Saturday, December 7, 2013

Incremental Urbanism is the Key to California's Future

Incremental Urbanism in Washington DC
(Source: Wikipedia)

I am a big proponent of Incremental Urbanism, which is the creation of great places on a lot-by-lot basis, by dozens or hundreds of land owners and developers over time. Many of our favorite historic cities were built this way, and they still work very well today.

I just wrote a blog post for the California Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism. As you may know, CNU is famous for large, beautiful, walkable, master-planned projects. Things have changed, though, and these opportunities are dwindling in California. I believe that California's new frontier is on small, non-contiguous infill sites within our existing towns, cities, and metropolitan areas. Can we pivot and master this new realm? I propose that it is essential that we do, and in my CNU-CA blog post I explore how it can be done. Check it out here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Housing Affordability at the Breaking Point - Part 1: Home Is Where the Supply Is

Black Friday at WalMart? Zombie Apocalypse? Nope, just a San Francisco open house.

In most areas with out-of-control housing prices, it is due in large part to the supply of housing being far lower than the demand for housing. My county is tens of thousands of units short of what is needed today, not to mention the homes that we will need to build to accommodate future needs. 

Only official deed-restricted Below Market Rate units feel satisfying to some housing advocates, but BMR strategies alone will never fix the problem in areas with such severe market imbalances. 

Housing Affordability at the Breaking Point

(Source: Unknown)

Despite the ravages of the 2008 housing bubble burst, and the ensuing recession, affordable housing is a tremendous problem in many parts of the US. The problem is most acute in the big, prosperous metropolitan areas with vibrant urban cores and physical constraints on outward growth, particularly New York, Boston, Washington, and my region, the San Francisco Bay Area. However, it is also an issue in pockets of many other cities in the US, particularly areas that are amenity-rich, job-rich, walkable, and well-served by transit.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Worst NIMBY Ever?


Every city planner knows the acronym NIMBY, which stands for Not In My Back Yard. It is used to reference people who are against projects. Typically, it is not used for all opponents, but those who are irrational in their opposition, and who are against not just bad projects, but everything

Having worked in local government for 15 years, I have heard a lot of NIMBY stories, but this one takes the cake...