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robertogreco : infilling   5

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 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Third Los Angeles Project | Occidental College | The Liberal Arts College in Los Angeles
"A series of public conversations examining a city moving into a dramatically new phase in its civic development.

Los Angeles, as it finally builds a comprehensive public transit system and pays serious attention to its long-neglected civic realm, is in the midst of profound reinvention. Or perhaps it’s better to call it a profound identity crisis. Either way, the old clichés about L.A. clearly no longer apply. This is a city trying, and often struggling, to define a post-suburban identity.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that all of the things that L.A. is aiming to add (and in fact grew infamous around the world for lacking) in the post-war years -- mass transit, places to walk, civic architecture, forward-looking urban planning, innovative multifamily housing -- it actually produced in enviable quantities in the early decades of the 20th century. Contemporary L.A. also shares with that earlier city an anxiety about the environment, in contrast to the confidence about controlling nature that shaped Los Angeles in the post-war decades.

In the most basic sense, that’s why we’re calling the initiative the Third Los Angeles Project. We are not just entering a new phase. We are also rediscovering the virtues and challenges of an earlier one -- and acknowledging the full sweep of L.A.’s modern history.

In the First Los Angeles, stretching roughly from the city’s first population boom in the 1880s through 1940, a city growing at an exponential pace built a major transit network and innovative civic architecture.

In the Second Los Angeles, covering the period from 1940 to the turn of the millennium, we pursued a hugely ambitious experiment in building suburbia –- a privatized, car-dominated landscape –- at a metropolitan scale.

Now we are on the cusp of a new era. In a series of six public events, some on the Occidental College campus and others elsewhere, the Third Los Angeles Project will explore and explain this new city.

The Third Los Angeles Project is a unique collaboration between Occidental College, Southern California Public Radio and Christopher Hawthorne, professor of practice in the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental, as well as architecture critic at the Los Angeles Times since 2004. A corresponding academic course is running concurrent with the public events.

All events are open to the public and free of charge. Register by clicking on any of the events below:

Welcome to the Third Los Angeles - Thursday, Feb. 12, 7:30 PM
The series kicks off with an introduction to the goals and central themes of the Third Los Angeles project.

Post-Immigrant Los Angeles - Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7:30 PM
Immigration to Southern California peaked in 1990, and we’ve now entered a post-immigrant phase, with foreign-born residents likely to be more financially and culturally stable and better connected than they were a generation ago.

City of Quartz at 25 - Wednesday, Mar. 4, 7:30 PM
Arguably the most important book written about Los Angeles in the last four decades -- and easily the most controversial -- City of Quartz is about to turn 25.

A Debate over the New LACMA - Wednesday, Mar. 25, 7:30 PM
Architect Peter Zumthor’s plan to radically redesign the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has divided critics and architects in L.A. like no other proposal in recent memory.

The Future of the Single-Family House: New Housing Models for Los Angeles - Wednesday, Apr. 8, 7:30 PM
At once vulnerable and inviolate, a disappearing architectural species and the most protected building type in the city, the single-family house continues to play an outsize role in debates over architecture, planning and growth in Los Angeles."
losangeles  christopher  hawthorne  events  future  history  occidentalcollege  immigration  socal  urban  urbanism  cities  2015  cityofquartz  mikedavis  peterzumthor  development  transportation  transit  suburbia  housing  infilling  masstransit  architecture  thordlosangeles  futures  lacma 
february 2015 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  nimbys 
october 2014 by robertogreco
habits make us blind
"spanish architecture studio espai MGR's 'habits make us blind' is a photographic series of work which addresses the vacant lots in downtown valencia, which they pass everyday.

'...like an invisible metastasis generated in heart of the city & extending to all its arteries. neighborhoods that, although having huge potential, lay unused, not promoting a good means of sustainable development. we recognize this as a typical theme in central neighborhoods in valencia. sometimes, the tourists are the city's inhabitants pay attention to the issue at hand for a moment because secondary problems stemming from those spaces implied affect us directly. however, in most cases, they are only a part of daily way of life. this photographic body of work aims to call people's attention to these neglected spaces…demands the recreational use of these vacant lots as seen through the eyes of a child, by filling them w/ impossible constructions, surrealistic installations in line w/ the problem…'"
architecture  design  lego  spain  españa  photography  noticing  infilling  neglect  neglectedspaces  sustainability  development  espaiMGR  valencia  2011  classideas  observation  habits  blindness  blindspots 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Población callampa - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre [Used the callampa metaphor with Basti in a conversation today when talking about education futures and the idea of small laboratory schools or learning centers]
"Población callampa es la denominación que se le da en Chile a los asentamientos irregulares. La palabra callampa (sinónimo de seta), refleja la rapidez con la que se reproducían (de la noche a la mañana) estos sectores de infraviviendas en los años 1960, 70 y 80. Actualmente se les conoce también como campamentos y, según datos de la Fundación Un techo para Chile, quedaban 453 de dichos asentamientos con más de 8 familias, al año 2005."
chile  slums  poblaciónescallamas  informal  unplanned  infilling  organic  housing 
july 2010 by robertogreco

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