  environment  ecology  nature  psychology  urbanism  urban  density  poplulation  life  qualityoflife 
june 2007 by robertogreco
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