Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: A New Streetscape for Burlingame Avenue

Burlingame, California is a city south of San Francisco on the San Francisco Peninsula. It features a very nice downtown district which has, among other virtues, an unusually high quantity of retailers. While great dining and entertainment has come to many revitalized downtowns, most just can't seem to nurture a good retail scene. Burlingame has managed to pull it off. 

The City is in the process of giving a makeover to Burlingame Avenue, their downtown's main street. I visited the area recently, and the central portion was completed and it looked gorgeous. The new design is a big improvement, and I think they are doing a wonderful job of making a great place greater. When completed, it may be one of the most beautiful streets in Northern California. 

Here's what I saw... 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fonzie Flats

Fonzie with the Cunninghams in his accessory apartment above their garage.
(From the TV series Happy Days.)

Accessory apartments are small secondary housing units which are built on a lot with a single-family house. They have been put in attics, basements, above garages, and in detached back yard cottage structures. They used to be very common, but were outlawed in many communities during the mid-twentieth century.

They are often called granny flats or ADUs (accessory dwelling units), but let's forget all of that.
Granny Flats makes them sound old fashioned and out of date, and ADU sounds like a disease or a boring bureaucratic mechanism.

I propose that from this point forward we call them Fonzie Flats. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Housing Affordability at the Breaking Point - Part 4: Do We Need Affordable Housing or Affordable Living?

(Photo source: www.choosewhat.com)

Housing is too expensive in many of America's major metropolitan areas, and something must be done about it. However, it would be a tragic mistake to focus only on the cost of rent, or the sales prices of homes. As we work to bring down housing costs, we also need to make affordable options available in other aspects of people's lives which can offset high rent. There are two primary areas that we should focus on in order to promote affordable living

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Housing Affordability at the Breaking Point - Part 3: Housing Shortage or Urbanism Shortage?

Greenwich Village, New York City. A lot of people enjoy this sort of thing.
(Source: www.http://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com)

In case you hadn't yet noticed, urban living is pretty hot right now. Preference surveys show time and time again that a strong share of the overall American public would prefer to live in a walkable urban neighborhood than a suburban subdivision which caters only to the automobile. A majority still prefers suburban living, but the minority which craves city living is large and getting larger.

Friday, January 10, 2014


I'm happy to announce that my humble little blog has hit a cool milestone. Right at the New Year I received my 10,000th page view. Some urbanism blogs get that in a week, but for my backwoods-of-the-internet website it is kind of a big deal to get that many hits just before one full year of posting. I'm happy that some folks are checking it out, and I hope it is half as useful to you as my favorite blogs are to me.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Housing Affordability at the Breaking Point - Part 2: Fighting Gentrification (with Luxury Condos)

Well this is just great. Now I'll never be able to afford a used Hyundai.
(Source: www.cleantechnica.com)

Gentrification is back as a hot topic. High income people of various stripes (in San Francisco it is tech workers, in New York it is bankers) are ruining nice, bohemian neighborhoods by moving into the area and driving up the rents. 

At least, that's the word on the street.

While it is understandable how people would interpret the situation this way, this idea is misguided and counterproductive.